Istanbul Street Food: Late Night Kokoreç And Midye Tava

Back in April we flew to Rome from Turkey and, as we were flying from Sabiha Gökçen Airport, it meant we got to spend a night in our favourite city, Istanbul.

It all coincided with a meet-up with some other bloggers…which meant going out for drinks…which of course meant ending the evening with a late night snack before bedtime. And Istanbul is not a bad place to be if you need that all-important food that you are convinced will prevent the following morning’s inevitable hangover.

We were in Beyoğlu so we hit the side streets and pushed our way through the crowds of revellers packing the streets around the famous Balık Pazarı and Nevizade Sokak. “Buyrun, buyrun, yes please,” rang out above the noise as waiters and barmen tried to attract us into their establishments.

We turned round to the others to see what they’d like to eat – and we’d lost them!

Mussels & Kokoreç in Beyoğlu, Istanbul

Midye tava and kokoreç in Beyoğlu, Istanbul

Don’t stand still for too long in Istanbul. There are seagulls – even late at night! As we stood, trying to catch sight of familiar faces, a seagull flew above, relieved itself, and the contents landed on me and my camera case. “Buyrun, buyrun, would you like to sit here?”

Ten out of ten for persistence Mister Waiter – but what I really need right now is one or more of your serviettes. This fell on deaf ears, but thankfully, some people are more organised than we are. We were rescued by Joy of My Traveling Joys who had a ready supply of wet wipes in her bag. Thanks, Joy!

All cleaned up, we jostled our way back up the street and found the others at a street food stand. We had a choice. Kokoreç or midye tava (deep-fried muscles). Well, no competition for us. After a night on the Efes Pilsen the perfect dessert has got to be spicy kokoreç.

The meat was expertly chopped into tiny pieces, chilli flakes mixed in, the crusty half-bread was placed, bread-side down, onto the hotplate to soak up the juices and then it was all brought together to produce a delightful kokoreç half-bread.

We headed off, up towards Taksim Square, got in a taxi and then straight to bed, ready for our onward journey the morning after. At 8am the alarm clock jolted us from our slumber. Had the night before’s kokoreç hangover prevention worked? Of course it hadn’t. It never does…but it’s still good!

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  1. Ahh what the seagull did is considered great luck in Turkey.

    You should go buy a sayısal loto sometime 🙂


  2. Ah, yes, here, it is the pigeon…great photo! Makes me feel I’m standing right there.

  3. @ Anonymous: Lol, it didn’t feel very lucky at the time but we’ll believe you – and we might just have a go on that lottery. 😉

  4. hahaha..that is supposed to mean good luck but i never looked at it that way! thank heavens for joy!

  5. I love midye tava, our favorite lunch from Yesilkoy. Almost 4 years here, still have not had the pleasure of kokoreç. Someday, when I am bold enough!

  6. @ Belinda: Thanks. Love to try and get street food photos. 🙂

  7. @ Jaz: Yes, thanks to Joy, I got clean. It certainly didn’t feel like good luck when it happened! 🙂

    @ Moe: Kokoreç is a pleasant surprise – especially in Istanbul. Nest time you’ve had a couple of beers, give it a go. Yummy!! 😉

  8. Late night snacks are the best kind of snacks!! MMMmmmmmmm…

  9. @ maq203: Aren’t they just. Especially those of the Turkish street food variety. 🙂

  10. Kokorec and midye tava in Beyoglu – can’t get better! what a lovely adventure you had, love late night feasts!! Cant wait to be there early Aug – will be teaching with Istanbul culinary in Aug – let me know if you’re in Istanbul, would love to meet up if we can 🙂

  11. @Julia, LOL, honestly, I had completely forgotten about that particular incident. Thanks for the kind reminder and happy to help out. Now, I carry a steady supply of serviettes to wipe off my constant sweat in this heat here.

    Also, another reminder why Istanbul ranks in the world’s top 10 for best street food!
    Istanbul in top 10 street food list

  12. @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Would have loved to have met up in August in Istanbul – and have some Turkish cooker classes from you! Alaa, we have friends coming to Fethiye to visit in August – of course, that’ll be great, too. 🙂

    @ Joy: Well, how could I forget? I was in need!! 🙂 Yeah, saw Istanbul came in at number 7 for street food. Think the Southeast Asian countries usurped it. 🙂

  13. You had me at street food. That’s a lovely, lovely image.

  14. Kaya Koyu Walker says

    Kokorec, one of my all-time favourites !

  15. @ Robin: Thank you ver much. We love the street food, too. It’s such a big part of travel in Turkey. 🙂

    @ Kaya Koyu Walker: We love kokoreç, too. Wish more people would try it as I’m sure they’d all become converts. 🙂

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