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Amazing Turkish Street Food – Istanbul & Beyond

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Turkish street food is iconic – and for good reason.

There’s so much choice out there to tempt the taste buds. And, in most cases, it’s not too hard on the wallet.

A durum (Turkish wrap) with liver and salad visible inside. A very popular street food choice in Turkey.
Enjoying a ciğer dürüm (liver wrap) along Çalış Beach

From quick bites to more substantial fare that can easily serve as a main meal, there’s no shortage of delicious options.

Spicy food? Meaty treats? Seafood? Vegetarian and vegan options? Sweet goodies? Thirst quenchers?

The Turkish street food scene has you covered!

Naturally, the city that comes to mind when street food is on the agenda is Istanbul.

A megalopolis of people who have migrated from just about every area of Turkey. And those people have transported their regional cuisine with them.

So there isn’t much you’re not going to be able to sample if you’re a foodie with a penchant for street food.

What dreams are made of!

There’s the staples, obviously.

A red cart selling chestnuts in Istanbul.
A familiar Istanbul scene – kestane

Kestane (chestnuts) and mısır (sweetcorn) carts abound.

No better aroma on a cold winter’s day along the Golden Horn near Galata Bridge than the hot chestnuts charring.

They’re sold by weight, so the choice is yours as to how much you want to indulge.

A red cart selling sweetcorn in Istanbul. Steam is rising from the husks.
Grab a healthy corn on the cob to eat on the go

As for the sweetcorn – boiled or barbecued is your choice!

Don’t worry, we’ve listed other Istanbul – and general Turkish – street food favourites, below.

But if you leave Istanbul behind to explore more of the country, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be leaving Turkish street food behind.

In the big towns and cities, you’ll see lots of the regular favourites. But also look out for some regional specialities, too.

Izmir has a great street food scene, for example – we’ve nodded to that in our list, below.

In rural areas, there’s often a roadside stall or eatery where you can pick up some local goodies.

Cooks preparing Turkish street food at a food stand. The sign above tells us they are köfte (meatball) specialists.
There’s some great Turkish street food at local events

And look out for local events.

In Fethiye, we often have local and regional food festivals, including a mushroom festival in Üzümlü.

Local Slow Food festivals are becoming more popular. And at traditional events like oil wrestling the street food choices there are usually a delight for the carnivores amongst us.

So, with all of that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular and best Turkish street foods; many of them bastions of Turkish cuisine.

Click on the black link at the bottom of each suggestion for more information.

Meat and chicken döner kebab rotating in Istanbul. The staff stand outside, chatting
Döner Kebab
Is there any one who has never heard of this famous Turkish street food?
Wherever you go in the country, you are almost guaranteed to see at least one döner kebab salon. An easy staple amongst school kids and adults alike.
As a street food, döner kebab is most often served in a wrap or other types of bread – look out for göbit.
In Bodrum, check out their famous sebzeli döner (döner meat with layers of veggies).
Meanwhile, in Afyon, don't miss the sucuk döner!
Read more about döner kebab
Close up of a section of a simit bread ring covered with sesame seeds
You can't visit Turkey and not enjoy this most famous of Turkish street food – the humble, but delicious, simit.
Most often, a simit is a ring of bread encrusted with sesame seeds and it's a great filler if you're travelling on a budget.
In cities like Istanbul, simits are most often sold by street vendors from carts. But in smaller towns like Fethiye, it is still possible to buy this street food from a vendor (simitçi) who carries a tray of piled up simit rings on his head.
Read more about the simit
Köfte - Turkish meatballs on a griddle with two half breads filled with köfte and salad.
Köfte Half Bread
Ekmek arası köfte – one of the most popular street foods, especially at football matches like Fethiyespor.
Ground meat and various herbs and spices got together to make tasty meatballs that sit in fresh, crusty bread with salad.
If we're at home, we love our köfte half breads with a bit of homemade ketchup – tomato sauce – dolloped over the köfte.
Get our köfte recipe
A baked potato in a foil case, topped with black olives, cocktail sausages and Russian salad
A baked potato with various toppings? Don't mind if we do.
Kumpir is a famous street food from the Ortaköy neighbourhood of Istanbul but, again, you'll find it in many areas around the country.
Read more about Ortaköy Kumpir
Islak Hamburger
Islak Hamburger
An Istanbul street food scene favourite.
You can't go to Taksim Square in Istanbul and not partake in the ıslak hamburger experience.
'Islak' means 'wet' and this is, indeed a wet burger.
This popular Turkish street food is a great hangover snack and is also enjoyed by local Turkish people on their way to work.
Read more on the ıslak hamburger
Turkish Street Food. Cig Kofte In Istanbul
Çiğ Köfte
Delicious with a drizzle of nar ekşisi (pomegranate molasses) and a squeeze of lemon juice, these days, çiğ köfte is more often than not a vegan street food served in a dürüm (Turkish wrap) with crisp lettuce leaves.
However, should you want the original, spicy meat version, these can still be found if you keep your eyes peeled.
Watch Orhan Usta make ciğ köfte dürüm
A street food cart with Turkish rice and chickpeas. Chicken crowns are on top of the rice and chickpea mixture.
Tavuklu Nohutlu Pilav
We often make this famous, delicious street food at home as a main meal.
On the streets, however, look out for the street carts with 'Pilavcı' written on the side and you're in for a tasty treat of chicken and rice pilaf.
Turkish street food can give you some of your most memorable travel moments.
Our fondest memory of eating tavuklu nohutlu pilav is from when we climbed the steep hill to Kadifekale in Izmir and sat on a bench overlooking the city from above.
Check out our recipe in this article
A sesame seed covered cob of bread filled with cooked cheese and cured meats.
Çeşme Kumrusu
Not only to be found in Çeşme in the Izmir Province, the Çeşme Kumrusu has also made it to other areas of the country.
A filling sandwich where healthy eating takes a back seat for a while, whilst you get your teeth around this one.
This tasty treat has also been voted the best sandwich in the world, in the past.
Give it a go to see if you agree.
Read more about Çeşme Kumrusu
Tomato, parsley and sheep's tongue, cheek and brain wrapped in a flatbread and sprinkled with ground cumin
Whilst this Turkish street food is a favourite in the city of Izmir, it is gaining in popularity elsewhere, too, including Fethiye.
We won't spoil it for you.
Check out the article to see if it's something you'd like to try.
What is söğüş?
Friday Market Gözleme
If you go to a local pazar (market) like Fethiye Tuesday market or the Çalış Sunday market, there are lots of places to get yourself a tasty gözleme.
A popular option for both locals and tourists.
As far as we're concerned, gözleme is a darling of Turkish cuisine.
The village ladies making these flat breads are often to be found in more rural areas at roadside eateries and also at various Turkish festivals.
Roll it up in paper if you want to eat it on the go.
Read more about gözleme
A toastie wrapped in paper on a blue table.
When you think of Turkish food, a toastie might not be what immediately comes to mind.
The tost, however, is a hugely popular street food. Easy to eat and easy on the pocket.
We love a karışık tost (mixed toastie), featuring cheese, tomato and sucuk.
Check out this famous tost place in Fethiye
Kokoreç Street Food In Galata, Istanbul
Kokoreç has really enjoyed a renaissance in recent years.
Whilst it fills some people with dread – let's face it, lamb intestine doesn't sound appetising – it's good for you and actually really delicious.
Cooked over a charcoal grill and chopped up with lots of herbs and spices. Yummy.
In Fethiye, we love Lokum Kokoreç. In Istanbul, people have their favourite street food vendors as well as eateries for their kokoreç fix.
Kokoreç in Galata, Istanbul
Seven rose pastry spirals - Turkish gül böreği - piled on a green plate. The cooked borek are topped with black nigella seeds.
A choice of fillings and a choice of phyllo dough shapes when you buy börek.
From feta cheese to spinach to meat and potato.
These Turkish pastries are a great street food.
Gül böreği is easy to eat on the go when you fancy a quick bite.
If you're in Eskişehir, also look out for the delicious local çibörek.
Get our recipe for gül böreği – rose pastry
A wrap with salad poking out of the top.
Dürüm (Turkish Wraps)
Dürüm are Turkish flat breads and they make for great street food. From döner to Adana kebab, liver or chicken shish.
And in Istanbul, we can highly recommend the üskümrü dürüm (mackerel wrap).
Vegetarians and vegans can look out for çiğ köfte and falafel dürüm.
For us, the best dürüm are the ones where the usta also cooks the flatbread a little to char and crisp it.
Check out Çalış Kebabs & Dürüm in Fethiye
Two Pieces Of Gaziantep Lahmacun
Along with pide, often translated as Turkish pizza, lahmacun shoıld be thin and crispy – but not too crisp to fill with salad and roll into a dürüm.
The spicier the better for us.
Get our lahmacun recipe
Tantuni Kebab
The southern Turkish city of Mersin is the home of tantuni but you'll also find lots of great examples of tantuni in Istanbul.
These days, you often see a chicken version of tantuni, too, but you can't beat those juicy cubes of red meat in bread or dürüm.
Lots of cumin for us, please!
Get more about tantuni
Içli köfte or kibbeh piled onto a circular tray at a food festival
İçli Köfte
Often found in restaurants but içli köfte also makes for a perfect street food due to its shape – easy for the vendors to sell, easy for the purchaser to eat.
In Fethiye, you are likely to find içli köfte available at local food festivals that celebrate regional foods.
If you love minced / ground meat, you'll love içli köfte.
Read more about içli köfte

Seafood lovers can have a real feast when it comes to Turkish street food.

Here are three famous seafood treats you will come across in many places around the country.

Battered fish in a crusty cob served with pickle, lemon wedge and rocket leaves. Fethiye harbour is in the background.
Balık Ekmek
For us, balık ekmek (fish sandwiches) is the ultimate on the Turkish street food scene. A real treat to the taste buds.
It depends where you are in the country, as to what your fish in bread will look like.
In Istanbul, mackerel or seasonal fresh fish like fried hamsi will fill your sandwich along with salad and pickled red cabbage – views of Galata Bridge and Golden Horn. Lovely.
In Izmir, look out for sardalya – deep fried sardines.
Where we live in Fethiye, there are different choices. But, more often than not, deep-fried battered mezgit (whiting) is the fish of choice.
Is this our favourite Fethiye balık ekmek?
Turkish Stuffed Mussels
Midye Dolma (Stuffed Mussels)
Midye dolma is definitely one of our favourite street foods!
Served in a half shell, stand with the street vendor and wolf down one stuffed mussel after another. Or sit in a bar and order some from the vendor as he passes to enjoy with your drinks.
Read more about midye dolma
Mezgit Cafe Midye Tava
Midye Tava (Fried Mussels)
Oh, how we love this street food!
Walking the streets of Istanbul after an evening out, it's great to pick up a few skewers of soft plump mussels encased in crisp batter.
Drizzle the white sauce over them and you're bordering on street food perfection.
In Fethiye, midye tava is often available at small balık evi (fish cafes)
Check out midye tava in Fethiye

Turkish street food is not all about savoury bites to satisfy those hunger pangs.

If you've got a sweet tooth, look out for the vendors shouting, "Tatlıcı." A seller of sweet treats.

Vendors selling savoury pastries – börek – will also sometimes have apple-filled pastries so look out for those, too.

An ice cream cone with creamy colıured ice cream on top. Blurred boats are in the bacjground.
Dondurma (Turkish Ice Cream)
We all love a bit of ice cream on a hot sunny day and there is no shortage of ice cream vendors around the towns and cities.
If you've been to Turkey – or watched online videos – you will have seen the ice cream shows.
Vendors in dress of the Ottoman era, twirling the famous stretchy ice cream of Kahramanmaraş; teasing the purchaser who desperately tries to grab their ice cream cone.
Whilst Kahramanmaraş is perhaps the most famous ice cream, other towns and cities have their own varieties, too, for you to try.
Fethiye has artisan producers, as does Bitez in Bodrum.
Also, try the local goat milk ice cream found in parts of the southwest, including Datça.
Read more about Datça and its ice cream
Round doughnut balls covered in syrup
Tulumba & Lokma
Prepare yourself for the satisfying crunch before the sugar syrup explodes in your mouth!
Read more about Turkish desserts
a brass barrel with multicolıured soft sweets in it. A vendor is twisting the colours around a stick.
Osmanlı Macunu
Often to be seen at festivals.
Not our thing – but as you might expect, the kids love this stuff!
Get more about Osmanlı Macunu

The Turkish street food scene is not just all about grabbing a quick bite to eat.

You can also quench your thirst, too.

Here's a couple of liquid treats you can look forward to.

A street stand in Istanbul selling Turkish pickle juice.
Turşu Suyu (Pickle Juice)
Yes, you read that right.
Most of the Istanbul pickle shops – and elsewhere around the country – will sell you a cup of pickle juice. It's not only delicious; it's also really good for you.
Look out for the pickle juice street sellers in the Eminönü neighbourhood of Istanbul.
Make your own Turkish pickles – and juice
Pomegranate Juice Stall
Nar Suyu (Pomegranate Juice)
Lots of cities around Turkey will have street vendors selling fruit juice that you can buy and drink on the go.
As well as pomegranate juice and orange juice (portakal suyu), these days, lots of stands will have a whole array of fruits and vegetables that will be blended into a juice for you.
Read more about pomegranates in Turkey
A woman and man behind a counter making kar şerbeti. The woman is pounding ice with a pestle and mortar.
Kar Şerbeti (Snow Sherbert)
No strangers to hot sunny days in this country – and kar şerbeti is the ideal cooler!
Is this the original slush drink?
Hand pounded and ground ice is spooned into a cup and a juice of your choice poured over the top.
Check out our article

We know there are lots of street foods that we’ve probably missed off this list, but we are sure we’ve given you a good starter of snacks and dishes to look out for while you’re on your travels.

And if you want to cook some Turkish dishes in your own kitchen, check out our ever growing list of Turkish recipes.

Happy eating!

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Wednesday 3rd of July 2024

In Erzurum, popular food is cag kebab and kadayef dolmase, but seem rarely available elsewhere. Not my favorite, but nice to try its.

Turkey's For Life

Monday 15th of July 2024

We love cağ kebabı. :) There's a great place in Istanbul that does it. We need to add it to this list, actually. :)


Friday 28th of June 2024

I read high inflation on food in Turkey, how much is cost of regular simit on street vendor in June 2024

Turkey's For Life

Friday 28th of June 2024

hi Ryan, high inflation on most things here at the moment but it's supposed to have peaked this month. :) Not sure for Istanbul street food vendors as we haven't been there this year, yet, but the official price was set at 10 TL in April of this year.

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