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Where can you find some of the tastiest and most affordable street snacks in Europe? Welcome to Istanbul.
Fresh from a trip to Turkey, I spent days wandering around this spectacular city trying out all of the delicious dishes. Luckily for me, Turkish street food is amazing, safe to eat and very easy on the wallet. From fresh baked breads to mussels sprinkled with lemon, you’ll find a huge variety of food that will please any Cheapo’s taste buds.
Here are some of the best options for street eats in Istanbul.
Kumpir is Turkey’s interpretation of a baked potato. The variety of toppings you can put on your kumpir are almost endless, from the usual cheese to corn, mayonnaise, pickles, peas, carrots, etc. Head to Ortakoy Market on a Sunday to try out one of these tasty Turkish treats, where you’ll find plenty of kumpir stalls.
Maybe this makes me really boring, but my favorite street treat in Istanbul is the juice. Walk around the windy streets of Istanbul, and you’ll be sure to find some tiny shops with a hand-operated juicer and a big pile of fruit. You can get pomegranate, orange, apple, carrot, grapefruit and often other fruit and vegetables juiced, or even a mix.
Cost: €0.50 – 1.50
A Turkish favorite found all around the country, Midye dolma are mussels stuffed with rice and sprinkled with lemon juice. Use your best judgement about when to try these, i.e. don’t go to a stand with mussels that have been baking in the hot sun all day!
Cost: 2 for €0.35
Take a stroll along the Galata bridge near Karaköy and Eminönü, and you’ll smell this snack frying up everywhere. Balik ekmek translates to “fish bread,” and that’s exactly what it is—a piece of fish inside a roll. Vendors fry up fish on large grills, and stuff them into fluffy Turkish bread with a little bit of lettuce. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan. The fish were frozen and imported, and the fear of swallowing fish bones really inhibited my enjoyment of the sandwich. Nevertheless, Turkish people swear by these as the perfect dinner or snack.
Cost: €1.75 – 2.75
Kokorec are sheep intestines that have been spiced, skewered and stuffed in a loaf of bread. My Turkish friends tell me this is a legendary post-drinking greasy, guilty pleasure snack, similar to Poutine in Quebec.
Cost: €2 – 3
Misir are grilled or boiled corn on the cob. You can find these being sold in droves on carts in the streets surrounding the bridges, but only in the summer time.
Cost: €0.50 – 0.75
In lieu of misir in the colder moths, Istanbul offers up Kestane: roasted chestnuts that warm the streets with their nutty aroma. They’re pretty much the same as roasted chestnuts in every other country… delicious and comforting.
Cost: 100g for €0.69
Last but not least, simits are the Turkish equivalent of bagels: dense, circular breads dipped in molasses and then sesame seeds. Often, vendors will serve them with Nutella or cheese for an extra cost. I can verify that this is the perfect breakfast on the go.
Cost: €0.35 – 1 depending on your order
One last thing to learn: Afiyet Olsun! It means bon appétit in Turkish.