Doner Kebab anyone?
Well, if you are like me, my knowledge of Turkish food was quite badly limited.
Arriving in Istanbul, and across our 10 days in Turkey, I discovered so many different flavors I wish I could find a local Turkish store nearby and carry on splurging into savory Turkish food. While Kebab is a regular staple, you can find different meats and toppings that make each meal unique.
Kebab, Kebab Galore
Taylor your Doner kebab to your likings – lamb mostly but also chicken, beef, veal can be yours. Other versions of Kebab include Pilavüstü (over rice), İskender (with tomato sauce and hot butter), or a wrap known as durum.
Mouthwatering kebab you might want to try: Shish kebab (cubed onto a skewer), Adana kebab (spicy ground minced meat), Patlıcan kebab (marinated kebab meat, with aubergines), Ciğer kebab (lamb livers, marinated with herbs, on a skewer)
I discovered meze, a plate served with traditional appetizers such as hummus, yogurt, olives, various types of feta cheese, cucumber salad, dips of all kinds. This was my preferred starter and I could do an entire meal out of it.
Turkish Delights & Sweets
Now, sweets from Turkey are world-famous – lukum or Turkish delights, raki, baklava, the journey through Turkish dessert is endless.
But if I really had to pick one thing to eat, it would be the kunefe, a cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup – served lukewarm, it’s melting in your mouth! And for drink, the Turkish tea made my day, and several time a day! It was smooth and slightly sweet (one could always add more!) and had no bitterness at all, a real treat all day long.
Even my coffee lover buddy and father-in-law loved their Turkish tea!
Egyptian Spice Bazaar
Egyptian Spice Bazaar, which I personally preferred over the Grand Bazaar, is a horizon of red, yellow, orange spices that welcomes you warmly. The selection of Turkish delights, dried fruits, and sweets is endless.
We shopped on baclavas, lukums, and some hibiscus tea, giving in to small bits of these delicacies as we walked through the Bazaar. The outside of the Bazaar offers some shopping opportunities for lovely tea sets and silver decorations.
Homecooked Meal in a Turkish Family
We finished our first day by eating at the local house which allowed us to enjoy a home cooked meal served by a family in their house. It was a great introduction to Turkish food, as well as taking in the famed Turkish hospitality.
From the quality of the food – we had meat-stuffed aubergine served with traditional meze and lentil soup, accompanied by hot tea – to the friendly and welcoming family, it was a great night to start our trip.
Fish Burgers at Eminonu Square
Returning from our Bosphorus cruise, we stopped at the Eminonu Square, where we mingled with the locals and gave a try to one of the fish sandwiches served while seated on small chairs and tables.
It was pretty awesome to see the fish being prepared right on the boat.
We sat on small tables and chairs by the side, baking under the sun and enjoying street food, not from a food truck but from a boat, Istanbul-style.
The area is very popular with locals, and it is a good place to see families, kids, or even teens hang around, share a yogurt or some food, chatting the day away.
Turkish Food at the Kybele Hotel & Restaurant
We stumbled by pure chance on this lovely hotel & restaurant, close to the Cagaloglu Hamman. The entrance is filled with lanterns of all colors and is a real beauty.
But keep going up and you will arrive at a second outside level, a couple of tables nestled between the houses’ walls, where you can enjoy great food and service. We had great food, the decor is really nice and the service top notch!
Definitely worth adding to your foodie list!
Make your way at the end of the Hippodrome for a rooftop lunch by the Blue Mosque, for a memorable meal, view and muezzin call to prayer.
Dinner on the Istiklal Caddesi will give plenty to choose among Doner Kebab, local cafes and rooftop restaurants, or to end up the night at one of the local Narguile shops.
Want to read more about Turkey? Check our posts about Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia, walking down history in Ephesus, hiking through the Cave Churches of the Rose Valley of Cappadocia, or watching the Whirling Dervishes Ceremony.