Turkish Food: Everything in Istanbul is delicious.

Turkish Food: Everything in Istanbul is delicious.

Turkish food: Succulent lamb. Pastries with dried fruits, nuts, figs and honey. Tea with sugar. Flabreads. Olives. Tangy, peppery red Sumac seasoning.

Everything in Istanbul is delicious. Street foods are plentiful and appetizing, including doner, mussels, borek, and more.

Ice cream is extra thick and slow to melt, because it’s thickened with starch from orchid roots. Orchids! There’s even a drink, called Salep, made from the starch. Turkish Delight comes in rose flavor. Flowers as food — I approve.

Even stopping at a cafe to smoke Nargile and play backgammon, we were offered little platters of strawberries, some kind of soft, iced almonds, green plums, and assorted nuts. The strawberries here are most flavorful — sweet and earthy — and juiciest I’ve ever seen. I’m constantly wiping strawberry juices off my arms!
We watched an old episode of Anthony Bourdaine to get a feel for the cuisine, and followed Anthony’s lead to this doner stand near Taksim square. Lamb, vegetables, and slabs of fat are layered to make the vertically roasted meat that is sliced and wrapped in warm flatbread with tomatoes and pickles. YUM!
Something I wouldn’t have tried if they weren’t Bourdain-approved – these steamed burgers. They’re delicious in a low-brow way, sort of a cross between a White Castle belly bomber, a sloppy joe, and a taco. Should we call them Taccy Joes? Anyway, it was interesting and I liked it.
Fresh Turkish Delight in every flavor under the sun is on every street corner. My favorites are rose and pistachio.
Baklava — and variations on the theme –tempt us on every street corner. A sampling of pastried and a Turkish tea or cappucino make a fine outing.
Sitting on the shore of the Bosphorus for a drink with a view. I haven’t learned to love Turkish coffee, but cappucino is usually available, as well as Turkish tea in pretty little hourglass-shaped glasses.
Street food is remarkable here. You can smell these kofte (meatballs) grilling from a block away.


Smoking apple-flavored nargile, mild and sweet, in a touristy spot near a magnificent mosque with an ancient bathhouse (Hammam.) So much to see, and eat, in Istanbul!

Published by Lauren

I'm a nomadic freelance writer, out enjoying the world!


  • Catherine

    May 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    won’t be smoking any nargile anywhere . . . but the food in Istanbul is great . . . one of my friends kept trying the ice cream when we went in May 2012. I had more ice cream on that trip that I have had for a long time.

    I hope you take the ferry across to the Asian side . . . not for any particular reason than to take the ferry. 🙂 . . . we did walk around but stopped to eat at a place that looked back towards the European side. What a view of the oldest part of Istanbul with the Blue Mosque, etc.

  • Lauren

    May 8, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Thanks for the advice! We took a tour boat around the Bosphorus and got to see the views from the Asian side, just gorgeous. Still exploring the old part of the city…what an amazing place!

  • Sue G.

    May 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    We were on a cruise several years ago that was supposed to stop in Istanbul. They cancelled the stop due to civil unrest. However, they substituted Dubrovnic,
    Croatia & Sicicly (Taorimina & Mt. Etna)….both excellent ports! We were still disappointed that we did not get to visit Istanbul.

    Thank you for your mouth-watering post!!!


  • Lauren

    May 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    What a shame you had to miss Istanbul, there’s no place quite like it. What a treat to get an unexpected visit to places you weren’t familiar with, though! I’ve been researching Croatia, what a gorgeous place.

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