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Travel Tuesday: Istanbul Street Food

One of the ways I like to experience a new culture is through its food.  I am also a particularly big fan of street food, and tend to seek it out during my travels.  Not only is it often some of the best food I have during a trip, but it's always a much more cost-effective food option than sitting at a restaurant.  Istanbul, Turkey was ripe with street food options.  Naturally I had to try as many as possible to share with my readers.  It's a big responsibility, I know.

Here are some of the highlights, which I recommend you seeking out during a visit to "the city of the world's desire."

1) Wet Burger.  OMG.  Definitely my favorite street food in Istanbul.  A strong contender for my favorite street food ever.  I may have had three of them in one night.  The most famous wet burger is from the Kizilkayalar stand in Taksim Square. It's like a cheeseburger (but with a patty that tastes more like sausage) that has been dipped into a tomato broth. Imagine the texture of a French dip sandwich, but with a flavor combo you've never tried. 
I may have had a few drinks around Taksim before going back for my third wet burger...
2) Kumpir.  Another treat after a night on the town is kumpir.  It's a large baked potato with the inside mashed and mixed with butter and cream, then filled with whatever you want. They have a buffet of toppings that range from the traditional to the more unique (olives, couscous, even hot dogs). 

3) Doner Kebab Wrap.  It may sound like a cliché, but it's a must to have some doner kebab.  Get it in wrap form.  According to one of my travel idols, Anthony Bourdain, the best in Istanbul is at Durumzade.  I never did get there, but found a lot of great options around the old city of Istanbul.

4) Simit. Great for breakfast or a snack, simit is like a cross between a bagel and a pretzel, but a little sweeter and with toasted sesame.  You can eat it with jam, or like I did, with a Nutella type of spread.  Yum.  You will see vendors selling this all over Istanbul.
Just munchin' on my simit in front of the Blue Mosque.

5) Ice Cream and Dondurma.  Don't you agree that ice cream and ice cream-like treats are way better in Europe than in the US?  So dense (less ice and air), and so much more flavor!  Ice cream in Turkey is no exception.  The berry-flavored ice creams were rich and gelato-like in flavor and texture. 
Then the dondurma.  The vendors stretch and pack the ice cream for you with the dramatic flair of a show before handing you your own flavor-packed scoop.  My mouth is watering as I remember how good this was!

6) Turkish Coffee.  OK, this one is difficult to classify as street food, but since it was readily available at patio cafes, I am including it.  Also just because it is awesome.  I don't care how strong you drink your espresso, Turkish coffee is the strongest coffee you'll have ever had.  It is unfiltered, thick and rich, with a flavor that is oh-so-good.  Note the sediment at the bottom of the empty cup below (you do not drink the unfiltered grounds at the bottom, BTW).
Stay tuned for more reviews and details from my time in Istanbul in next week's Travel Tuesday post.


Sabit Ikiz said...

The Wet Burger is the best! :D

ramonaruby said...

Seriously, @Sabit! SOOO good.