Street foods are a good representation of the culture of a city. Luckily in Istanbul we have plenty of delicacies that can be enjoyed for very cheap. Here are some of the tasty meals not to be missed.

Midye Dolma, a.k.a. Stuffed mussels
This is a true street delicacy, often devoured after a night out. Cooked mussels get scooped out of their shells and mixed with a rice filling with onions, currants, pine nuts, cumin and allspice. Stuffed back into the shells, these are great small bites enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon juice. Look out for a street vendor with his circular tray, more often found on streets with bars or near the Bosphorus. Stand by the tray, and enjoy mussel after mussel until you feel satisfied.

Chicken with rice / Chickpeas with rice
Sometimes the simplest meals are the best. Rice is the staple of Turkish cuisine, and what is better than to enjoy it with boiled chicken or chickpeas. There are many rice sellers in Istanbul, you’ll see them by their glass street carts, filling up plastic containers with hot steamy and delicious rice. This is a comforting meal that is best washed down with ayran, salty yogurt drink.

Not for the faint of the heart as you are about to eat intestines. Lamb or goat intestines are cooked in rotisserie style over hot coals, served with bread, lavash or simply on a plate. If you like meat, don’t miss out on kokoreç. The aromatic pieces of meat melt in your mouth, each bite is an explosion of flavors. We recommend eating a çeyrek or yarım ekmek (quarter or half bread) and enjoying cold ayran with it.

nohutlu-pilav kokorec

There are as many simit sellers as there are cats in Istanbul. Often referred as the Turkish bagel, simit is eaten everyday by everyone at any hour. A quick a cheap breakfast would be simit with tea, Nowadays, you’ll find more than a simple simit at the simit sellers. Simit sandwiches with olive paste and labneh, or tomatoes and sliced cheese take the bar high on this breakfast staple.

Roasted chestnuts
These little brown delicacies represent winter. The seller will make a score on the shell of the chestnut, allowing it to open up and char during cooking. The chestnuts are placed over a hot metal plate and cooked right there on the spot. You’ll notice for smoke rising from a roasted chestnut cart from far away. Enjoy the sweet and nutty flavor of these crispy on the outside and plump on the inside delicacies.

Corn on the cob
Most often, chestnut sellers will switch to corn on the cob in the summer. Boiled or cooked over hot metal plate, corn on the cob represents summer in Istanbul. If you prefer a boiled corn, simple tell the seller you prefer a soft or hard chew, and he’ll pick the best one for you. Boiled corn is better with plenty of salt; so let the vendor pour to his heart’s content. The charred corn is also delicious in its own way, with a smoky flavor.

misir simit