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A Guide to Eating and Drinking in Istanbul

Traditional Turkish Tea

One of the greatest things about traveling to Istanbul is the fantastic (and cheap) eating and drinking that awaits you. Its unique melding of Eastern and Western cultures has brought a style of cuisine that very much shapes day to day life in the city.

Like the majority of Istanbul's nightlife, the best dining options are to the north of the Golden Horn in Beyoglu. The streets running off Taksim Square near the fish market of Pazar Sokak ,and on and around Nevizade, are packed with bars and places to eat.

For cheap and easy food on the go, corn on the cob can be picked up from street vendors across the city. Istiklal Street, meanwhile, has a number of doner places, where the kebabs are just a little better than those you get at home!

Lamb and seafood (grilled swordfish kebabs come highly-recommended), served with plenty of fresh salad, dominate Istanbul's menus. Classic Turkish ‘mezes’ like halloumi in vine leaves, roasted chickpeas or salted almonds are also served everywhere.

Snack-wise, Turkish delight and the local ice-cream, ‘dondurmasi’, also both make a nice pick-me-up as you wander round the city. But one of the best things to grab is a 'borek' – a pancake stuffed with cheese and meat or vegetables.

If you fancy putting something together yourself, the ancient Egyptian Bazaar (also known as the ‘Spice Bazaar’) in Eminonu is the place to go for fresh produce. Wednesdays also see the stalls of a street market noisily mass together on Akbiyik Caddesi.

Out to the east, a more relaxed feel prevails in the cafés of Ortakoy, on the shores of the Bosphorus. A nice respite from the unceasing activity of the main city, it’s the perfect place to try a pot of delicious, apple-flavored Turkish tea.

And then it’s almost compulsory to try a glass of ‘Raki’; an aniseed drink usually diluted with water to ensure the cleanest taste. Ultimately, though, this is just one of dozens of distinctive tastes and flavors to be tried in this most sensory of cities.


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