Stuffed mussels, smoked aubergine and freshly baked bread. You won't be going hungry in this Turkish city …

Report image
Image: How to Eat like a local in Istanbul

Photo: Lucy Hancock

If you ever find yourself leaving these shores for a new gastronomical adventure, then you wouldn't go far wrong by giving Istanbul a visit. With bustling markets brimming with Middle Eastern flavours, twinkling waters bursting with fish and the most succulent kebab you'll ever eat in your life – you'll be taking your taste buds on holiday with you. 


Whether you're nibbling on warm sesame bread in the shadow of an Ancient Roman temple or sipping fragrant sweet tea on the blue waters of the Bosphorus, you won't be bored. Here's how to eat like a local while you're there …

Report image

Photo: Moyan Brenn / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: aigle_dore 

How to start the day


Not that hungry: kahvalti is the perfect way to kick things off. Green and black olives, churned buffalo curds and honey, sheep's cheese and some delicious grape jam are all served up with warm simit (a kind of sesame bagel).


Starving: baked eggs with Turkish sausage (called sucuklu) are absolutely dreamy. Or, of course, you could go for classic Turkish scrambled egg and peppers, which is called menemen.

Report image

Photo: A H T / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: hturkan

Kahvalti (left) and baked eggs with Turkish sausage (right)

Report image
turkish tea

Photo: Lucy Hancock

Slurp on this: traditional Turkish chai tea from the Black Sea is served everywhere in adorable little glasses and it's a way of life in Istanbul. Any occasion is a tea occasion.


Goes nicely with: for want of a choccie Hobnob, a bite or two of baklava (traditional pastries made with honey and nuts). Be warned: they'll make your face fizz they are so sweet.

Report image

Photo: Lucy Hancock

What to snack on


An easy win: hot simit (that sesame-type bagel we keep banging on about) is available on every street corner. If it's sweet treats you're after, then you can grab one of Turkey's answer to churros (halka tatlisi), sprinkled with icing sugar.


Out of your comfort zone: guys like this adorable little dude in the picture (right) are selling midye dolma: mussels cooked in their shells with spicy rice and lemon. Honestly delicious.


Feeling brave: kokoreç (that's sheep's intestines to you) are widely available in the city. Chopped up and served with flatbread and a kind of tomato salsa, they're surprisingly tasty.


Report image

Photo: Lucy Hancock

Report image

Photo: LW Yang / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: lwy

At dinner time


Mix it up with: Turkish meze. It includes Black Sea anchovies straight from the Bosphorus and baba ghanoush (made from smoked aubergines) Other meze highlights you have to try are pomegranate lamb, grilled octopus and courgette fritters.

If you're feeling flash: the food on the roof of the Istanbul Modern (particularly the soup) is even dreamier with the view of the waters of the Golden Horn. Wander round the province of Beyoğlu and there are tonnes of trendy restaurants with modern twists on meze dishes such as the Lemon Tree or Aheste.


Cook your own: head to Kadıköy on the Asian side of Istanbul by ferry where the market produce will blow your mind. Stop for a coffee in Fazıl Bey'in before you spend your last wordly lira on a bouquet of beautiful dried chillies.


What to drink


The hard stuff: raki, an anise-flavoured drink mixed with a sort of beetroot-type pickle. It sounds a tiny bit punchy, but it's surprisingly drinkable. Easy does it though; they don't call it 'lion's milk' for nothing. 


Not boozing: then try aryan, a yogurty local drink served everywhere. Being a Muslim country and all, in more conservative parts (particularly on the Asian side) you may find yourself in a restaurant that doesn't serve booze. The fruit juice is pretty cracking though.


Report image

Photo: Javier Parra / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: artuenporro

Cheap bites: opt for street food pide – kind of like a Turkish pizza/calzone filled with delicious kebab meat in a fresh doughy roll. Get lots of different types. EAT THEM ALL.

If that all sounds very well but you're not making it to Turkey any time soon, here's a Turkish pizza recipe you can give a bash at home.

Report image

Photo: William Neuheisel / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: wneuhsel

Just in case you were wondering... this is the view from the ferry.

Report image

Photo: Dan / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: estudiante

What's your favourite Turkish food? Tell us in the comments box below or tweet @Homemade