Istanbul, a city steeped in history and straddling two continents, offers a wealth of culinary experiences to delight the senses. While high-end restaurants and trendy cafés abound, some of the best food can be found at affordable, local establishments. This article will guide you through the top cheap eats in Istanbul, proving that you don’t need to spend a fortune to indulge in the city’s gastronomic treasures.
The Ultimate Guide to Cheap Eats in Istanbul
Balık Ekmek – Kadikoy Port
A quintessential Istanbul street food, balık ekmek (fish sandwich) is a must-try for seafood lovers. Grilled or fried fish is served in a crusty bread with salad and a squeeze of lemon. Head to Kadikoy Port, where you’ll find several vendors offering this delicious and affordable treat. See the location >>
Read also: Best Street Food Dishes in Istanbul >>
Çiğ köfte (bulgur meatballs) are a popular Turkish snack made from finely ground bulgur, tomato paste, spices, and herbs. These flavorful meatless meatballs are often served with lettuce, lemon, and pomegranate molasses. You can find çiğ köfte at numerous street vendors and small eateries throughout Istanbul.
Lahmacun and Pide
Lahmacun (Turkish pizza) is a thin, crispy dough topped with minced meat, vegetables, and spices. Pide, another Turkish pizza variety, has a thicker dough and is boat-shaped, filled with various toppings such as cheese, spinach, and minced meat. For an authentic pide experience, visit Hoca Paşa Pidecisi, a renowned spot in Istanbul. Both lahmacun and pide are delicious, budget-friendly options that will satisfy your cravings.
Kumpir – Ortaköy
Kumpir, or jacket potato, is a popular Turkish street food found in Ortaköy. The baked potato is filled with a variety of toppings such as cheese, olives, pickles, and corn, creating a customizable and satisfying meal. Stroll through Ortaköy’s picturesque streets and savor this delectable treat by the Bosphorus.
Try Food Tour: A Culinary Adventure
For a true taste of Turkish culture, you can’t miss trying Turkish coffee. Thick, strong, and served in small cups, Turkish coffee is an experience not to be missed. Şark Kahvesi, Kahve Dünyası, Van Kahvaltı Evi, and Rumeli Kale Café are some popular spots to enjoy this aromatic beverage without breaking the bank.
Want to find more places to drink Turkish Coffee?
Pilav (rice) is a staple in Turkish cuisine, often served as a side dish or main course. Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavcısı is a historic eatery specializing in pilav, where you can enjoy a steaming plate of buttery rice topped with chickpeas and tender chicken. This simple yet flavorful dish is sure to hit the spot without hurting your wallet
Tavuk Döner Dürüm
Tavuk döner dürüm, or chicken döner wrap, is another affordable and tasty option for those exploring Istanbul. Thinly sliced, marinated chicken is cooked on a vertical rotisserie and served in a wrap with tomatoes, onions, and a variety of sauces. Dürümcü Mustafa and Aynen Kebap are excellent places to try this scrumptious street food.
Haşlanmış ve Közde Mısır
For a healthy and inexpensive snack, look no further than haşlanmış ve közde mısır (boiled and grilled sweetcorn). Sold by street vendors throughout the city, this popular snack offers a burst of flavor and energy to fuel your sightseeing adventures.
Simit, Açma, and Börek
Açma, simit, and börek are all pastry delights that you can find at street vendors or local patisseries. Simit is a sesame-covered, circular bread that pairs perfectly with a cup of Turkish tea. Açma is a soft, buttery, and slightly sweet pastry, while börek is a savory, flaky pastry filled with cheese, spinach, or minced meat. These delightful pastries are perfect for a quick breakfast or snack on the go.
Want to try Turkish Sweets? Read our guide.
Turkish Diners: Balkan Lokantasi
For a traditional Turkish diner experience, head to Balkan Lokantasi. Offering a variety of home-cooked dishes, such as stuffed peppers, lentil soup, and karnıyarık (eggplant stuffed with minced meat), this cozy eatery is perfect for those seeking delicious, affordable Turkish cuisine in a welcoming atmosphere.
Budget-Friendly Turkish Cuisine
Çiya Sofrası and Ek Biç Ye İç are two budget-friendly restaurants that offer a wide range of delicious Turkish dishes without the hefty price tag. At Çiya Sofrası, you can sample regional specialties, while Ek Biç Ye İç is known for its farm-to-table approach, offering fresh, seasonal ingredients in their dishes. Both establishments provide an authentic and affordable culinary experience for travelers seeking the true taste of Istanbul.
Explore the Tastes and Markets of the City with Guided
Fruits and Berries from Street Vendors
For a refreshing and healthy snack, look no further than the numerous street vendors selling fresh fruits and berries throughout Istanbul. From juicy pomegranates to sweet cherries, you can enjoy a burst of flavor and nutrients without denting your budget.
See also: Street Markets of Istanbul >>
Istanbul is a city where gastronomy takes center stage, and you don’t need to splurge to experience its culinary treasures. From street food staples to cozy diners, the city offers a wealth of cheap eats that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences. As you explore Istanbul, make sure to indulge in these affordable and delicious delights, as they are sure to leave a lasting impression on your palate.
Q1: What are some must-try street foods in Istanbul?
A1: Some must-try street foods in Istanbul include balık ekmek (fish sandwich), çiğ köfte (bulgur meatballs), lahmacun (Turkish pizza), kumpir (jacket potato), and simit (sesame-covered bread).
Q2: Where can I find the best Turkish coffee in Istanbul?
A2: Şark Kahvesi, Kahve Dünyası, Van Kahvaltı Evi, and Rumeli Kale Café are popular spots for enjoying authentic and affordable Turkish coffee in Istanbul.
Q3: Are there any budget-friendly Turkish restaurants in Istanbul?
A3: Çiya Sofrası and Ek Biç Ye İç are two budget-friendly Turkish restaurants offering delicious and authentic Turkish dishes without breaking the bank.
Q4: What are some healthy and cheap snack options in Istanbul?
A4: Haşlanmış ve közde mısır (boiled and grilled sweetcorn), and fresh fruits and berries from street vendors are healthy and cheap snack options in Istanbul.
Q5: Can I find vegetarian food options in Istanbul?
A5: Yes, Istanbul offers various vegetarian options, including çiğ köfte (bulgur meatballs), kumpir (jacket potato), and börek (savory, flaky pastries) with cheese or spinach filling.
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