I went to Turkey for work in 2019. It was a short, 5-day trip, and I didn’t visit any other cities except Istanbul. But I did discover “The City on Seven Hills” as much as I could. After work, every day, my friend and I took to the city streets.
We would walk for hours, or by metro and tram, discovering the sights and sounds of the city. We had vowed not to visit the popular places that every tourist goes to. Instead, we wanted to get a feel for the real Istanbul.
Istanbul is a city that truly comes alive at night. The streets are filled with people, and the air is thick with the smell of delicious street food. Taksim Square is like the center of the city’s nightlife. We didn’t know what half of the things were that we were smelling, but we knew we wanted to try them all!
So, if you’re visiting Taksim Square or planning to go there, here is a list of the tastiest (and most affordable) street foods we tried there:
If you ask any Turkish person about the must-try foods in Istanbul, Iskender Kebap is sure to be on their list. And for a good reason! This dish consists of thin slices of meat (usually lamb) served over pieces of pita bread and drenched in a delicious tomato sauce.
You can have it with spices or without, but either way, it’s sure to be a treat for your taste buds!
You can find lots of vendors selling İskender Kebap in Taksim Square, but I recommend trying it at the Iskender restaurant. They’ve been serving this dish since 1867, so they know a thing or two about it!
Börek is a type of flaky pastry that can be filled with all sorts of things, from cheese to potatoes. I tried the cheese börek, and it was delicious! The cheese was melted and gooey, and the pastry was flaky and buttery. The fresh smell of herbs wafted up from the warm börek as I took my first bite.
I could’ve eaten an entire tray of these, but I managed to restrain myself. If you have a sweet tooth, there’s also a chocolate börek filled with rich, dark chocolate.
Looking for a quick and tasty snack at Taksim Square? I’d definitely recommend trying a börek from one of the many vendors. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
If you’re feeling adventurous, then why not try Kokoreç? This dish is made of the grilled intestine, and yes, it may not sound appetizing. But I promise you, it’s actually really good! The intestine is grilled to perfection and served with a variety of dipping sauces.
I know Kokoreç may not be for everyone, but if you’re feeling brave, then I say go for it! You might just be surprised by how much you like it.
Last but not least, no visit to Taksim Square (or Istanbul) is complete without trying some Baklava. This sweet pastry is made of layers of filo dough, filled with chopped nuts, and held together with syrup or honey. It’s one of the most popular desserts in Turkey, and for a good reason!
I tried several different kinds of baklava during my time in Istanbul, but my favorite was the chocolate baklava. The chocolate was rich, and the pastry was flaky and light. It was the perfect combination of sweet and decadent.
Kumpir is a type of baked potato that’s popular in Turkey. It’s usually topped with cheese, mayonnaise, and a variety of other things like vegetables, sausage, or chicken.
I tried the kumpir with cheese, and it was really good! The potato was soft and fluffy, and the cheese was melted and gooey. It was the perfect snack to share with my friend.
No visit to Turkey is complete without trying some Turkish coffee. This strong coffee is made by boiling water and coffee together and then adding sugar to taste. It’s usually served in small cups, so it’s the perfect pick-me-up if you need a little boost of energy.
I personally found Turkish coffee to be a bit too strong for my taste, but my friend loved it. If you’re a fan of coffee, then I definitely recommend giving it a try.
Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
I love fresh juices, so I was really excited to try the freshly squeezed orange juice at Taksim Square. And it did not disappoint! The orange juice was sweet and refreshing, and it really hit the spot on a hot day.
The street vendors selling the juice had a pretty advanced juicer that was fully automated, with no human touch required. I was really impressed by the technology!
I definitely recommend trying some fresh squeezed orange juice if you’re ever in Taksim Square. It’s the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.
Döner with Ayran
Döner is a type of Turkish kebab that’s made of meat that’s been slowly cooked on a rotating spit. It’s usually served with bread and a yogurt-based drink called Ayran.
I tried the döner with Ayran, and it was really good! The meat was juicy and flavorful, and the Ayran helped to cool down my mouth after each bite.
If you’re looking for a hearty meal, then I definitely recommend trying the döner at Taksim Square. It’s a great option if you’re feeling hungry!
Balik ekmek literally translates to “fish bread” and is one of the most popular street foods in Istanbul. It’s made of grilled fish; usually a type of whitefish served on bread with some lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
I tried the balik ekmek, and it was really good! The fish was fresh and flavorful, and the bread was soft and doughy. It was the perfect meal to share with my friend.
I definitely recommend trying the balik ekmek if you’re ever in Taksim Square.
Lahmacun is sort of like a Turkish pizza, and it’s one of my favorite street foods in Istanbul. It’s made of thin bread that’s topped with a spiced meat mixture and then baked in a stone oven.
I tried the lahmacun, and it was really good! The bread was crispy, and the meat was flavorful. My friend loved it, and it’s one of the few foods we had again and again during our time in Istanbul.
Final Verdict – Taksim Square Street Food Scene
I personally think that Taksim Square’s street food is much better (and more affordable) than the sit-down restaurants. There’s a great variety of options to choose from, and the food is fresh and delicious.
If you’re ever in Istanbul, I definitely recommend checking out the street food scene in Taksim Square. You won’t be disappointed!
Taksim Square Street Food – Quick Roundup
Here is the list of the best street food I tried at Taksim Square. You’re sure to get quality with affordability:
- İskender Kebap
- Turkish coffee
- Fresh squeezed orange juice
- Döner with Ayran
- Balık Ekmek