15 Iconic Turkish Foods to Eat in Istanbul

Istanbul is the perfect city for you to enjoy the rich variety of Turkish cuisine. This is a tourism center with its history, culture and people. Here we have listed the dishes we think you should try while visiting this dynamic and vibrant city.


Döner is perhaps the most famous flavor of Turkish cuisine in the world. It can be said that it has become a complete national dish. Döner kebab comes in many forms such as dürüm (doner wrapped in lavash bread) and İskender kebab (doner kebab on a bed of pita bread with yoghurt, tomato sauce and butter).

Stuffed meatballs

Meatballs are a standard but delicious Turkish dish. Kibbeh has a delicious crispy crust made from bulgur topped with seasoned ground beef, onions, parsley and pine nuts.


Lahmacun, mistakenly referred to as ‘Turkish pizza’, bears no close resemblance to Italian pizza. A thin and crunchy round dough is filled with minced seasoned meat garnished with a lemon and parsley before being rolled out and ready to eat.

Appetizer (Meze)

The world of appetizers is wide and diverse. Generally, the most preferred ones are: fava (broad bean purée), köpoğlu (roasted eggplant with yogurt and tomato sauce), muhammara (sauce made from red pepper paste, walnuts, lemon juice), and pomegranate molasses.


Adana and Urfa (hand-kneaded lamb meat with and without spicy), Beyti (meat or lamb grilled on skewers, wrapped in lavash bread, drizzled with yoghurt and tomato sauce) and skewers (skewered and grilled seasoned lamb or chicken cubes).


Small handmade meatballs stuffed with minced meat are boiled and served with a sauce made with yoghurt and oil, red pepper, mint and garlic.

Fish and bread (Balık Ekmek)

One of Istanbul’s most iconic tourist snacks, fish bread is a sandwich with grilled fish, onions and salad.


Karnıyarık, a very common dish in many artisan restaurants in Istanbul, is stuffed with whole roasted eggplants, minced meat and parsley, and then covered with tomato sauce. It goes great with tomato rice.

Kadınbudu Köfte

Another version of the famous meatball. It is made by dipping meatballs in egg and flour dough and frying them perfectly.

Hunkar Beğendi

It is a wonderful meal with soft lamb cubes on eggplant puree prepared with butter and melted cheddar cheese.

Lamb Tandoori

Lamb tandoori is an ancient dish made by cooking lamb meat in a tandoor (a clay oven on the ground). Today, it is still traditionally made from extremely tender meat and served with stuffed rice.

Grilled Fish

A visit to Istanbul would not be complete without eating fresh grilled fish such as anchovies, sea bass, sea bream, horse mackerel, bonito and bluefish according to the season.


A delicious, boat-shaped pastry filled with minced meat, spinach, egg and many different ingredients, such as sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage) and diced beef (small cubes of veal).

Leaf Wrapping (Yaprak Sarma)

Grape, cabbage or chard leaves are cooked and stuffed with minced meat or rice with pine nuts and currants and wrapped tightly.

Su Böreği

Burrito is made from thin layers of dough with various fillings such as spinach, minced meat or spiced potatoes, all cooked to a crispy flavor. With the su pastry, the dough layers are boiled and the pastry remains moist after baking.