With a reputation for being one of the world’s finest, Turkish cuisine offers a range of delectable options beyond the well-known favorites like baklava, Turkish Delight, kebab, and the iconic Turkish coffee and tea. As a first-time visitor to Istanbul, what other dishes should you add to your must-try list? Experience the best of Istanbul dining with our guide.

The Top 5 Foods You Should Try In Istanbul

Istanbul is a city steeped in history and rich culture, and its cuisine is no exception. With a range of dishes that have been passed down through generations, Turkish cuisine is a vibrant mix of flavors and ingredients that reflect the country’s diverse geography and history. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Istanbul or a seasoned traveler, these are the top 5 foods that you simply must try during your visit to the city.


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Kebab is one of the most iconic dishes of Turkish cuisine, and it comes in many different forms. The most well-known of these is the doner kebab, which consists of thinly sliced, seasoned meat cooked on a rotating spit and then served in a warm pita bread with vegetables and sauces.

Another popular type of kebab is the shish kebab, which features cubes of meat skewered and grilled over an open flame, often along with vegetables. Another variation is the adana kebab, made from minced meat that is seasoned and shaped into sausage-like links before being grilled. No matter which type of kebab you try, you’re sure to be impressed by the juicy, flavorful meat and the fresh ingredients used in these dishes.


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Meze is a collection of small, flavorful dishes that are often served as starters or as a light meal. These dishes are meant to be shared and are typically served in small portions so that diners can try a variety of flavors.

Some of the most popular meze dishes include hummus, a creamy chickpea dip that is typically served with warm pita bread; baba ganoush, a smoky eggplant dip; and stuffed grape leaves, filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and spices. Other popular meze options include muhammara, a spicy red pepper dip; and imam bayildi, a dish of stuffed eggplants that are simmered in a rich tomato sauce.


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Lahmacun is a thin, crispy flatbread that is topped with minced meat, vegetables, and spices. This dish is a popular street food in Istanbul, and it’s typically served rolled up with a variety of toppings, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

The combination of flavors and textures in lahmacun makes it the perfect snack or light meal, and it’s a great way to sample the flavors of Turkish cuisine in a quick and convenient way.


Borek is a savory pastry that is filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables and often served as a snack or light meal. These pastries are typically made from phyllo dough, and they can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small, bite-sized portions to large, flaky sheets.

One of the most popular types of borek is the sigara borek, which is shaped like a cigar and filled with a mixture of feta cheese and herbs. Other popular varieties include spinach and cheese borek and meat borek, both of which are equally delicious and make a great option for a quick and satisfying bite.

Ottoman Sweets

Last but not least, you simply must try the rich and sweet desserts that have their roots in the Ottoman Empire. These desserts, including baklava, Turkish delight, and kunefe, are made from a combination of syrup-soaked phyllo dough, nuts, and sweet fillings, and they are the perfect way to end a meal. Baklava, in particular, is a staple of Turkish cuisine and is made from layers of phy.

In addition to these dishes, Turkish coffee and tea are also must-tries in Istanbul. Turkish coffee is a strong, unfiltered coffee that is brewed in a traditional copper pot, while Turkish tea is a sweet, black tea that is often served in small, tulip-shaped glasses.

When it comes to dining in Istanbul, the options are endless, and you’re sure to find something to suit your taste buds. From street food to fine dining, Turkish cuisine is a sensory experience that is not to be missed. So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, be sure to sample as many of these dishes as you can during your visit to Istanbul.