Eating in Istanbul

We really enjoyed the food in Istanbul. Sometimes on the heavy side, it was always tasty and frequently addictive.


Pide is referred to as Turkish pizza, which is not an entirely apt description. I think of it more as a Turkish pasty, filled with some combination of peppers, tomatoes, cheese, eggs, and/or ground meat. Usually made with lots of butter.

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The pide was delicious at this place off of Istiklal Caddesi, one of the main commercial streets.

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Though the owners didn’t speak any English, they were friendly and let Judy take pictures in the kitchen.

Manti, which is pronounced montuh.
Manti, which is pronounced montuh.

Manti are like Turkish ravioli, served with a yogurt and hot pepper sauce. We had excellent manti at a Uighur student restaurant called the East Turkistan Foundation Food House. There are a lot of Uighur refugees from China in Istanbul.

Here too the staff did not speak English. Fortunately there was a young student who translated for us. He told me that the waiter was laughing  because he thought I had asked for manti doused with Coca Cola instead of yogurt sauce. Americans are so uncouth.

Ciya Sofrasi restaurant in Kadikoy.
Ciya Sofrasi restaurant in Kadikoy.

In Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul we found an outstanding restaurant called Ciya Sofrasi, specializing in regional dishes from southeastern Turkey.

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Food is served from a buffet and sold by the pound.

Judy kept trying to get pictures of plates of food but our eating kept getting in the way.
Judy was trying to get pictures of plates of food but we kept eating everything before she could get a good shot.

We ate stuffed grape leaves, stuffed peppers, eggplant in various guises, and lots of unfamiliar things I can’t remember, but I can tell you it was all delicious.

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In fact, we took the ferry back to Kadikoy the next night so we could eat there a second time.

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Turks seem to be pretty carnivorous, kebaps and other grilled meat with vegetables is common fare.

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Doner kebap, sliced meat cooked on an upright skewer, is greasy and delicious. It’s also absolutely everywhere, about as ubiquitous as hot dogs and hamburgers combined in the USA. This doner stand was in the Spice Market.

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One day we walked to the Grand Bazaar and got stuck in a rainstorm. We arrived soaked and picked a random spot to have some hot tea. The waiter then persuaded us to have a snack of his choosing. He brought us a spicy eggplant stew with flat bread which was like a Turkish tortilla.

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A cool yogurt sauce kept us from being overwhelmed by the spicy stew.

In sum, the food in Turkey was just as much a rewarding adventure as the streets and the antiquities.

36 Comments on “Eating in Istanbul

  1. I loved the food and coffee. I was never a coffee drinker until I came back from Turkey. I ended up getting sick from eating fresh produce but it was worth it. Everything was delicious!

    • There was a lot of great food. I thought the coffee was good but I’m not a big coffee person. Judy, on the other hand …

  2. I’d say! Every dish that you photographed up there intrigued me! Food is such an important part of every culture….so fun to see how they eat and what their kitchens looked like! Fantastic!!!! Happy warmer weather Jason!!! Nicole

  3. There are a lot of Turkish immigrants in Germany, so we have some good restaurants here and the national snack here is all kinds of doner, sold at street corners in the lunch breaks. Personally I love their sweet pastries and tea. You’re right though, a lot of Turkish food is pretty rich stuff, especially good when you are really hungry though!

    • I also liked the baklava and halvah – but Turkish delight I didn’t think was so good. I’ve read that there are many Turkish immigrants in Germany, in fact I’ve watched some interesting Turkish-German movies, including one called The Edge of Heaven. I

  4. Yummmm… Just seeing these pictures makes me hungry.

  5. I can’t believe he didn’t post a photo of a glass of tea! The Turks drink endless glasses of tea, in small tulip shaped glasses. And so did we.

  6. Once again, Jason, you have brought back some wonderful memories…this time of eating in Turkey. The first day I was in Istanbul we went to Pandelis restaurant in the Old Spice Bazaar right at the Golden Horn. An incredible meal. Imagine my surprise when I read about the same restaurant in the James Bond novel, From Russia With Love. I knew exactly which one Fleming was describing. Of course, your photos show an Istanbul that is much more modern than the one I remember.

  7. You two sure do get around! Thanks for taking us along and for sharing all of this amazing food! I just searched for a Turkish restaurant in this area. Your tantalizing post forced my hand to the phone to make reservations!

    • Something good to try if you like eggplant is imam bayaldi (which means “the imam fainted”). Oh, and Iskander kebab!

  8. The food does look tasty! My son is a huge fan of doner kebabs, but he prefers the ones in Germany and Italy. He was in Istanbul about 18 months ago, and he enjoyed the history of the place. Nice posts about your travels!

  9. Mmmmm doner kebabs sound tasty, but I’m not sure I’d be adventurous enough to go blindly into mealtime. I’d at least need a few translations!

  10. Hello Jason, all that food looks very delicious and rather heavy, I guess the one thing facing you on return from holiday might be a diet to make up for all this!?

  11. Allergic to peppers, I would have a problem with much of the food shown. I found in Eastern and Central Europe they did eat a lot of meat and cheese, my saving grace.

    • You would have been able to eat well while avoiding peppers. I actually was not crazy about the cheese, for instance Turkish feta was much smoother and not as tasty as Greek feta.

  12. and now I’m drooling. This all looks wonderful. I would be a bit nervous trying all those foods though. How did your tummys hold up with all the spices?

  13. Now the food in another country is what I also love to experience…I have little experience with specific dishes from this area of the world but oh it looks yummy.

  14. I love to see and try exotic foods, especially things I haven’t tried before. There are certainly a great deal of varied and interesting foods here, what feasts you all had!xxx

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