9 Cheap (And Absolutely Delicious) Eats That You Need To Try In Istanbul


Amira Rahmat •  Jul 07, 2017

The splendor and beauty of Istanbul’s architecture and vibrant carpets is arguably matched by its food ? It's indeed a gastronomic paradise, and one doesn’t have to go to expensive eateries to get the best food. When you travel to Istanbul, you just have to sample some of these quintessentially cheap eats. Don't worry, you can thank us later!

Credit: giphy

Here are 9 cheap eats in Istanbul that you definitely shouldn't miss!

1. Döner

If there is one cheap eat you can’t miss in Istanbul, it is their signature Döner! Literally means ‘rotating roast’, this cheap street food is basically made of chicken, lamb or beef that is roasted to perfection on a vertical rotisserie, sliced thinly with a sharp knife and then stuffed into a crusty roll or a flatbread.

Credit: zozalajail on Instagram

Populating at almost every corner of Istanbul, this slow cooked meat dish is exponentially tastier than your average fast food meal anywhere!

#HHWT Tip: Avoid the big brands and multinational fast food chains, and experience the real Turkish food at the modest, smaller storefronts. They are more likely to serve you better food!

2. Kofte (Meatball)

With about 50 different types of meatballs from Kadınbudu Köfte to İzmir Köfte, it would be hard to visit Istanbul without at least sampling the Köfte once.

Credit: novaromaist on Instagram

You can think of it as a Turkish version of a meatball, essentially mixed with herbs and grilled to perfection ?

Credit: novaromaist on Instagram

This Turkish staple can be served in sandwiches, over salads, or just plain!

3. Pide (Turkish pizza)

Credit: katieforbescooks on Instagram

One of the best ways to feel full cheaply, this Turkish counterpart to pizza is not your average pizza. Forget the tomato sauce, cheese and basil herbs, pide is all about the exotic Middle Eastern flavours ?

Credit: kebabspotting on Instagram

Drizzled with lots of Turkey’s freshly-made cheese, tender spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and succulent lamb or beef, the pide is a boat-shaped flatbread that are delectable, satisfying and definitely budget-friendly!

4. Islak Burger (Wet Burger)

This is like no other burger that you’ve ever seen. The legendary Istanbul street food – Islak burger, or more affectionately known as ‘wet burgers’ do taste way better than it looks.

Credit: vino811 on Instagram

A more suitable description for this is: beef patty residing in a bun which is doused in an oily, tomato and onion sauce, and then left to steam in glass cases.

Credit: sidechef on Instagram

This trendy food in Istanbul is a budget eater’s dream: economical, tasty, sloppy but addictive! One islak burger costs a mere 3 TL or less, and it will be absolutely hard to stop at one!

5. Balik Ekmek (Fish and Bread)

Credit: beranovabarbora on Instagram

If you're craving to sample some delicious seafood, look out for balik ekmek, which are fresh fish sandwiches. This tasty meal can usually be found near quays and docks where you’ll discover rocking boats with barbeques and grills, preparing the unique seafood. Best to enjoy your balik ekmek while watching the boats and cruises pass by on the Bosphorus.

Credit: svetimk on Instagram

A combination of excellently grilled fish, onion slaw, pickles and lettuce wrapped in a fresh Turkish bread, these are undeniably cheap feed (only about 5 TL) and indeed a novelty! For such a meal with the glorious sunset of Istanbul with the bobbing, decorated boats, this experience should be tried at least once.

#HHWT Tip: We recommend that you add a squeeze of lemon juice in your balik ekmeks for that extra burst of flavours!

6. Dondurma (Turkish ice-cream)

Dondurma is ice cream with its very own Turkish flair. The chewy texture and resistance to melting are what makes this ice cream unique to its own!

Credit: giphy

To get more bang out of your buck, you will also be treated to an entertaining performance by the witty sellers with full of tricks up his sleeve, though not for the faint-hearted! ?

Credit: cagatayc on Instagram

7. Baklava

As you’d expect, Istanbul is baklava paradise!

Credit: grandturkishbazaar on Instagram

The sheer variety that you can find here is amazing, and the prices are excellent too. These sweet treats are hard to walk pass without stopping and ordering just one, or perhaps a dozen.

Credit: grandturkishbazaar on Instagram

The ingredients of phyllo dough, syrup and walnuts or pistachio nuts are fairly simple, yet true craftsmanship is required to create that perfect Turkish dessert. Classic, yet irreplaceable, these delights also make perfect gifts for your loved ones back home!

8. Turkish Tea

If you're a tea lover, you’re in for a treat! No matter where you go in Istanbul, you will be guaranteed to be offered a glass of traditional Turkish tea!

Credit: esmasultan70 on Instagram

Interestingly, the tea served here are brewed in a specific manner that is quite unlike the Western-style of brewing. While the tea here doesn’t come with milk, it's also prepared using the double kettle method!

Credit: ilkinkaracan on Instagram

A cornerstone of Turkish culture, this little cup of tea will cost you only 0.50 – 2 TL and you cannot leave Turkey without having a sip of it!

9. Simit (Turkish bread)

This circular, sesame seed-coated bread has been around in Istanbul since the 1500s! How cool is that? ?

Credit: akmnlr on Instagram

Simit is usually eaten as a snack or as part of a breakfast spread and goes well with chunks of feta cheese, slices of cucumber, and basturma (which is air-dried, cured and spiced beef).

Credit: syazamalek on Instagram

If you walk around the city of Istanbul, you'll be able to find stalls selling this delicious treat everywhere! It's absolutely something you can't miss ?

These delicious and cheap eats can be found from what’s sold from mobile street vendors, market stalls and modest storefronts all over Istanbul. From succulent meats, aromatic spices, freshly-made breads and the freshest ingredients coming together to offer you a punch of flavours ? There’s a lot to love about Turkish food and you don’t need to spend a lot to experience them!