Turkey - The Street Food Experience


Turkey is famous for its hospitality.  And it lives up to the hype.  Rarely have I have been treated as well as I was in Istanbul during my 2013 visit.

I booked four nights at the Sirkeci Konak hotel in the old part of the city.   When I arrived to check in, the clerk greeted me like an old friend, even though it was the first time we had ever met.   He asked me if I needed help with directions or anything else.  I told him that I really enjoyed sampling "street food" and asked if there was a good neighborhood to try.  He smiled and said he would be happy to take me to some of the good places tomorrow.  I asked how much?  He said, no charge, adding "we like to make our guests happy and I would like to show you some of our food." 

The next morning, we met in the lobby and our first stop was a street vendor selling pide, which is a bread that is kind of like a small pizza.   We walked some more and he took me down an alley to a place with no sign.   It was very small and he knew the owners.   He said they had the "best" kokorech in Istanbul.  But he said before I tried it, he wanted me to know what it was in case I didn't want to eat it.  "It's lamb intestines filled with sweetbreads," he said.   Yes, I tried it and it was good.  But then I added some hot peppers and it was even better.

Next we went into a small market, which is where this photo was taken.  

Inside a Turkish Market

He said, it wasn't street food, but they offered free samples of the olives.  I tried a few and then we continued to a few more street vendors.   We then stopped for coffee and baklava.  The baklava was great but different than what I've had at home.  They don't use honey.

Our final stop before heading back to the hotel was a very touristy place selling "Turkish Delight". He explained that I shouldn't buy anything here because it was too expensive.  But he said, they have great free samples.   I tried some and we headed back to the hotel.

I again asked if I owed him anything for the tour and he said "no."  I still offered him a tip which he did accept.    And then he reminded me that since I was staying for four nights, I was entitled to a free dinner in their rooftop restaurant.   

The hotel made me feel incredibly welcome but I found that same sentiment throughout the city.   When I got back to my room on the last night of my stay, I found a box of Turkish Delight in my room with a note thanking me for staying at the hotel.

Istanbul is a beautiful city and a most hospitable place.  And the food, even on the street, is not to be missed.

Dates of Travel

  • August, 2013

Places Visited

  • Istanbul



This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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