Everybody loves a bit of food porn. Here are a few tantalizing close-ups of some of the staples of Turkish cuisine that I consume on the regular (and recommendations where to try them on your next trip to Istanbul).
The best breakfast option ever. Eggs sautéed with tomatoes and peppers and any additions of your choice. I love it with feta cheese or spicy Turkish sausage. The best menemen in the city is at Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu in Beşiktaş.
Döner kebab in most countries is reminiscent of plastic cardboard covered in sauce to disguise its poor taste, but in Turkey—where the dish originates—the meat is fresh, juicy, and flavorsome. Don’t leave Istanbul without trying the kebab at Karadeniz Pide ve Döner Salonu (above) in Beşiktaş.
Delicious parcels of meat or cheese covered with garlicky yoghurt sauce and a tomato-butter sauce. So tasty and filling and makes me nostalgic for my mom’s pelmeni (Russian dumplings). Try the Circassian-style mantı at Fıccın in Beyoğlu.
Turkish ‘pizza.’ Paper-thin crust with ground beef and spices on top. Sprinkle with parsley and squeeze a bit of lemon, wrap it up, and munch away. Borsam Taş Fırın in Kadıköy are lahmacun experts.
Probably my fave dish. I’m a sucker for a good meatball and the Turkish are pros at this. Served with rice, fries, and grilled tomatoes and peppers, it is a satisfying meal for any time of day. Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi in Sultanahmet have been making meatballs (which they serve with a delicious spicy sauce) for almost 100 years. Even Barack Obama is a fan.
These come in many different forms, but almost all involve vegetables prepared with olive oil and served cold. Beans, stuffed peppers, salads with pomegranate dressing, and thick puréed eggplant are some of my faves. Çiya Sofrası— possibly the best restaurant in Istanbul—has the most interesting salad and meze selection in the city.
Fried pastry with fillings such as cheese, potato, or meat, these are great for a filling breakfast on the run or a snack. Co-Editor in Chief, Viva Bianca, loved the börek at Doğa Börek in Beşiktaş.
Sticky, gooey, nutty, sweet, and absolutely delicious, well-made baklava has been known to give people tastegasms. And the daddy of baklava is undoubtedly Karaköy Güllüoğlu. Even celebrity chefs frequent this joint to learn the secrets behind this staple Turkish dessert.
Title image source: deliciousistanbul.com