Because of our love of food, and in dedication to our foodie friends, a post about Turkish food is much needed! We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by the food here, and I can see how the Mediterranean diet is so healthy with all the fresh vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seafood.
Here is our list of the top 10 foods to eat in Turkey on your next trip:
1. Simit & Turkish Bread
Regardless of whether you order a soup or fifteen kebabs, or if you’re eating solo or in a group of ten, every restaurant welcomes you with the same massive basket of bread. Such a staple here! The breads vary in type, but one unique to Turkey is the sesame covered ‘simit’, which apparently can come in the size of three of your friends combined:
2. Kahvaltı: Turkish Breakfast
Breakfast is an important meal in Turkey, and when done right, consists of a massive spread of fresh produce that can keep you full for most of the day. Classic Turkish breakfast is the same no matter where you go: fresh tomatoes & cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, bread, and sometimes yogurt or pastries. So fresh and delicious!
Speaking of fresh, there is no menu to be found without lentil soup or Mediterranean salad. These are traditional starter dishes in a full course meal.
3. Turkish Alcohol: Raki
Raki is the national alcohol of Turkey and I always think these things should be tried once. I ordered a shot for the table and was disturbed to discover it had the black liquorice taste of Sambuca (not my favorite). Oh well, it was worth a sample and it quickly gained me the respect of the bar owner :)
It would be just wrong for me to leave Turkey without sampling some street meat for Shane so I figured a donair was needed! To my surprise, the sliced meat came mixed with salad sandwiched in a full loaf of bread rather than the pita I’m used to. With a little ketchup and mayonnaise squirted on top, their donairs are a popular on-the-go food. About $1-2 dollars for each.
5. Turkish Icecream
A trip to Europe is also not complete without sampling some local gelato. The gelato here is unique in that it is made with orchid root which gives it a stringy/gooey texture. When you take a scoop, you have a long string of ice cream from your spoon to your cup. When we tried it, the ice cream was served by a gentleman in a fancy costume who scooped it up with a meter-long scoop:
6. Turkish Coffee & Tea
Turkish coffee is made in a special vessel and is incredibly strong with a sediment on the bottom (not meant to be consumed).
Tea is also very popular; particularly apple tea which has become huge in recent years. Regardless of the type, you can always find it served in these little cups & saucers:
Of course everyone thinks of kebaps when they think of Turkey and these are found in abundance here – from street stalls to fancy restaurants. There are so many different kinds!
Something else specific to Turkey are meze’s: olive oil-based cold appetizers. These are part of a traditional dinner experience but can be eaten as a meal too. You’ll enter a restaurant and the chef will bring out a large platter full of little plates of appies for you to choose from. It’s neat because it lets you see what you’re ordering beforehand!
Being by the water means seafood is always a wonderful option. This ‘gourmet’ plate of delicious salmon cost me a whole $4!
9. Lahmacun & Pide: Turkish Pizza
Pide, a type of Turkish pizza, is also very popular here but is unique in that it’s made on flatbread shaped like a boat. Not all are made with cheese, some with egg as their base instead with veggies on top (like the one shown). Others are made completely enclosed, kind of like a calzone. They can be found everywhere, as an on-the-go meal or at sit down restaurants.
10. Turkish Dessert: Baklava, Lokum, and More!
Dessert consists of tasty baklava, as well as Turkish delight – a sugary concoction with nuts and other bits thrown in. Pistachios are popular here (we’ve been picking them off trees) so they are thrown in everything: chocolates, Turkish delight, ice cream, etc. All this picture is missing are 2 extra scoops for our friend Katrina.
And you know I’ll always find my dose of candy wherever I am…