One of my ruling principles while traveling is “eat the street food”. In Istanbul this rule comes into play all over the place: kofte (meatball) sandwiches, fresh raw oysters (especially in Taksim at night), Borek (a sort of flaky cheesy pastry) for breakfast, and any number of tasty treats in between.
The one food in Istanbul that really steals my heart, though? Balik Ekmek.
This stuff is actually available on almost any waterfront promenade in town, especially around the Galata Bridge where proper sit-down restraunts compete with tied-up boats whose chefs balance on the waves without ever seeming to lose one of those fresh filets from the grill.
My favorite spot though? It always comes back to street food. Just on the north side of the Galata Bridge, beside the pier for ferries up the Golden Horn, two dudes with griddles churn out a steady business in what may be the best fish sandwich in Europe OR Asia. Take it with a little bit of lemon sauce, a dash of salt, and a whole lot of crunchy baguette. Even if it wasn’t one of the cheapest meals in town, it would still be one of my absolute favorites.
In fact, these Balik Ekmek are such an Istanbul food that even during the riots up around Taksim there were masked street chefs keeping the people happy and fed even as the smell of tear gas rolled uphill from Besiktas. I think I had three that night.
Fresh fish, filling food, straight from the street. This is how my stomach knows I’m having a good time.
Little bit TOO fishy for you? Consider having Dinner with a Local Turkish Family instead.