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Istanbul Food Tour: A Gastronomical Adventure Across Continents

We’ve tasted some good food across many places we’ve traveled, but Istanbul really took the (Turkish) baklava 😉 

As I’ve shared before, we love doing food tours in new cities, typically through #AirbnbExperience and early in our visit so we can use what we’ve learned and enjoy the guide’s recommendations. But the twist was that we did it in Kadikoy, on the Asian side across the Bosphorus. After Hasan’s business guiding Chinese tourists was decimated during CoVID, he pivoted to offering private, home-cooked meals and eventually launched a top-rated food tour. 

Hasan took our small group on a walking tour rich with history, culture, and food options, so after his explanations we could choose what we wanted to try, as it would be impossible to eat everything at 30+ stops. And by sitting down at some places while we ate, we got to learn more about the customs, cooking, and traditions, and got a glimpse into this much-less-touristy side of the city. We learned and sampled so much but a few memorable morsels:
• Borek (Turkish savory layered pastry) is a common all-day snack enjoyed with Turkish tea 
• traditional Turkish coffee is slow-roasted before your eyes, tailored to your liking, and has rituals attached 
• traditional doner has no accoutrements like Western versions and is enjoyed with boza (fermented smoothie-like drink)
• colorful, decadent Turkish delights are everywhere as you’d expect
• Pisi (fried bread), Pogaca (cheese buns), Lokma (fried sweet dough), Tantuni (lamb wrap) – all yum! 
• Halva (semolina dessert with pistachio, chocolate, or traditional tahini and honey, served hot over vanilla ice cream) 

Beyond the food tour, we also enjoyed kebab and accompanying dishes at Kebap Bilice @bilicekebap as well as a flavorful Lebanese meal in Karakoy. Lest you think preschooler finicky eating habits might improve when you travel … well, nope. Jacob was slightly more adventurous than normal, a low bar. But even with some of the most delicious foods in front of him, he showed little interest, though of course always had room for dessert. 🤦‍♀️ 

Finally, we savored a quiet, peaceful, parents’ night out meal at the excellent Karakoy Gumruk @karakoygumruk.