Istanbul is heaven on earth for the gastronomically inclined. Its time as the capital of three empires and as a centuries-long meeting point of cultures is reflected in the diversity of its cuisine. From the fast food buffets to the chic cafés, from street food to a wide spectrum of restaurants, the adventurous foodie has almost too much to choose from. Menus dazzle the taste buds with mezes, seasonal fresh fish, kebabs, dishes fit for a Sultan, sweet pastries, diverse local specialties and imported delicacies.
In a cosmopolitan city like Istanbul, it’s not at all surprising to find something new for the palate on almost every corner. In fact, some of the city’s neighborhoods have built their reputations on the dishes and tasty treats they produce. Some have built this reputation over the course of generations and others are relative newcomers, but they all form part of the neighborhood’s distinct character.
For an Istanbulite, Vefa is synonymous with boza as is Kanlıca for yogurt. Fish eaten on the Bosphorus is an event and a trip to Sultanahmet without enjoying a plate of meatballs means missing half the fun. So, for the chow hound on the road, here is a list of neighborhoods and the foods that have made them famous.