5 Delicious Vegetarian Food to Eat in Istanbul

Updated: Jan 3

Being a vegan/vegetarian can be painful when you are abroad. Check out these options to enjoy when you are in Istanbul.

Go find a “Simit”!

You may have heard of “simit” before, as it is very popular in Istanbul and even all over Turkey and it is a street food sold by “simitçi”s (simit-sellers), in which you can find it in the most of the street corners with a cart full of simit. Some chain restaurants and more authentic “simitçi”s sell it as well. It is cheap, easily accessible and fully vegan! Do not ever leave Istanbul without trying this special Turkish bagel.

Ever tried “Çiğ Köfte”?

Yes, the name does not suggest any vegetarian content, however, it is not like what it seems. “Çiğ Köfte” literally means “raw meatball” and has a type in which the meat is added; however, nowadays widely distributed chain “çiğ köfte” places and many restaurants does it without any addition of meat and thus it is vegan and easy to find. You may have it wrapped like “dürüm” and you should just ask for “çiğ köfte dürüm” to reach the amazing taste.

Heard of “Kumpir”?

Kumpir is basically a big baked potato stuffed with the materials you choose. It is preferably eaten hot and is very tasty. Most kumpir shops have a variety of additional materials to add to your delicious customized kumpir, such as olives, cheese and sausages etc. As per your preference, you may order a totally vegan kumpir or a vegetarian one by simply saying what you want along with your kumpir. Just do not forget to remind that the shop-keeper should not use butter if you are vegan, as it is generally added even before you choose what you want. Most famous place is Ortaköy to eat kumpir, however, you may find it in most of the places in Istanbul.

Saw any carts with “Nohut Pilav”?

As the name suggests, it is rice with chickpeas. However, rather than eating in cozy restaurant, you may find it in carts, sold in the streets. It is tasty to some people and some Nohut Pilav sellers are even very famous among locals in Istanbul. Watch out though, although it is totally vegetarian; however, it is most likely not vegan as they use butter to cook the rice.

Try Roasted Chestnuts and Corns!

Again, the carts are on the street and the sellers are yelling “Kestane!” (chestnut) or “Süt Mısır!” (corn). Do not miss it, they are totally vegan compatible, available in most tourist attraction places like Sultanahmet. Along with the roasted version, corn is also available just boiled. Both have unique tastes of the same core product, so you may want to try them both.

Check out three great vegeterian restaurants here!


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