What are the best late-night eats in Istanbul?

Irmak Pınar
16 May, 2014

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Turkish cuisine has a whole different section for late night dining. All of them sound unusual, yet they work well to sop up booze as well as to kill late-night hunger.  


After long nights with “a few” drinks, soup is the one thing that everyone is looking forward to in Istanbul. The most popular one is mercimek (lentil) soup which goes along well with all taste buds. Ezogelin soup with wheat and red lentils is also common. If you are very enthusiastic about trying new flavors, I suggest you kelle paça soup made from roasted sheep’s head or işkembe (tripe) soup coming from sheep’s stomach. You can find soup in most places open late night. Lale on Tarlabaşı Avenue no.13 in Beyoğlu is my favourite, and it is open for 24 hours.

Wet Burger

Wet burger is basically a small hamburger with tomato sauce and spices, steamed inside a glass chamber. Wet burger may be the fastest and tastiest way to appease hunger. You can find it in Bambi Cafe all around the city, especially in Taksim.  


Really hungry? Then you should have a wrap which is basically kebab being wrapped by a special bread called “lavaş”. They also add sauces and spices inside. The best wraps in the city are found in Dürümzade on Kalyoncu Küllük Avenue in Beyoğlu and Leşker Street in Beşiktaş, which also received appreciation of Anthony Bourdain.  


It looks so simple: a baked potato stuffed with some ingredients. However, with the mixture you create, it may become the best food you’ve ever had! From vegetables such as corn, peas, olives and mushrooms to sausages or pickles, you can choose whatever you want. If you’d like to try new things, they should be “kısır” made with bulgur or “haydari”, a meze with garlic and yogurt. Ortaköylü Kumpir in Ortaköy is the kumpir stand of choice.  


Tantuni is a thinly diced beef cooked with Turkish spices in a way special to Mersin. It served in a simple bread but it has a very different kind of taste that buffets just for tantuni have been opening day by day. You can enjoy it in “Suat Usta 33 Mersin Tantuni” on Tel Street in Taksim.



Sometimes toast isn’t just toast. In Istanbul, toast is actually a grilled cheese, and there are a several types of toasts that are as satisfying as a full meal. The most well-known of them is Ayvalık Toast which consists of sucuk, sausages, pickles, tomatoes and, of course, cheese in a big, toasted bread. The other one is called Goralı, kind of a hot-dog served with pickles and sauce. Looking for excitement? Then you may prefer having Dilli Kaşarlı made from a bull’s tongue and served with cheese and pickles. Marmaris Büfe, all around the city, serves toast late into the night.  


Kokoreç is a sandwich made from intestine of a goat or sheep, mixed with tomatoes and spices. It doesn’t sound “delicious” but people who like it, love it! Şampiyon Kokoreç on Sahne Street inside Fish Market in Taksim is the first name comes to mind when you want to have the best kokoreç.  


Turkish people love meat, no doubt about it. Ciğer is a famous food that takes its name from sheep livers. It is served fried with onions. Canım Ciğerim (http://asmalicanimcigerim.com/) in the Asmalı Mescit area of Taksim is a popular spot for it.  


At night when you walk along the street, you will see pedlars with black seashell-like things on their stands everywhere. Those are Midye (mussels) stuffed with rice and black pepper on top. You should also add lemon juice before you eat it. If you’re a bit hesitant to eat seafood off the street, another popular dish is Midye Tava, fried mussels, which can be found in Mercan Restaurant on Sahne Street inside the Fish Market in Taksim.

Pilaf with Chickpeas

If there is still any rice left inside the pedlar’s carriage late at night, pilaf with chickpea can be the simpliest and cheapest choice you can have. Beside, it would be an interesting experience having your meal standing with other people next to a street cart that sells rice dishes.

Food Nightlife
Irmak Pınar

Studies Political Science at Bosphorus University. Bibliophile, who reads pretty much anything. Trying to be a tech-geek nowadays. @sonranoldu

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