- Culinary walks
- Our Story
|2-7 people||Beşiktaş ->||~6.5 hours||9:30am|
Quick bite: From a workingman’s breakfast in the frenetic market to a leisurely fish lunch in the Bosphorus neighborhood, this full-day tour brings together the high points of life in Istanbul, in all their rich contrast.
The Bosphorus Strait, which divides the city of Istanbul and separates the European and Asian continents, has never failed to inspire; from Emperor Constantine to Mark Twain, its charms are well noted.
On the Bosphorus’ shores are palaces but also neighborhoods – from bustling marketplaces to multicultural fishing villages – all connected by the Bosphorus yet each a world unto itself. This is something that, despite Istanbul’s explosive growth, lives on today.
There must be something in the water here. Our exploration of this fascinating part of Istanbul starts in the market of Beşiktaş. A hub of ferry traffic, covered with the flags of its famous soccer team and with its narrow streets filled with rollicking meyhanes and simple restaurants serving breakfast all day long, this neighborhood is a slice of real, contemporary Istanbul like no other. Among the beer bars and cheap clothing stores are a few traditional culinary mainstays for menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs, and bal kaymak, clotted cream blanketed in honey – that’s the way we like to start a day. We’ll visit an Ottoman-era bakery to get some freshly baked goods for the boat ride across the Bosphorus to the market at Üsküdar, where a more traditional food culture is preserved. We’ll sample the best of this market with visits to a honey vendor from Eastern Turkey, an olive shop and a third-generation candymaker, before setting off for the fairytale neighborhood of Kuzguncuk.
Here we will explore the multicultural history of the area, tasting the nostalgia for that bygone era when Jews, Christians and Muslims shared these leafy streets, and the spirit of the Kuzguncuk of today by visiting its small restaurants, artisanal food shops and local food makers.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|Includes a ferry ride across the Bosphorus||Explores residential neighborhoods.|
|Includes a market visit||Sometimes includes a home-visit.|
|Samples fish. Very suitable for pescatarians||No pork served on the walk|
|Some hills and stairs, & sitting, it can be strenuous at times.||Children welcome|
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
What is the payment process?
We require a $50 per person deposit to complete the online booking. Then, we accept the remaining $75 per person in cash (USD, Euro, or Turkish lira) on the day of the walk. If at any time you want to pay for your balance electronically, please just click ‘view booking’ on your confirmation email and there is an option to ‘pay balance’.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at [email protected] if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at [email protected] to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians and pescatarians?
Our Born on the Bosphorus route can accommodate vegetarians and is very suitable for pescatarians.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten free diet?
Gluten free is difficult in Turkey as so much of the dishes are wheat based. We can accommodate a gluten free diet on this walk but there are a few stops that may need to opt out of.
Is alcohol served on the walks?
We sometimes taste some local Turkish wine on this walk.
Is the food offered on the walks halal?
This is difficult to answer. In Turkey the halal certification process is relatively new, so though many butchers are halal they may not be certified and though many restaurants use halal products they may not advertise or even recognize it. Because of this, we cannot confidently say that all of the food is halal.
Can children join the walks?
Of course! But please note that Istanbul’s streets – narrow, uneven and often lacking a sidewalk – can be challenging with a stroller.
We offer a 50% discount to children 12 years old and younger. We do not charge for children 6 and under.
Do you offer walks during Ramazan?
We do offer this walk during Ramazan and some local holidays.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
Still have questions? Please email us at [email protected].
Route maps are for planning purposes only. A detailed confirmation email will be sent upon booking with actual meeting point of your walk.
The food walks organized by Culinary Backstreets cover so much more than eating, though that’s clearly the highlight. The company offers eight food-centric tours, diving deep on everything from kebabs to rakı. Read more
Tantalise my taste buds After a short ride across the Bosphorus to the Asian side we spent much of the time immersed in Uskudars traditional food culture and covered markets and surrounding shops vegetables, cheese, fish and meat. Ipek the walk leader was animated, engaging and well loved by all the vendors. Read more
Initially created as a food blog named Istanbul Eats in 2009 by two expats, Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer, the website Culinary Backstreets has since transformed into an international portal with destinations in nearly a dozen cities worldwide. In addition to offering candid reviews and tips on Turkish and other global cuisines, Culinary Backstreets also offers culinary tours of eateries off the beaten path for tourists, expats, Istanbulites and any other curious foodie. Read more
We listened, enthralled over our bulgur and lentil soup, as Shireen from Islamabad shared the hardships of being an art critic in Islamabad. Turns out breaking bread together is an intimate act around the world. In Istanbul, we left Benoit after being together 7.5 hours (the Belgian expat was still going strong; he informed us that our “early” departure would keep us from coffee at a restaurant with another great view). Come hungry and pace yourself! Read more
Here and There. The breakfast street is lined with cafes specializing in Turkish styled breakfast. We had samples of four different versions of an egg and tomato dish. It was delicious. The guide told us that he was trying to bringus to some of the most popular places for locals. He would also fill us in on That made it even more fun. We walked through the streets, stopping at fish markets, bakeries and pastry shops as we went. Read more
Exploring a culture through it’s food is one of the highlights of travelling and tours that offer an insight into this offer so much. We loved the historical insights, learning of thedifferences between the suburbs on either side of the Bosphorus and of course, tasting so many delicious bites in the local shops and cafes. Read more