Join Culinary Backstreets

Sign up with email


Already a member? Log in.

Log in to Culinary Backstreets

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Book now Give as a gift  US $125/adult
  • 2-7 people  Karaköy      ~6.5 hours 9:30am 
    -> Kadıköy  (Mon-Sat)

Quick Bite: This full-day route draws from our best-of list in the European side’s Karaköy neighborhood and the Asian side’s Kadıköy, tied together by a Bosphorus crossing.

Our favorite Istanbul experiences include exploring the eateries in local markets and crossing the Bosphorus on the public ferry.  The “Two Markets, Two Continents” route draws from our best-of list in the European side’s Karaköy neighborhood and the Asian side’s Kadıköy, tied together by a Bosphorus crossing.

The historic Perşembe Pazarı of Karaköy, where this walk begins, might look like a place to buy springs, ship anchors, hardware and paint supplies, but we’ll go there for breakfast at a lovely little esnaf lokantası run by a husband-and-wife team, followed by a stroll through the atmospheric mariner market streets, where we’ll stop into an Ottoman-era caravanserai for tea. Then we’ll hop the boat to Kadıköy on the Asian side and eat our way through that neighborhood’s market, which holds the highest concentration of traditional food shops and eateries in the city. There, we will perk up with one of the best cups of Turkish coffee in town before sampling regional specialties such as Mersin’s famous tantuni, the flatbread, lahmacun, of Southeastern Turkey and Aegean-style meze. We’ll continue on toward the lesser-explored culinary hotspots around the Moda area at the market’s edge, where an infectious neighbourhood vibe and a sweet finish await us.

Fee includes everything consumed on the walk.  Some special features:

Includes ferry ride across the Bosphorus Children welcome
No pork served on the walk Includes market visits
Many, but not all, stops can be altered for vegetarians Terrain fairly flat/ Stroller – friendly

What is the difference between the Two Markets walk that starts at 9:30am and the one that starts at 9am or 10am? We offer two Two Markets walks during busy times to accommodate more guests. There are few differences between the two walks, although the sequence of stops is different.

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 pescetarians? This walk can be enjoyed by vegetarians,however there are some stops that may need to opt out of.

Is alcohol served on the walks? No. 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.

How physically demanding are the walks? The walks are all about 2KM (1.25 miles) of fairly flat terrain. The streets and sidewalks of Istanbul can be a bit unpredictable so we recommend good walking shoes. All our walks include numerous breaks along the way.

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 the month of Ramazan and some local holidays, although our schedule is more limited during that time.

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].


A Meeting of Religions in Karaköy

At this simit bakery in the Istanbul neighborhood of Karaköy, mastic-flavored Greek Orthodox Easter bread is sold alongside sesame-covered kandil simidi, which will be eaten as […]

Crispy Lahmacun on Istanbul’s Asian Side

Lahmacun is the perfect savory snack: crispy, oven-fired crust, light and spicy meat spread, a fresh green garnish and a tangy spray from a lemon. […]

Ramadan’s Iftar

Think of Ramadan, which just began in many parts of the world, as a kind of monthlong biathlon that consists of an all-day race to beat […]

Two Markets, Two Continents

Fresh fish awaiting to be grilled is among the numerous encounters one has on our Two Markets, Two Continents walk, which explores vibrant market areas […]

Best Bites 2016

Until recently, Istanbul had been hosting increasingly more foreigners, who found themselves easily enchanted by the city and its spectacular location between three waterways. June […]

Basta Street Food Bar

Dürüm is the specialty at Basta Street Food Bar, but you won’t find a smoky grill inside this tiny Kadıköy storefront. With its bright turquoise […]

Fried Hamsi and Tekir in an Istanbul Market

When in season, fried hamsi (anchovies) and tekir (mullet) are among the tasty treats encountered on our Two Markets, Two Continents walk in Istanbul. May […]

Pickled Honeydew in Istanbul: Don’t Knock It ‘Till You Try It

Pickled honeydew may sound like an odd arrangement, but it’s surprisingly delicious, and among the vast array of pickled treats one can sample on our […]

Behind Bars

In Istanbul’s iconic Haydarpaşa train terminal, the door of a crowded restaurant and bar opens to beams of sparkling light streaming across the Marmara Sea […]

First Stop

Editor’s note: In the latest installment of our recurring feature, First Stop, we asked chef Somer Sivrioglu of the Sydney restaurant Efendy where he stops […]

Serious Cheese Choices in Samatya

Istanbul’s Samatya neighborhood is home to one of the city’s many sprawling weekly markets, where one can find excellent Ezine, a white cheese from a district […]

Tea From Master Bayram in Istanbul’s 16th-Century Kurşunlu Han

A proper way to start one’s day is with a fresh cup of black tea from the wonderful tea master Bayram in Karaköy’s 16th-century Kurşunlu […]

Two Markets, Two Continents

Quick Bite: This full-day route draws from our best-of list in the European side’s Karaköy neighborhood and the Asian side’s Kadıköy, tied together by a […]

Korkmaz Büfe

Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on the city’s Asian side has long been billed as a calmer, more laid-back alternative to some of its swarming, chaotic European […]

Ali Usta’s Sahlep on the Two Markets Walk

Ice cream at Ali Usta, an institution on İstanbul’s Asian side, sworn to be the city’s best by many faithful customers who brave lines around […]

Baylan Pastanesi

The roaring ’20s: Flappers in the Pera Palas Hotel were dancing the can-can, Art Deco was all the rage, the Turkish Republic was born. Hope, […]

Ramadan’s Iftar

Think of Ramadan, which just began in many parts of the world, as a kind of monthlong biathlon that consists of an all-day race to beat […]

Mutfak Dili

Culinary Backstreets lunch hunting tip #1: Wander into one of Istanbul’s numerous districts of small commerce and find yourself on a small street with a shoe cobbler, […]


Even we sometimes find that our palates have grown weary of rakı and eggplant salad. Lately, when that happens, we’ve been heading over to the […]

Emin Usta

The first time we approached the stand of the legendary fish sandwich man, we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw: a dark, portly man […]

Mantık Mantı

Editor’s note: We’ve written previously about the strong connection between exiles and their dumplings; in this review, guest contributor İdil Meşe writes of her own family’s ties […]

Ramadan’s Iftar

Think of Ramadan, which began in late June in many parts of the world, as a kind of monthlong biathlon that consists of an all-day […]

CB on the Road

Trabzon doesn’t face the sea so much as fall into it like it’s hugging an old friend. The weight of dozens of mountains and just […]


Editor’s note: We are profoundly sad to report that Beşiktaş Kaymakçı has closed.  January 21, 2013 Çakmak (0) When it comes to the first meal of the […]

First Stop

Editor’s note: We asked Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, a columnist for Turkish daily Milliyet, where she heads first for food when she returns to Istanbul after a […]

Spring (Food) Break 2014

With all of the anticipation of local elections in March, the scandalous graft-laden tapes leaked via social media, the communication fog brought on by the […]

Karaköy Lokantası

When Karaköy was still “the docks” and filled with shop windows advertising boat tickets to Odessa alongside cubby-sized import and export offices, Karaköy Lokantası felt […]

Çiya Sofrası

For us, one of the highlights of spring in Istanbul is a visit to Çiya Sofrası, the Asian-side eatery that is very likely the best […]

İstiridye Balık Lokantası

These days, writing about Istanbul’s old-school restaurants can be heartbreaking work. No sooner do we find out about a classic lunch spot than it turns […]

Perşembe Pazarı: The Nuts & Bolts of Eating in Istanbul’s Hardware District

More so than any other district in Istanbul, Perşembe Pazarı – the city’s hardware zone – brings together what we love most about this city: […]

Bizim Ev

Editor’s note: This post was written by “Meliz,” an intrepid explorer of Istanbul’s culinary backstreets and frequent Istanbul guest contributor who would like to keep […]

Istanbul’s Top Street Foods

Editor’s note: This post wraps up our special series this week featuring our top street food picks in all of the Culinary Backstreets cities. As […]

Ask CB: Dining with Kids in Istanbul?

Dear Culinary Backstreets, My husband and I are planning a visit to Istanbul with two little ones in tow. We love to be adventurous with […]

Spring (Food) Break 2013: Istanbul

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of “Spring (Food) Break 2013,” featuring our favorite foods of the spring season in each city Culinary Backstreets […]

Istanbul’s Top 3 Lahmacun Makers

Lahmacun is one of those mysterious foods where a lot is created with so little. It checks all of the boxes of a perfect savory […]

Beşaltı Kirvem Tantuni

One of the big downsides to Istanbul’s otherwise great food scene is the lack of a credible Mexican option. We’re not asking for anything special, […]

Best Bites of 2012: Istanbul

After four years of publishing weekly dispatches from Istanbul’s culinary backstreets (on and now on this site as well), we are still regularly surprised […]


The arrival of fall in Istanbul usually means one thing for us: hamsi season is about to begin. Hamsi, of course, are the minuscule fish (Black […]

NATO Lokantası

Turkish politics make for a great lunch counter conversation. These days, one of the hot topics is a perceived axis shift, as if Ankara, feeling […]

Kebapçı İskender

A visit to Bursa İskender Kebabı® feels as if you’ve stepped right into the war room of the İskenderoğlu family’s never-ending quest to establish ownership […]

Untitled-23   It’s not just that they have a keen eye for what’s delicious—they do—but that we share a sense of what’s worth discovering. Food unique to a place, with a story in that place. Food made by people who care about it, about their craft; food worth talking about, worth traveling for. Read more

Untitled-24 After stopping everywhere from fruit carts (for, say, green almonds and sour plums) to an Ottoman-era caravanserai for tea in Karaköy, on the northern side of historic Galata Bridge, you’ll be whisked by ferry to Kadıköy market, in Asian Istanbul, to sample regional treats like lahmacun (flatbread with spiced, minced meat). Read more

Untitled-25 The historic seat of empires and the gateway to the spice trade, the city boasts a food scene that reflects its neighbors in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, as well as towns and provinces throughout Turkey. Walking through the streets, you’ll see spit-roasting meats, tart and fresh juices squeezed to order, and salty, savory snacks — from pickles and olives to a local variety of bagel. Read more

Untitled-26 Last year, we toured the Istanbul produce markets withMegan, an American cook who has lived in Istanbul for many years and who is a guide with Culinary Backstreets, which specialises in local food experiences. While the Spice Market is an essential stop on most tourist itineraries, Megan took us on a ferry across to Kadikoy, to the lesser-known market on the cosmopolitan, Asian side of the city. There, we sampled the best kebab in the city, and tasted meltingly sublime baklava from Bilgeoglu, one of Istanbul’s best pastry makers. Read more