Izmir Food Tour
Only in Izmir: Exploring the Seaside City’s Unique Culinary Traditions
Quick bite: On this food tour we’ll explore the tangled roots of Izmir’s cuisine and culture, enjoying the friendly laid back environment of the markets near the agora and sampling a variety of dishes unique to this city.
If Istanbul is Turkey’s New York then Izmir is definitely its New Orleans. In this sun-kissed Aegean port city, peoples have come and gone for millennia – Greeks, Cretan Turks, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, Levantine Europeans and Kurds, to name a few – each contributing to the culture of the place, but also, we sense, surrendering to a lifestyle distinctive to the city. To be from Izmir is to know good food and take the time to enjoy it. Exploring the markets, bakeries, lokantas (homestyle restaurants) and tea gardens of the narrow streets that spread out below the ancient Roman-built agora, we are always struck by how local – so “Izmirli,” as the Turks say – the cuisine here is. Digging a little deeper, a wide range of Mediterranean influences reveal themselves in this city’s kitchen, reflective of its rich history.
In this sun-kissed Aegean port city, peoples have come and gone for millennia – Greeks, Cretan Turks, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, Levantine Europeans and Kurds, to name a few – each contributing to the culture of the place, but also, we sense, surrendering to a lifestyle distinctive to the city.
On this walk we’ll explore the tangled roots of Izmir’s cuisine and culture, enjoying the friendly laid back environment of the markets near the agora and sampling a variety of dishes unique to this city. The day will begin with a breakfast of boyoz, a Sephardic savory pastry found only here, slow-cooked eggs and local tulum cheese followed by a slice of history from a 3rd generation helva maker. We’ll visit a workshop where lokma, a donut-like sweet traditionally served to lighten the mood at funerals, is made and explore the crumbling architectural beauty of old Izmir, stopping by a spice vendor who’s wife prepares another local specialty with Sephardic roots, subye, a refreshing drink made from ground melon seeds. We’ll explore a residential neighborhood inhabited by migrant families from the East of Turkey before eating our way through another market filled with local culinary institutions including a fine fish restaurant, a Bosnian-Turkish gastro-café, a pide bakery and one of the best lokantas in the country. Izmir takes its offal seriously, so we’ll give its famous sögüs, poached sheep’s head, a try before finishing the day with a local traditional semolina dessert call sambali and a cup of Turkish coffee made from beans freshly ground the old-fashioned way, in a stone mortar.
It’s a fitting finish to an “Only in Izmir” kind of day.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|No pork served on the walk||Children welcome|
|No alcohol served on the walk||Samples fish and seafood|
|Some, but not all, stops can be altered for vegetarians||Fairly flat terrain /Stroller-friendly|
How are you dealing with COVID-19 risk on your walks?
We have reinforced our commitment to safety with new guidelines to assure maximum safety of our guests on our walks in terms of social distancing and hygiene while maintaining the quality of the experience. For more details on our precautions, read here.
Our routes have been altered during this period of time to ensure the safety of our guests, guides and community. Our cancellation policy is extremely flexible to deal with changes in travel plans.
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 Backstreets tour more expensive than some other walking tours? The approach of Culinary Backstreets® and Istanbul Eats® 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. Culinary Backstreets® and Istanbul Eats® 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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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@example.com to discuss your situation before booking.
Can children join the walks? Of course! 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. Culinary Backstreets® and Istanbul Eats® walks often involve street food and sharing food.
Still have questions? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.