The Travelers' Guide to Eating In Turkey
Updated: Nov 5
Vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, gluten-free, nut-free, and so many other ways of eating have many travelers scouring online menus before visiting restaurants. Unfortunately, when traveling overseas, those convenient menus do not always wind up online.
Don't worry. We've put together a guide for how to eat based on your specific way of eating.
This guide includes:
The Vegetarian's Guide
The Vegan Guide
The Vegetarian's Guide to Eating in Turkey
If you plan to spend any extended amount of time in Turkey, you absolutely must visit the pazar. Think: farmer's market but oh so much better. As you navigate the rows and streets full of heckling food vendors calling for people to look at their fresh fruits and vegetables, you'll fall in love with the assortment of produce. You can select your produce, pick up a barbecue rack from Carrefour, Şok, or Migros, head over to a park, and grill your vegetables at any outdoor barbecue abundantly placed throughout Turkey.
Good vegetarian options at local restaurants abound. The easiest to find in nearly every Turkish restaurant include mercimek çorbası (pronounced mer-ji-mek chor-ba-sa) and pilav (pronounced pee-lav). Mercimek çorbası is a lentil soup made with onions, olive oil, and spices. Pilav is a rice made with butter, onions, and bullion.
Pide. Pide is a type of nearly flatbread with a variety of toppings. Kaşarlı (pronounced ka-shar-la), is a flatbread with cheese on top. You can also get it with various vegetables.
Sutlaç. This dessert of rice pudding contains rice, sugar, milk, a type of cornstarch, butter, and sometimes cinnamon.
You must absolutely drink çay (pronounced chai) and kahve (pronounced kah-vey) whenever offered.
The Vegan's Guide to Eating in Turkey
The same idea for vegetarian visiting the pazar stands for vegans also. If you plan to spend any extended amount of time in Turkey, consider grabbing fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the pazar.
Breakfast is a great place to start. There is a plethora of vegan options with khavaltı from tomatoes to cucumber to jellies to olives that will give you a great start to your day.
Mercimek çorbası and pilav are the best places to start for meals in Turkey. You can find these in most restaurants from Istanbul to the tiniest of villages.
The Low-Carb Guide
Depending on how low-carb you follow, the pazar may or may not offer suitable options, however, you will find amazing fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
The country knows Erzurum as the city of meat. Their local cuisine is çağ kebap (pronounced cha kebap). This is a delicious spit of tender meat roasted and served with a light bread.
Other common options include kofte (similar to hamburger), kebab, and bonfile (a similar cut to steak).
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs are a great place to start. Even if you just visit a pazar for the experience, then you will not regret your choice.
Gluten-free is not strictly followed in most places. If you are allergic to gluten or have difficulty with gluten, you may need to consider preparing your own meals.