Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Doner Kebab: The best street food in Istanbul

Whether you are coming back to your hotels or strolling down the beach after a long day, you will always find small street vendors that sell those triangular bread filled with meat, on the side is a long rotating spit of giant roasted meat with a sign that said Doner Kebab. This simple European street food is equivalent to that of the hot dog in America, Doner Kebab has become a favorite food not only to Europeans but the world. Let’s visit the home of Doner Kebab, Istanbul, to find the best ones there are.

Dated back to the 17th century, this well-beloved food come to the light as Doner Kebab in Istanbul, introduced by Beyti Guler. The food was first served to royals and the like and became common food in the mid-1960s. Nowadays, Doner Kebab is easy to find because of its characteristic appearance, which is a yellow-painted street vendor and a huge rotating skewer of huge chunks of meat slowly being smoked by the heat from below. 

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photograph by @Captainz | Shutterstock

Layers of meat are stacked vertically (or horizontally) which makes for the randomness of meat tenderness on your plate. After soaking the juiciness of the meat inside a heating slice of bread, the result is out of this world, regardless of how simple the ingredients are. Delicious and cheap, Doner Kebab traveled all around the world, attracting good numbers of follow-ups, and different variations of the food. But no way is like home, Istanbul’s original takes on the food are always spot-on. 

Get to know your orders well

No matter how the meat is processed, or the vendor you visit might offer their own spin on the food, there’s are the standard ways that Doner Kebab can be served. The two most basic ways are meat served on a plate with bread, and meat wrapped in sliced bread. 

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photograph by @Enez Selvi | Shutterstock

Another method is combining meat and flatbreads with other toppings, such as tomato, fried potatoes, onion, yellow cheese, and the most peculiar way, cooked white rice. The variations of Doner Kebab made it possible to eat it at any time of the day.

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photograph by @Maddas | Shutterstock

Now, in many countries, Doner Kebab is usually eaten without any signature drinks, but in Istanbul, people are always enjoying their meat and buns party with refreshing “Aryan”, a special type of drink that is made out of yogurt, water, and salt. And if you want to try the “locals’ option”, try the “salgam”, an uncommon drink that gives in spiciness and sourness from purple carrot pickles.

Knowing what’s in store for you, let’s find you one

The simpler it is made, the better – that is how your Doner Kebab radar for good restaurants, or street vendors should be. Aim for simple-looking, neon-signs restaurants as your first priority, however, there are fancy places where a lot of effort and creativity is made in order to create a new experience, a new tastebud for Doner Kebab that you should definitely try.

Dönerci Şahin Usta at Grand Bazaar 

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photo by tasteatlas.com

This place is the perfect example of a good Doner Kebab restaurant. Down this old Istanbul road, just by the corner. The place only offers one choice, no extensive menu, no chairs or tables to eat at, just a humble small vendor but with mind-blowing quality. From the well-seasoned meat to the fresh-baked flatbreads, you eat it with soft drinks then it’s somebody else’s turn. Simple, but delicious.

Metet Közde Döner in Kuzguncuk

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photograph by @metetdoner | Instagram

If you like to have your Doner at your own pace, then this place is ideal. Mouth-watering dishes with plenty of meat to choose from, with yogurt and salad, served as freebies. This is also not a luxurious restaurant, but the friendly waiters can be a great company for you to have.

Karadeniz Döner Asım Usta in Besiktas 

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photograph by @gezerkendoyduk | Instagram

Looking for an old recipe? Visit Asim Usta, this place has been around Istanbul for half a century. As the staff and the equipment status increase throughout the year, the fine, tasty Doner Kebab stays the same.

Around the city, just look for a vendor

Doner Kebab: The best of street food in Istanbul | Wanderlust Tips

Photograph by @Sadik Yalcin | Shutterstock

Doner Kebab is the Turkish delight of Istanbul. Its presence in the kitchen is second to nature for the locals. Whether it is a simple-looking vendor, a small restaurant, or you may want to risk it and find a decent Doner Kebab restaurant, you can never really go wrong with juicy meat and a hot bun.

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