Most Americans probably don’t consider Istanbul to be a big food destination. If you are in that category, boy, do I have news for you.
Istanbul streets are lined with cafes, restaurants, and bakeries with offerings that would make anyone’s mouth water. Streets are filled with scents of bread, meat, fish, turk khavesi, and whatever is fresh off the stove top. While I will undoubtedly have many posts about the food one is able to eat along the Bosphorus coast, I wanted to take today to focus on the overall dining experience.
No two restaurants are the exactly the same. Each offers a unique flavor, atmosphere, and clientele that make the experience its own. Just like you cannot generalize American eateries, the same can be said for the Turkish. However, a typical experience can be reduced to a few key differences between cafes in Istanbul and their counterparts across the pond.
For one, service is generally much faster here. Oftentimes, food is ordered and appears within just a handful of minutes. Is this true for all locations? Definitely not, but it’s a noticeable difference nearly anywhere you visit.
Food is also much cheaper in Istanbul, along with most other everyday items. Thank a fantastic exchange rate for that- at nearly three lira to a dollar, the cost of living is much less here than it is in Boston or New York. It means many meals can be bought for less than five dollars- and we’re talking healthy portions too.
Every meal comes with bread. A whole basket of bread. More bread than one could ever possibly wish to consume. I was not expecting the amount of bread I see in this city, but whether it’s a standard loaf or a delicious simit, rest assured that your carb addition will not go untreated.
And, while it’s not free, most meals are followed by coffee, or more often tea. Meals are a time to socialize with friends or take a step back from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. As long as you’re not running out the door, it feels almost expected that tea will be ordered after the main course is complete.