Eating Your Way Through Istanbul's Grand Bazaar
When visiting the ancient and fascinating city of Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar is often tops on most visitors' must-see list. One of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, the labyrinthine market houses thousands of shops and kiosks selling everything from gold to clothing, household items, spices and trinkets. Visiting the Bazaar is a feast for the senses -- not the least of which is the sense of taste.
Over the last 100 years or so, dining has become a more important part of the Grand Bazaar experience. Traditionally, the Grand Bazaar was a shopping destination only -- the Turks' nomadic lifestyle and the fact that women were generally barred from appearing in public meant there was nowhere in the Bazaar to get food. Merchants would often bring meals from home; it wasn't until the early 1800s that simple foods became available from kiosks in the middle of the street. Merchants and shoppers would line up for traditional kebabs and Turkish coffee they could enjoy on the go.
Today, while kiosks still dot the Bazaar, the food offerings have become more plentiful and diverse. From simple tea shops to full service restaurants, it's easy to find something to eat while you peruse the wares.
Restaurants and Cafes
Many of the Grand Bazaar's best eating spots are hidden out of the way, tucked into back alleys or courtyards and cater to the locals who work in the Bazaar. These spots are where you'll find the most authentic and affordable fare -- and lines of hungry shoppers and merchants.
For example, Kara Mehmet Kebap Salonu is located in the Cebeci Han, an out of the way courtyard populated primarily by carpet repair shops. This tiny spot specializes in expertly grilled kebabs; in addition to traditional beef and lamb, be adventurous and try a liver or kidney kebab. Locals also flock to Aynen Durum, near the Bazaar's currency exchange center. Here you can order a durum (wrap) made with fresh Lavas bread and grilled meat; you can add your own peppers, pickles and parsley from containers lined up at the always crowded counter.
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