How to eat out with kids in Turkey
Eating out abroad with children can be challenging, with many flavours and textures being something they probably haven’t experienced back home. A trip to Turkey might seem especially tricky. Around every corner, there’s something unique and delicious to sample, and traditional Turkish flavours are often strong. Rich garlic sauces, stuffed vegetables, and meze platters are fantastic choices for adults, but it’s a gamble as to whether your children will be as appreciative.
This doesn’t mean your children can’t enjoy the traditional Turkish cuisine, and there are plenty of child-friendly Turkish dishes your offspring will love - especially when they realise Turkish food compares very favourably to the dishes they know and love from home. If you’re planning a holiday to Turkey with your children, read our list of delicious Turkish delicacies that your little ones will love.
Lahmacun = pizza
A Turkish take on pizza, Lahmacun is perfect for anyone and everyone. The base is made using a thin and crispy flatbread and the most popular topping amongst locals is spicy minced meat with onions, tomatoes and herbs, however you can ask for a less spicy version for children. The dish is often served with fresh tomatoes, herbs and lemon on the side for you to add to your Lahmacun if you wish.
Lahmacun is usually eaten after being rolled up like a wrap, which adds to the child-friendly factor. You could even challenge your kids to who can make the best wrap from their Lahmacun.
Kaymak & katmer = pancakes with honey and cream
Katmer, a crunchy pancake traditionally eaten by the bride and groom post-wedding night, is a heavenly version of the much-loved pancake. You can eat with kaymak, the Turkish version of the clotted cream we all know and love in the UK. What child doesn’t love pancakes? This dish can be eaten with fruit and honey, as a dessert - or even for breakfast.
Simit = pretzels
Simit is a truly iconic Turkish food that dates back to the sixteenth century. The circular, sesame seed covered bread is enjoyed from Greece to Bulgaria, and in Turkey simit are eaten in bustling cities, sleepy villages and seaside towns. In short: they're everywhere. It won't be difficult to convince your average child to tackle a still-warm simit, but if you do need a bit of encouragement, point out how similar the simit is to a pretzel.
5. Borek = cheese pasty
A dish best served at any time throughout the day. Borek is one of the most versatile dishes in Turkey, which is probably why anyone and everyone loves to feast on a borek or two. Consisting of delicate, flaky pastry that’s typically filled with cheese, minced meat or potato, they're so reminiscent of the typical English pasty you’ll have no trouble getting your kids to try and love a Borek during your trip to Turkey.
Boreks are sold throughout Turkey, so if your kids are peckish and you need a quick fix for them, head to the local restaurant, supermarket of street food stall and order a freshly made borek for them to munch on. You’ll even find a number of shops that specialise in delicious variety of borek.
Pide = pizza (again)
Another Turkish take on pizza, this time with some added entertainment. Pide is served in a boat-like shape, so you can easily keep your children happy and occupied with a pide for dinner at a local restaurant.
This flatbread based pizza is often topped with either minced beef or lamb, cheese or spicy sausage. They tend to come with a salad on the side but this can most definitely be swapped for chips in most restaurants. Pide is a very cheap meal and, most important of all, will keep your little ones happy.
Balik Ekmek = fish finger sandwich
The Turkish equivalent to the fish finger sarnie is served right off the boat in Istanbul and other seaside locations like Gumusluk Turkey, making it one of the freshest seafood meals imaginable. It's especially popular with anyone living in Istanbul's Eminonu district, where boats line up to serve the delicacy. The sandwich consisting of a fillet of fried or grilled fish is served inside a soft bun of Turkish bread along with various vegetables. Tell your little ones that they're about to sample a fish finger sandwich fit for a king and watch them gobble down this much-loved treat.
Lokum = jelly beans
Lokum is more commonly known as Turkish Delight, and is a soft, somewhat sticky sweet treat that’s rolled in powdered sugar and comes in an abundance of different flavours. From chocolate to hazelnut, strawberry to cinnamon, there’s certainly a Lokum for everyone, including your kids.
If you’ve tried lokum back home, you definitely won’t want to miss out on trying to local version. The flavours are much more apparent in the fresher, homemade varieties than of those that are sold in boxes. You and the family will have a fantastic time browsing the vast selection of Lokum on offer at the local market - you could even grab a bag each and pick out your own favourites and compare. And lokum has a western counterpart: you can tell your children that jelly beans are reportedly inspired by Turkish delight.
Manti = ravioli
Small but perfectly formed manti are dumplings filled with ground meat and onion. They're incredibly popular in Turkey, and family members gather to make manti together as part of their family traditions. In size, shape and form they're similar to ravioli, so if your wee ones like this stuffed pasta dish back home it's a given they'll enjoy manti.
Sis Kebap = kebabs
If your kids enjoy kebabs at home on the barbecue then they might be willing to try out a sis kebab. This dish is a very popular traditional dish in Turkey, possibly because of how quick and simple it is to make, all whilst having a fantastic flavour.
Order a Turkish kebab and you’ll enjoy skewered beef, chicken, lamb or fish, with a side salad and some yoghurt for dipping, if you wish. It’s very similar to some of the kebabs we barbecue back at home in the summer, so it’s worth having your kids try it out to see if they like it. You’ll find sis kebab on offer in plenty of places throughout Turkey.
Kofte = meatballs
This is a particular favourite amongst Turkish locals and it’s bound to become a staple food for your kids during your family trip. Consisting of lightly spiced minced lamb or beef that’s shaped into small balls and then fried or grilled, Kofte is very similar to italian meatballs that make a thoroughly enjoyable family meal.
You’ll find plenty of restaurants offering Kofte throughout Turkey, with some serving it on a sandwich, on top of salads, or even with a side of chips. Some come as they are and sometimes they come in a tasty tomato sauce and a dollop of yoghurt. With so much variety to this tasty Turkish dish, you’ll have no problem finding a style that the kids will happily eat up.
Mozaik = rocky road
Finishing on something sweet, we have a dessert that the whole family will love. Mozaik is quite similar to tiffin or rocky road, in that it’s a chocolate cake filled with chunks of biscuit. Often served with an extra hit of chocolate sauce, it’s the ultimate chocolate fix for anyone, including kids!
As it’s a holiday, why not treat the young ones to a slice of mozaik during your stay in Turkey, especially if they’ve been brilliant with trying out the other variations of local cuisine.
There are so many more child-friendly dishes available in Turkey that we could write about forever, but the dishes we’ve listed are a fantastic place to start introducing your children to unique, international cuisine.