Izmir Food Tour: Exploring the Seaside City’s Unique Culinary Traditions

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Quick bite: On our food tour in Izmir, we will explore the tangled roots of this Aegean city’s cuisine and culture, enjoying the friendly and relaxed environment of the markets near the agora and sampling a variety of dishes unique to this city.

If Istanbul is Turkey’s New York, then Izmir is definitely its New Orleans. In this sun-drenched Aegean port city, peoples have come and gone for millennia – Greeks, Cretan Turks, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, Levantine Europeans and Kurds, to name a few – each contributing to the culture of the place, but also, we feel, surrendering to a lifestyle specific to the city. Being from Izmir means knowing good food and taking the time to enjoy it. Exploring the markets, bakeries, lokantas (family restaurants) and tea gardens of the narrow streets that stretch beneath the ancient agora built by the Romans, we are always struck by the local character – so “Izmirli”, as the Turks say – the kitchen here is. Digging a little deeper, a wide range of Mediterranean influences are revealed in the cuisine of this city, a reflection of its rich history.

In this sun-drenched Aegean port city, peoples have come and gone for millennia – Greeks, Cretan Turks, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, Levantine Europeans and Kurds, to name a few – each contributing to the culture of the place, but also, we feel, surrendering to a lifestyle specific to the city.

On our food tour in Izmir, we will explore the tangled roots of Izmir cuisine and culture, enjoying the friendly and relaxed environment of the markets near the agora and tasting a variety of dishes unique to this city. The day will start with a breakfast of boyoz, a Sephardic savory pastry found only here, slow-cooked eggs and local tulum cheese, followed by a slice of history from a cheese maker. 3rd generation helva. We’ll visit a workshop where lokma, a donut-like candy traditionally served to lighten the mood at funerals, is made and explore the crumbling architectural beauty of old Izmir, stopping at a spice vendor whose wife prepares another local specialty with Sephardic roots, subye, a refreshing drink made from ground melon seeds. We’ll explore a residential area inhabited by migrant families from eastern Turkey before we make our way through another market filled with local culinary institutions including a fine fish restaurant, a Bosnian-Turkish gastro-café, a pide bakery and one of the best lokantas in the country. Izmir takes its offal seriously, so we’ll try its famous sögüs, poached sheep’s head, before ending the day with a traditional local dessert made from semolina called sambali and a cup of Turkish coffee made from freshly ground beans. , in a stone mortar.

It’s a fitting end to an “Only in Izmir” type day.

FAQs

How do you manage the COVID-19 risk on your walks?
We have reinforced our commitment to safety with new guidelines to ensure maximum safety for our guests on our walks in terms of social distancing and hygiene while maintaining the quality of the experience. For more details on our precautions, read here.
Our itineraries have been modified during this time to ensure the safety of our guests, guides and the community. Our cancellation policy is extremely flexible to accommodate changes in travel plans.

What is included in the fees? In addition to your culinary alleys® guide, all foods eaten on the walk – nearly a dozen different specialty foods – are included in the price.

Why is the Culinary Backstreets tour more expensive than some other walking tours? The culinary alleys approach® and Istanbul Eats® is different from most tour operators. Each of our culinary walks is the culmination of extensive research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our continuous publication of articles, from restaurant reviews to stories about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new elements into the Culinary Walks, so they are constantly evolving and improving. Although expensive, we believe this is how we can create the quality experiences we seek. Culinary alleys® and Istanbul Eats® practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any kind of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses in which we believe, thus helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities that we love so much.

What is your cancellation policy? 100% will be refunded if given a week’s notice before the walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours or more notice.

Can I benefit from a discount if I participate in more than one walk? Yes, we offer a 10% discount for those who participate in more than one walk. Please email us at [email protected] if you would like to participate in multiple walks.

Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies? This can vary depending on a number of factors, including the food in question. Please email us at [email protected] to discuss your situation before booking.

Can children take part in the walks? Sure! We offer a 50% discount for children 12 and under. We do not charge for children 6 and under.

Do you offer rides during Ramazan? We offer this walk during the month of Ramazan and some local holidays, although our schedule is more limited during this time.

Can you pick me up at my hotel? How will I come back, once the tour is over? Our travel prices do not include transportation. If you book a tour, you are responsible for arriving on your own at the agreed meeting point. After the tour is over, we’ll help you get an authorized and safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions to public transportation, if you’re interested.

How much food will I try? It’s really up to you. We usually make between 9-12 food stops during our ride and try to include a few food stops along the way. The price includes as much food as you are willing to try. We offer a suggested serving size at each stop and you can follow our recommendation if you wish. Culinary alleys® and Istanbul Eats® walks often involve street food and food sharing.

Still have questions ? Please email us at [email protected]

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