I will be in Istanbul for a few days prior to an RS Turkey Tour in September. I have often found good food tours to be a nice way to get an introduction to a city and its cuisine. Some focus on markets or food shops or restaurants/cafes. There are various food tours in Istanbul, and I wonder if any of you can make a recommendation (positive or negative) based on personal experience. Many thanks!
We enjoy food tours for the same reason and chose one on our first full day in Istanbul in March. We used http://culinarybackstreets.com/category/cities-category/istanbul/. They offer some different options. We did the two markets, two continents one and it was a good intro to the city and the food. We did not think it was as good as the Eating London/East End food tour we had previously taken. But the guide was good as was the variety of food offered.
Larry, as a caveat, I did not take a food tour (I could kick myself for not doing it because it sounds like so much fun). Here's what I would recommend at a minimum - take a ferry over to the Asian side and see the market streets of the Kadikoy neighborhood. There are tons of different stalls (veggie, fish, etc.) and it's quite a sensory experience. (Also, be sure to see the Spice Market nearby Galata Bridge). Stop by Ciya Sofrasi when in Kadikoy - great place to explore new foods (they have a kebab restaurant and a regular restaurant - I've been to the latter multiple times). http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php
I did do research on food tours and these two came out on top as very highly rated:
We must be on the same trip. We are also going to book a food tour and since in May 2015, I had a food tour in Athens with culinarybackstreets, I will be booking with them for Istanbul. I'm trying to decide which one and we will probably book for the Sunday before our turkey tour starts.
Watching Turkey with anticipation that all will settle out in this next month.
I love doing food tours as an intro to a new city as well! My husband and I did the RS Istanbul Tour last September and went on a food tour with Culinary Backstreets the day before our tour started. We chose their Hidden Beyoğlu tour and really loved it; it was a great mix of restaurants we never would have found on our own (and I'm a serious food researcher), food shops, and street stalls along with some culture, shops down stairs and alleys, a sneak peak on preparations for an Armenian wedding, and points of interest between stops. Our guide was good, and the group was small - we had 4 people on our tour. The Beyoglu tour ended up being a great choice for us as we wouldn't have gotten to spend much time in the neighborhood without doing the culinary tour. As an added bonus you get a book from Culinary Backstreets, with additional recommendations in other Istanbul neighborhoods, at the end of the tour for exploring on your own. Whatever you end up choosing, have a great time!