Back in Istanbul after visiting all the important mosques and palaces in the Old City, which is both an Asian and European city. After all the sight-seeing, everyone was a bit hungry, but didn’t have the luxury of time to sit down for a proper lunch. I was on the hunt for the next best thing that Istanbul is known for:

Kebab!

Across the Mosques and Museums is the Divanwolu/Divanyolu Caddesi Street, which is a main street with the bus and trolley lines passing through. This is also across a park so it’s nice to walk around if you are in the area.

It reminded me of San Francisco, with the BART system and the pre-colonial architecture, but there were no hills in this area of Istanbul.

Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi

There are plenty of restaurants in the strip, but one that caught my eye was the Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi, because of the plenty of hosts ushering guests in as well as the fact that it was established back in 1920, so it must be good to stay put.

I was happy to discover that 99% of diners inside the restaurant were local Turks, which made me trust the authenticity of its flavors. It’s important to steer clear of tourist trap restaurants when in areas like this, because they charge you an arm and a leg yet give you crappy food. The looks on the diners’ faces said: You’re not Turkish. I LOVE IT.

Since we wanted a quick bite to get us through our hunger before we resumed our tour of Istanbul, we decided to do some takeout.

10 Kebab Sandwiches please!

The odd thing about Turkish kebab, or Doner, is that they don’t serve it on pita bread, which I’m used to in most middle Eastern restaurants, but on a sandwich roll or, for this instance, baguette.

Pudding Shop/Lale Restaurant

I decided to venture out further to try the “competition” My tour guide Tuna recommended the Pudding Shop, which honestly looks like a karinderia (street vendor) from the exterior. Founded in 1957 by brothers Idris and Namik Çolpan, they opened Lale Pastahanesi where it was the only place to get direct transport to Asia and tourist information on Turkey.

It became popular in the 1960s as a meeting place for hippies on overland route between Nepal, India and Europe and Asia, better known as  – The Hippie Trail.  They put up a bulletin board to handle all the messages from people offering or hitching riders to Europe or the Far East. Long story short: This is a major HIPPIE HANGOUT! Cool!

Travelers could not remember the name of the restaurant, but always remembered that they sold different varieties of puddings, hence the name “Pudding shop was born.

I can’t believe I stumbled upon a real gem of history, but was also excited because their Doner Kebab Man looked legit and had the big knife to show for.

I ordered the Doner, and again they gave it to me in sandwich form. The meat was tasty and laden with spice, the tomatoes and vegetables fresh, which is the norm in Turkish cuisine focusing on the quality of the ingredients and the care in preparation.

What I wanted more of was a garlic sauce or some sauce… (hello I’m Filipino), so I found the sandwich a bit on the bland side.. oh well.. This was only gyro #2.

To quench my thirst, I went to the nearby food store and found my European lover: Nestea Peach Iced tea! I found it in FlorenceRome and Santorini already. I can now say PEACH in 4 different languages.

My family eating while standing up. We’re cowboys ya’know.

My god-family chowing while enjoying the park.

The ladies with their NFF (New Found Friend). Speaks n0 English.

After lunch we jumped back into the bus and headed to our next destination… I passed by some Hookah bars & cafes and wondered if this would be my gimmick for the night.

Instead we went to a leather goods outlet, for a Fashion Show…

Little did I know, that I was going to be part of the show, which was a cute way to entice customers to feel guilty and buy some leather jackets even if I lived in a tropical country. Clearly, someone else was enjoying this more than I. This is an automatic tourist go-to for guides, and if you really want a jacket, why not?

My big bro zipping up his gyro gut + Hot blond cheering him on = EGO!

I resisted buying a piece of leather and went on our way to the next destination for the day…

The Spice Bazaar!

Are you a Pudding addict or a Hippie? Visit Pudding Shop!
Want to Try Sultanahmet Koftecisi?