Istanbul

Islak hamburger, wet burger

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An islak or wet burger from Istanbul, Turkey

What: A beloved Istanbul street food, the ıslak hamburger—a.k.a. the wet burger—is not, as we’d hoped, the Turkish equivalent of a French dip sandwich. But it’s a no less addictive, slider-size burger composed of a meat patty (usually beef) on a soft white bun that’s doused with a garlicky, vaguely Italian tomato-based sauce…and then left to sweat among its burger brethren inside a steam box until served to a customer. Don’t worry, these burgers are so popular they’re never left in that box for too long—particularly in the wee hours of the night. 

Where: In a sea of döner stands onTaksim Square, Kızılkayalar (Sıraselviler Cad. No.6, map) does a brisk business in wet burgers, which move like hot cakes out of its streetside steam box. Watch the stand in action here.

When: Open 24 hours, 7 days (but shuts down during demonstrations)

Order: One wet burger goes for 3 TL and is polished off in just a few bites, explaining why it’s hard to stop at one—especially after a beer or three. The burgers are moist and greasy, mostly all bun with a thin minced-beef-and-lamb meat patty buried within, but they pack a nice savory punch—the spicy, garlicky tomato sauce is pretty flavorful.

Alternatively: You may glimpse wet burgers elsewhere in the city or the country, but Taksim is where it all began—there’s no excuse not to head there for your burger fix. In the same area as Kızılkayalar, you might try Bambi. Do we smell an ıslak hamburger taste-off?