Whether recovering from a night out on the town, or fuelling up for a laid-back day of sightseeing; these Istanbul brunch spots have your back.
Istanbul local Sara Faruqi says that on weekends in Istanbul, breakfast is never really at breakfast time. These are her top spots in the city to grab brunch with friends after a fun night out, including an all-you-can-eat lobster brunch and a traditional Turkish spread at a restaurant as old as the Republic of Turkey itself.
For those looking to splurge on a decadent brunch with a beautiful view, Laledan at the five-star Ciragan Palace is the place to be. Take a table overlooking the manicured gardens of the property with unobstructed views of the Bosphorus and enjoy the hotel’s summer brunch that has everything from the most decadent Mediterranean cheese to seasonal seafood, as well as lactose-free and gluten-free options. Start at the cold buffet section, then head over to the hot food stations where the chefs prepare your food in front of you, before filling your plate in their dessert room. Yes, room.
Housed in a historical building on Cukurcuma street in the trendy neighbourhood of Beyoglu, Cuma’s rustic decor offers a cosy atmosphere that is perfect for a slow, lazy morning. Enjoy the casual sofa seating upstairs or soak up the sun in their green outdoor space as you enjoy your brunch. Using as many seasonal and local products as they can along with many baked treats (from croissants to pies and cakes) to healthy options and vegetarian dishes, Cuma is a crowd-pleaser with something for everyone. Their pancakes are a hit menu item and they also have a variety of egg dishes (poached, scrambled, Turkish-style fried etc.), which can be difficult to find in Istanbul at most local breakfast places.
Brunch can often be a carb-heavy meal and who knows carbs better than a bakery? Ortakoy Finn restaurant is named after its founder, a baker who also owns the Ortakoy Oven bakery across the street. A favourite among locals in Besisktas, you will often see people walking home after work with bags of baked goods. Have brunch here to enjoy the fresh simit baskets that arrive at your table from across the street. The cafe offers various breakfast platters for all group sizes such as the classic platter for two people to a supreme platter which covers the entire table, to an à la carte brunch menu. Try their gozleme (a stuffed flatbread pastry) and pisi (a kind of fried Turkish bagel).
Mangerie offers all-day breakfast | Courtesy of Mangerie
Mangerie is a busy restaurant in the neighbourhood of Bebek. They serve breakfast all day, and have a terrace that offers sprawling city views, making it a popular spot for people to unwind on the weekends.
Namli Gurme is a chain, and their restaurant in Karakoy serves up a delicious brunch spread including fresh olives, homemade jams, clotted cream with honeycomb, and bread and cheese. The brand’s marketplace-cafe concept also provides the added benefit of purchasing the olives, cheese, cold cuts and jams you may have just eaten. Namli Gurme doesn’t offer set breakfast options as most other Turkish breakfast places do, so you get to pick and choose what you want from what they have on offer on any given day. The location, right off the Galata Bridge, is great for tourists staying in Sultanahmet; a filling breakfast here will get you ready to explore the historical peninsula or the funky neighbourhood of Beyoglu, which are a 10-15 minute walk away.
As old as the Republic of Turkey itself Baylan started out as a small patisserie in Beyoglu in 1923 and has evolved into a proper restaurant. Today it has two locations, one off the Bosphorus in upscale Bebek and the other in Kadikoy, which is more a of a patisserie offering traditional desserts. Head over to the Bebek location for brunch and try to grab a seat right off the turquoise waters of the strait, although the rest of the restaurant is just as lovely to sit in. Baylan serves both Turkish and international brunch options. From eggs benedict to cheese plates to quiches to traditional Turkish platters, the choices are plentiful. Don’t leave without trying Baylan’s signature dessert the Kup Griye – vanilla and caramel ice cream with whipped cream and almond sauce and a smattering of crushed pistachios on top.
A classic Istanbul breakfast spot since 1983, Kale is nothing to write home about in terms of decor, but it serves some of the best morning grub in the city. With a great view of the Bosphorus, Kale has several options when it comes to breakfast. If you’re a big group, take on the Serpme Kahvaltı with grilled Halloumi cheese, tomato salad, olives, cheese platter, clotted cream and honey, and eggs with sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage). If you are still hungry, order extras like menemen (eggs with chopped onions and tomatoes), gözleme (thin dough filled with cheese or sucuk), or an omelette with cheese.
Located on the European shore of the Bosphorus in Besiktas, Ist Too at the Shangri-La Bosphorus offers an all-you-can-eat Sunday lobster brunch – the best and perhaps only seafood brunch in Istanbul. Although they have classic brunch options as well, the seafood is what most people come here for. Expect fresh lobster along with organic farm-to-table-style food served up in mouth-watering displays at the buffet. With its spectacular floor-to-ceiling Bosphorus view the brunch at Ist Too is a great way to end your weekend. Alcoholic drinks are included in the price, but there is a lower price option offered for those who don’t want alcohol. Reserve in advance as their Sunday brunch is extremely popular.