A Turkish breakfast can take many forms. The most famous is the extravagant traditional spread that can trace its roots back to the Ottoman empire, when royalty would eat a selection of foods including cheese, jam, honey with clotted cream, bread and olives. Yet Istanbul has a lot more to offer: from modern cafes and farmer’s market stalls to the best French omelette in the city; here are the best Turkish breakfast spots as recommended by our local food experts.
The famous Turkish su börek (water börek) is a traditional form of börek that looks a bit like lasagna with its thin layers of pastry. Notoriously difficult to make, food guide Uğur Ildız recommends trying it at his favourite place in Beşiktaş, Kafadaroğlu, where you can enjoy your breakfast and some Turkish tea at a no-frills restaurant offering what Ildiz says is some of the best su börek in the city.
Narin also highly recommends the MSA’nin Restorani, run by MSA, Istanbul’s Culinary Arts Academy, where students in professional programs cook and serve food at the restaurant located in the Sakip Sabanci Museum (SSM). “This is where I go for good eggs and a beautiful setting on the terrace,” says Narin. “Their scrambled eggs are fluffy and perfectly buttery, and they offer a great selection of juices and great coffee.” Ozhan Sivetoğlu, an Instructor Chef at the academy agrees, saying breakfast here is “high quality, with very good presentation.” He recommends the poached eggs, charcuteries and cheese boards.
For a traditional Turkish breakfast with some western options, Narin recommends Cuma, a small rustic cafe on Istanbul’s Çukurcuma street. The cafe has a farm-to-table approach, and source their ingredients straight from farmers. “I know the chef and how much she cares about the freshness of the produce,” says Narin, and as she prefers “less variety and better quality,” Cuma is a top spot for her to visit. “You know you are getting really carefully produced jams, honey, cheeses.”
If you want to try the serpme kahvalti (the famous assorted Turkish breakfast), food guide Uğur Ildız recommends trying Doğaciyiz Gourmet in Cihangir, which specialises in food from Antakya, a city in southern Turkey, along with the usual Turkish breakfast items. The massive breakfast spread here includes many different types of cheeses and breads along with a variety of olives, garlic yogurt, eggs, preserves, jams and butter.
Another regional breakfast spot Ildiz recommends is Yılmaz Tandır Ve Dürümevi in Feriköy, which specialises in breakfast from the northeastern city of Erzincan. The flavours here differ slightly from most kahvalti places. They make their own lavaş bread and serve butter and tulum cheese which they bring from their hometown in eastern Turkey. Ildiz recommends trying just the bread with melted butter and cheese.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Mariam Gabaji.