A Turkish breakfast can take many forms. The most famous is the extravagant traditional spread; it has roots in the Ottoman empire, when royals would eat a selection of foods such as cheese, jam, honey with clotted cream, bread and olives. But breakfast in Istanbul means variety – so from no-frills cafes serving traditional Turkish tea to restaurants making French omelettes, here’s our local guide to finding the best breakfast in Istanbul.
Turkish su börek (water borek) is a traditional form of borek that looks a bit like lasagne with thin layers of pastry. It’s notoriously difficult to make, and food guide Uğur Ildız recommends trying it at his favourite place in Beşiktaş, Kafadaroğlu – here, you can enjoy breakfast and Turkish tea at a no-frills restaurant offering 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. Students in professional programmes cook and serve food at this restaurant located in the Sakip Sabanci Museum (SSM). “This is where I go for good eggs and a beautiful setting on the terrace,” she says. “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.
Mangerie offers an all-day breakfast that is among the best Istanbul has to offer, and one Narin highly recommends. It was one of the first restaurants to bring all-day breakfasts to the city. “Mangerie is in a beautiful location, housed on the top floor of a period apartment building in Bebek,” says Narin of the charming third-floor location with Bosphorus views. Most importantly for a place serving breakfast, it is open early, she says.
For a traditional Turkish breakfast with some western options, Narin recommends Cuma, a small rustic café on Çukurcuma street. The café has a farm-to-table approach. “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 one of her favourite spots. “You know you are getting really carefully produced jams, honey and cheeses,” she adds.
If you want to try serpme kahvalti (an assorted Turkish breakfast), food guide Ildız recommends Doğaciyiz Gourmet in the Cihangir neighbourhood, which specialises in food from Antakya, a city in southern Turkey, along with the usual Turkish breakfast items. The massive breakfast spread here includes different types of cheeses and breads, along with a variety of olives, garlic yoghurt, eggs, preserves, jams and butter.
Another regional breakfast spot Ildiz recommends is Yılmaz Tandır Ve Dürümevi in the Feriköy neighbourhood, which specialises in breakfast from the northeastern city of Erzincan. The flavours here differ slightly from most kahvalti (breakfast) places. They make their own lavaş bread, and serve butter and tulum cheese, which they bring from their home town 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.