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.
VogueTurkey food editor Cemre Narin loves the small gözleme (Turkish flatbread) stall at the Feriköy Organic Bazaar that’s held on Saturdays. Although it is a gözleme stand, she often goes here just to see what new flavour of börek the stall owner Hacer Anne has created. Traditionally, börek is a thin-pastry stuffed with either minced meat, spinach, potatoes or cheese, but Anne likes to change it up. Her börek is beautifully hand-rolled at home then served in tin trays at the bazaar. In the winter she makes a pumpkin and ginger börek that is “perfectly pungent balanced with the sweetness of the pumpkin,” says Narin; her summer go-to being the savoury tomato börek.
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.
For the busy Istanbulite, a freshly-baked pastry in hand is breakfast. Speciality coffee shops like the cafe-bookstore Minoa in Akaretler offer a peaceful ambiance and fresh takes on traditional baked goods like pogača, açma and simit (all varieties of bread). Narin, who likes relaxing here with a cup of coffee, says they have some of the best cakes, tarts and pies in the city. She recommends browsing the bookstore after breakfast and then sitting down at the cafe again, for coffee and dessert.
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.
Bakery, Cafe, Restaurant, Juice Bar, Coffee Shop, Turkish, American, Italian, Mediterranean, $$$
Mangerie offers all-day breakfast | Courtesy of Mangerie
Mangerie is an all-day breakfast option that Narin highly recommends – it was one of the first restaurants to bring all-day breakfasts to Istanbul. “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 that boasts Bosphorus-views. Most importantly for a place serving breakfast, it is open early, she says.
Petra Roasting Co.’s beautiful space in Gayrettepe comes recommended by both Narin Sivetoğlu as a top spot for breakfast. Best known for their aromatic coffee choices, Sivetoğlu also highly recommends their french omelette. Narin likes Petra too, and is partial to their scrambled eggs. The restaurant also offers baked goods, vegan options and sandwiches.
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.”
Delicatessen in Nisantasi is a typical city cafe, where you’ll find freelance creatives working on their laptops at all times of day starting from 8am. They offer an assortment of traditional Turkish breakfast items including olives, honey, clotted cream and different cheeses, to simit served with aged cheese as well as more continental options like eggs benedict, pancakes and granola.
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.