A daily tradition in Turkey, kahvalti, Turkish breakfast is best enjoyed with Bosphorus views, but is just as tasty in a quaint restaurant anywhere you are in Istanbul.
No matter what table you gather around for breakfast, you’ll find the same staple elements will be found on most dishes and plates.
There are four main staples found in a Turkish breakfast, with bread being the starter. On top of comes jams and spreads, along with cheese. Eggs are sometimes placed on the site, and other times, just another topping for the love breakfast bread.
no matter where you are visiting in Turkey, let alone in Istanbul, the four elements are always part of kahvalti . Sometimes extras do also accompany the regulars on the table such as butter, honey, olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Bread could be said to be the Academy Award winner of the breakfast table as it is always part of the show in Istanbul. Turkish bread is outstanding alone, with butter and jam, or just used to sop up extra sauces and oils from your plate.
The three main types of bread you’ll find at the breakfast table are pide, simit, and pisi.
Pide brings another element of breakfast that is always included in a kahvalti spread. Bread can be served in the form of fluffy pide that is often encrusted with sesame seeds.
Another staple of the Turkish breakfast is simit, which can be considered a Turkish bagel. They are quite large and round with a hole in the center and covered with sesame seeds. Simit serves as a tasty backdrop for cheeses and jams and can be eaten sit-down style or taken on the go.
A bread to satisfy the sweet tooth, pisi is made with sweet fried dough and is sometimes filled with cheese.
Cheese is also a staple that is always found in Turkish breakfasts. Most times, slices of at least three different cheeses are offered and can be eaten alone or on bread.
A medium-hard, pale yellow cheese, is made from sheep’s milk that is unpasteurized. Kasseri is smooth, not crumbly, and has a mellow, mild, and lightly sweet taste.
A very stringy cheese, civil peyniri resembles spaghetti and tastes like mild cheddar cheese.
A goat cheese that is uncured and resembles cottage cheese. Lor is low in fat and salt, but high in protein to fuel you through a day of sightseeing.
A brine cheese made from cow, sheep, or goat’s milk. Beyaz peynir is grainy and similar to feta cheese.
Jams and Spreads
Many different spreads and jams are served to slather on top of the delicious breads on the breakfast tables of Istanbul.
You’ll find many people spend time throughout the year gathering the ripest fruits from local markets, in order to preserve and can their own jams. Some tasty favorites include bergamot, apricot, fig, and cherry preserves, while a few restaurants serve rose petal preserves too.
For the sweet lover, Nutella, famous around the world, is found in Turkey along with other hazelnut spreads.
A syrup that’s similar to molasses, made from condensed juices, mostly grape, by boiling and thickening. Pekmez is layered on Turkish bread and sometimes blended with yogurt.
Black Olive Spread
For those that prefer a savory and salty spread for their bread, there is a black olive spread to please your taste buds.
Found in many of the dishes, offered plain or fancy, eggs can be prepared for any meal, not just for breakfast. They contain protein, essential vitamins, minerals, and are tasty and delicious any way you make them.
Eggs are prepared in many ways, but two favorites in Istanbul restaurants are menemen and sucklu yumurta.
If you are a vegetarian, then menemen is your dish. It is prepared by frying tomatoes, peppers, and scallions and then scrambling eggs into the dish, with plenty of oregano sprinkled throughout.
Sucklu yumurta is another delectable, yummy breakfast or anytime dish. This dish includes spicy cured beef sausage that is cooked on high heat in a pan with cracked eggs added and either fried or baked in the oven. This is usually served with pide, a porous, soft bread that is leavened, served fresh and warm, and used to sop up egg and oils.
Breakfast To Go
Perhaps you are in a hurry to sightsee and don’t have time to spend with a sit-down breakfast, but prefer something on-the-go. Well, even though Turkish breakfast are made fresh and not pre-packaged, most restaurants will be more than happy to package them up for you.
Any Turkish bread can be taken on the go with whatever spread or accompaniment you like for a delightful handheld start to your day. Of course simit, the Turkish bagel is an easy portable breakfast and can even be purchased at street markets as well as bakeries.
Many markets offer olives, the ripest tomatoes, and a spiced, cured thinly sliced beef called basturma, which is similar to beef jerky. These can be taken along with your bread of choice. Don’t forget the pisi, the sweet fried dough for those that like the sweet over savory.
You’ll find bakeries to also have have fresh rolls and bread to be eaten plain or with jam, but also, many are filled with chocolate, cheese, or tapenade which is a blend of pureed anchovies, capers, and olives.
Inside those same bakeries, you’ll find borek too. This thin phyllo dough is offered with a variety of fillings; spinach, meat, potatoes, and cheese, which makes a great take-along meal.
Where To Eat
Now that you know what you’re going to eat for breakfast, here are a few of the best restaurants in Istanbul that are sure to brighten your morning and fill your belly.
This place has won much praise for formulating the best breakfast Istanbul has to offer. They have a few dining options, being outdoor, indoor, and take-out. This is quite a popular place in Karakoy, so being an early bird helps or you may opt for on the go. They offer a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes, always created with fresh ingredients.
Cemse Bazlama Kahvalti
With the word breakfast included in the name of this family-owned restaurant in Nisantasi, you just know it’s their trademark meal. They offer a wide variety of nuts and dried fruits as well as mouthwatering cheeses.
They take pleasure in serving the best olive oil and olives along with the freshest tomatoes, harvested in Izmir. A large selection of platters are served both hot and cold and this restaurant is conveniently located in four different areas throughout Istanbul.
It’s best to visit this cafe in Yenikoy during the week, as weekends include a lot of hustle and bustle with patrons clamoring for their outstanding menemen dish. This cafe is a calm, serene place on weekdays to start your day, it overlooks the Bosphorous seafront and offers a spectacular view.
The ambiance of this captivating quaint and cloistered breakfast stop in Kadikoy offers indoor dining or bewitching garden seating. They serve breakfasts at reasonable prices and breakfast for late diner is served all day.
With modern decor that’s reminiscent of a Greek tavern, this restaurant in Karakoy has a petite area for outdoor dining but boasts three floors for dining indoors. Food is sourced from Turkey’s Aegean area and has a Mediterranean flair. The pisi, for a breakfast treat, is exceptional and perfect for those that enjoy a sweeter fare.