What are the 10 Best Restaurants for Breakfast in Istanbul?

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Turkish breakfast is both a meal and an event. In any case, it’s an unmissable experience on any trip to Istanbul.

City denizens often prefer their brunch on the water – or at least with a view – but a number of holes-in-the-wall make a good argument for finding your fix in Beyoğlu, too. 

1)    Sütiş, Emirgan

An army of waiters serves the broad patio at Emirgan, where hordes of sunglassed Istanbul’us kiss hello, chat, and soak in the Bosphorus views over classic dishes. Specialties include the su böreği (a noodle-kugel-like dish made from sheets of pastry and white cheese) and menemen (like scrambled eggs  on crack, with tomatoes and peppers, cheese or meat optional). Expect a wait anytime after 10am on weekends; weekdays are quieter. Walk off your breakfast after with a stroll through Emirgan Park (the center of the tulip festival in April) or the Sabancı Museum, a small but well curated house museum with rotating exhibits. Sütiş Location

2)    Four Seasons, Bosphorus, Beşiktaş

A favorite for business types on an expense account, the Four Seasons provides a last-meal-worthy brunch spread. Oh, and their breezy terrace, overlooking the glinting on the Bosphorus, isn’t too horrible either. Four Season Bosphorus Location

 

3)    Van Kahvaltı Evi, Cihangir

You’ll spot this unpretentious café in urban Cihangir by the crowd gathering on the sidewalk. They come for the traditional breakfast dishes from eastern Anatolia, including Van cheeses and fragrant honey. Oh, and that’s what they stay for, too. Van Kahvaltı Evi, Cihangir Location

 

4)    Kale Café, Rumeli Hisarı

Rumeli Hisarı, a European neighborhood in the shadow of the second bridge over the Bosphorus and the fort that Mehmet the Conqueror used to sack Constantinople, is also the brunch mecca of Istanbul. Kale’s the quiet local favorite. It has two outposts, but head to the one with the red awning and the crowds. Once you’re seated, standard breakfast orders will appear in front of you, but don’t forget to order a few eggs with sausage or menemen. Hope you’re hungry. Kale Café, Rumeli Hisarı Location

5)    Aşşk Kahve, Kuruçeşme

Battle your skepticism as you walk behind a grocery store to get to this relaxed café on the water. The eclectic style runs from the shabby-chic furniture to the food, which features Turkish specialties and perhaps the only tofu scramble in Istanbul. Aşşk is ideal for whiling away a lazy morning or afternoon on the water with drinks and snacks, but don’t bother with dinner – you can do better. Aşşk Kahve, Kuruçeşme Location

6)    Gram, Pera

On Pera’s charming Mesrutiyet Caddesi, nouveau-Turkish and ethnic restaurants enliven the carefully restored buildings. Auf, Meze by Lemon Tree, Bird… They are all worth your time and Lira at dinner. But Gram is where you go for breakfast. With whitewashed brick and stone walls and a large communal wood table, Gram is a cozy yet clean nook of a restaurant. Will yourself past the tempting bakery items in front – deadly brownies, kasar cheese and basil brioches, meringues the size of your fists – and select from the carefully balanced, seasonal dishes in back. Gram, Pera Location

7)    Lucca, Bebek

Join Istanbul’s yuppie scene at Lucca as it spills over from Saturday night into a popular Sunday buffet brunch. The warm lighting, quieter tunes and extensive spread will help cure the effects of even their famous Satsuma cocktail. Lucca, Bebek Location

8)    Backyard, Bebek

In the hills above Bebek, and somewhat incongruously attached to a fancy gym, Backyard might be the best spot in Istanbul on a sunny day. Take one of the tables strewn around the garden (formerly that of a French orphanage) and indulge in jams and other locally sourced dishes. Backyard, Bebek Location

9)    Delicatessen, Nişantaşı

Visit Delicatessen on a Sunday morning, and you’ll find an unusually peaceful side of Nişantaşı. For those hours, the two-level space (by local interiors firm Autobahn) transforms from a popular scene to a neighborhood hangout. Flip through a design magazine over decadent baked goods, Turkish dishes, or even some American-style pancakes. Delicatessen Location

10)    Namlı Gurme, Karaköy

On the Karaköy waterfront, Namlı is what would happen if a classic Turkish breakfast joint met Zabar’s and fell in love. Line up with the hungry Turks outside, then shout your order for platters of cheeses, meats, vegetables, eggs, fish, and more at the deli counters. The brusque but efficient team – who could blend right in to a Manhattan diner staff – will find you a seat. (And they will find again you if you linger too long.) Namlı Gurme, Karaköy

 


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Emily Von Kohorn •Istanbul, Turkey

American Expat living in Istanbul - working, exploring, and eating all the mezes she can get her hands on.

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