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Food & Drink

How to truly experience Istanbul's culinary scene

Istanbul's best breakfasts and brunches: on a budget


August, 2012



Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu

Out of Çakmak’s two branches in Beşiktaş – one on Çelebioğlu Sokak and the other on Akmaz Çeşme Sokak – our favourite is the latter. One of the oldest breakfast places in the neighbourhood, Çakmak is still popular thanks to its satisfying menu of cheeses like old and fresh kaşar, white and Erzincan tulum, as well as olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, honey, kaymak, eggs and the works. But what really sets Çakmak apart from the competition is the kavurma brought all the way from Erzincan. Onur Uygun


Akmaz Çeşme Sokak 20, Beşiktaş (0212) 227 25 65. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served all day, every day.


Kiraz Kahvaltı

Ever eat so much your belly button went from an innie to an outie? That’s exactly what’ll happen to you when you seat yourself down for breakfast at Kiraz. The honey, kaymak, cheese and fried meats are great, but the gözleme (particularly the potato-kaşar variety) is to die for. It’s hard to find a seat and even harder to leave Kiraz, since the service is quite slow and you might have to place your order several times. But the never-ending line outside the door is evidence of a job well done. Try visiting on a Sunday, when the owners sometimes throw out a couple of extra tables and chairs in front of the pharmacy across the street. Onur Uygun

Köyiçi Caddesi, Şair Leyla Sokak 1/C, Beşiktaş (0212) 327 62 06. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served all day, every day.


Pando Kaymak

Pando’s breakfast nook in the Beşiktaş market is an eatery that’s grown popular simply through a job well done. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a local legend. Rumour has it that Pando no longer makes his own clotted cream, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious in our eyes. This cubicle-sized shop can accommodate only a couple of tables inside and out on the pavement, and all of them are sure to be taken on the weekends. Still, people form lines to take home a bit of Pando’s famous honey-kaymak. Out of respect for this star dish, the breakfast plate is as plain as it gets, with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, cheese and olives to be had alongside a glass of tea or hot milk. Pando Kaymak is best for a no-frills, cheap and unforgettable meal. Onur Uygun


Mumcu Bakkal Sokak 5, Beşiktaş (0212) 258 26 16. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 20 TL. Breakfast served daily 08.00-16.30.


Pişi Breakfast & Burger

One of the most notable eateries on Çelebioğlu Sokak (which pretty much exists just so that Beşiktaş residents can eat breakfast) is Pişi. This establishment opened last year, and the line outside the door gets longer by the day. The most popular dish here is the eatery’s namesake pişi, which are, in simplest terms, pieces of fried, yeasted dough. You’ll find cheese, sucuk and Nutella varieties on this simple dish, as well as a full breakfast spread with acuka and sundried tomatoes served in olive oil. Onur Uygun


Çelebioğlu Sokak 14-16/B, Beşiktaş (0212) 327 71 90. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served daily 10.00-20.00.


Reçel Türevleri

Now that Çelebioğlu Sokak is no longer able to accommodate all the breakfast joints popping up in Beşiktaş, Şair Veysi Sokak looks to be a new favourite. It is here that Reçel Türevleri opened its doors a year and a half ago to serve a gazillion types of jams from Adana (onion jam, anyone?). They’ve already got a wide following, and with the option to buy a jar of the jam you fell in love with during breakfast, it looks like those numbers will only grow. Onur Uygun


Şair Veysi Sokak 1, Beşiktaş (0212) 227 44 77. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served all day, every day.




Lades 2

At most breakfast joints around the city, eggs are an afterthought – like a hastily boiled egg or side omelette passed over for another slice of cheese or honey-dunked slice of bread. But this is simply not the case at Lades, where menemen or fried eggs with sucuk or pastırma is front and centre. Both Lades 2 and the original Lades (a more elegant restaurant serving food that aren’t made from eggs) are Istanbul institutions in their own right, harkening back to a time when İstiklal wasn’t filled with fancy foreign shopping malls. If you like, they can make you a breakfast plate to go with your eggs. But make no mistake; at Lades 2, the eggs are the main attraction. William F Zeman

Sadri Alışık Sokak 14, Beyoğlu (0212) 251 32 03. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served all day, every day.


Saray Muhallebicisi

This king of milk-based Turkish desserts – like tavuk göğsü (milk pudding made with stringy chicken breast), kazandibi (milk pudding with a caramel base) and, of course, its namesake saray muhallebisi (milk pudding topped with a thick layer of chocolate) – also deserves some praise for its kıymalı kol böreği (a type of börek with minced meat) and its menemen. The service is generally fast and attentive in the central Beyoğlu branch, though it’s been known to get suffocatingly crowded on the weekends – but if you like your breakfast with a sweet touch at the end, you’ll happily bear the crowds for the indisputably best muhallebi in town. Gizem Ünsalan


İstiklal Caddesi 173, Beyoğlu (0212) 292 34 34/www.saraymuhallebicisi.com. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served daily 06.00-02.00.




Bomonti organic market gözleme

Perhaps the least expensive yet one of the tastiest breakfasts in Istanbul, the Saturday organic market in the Bomonti neighbourhood serves ready-made goodies like fresh-baked poğaça and neatly-rolled yaprak sarma (rice-stuffed grape leaves). But the real reason to visit the market, apart from its fresh organic produce, is the freshly made gözleme. This is the perfect breakfast when you have groceries to pick up or when you feel like a change of pace. You place your order at the gözleme stand, where you see Turkish grandmother-figures rolling out the dough and stuffing them with your choice of cheese, potato, eggplant or a mixture. You might have to wait a while before your food is ready, about 20-30 minutes sometimes, but it is well worth it. Dalia Mortada


Bomonti 100% Ecological Market, Şişli. ekolojikpazar.org (Turkish-language website). Saturday 07.00-17.00. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 16 TL.




Kasımpaşa İBB Sosyal Tesisleri (IMM Social Facilities)

Breakfast in Istanbul often seems to come down to a choice between having a reasonably priced breakfast in a place without much of a view or having a very expensive breakfast at a place with a gorgeous view. But İBB Sosyal Tesisleri in Kasımpaşa is the rare exception. Run by the municipality, its breakfast is classic in every respect, and satisfies in the way only a standard Turkish breakfast can (though, on a sad note, their bread isn’t very good). Other breakfast dishes are available as well, and the view over the Golden Horn is usually only available at places charging thrice the price. William F Zeman


Evliya Çelebi Caddesi 4, Bedrettin, Kasımpaşa 444 10 34. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 20 TL. Breakfast served daily 09.00-11.30.




Beyaz Fırın

One of the most successful exclusively-Asian-side bakery franchises, all five of Beyaz Fırın’s branches are easily detectable from a block away, thanks to the ever-wafting aroma of freshly baked breads and pastries. At the headquarters in Erenköy (our favourite branch), you’ll find delicious pastries every day of the week, from classics like poğaça, börek and fried eggs to Beyaz Fırın’s twist on regular Turkish breakfast fare such as simit with eggs and sucuk or pide (flatbread) with ham and kaşar. Don’t forget to try some of their sweet concoctions either, of particular note being the almost-too-sweet sour cherry mekik (small, diamond-shaped pastries) and the éclairs. Gizem Ünsalan


Bağdat Caddesi, Yener Sokak 9, Kadıköy (0216) 360 90 90/www.beyazfirin.com (Turkish-language website). Breakfast for two with drinks: around 25 TL. Breakfast served Monday-Friday 07.00-22.00; Saturday, Sunday 07.00-23.00.




Bomonti Çay Bahçesi

Although Moda Caddesi, aka the main avenue in Moda, has a slew of breakfast establishments that all offer pretty much the same deal, our recommendation is to walk right past them (as well as the first, larger family-style tea garden) until you reach Bomonti Çay Bahçesi. It’s here you’ll find the best deal of all. Located right in front of a set of swanky apartment buildings, Bomonti is as low-key as alfresco dining gets, with plastic chairs and tables set out in a large area overlooking the cove. The service is by no means attentive, and you’ll probably have to order tea a couple of times before it actually arrives. But the tasty (and cheap) menemen make it worth your trouble – and the view is so good, it might have even the non-smokers among you thinking about ordering some flavoured nargile (water pipe) to enjoy for hours on end. Gizem Ünsalan

On the shore, past the Moda Pier towards Kalamış. Breakfast for two with drinks: around 23 TL. Breakfast served daily 08.00-02.30.





Bebek Kahve

Bebek Kahve is a seaside locale with a friendly, serene atmosphere – it is also the best place to go for the cheapest breakfast in Bebek. Grab a simit from a street vendor nearby and take in the amazing view of the Bosphorus as you sip your tea. Cevdet Paşa Caddesi 18, Bebek (0212) 257 54 02.


Çengelköy Çınaraltı Aile Çay Bahçesi

A great spot on the Asian shore run by very traditional owners, Çınaraltı offers delicious omelettes, and if you’re still feeling hungry afterwards, you can buy some börek next door that’s sure to leave you satisfied. Please note that there is no service on Fridays during the noon prayer. Çengelköy Caddesi, Çınarlı Camii Sokak 4, Üsküdar (0216) 422 10 36.


Fındıklı Park

Fındıklı Park is located right next to the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, and has small tea gardens where you can get a hearty breakfast at an affordable price. Though it’s definitely not a fancy place (note the plastic chairs), the food and the view combined make that fact irrelevant. Pürtelaş Hasan Efendi Mahallesi, Fındıklı.


Moda Shore

The seashore of Moda is a tranquil spot for early birds looking for cheap breakfast places. This scenic road on Istanbul’s Asian side has many small, relaxing tea gardens that are perfect to start your day. Osmanağa Mahallesi, Moda.


Pierre Loti Cafe

The hike up the stairs to Pierre Loti Hill, named after the famous French writer, is an experience in itself. Known as a respite away from the bustle of the city, Pierre Loti Cafe offers tea and coffee against a dashing Golden Horn view. Pierre Loti Hill, Balmumcu Sokak 5, Eyüp (0212) 581 26 96.


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