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What: Breakfast, or kahvaltı, in Turkey is the stuff legends are made of, a parade of plates large and small piled with meats and white cheese, swimming with homemade jams, and edged with fresh tomato, cucumber, olives (zeytin), and hard-boiled egg (yumurta). Bread, butter, and tea rounds things out, along with—if you’re lucky—some divine bal kaymak, or clotted cream with honey. Additional hot eggs, like menemen or an omelet with sucuk (a spicy sausage), are always encouraged. Across the country, there are, of course, regional variations to be found, and in Istanbul you’ll find a variety of them. But even at its most basic, this breakfast is a kingly way to start the day. It’s a Turkish tradition you’ll want to take home with you and adopt forever.
Where: The northern district of Sarıyer is home to a handful of great breakfast joints on or near the Bosphorus—in fact, you should expect a good deal of “brunch traffic” on weekends along waterfront Yahya Kemal Caddesi. Popular indoor-outdoor eatery Sade Kahve (Yahya Kemal Cad. No. 20/A, Rumelihisarı, map), right across from the Bosphorus and its bustling promenade, is one we liked.
When: Daily, 6am-1am. Breakfast is served all day (as well as lunch and dinner later).
Order: The “village breakfast” (28 TL) includes all the standards, including our beloved kaymak. We especially loved the regional cheeses, which included the stringy örgü peyniri, the crumbly dry tulum peyniri, the salty, feta-like beyaz peyni, and the mild, yellow eski kaşar. Get some hot dishes as well, like peynirli yumurta (eggs topped with cheese, cooked in a tin-lined copper dish), sucuk tava (grilled sausage, available with eggs too), or hellim tava (grilled haloumi cheese). And keep an eye out for the wandering buzlu badem (iced almond) vendor, who passes through here sometimes.
Alternatively: Next door to Sade Kahve is the equally beloved Rumeli Kale Café & Pastane (Yahya Kemal Cad. 16, Rumelihisarı, map); in Beyoğlu’s trendy Cihangir neighborhood, Van Kahvaltı Evi (212-293-6437; Defterdar Yokuşu No. 52/A, map) is a longtime favorite among foodies, specializing in the big regional breakfast spreads of Van, in far-eastern Turkey. For more great breakfast ideas in various neighborhoods, check out this list from Time Out Istanbul.
Good to know: For more of that heavenly kaymak, plus delicious eggs and a very local experience, head out to Kaymakçı Pando (212-258-2616; Mumcu Bakkal Sokak No. 5, approx. map) in Beşiktaş.
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