In Turkey, breakfast is a meal that’s rich in flavor and steeped in tradition. A true Turkish breakfast is an art form, where restaurants need to adhere to the staple offerings, but also add their personal flair. Istanbul and its residents take it rather seriously, but it’s clear that some restaurants are exceeding expectations.
If you’re headed to Istanbul and in search of the perfect Turkish breakfast, you’ll be looking for a number of things. A Turkish breakfast almost always has a selection of cheeses ranging from sharp cheeses like beyaz peynir to softer, subtler cheeses like kaşar.
Your table should be packed with plates of varying sizes. The smaller plates are for Turkish breakfast necessities like butter, olives, jams and honey while the slightly larger plates accommodate things like tomatoes and cucumbers. You might also find all of these together on a platter of sorts.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Turkish breakfast is all about the confluence of sweet and savory in an attempt to achieve ultimate breakfast satisfaction. It gets even better when you bring in hot offerings like menemen (which is, essentially, scrambled eggs and tomato) and savory pastries filled with meat, cheese or vegetable,s such as börek and gözleme.
At almost every Turkish breakfast table, you’ll also find simit, a circular, bagel-like sesame-crusted bread, and it’s every bit as delicious as it sounds.
With Turkish breakfast, it’s important to take your time and understand that the dishes will often come out intermittently, simply because they can’t fit that many plates on the table. At the end of the meal, don’t rush off. Rather, sip on Turkish tea, known as çay, or have yourself a kahve (Turkish coffee).
It’s worth noting that Turkish breakfast is known in Turkish as kahvaltı, which literally translates to “before coffee,” so have your breakfast, then your coffee and appreciate a tradition which has been thriving for centuries.