What Is Turkish Kahvalti? Turkish Breakfast – A Cultural Heritage

Turkish Kahvaltı is the breakfast that most people in Turkey eat as the first meal of the day.

Turkish Kahvaltı includes a variety of cheeses, meats, pastries, vegetables, honey, and bread. Eggs are often served boiled or fried with sausage, and some sweet components are usually present. Turkish Breakfast is always served with tea during the meal and may be followed by a strong cup of Turkish Coffee

Real Turkish Kahvalti 
Turkish Breakfast

There are many restaurants in Istanbul and around Turkey that serve Turkish Kahvaltı, and at a reasonable price. Some establishments focus mainly on breakfast, and most serve at least 1 or 2 options of morning meals, to maintain revenue flow before the lunch rush.

What Is Included in Turkish Kahvaltı?

On a typical Turkish Kahvaltı restaurant menu, or in a Turkish friend’s home you will see a huge variety of choices including but not limited to:

  • Fresh wheat bread, sesame bagels, cornbread, or muffins
  • Cheeses like soft goat cheese called Ezine or aged Kashkaval. String cheese is common, as well as Izmir Tulum which is a cheese cured in a goatskin casing
  • Vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives
  • Cured meats like Sucuk or Pastrami
  • Menemen which is eggs cooked in tomato sauce
  • Toasted cheese and sausage sandwiches
  • Pastries are known as Börek and are made of fine phyllo dough and filled with sweet or savory ingredients
  • Eggs, fried or boiled
  • Turkish tea served in tulip glasses
  • Fruit preserves of all varieties
  •  Honey with clotted cream
  • Yogurt, either fresh or strained
  • Tahini with grape molasses
  • A small but strong cup of unfiltered black coffee

*Most Turkish Kahvalti items can be served all day long, not just in the mornings.

The Culture of Turkish Breakfast (Kahvaltı)

What, when and where people in Turkey choose to eat breakfast varies considerably by region, socio-economic status, and even day of the week. For most working people, just a toasted cheese sandwich or a sesame bagel bought from a street vendor constitutes the whole meal. A lot of school children eat cold breakfast cereal like corn flakes. 

Turkish Breakfast a Simit

On farms or in villages, eating soup is a quite common practice. Leftover soup can be reheated quickly and is filling especially when you dip your fresh-baked bread into it. 

Going out for a Turkish Kahvaltı can be an experience. A large table can be set with small portions of many different foods to share. There may even be a portable tea samovar so you can brew and serve your fresh Turkish tea right at the breakfast table. 

Where Can I Eat Turkish Kahvaltı?

In Istanbul where just about every district has at least 2 or 3 restaurants that specialize in breakfast. But it can be hard sometimes to find the true local experience when scrolling a touristic area.

A tip is to find a pide place in a working-class district. Pide is a Turkish pizza and is served at lunchtime, but the pide restaurants also use the stone ovens to make fresh bread which they serve with an amazing combination of honey and clotted cream. 

Fresh Pide as Turkish Kahvalti
Pide Restaurant

This will not be on the menu and will be by special request only. There are always a lot of simit carts around, where you can get a simple sesame bagel any time of the day.

What to avoid: There are several indicating factors which will help to guide you in choosing the correct restaurant. Of course, online reviews and pictures can be helpful, but so can these tips. You are looking for locals who are enjoying a meal, not tourists. If possible, scope out the place around noon on a Sunday. If it is packed, then it is the right choice. If it’s empty on Sunday, then take a clue and follow suit. 

How Much Will Turkish Breakfast Cost In Turkey?

As always, the cost of a meal varies a lot between cities, and indeed between neighborhoods. Expect to pay anywhere from 20 Turkish Lira ($2.50) up to 100 Lira ($12.50) per person, depending on where and how much you choose to consume.

Small Turkish Kahvalti
Small Turkish Kahvalti

You can expect to pay a premium for outdoor seating, or good views.


What Is Serpeme Kahvaltı? Where does it originate from?

Serpme Kahvaltı is a large and varied Turkish Breakfast that traces its origins to the city of Van.

Serpe Kahvaltı includes a variety of cheeses, meats, pastries, vegetables, honey, and bread. Each of these delicacies will be served on small dishes in the center of the table and are meant for sharing. This Eastern Turkey breakfast is always served with tea, and followed by a strong cup of Turkish Coffee

Many restaurants in Istanbul and around Turkey serve Serpme Kahvaltı, and at a reasonable price, it is a feast worth partaking in. Remember to schedule at least 2 hours and bring your friends! Turkish Breakfast is as much a social event as it is a meal.

What Is Included in Serpme Kahvaltı?

If you happen to find yourself in the Turkish city of Van, or at least somewhere in Turkey where they serve enormous breakfasts, one of the best treats you will be presented with is that there is no need to order anything! When you request a Serpme Kahvaltı the waiters will ask only how many people are eating, and maybe how you like your eggs cooked.

Find out what the best way is to travel thought Turkey and to get to Eastern Turkey and Van?

Once the serving starts, you will see a huge variety of small plates start to arrive, including but not limited to:

  • Fresh wheat bread, sesame bagels, cornbread, or muffins
  • Cheeses like soft goat cheese called Ezine or aged Kars Gravyar (Gruyere from the city of Kars)
  • Vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives
  • Cured meats like Sucuk or Pastrami
  • Pastries are known as Börek and are made of fine phyllo dough and filled with sweet or savory ingredients
  • Eggs, fried or boiled
  • Turkish tea served in tulip glasses
  • Fruit preserves of all varieties
  • Honey with clotted cream
  • Yogurt, either fresh or strained
  • Tahini with grape molasses
  • A small but strong cup of unfiltered black coffee

The Culture of Serpme Kahvalti in Turkey

Perhaps the first thing to understand about this Turkish tradition is that it is not breakfast. Breakfast usually refers to a meal eaten in the morning, after which people go about their daily lives. A full-on Turkish breakfast on the other hand is more of an event.

It takes hours and usually lasts through lunchtime. Another thing to note is that Turkish people do not regularly eat this sort of meal. It is reserved for special occasions, or at least for Sunday, at which time you probably will not be able to even get a reservation as so many local people are off work and like to spend the day out and about with family or friends.

In Van, the breakfast places are open all day long, and you can choose to start your meal in the afternoon, after a long sleep-in. 

Where Can I Eat Serpme Kahvaltı?

The original home of this extended breakfast restaurant is the city of Van, though for most people visiting a city just to eat breakfast may seem like a bit of a stretch. Luckily, breakfast restaurants exist in every city in Turkey, especially in Istanbul where just about every district has at least 2 or 3 restaurants that specialize in breakfast. 

If you are around Taksim looking for a real local breakfast place we would recommend one of the two below. The best place for Serpme Kahvalti in Istanbul did we find close to our home in Ferikoy area. It is a place that is always full with locals. Its a little off the beaten path, but with a cab from Taksim you can be there in 5-10 minutes.

What to avoid: There are several indicating factors which will help to guide you in choosing the correct restaurant. Of course, online reviews and pictures can be helpful, but so can these tips. Firstly, any restaurant that has a man out front trying to force a menu in your face is to be avoided.

Turkish Breakfast Bagels
Turkish Bagels

Anywhere you go that has a menu written in English is not a good sign. You are looking for locals which are enjoying a meal, not tourists. If possible, scope out the place around noon on a Sunday. If it is packed, then it’s the right choice. If it’s empty on Sunday, then take a clue and follow suit.

How Much Will Serpme Kahvaltı Cost?

As always, the cost of a meal varies a lot between cities, and indeed between neighborhoods. It is not recommended to opt for a cheaper version though, the ideal version should include gourmet and locally sourced ingredients, which are never cheap or industrially produced. Expect to pay between 50-80 Turkish lira ($7-10) per person. 

Why Should I Choose to Eat Serpme Kahvaltı?

There are many reasons to choose what you eat. Maybe you want an awesome Instagram photo to make your friends jealous. Maybe you wanted to spend a warm sunny morning at an outdoor table with your friends. There is also the excitement of trying at least 20 new flavors in just one meal. 

Of course, there are other breakfast options, from sesame bagels called simit to lentil soup, and the ever-popular stuffed pancakes called gözleme. There is no wrong choice when it comes to breakfast in Turkey, so jump in headfirst and try everything you can find.

Sim & Leo

During all our travels and living abroad we really got to know the flavors of the world. Now we are living in Turkey for some years, we love to discover the country in different ways, and then share our experiences with you. Discovering new places doesn't come easy, but we want to help with that!

Recent Posts