If you’re wondering where to eat breakfast in Istanbul, a terrific (some even say “the best”) traditional Turkish breakfast experience is found at Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu, literally “Çakmak breakfast saloon”. Tucked into the buzzing streets of Istanbul’s Beşiktaş neighborhood, this tiny restaurant is continuously packed with a stream of satisfied customers. Apparently everyone comes here for weekend breakfast, including one local couple we sat next to the previous night, in a totally unrelated streetside restaurant, blocks away. We recognized one another and laughed at our chance second meeting. It only confirms to me, according to the laws of travel serendipity, that Çakmak is the place to be.
The day before, I received a basic prep-course on the ins and outs of Turkish breakfast during an epic, seven-hour culinary walking tour through historic Beyoğlu. Armed with a new Turkish vocabulary, we sit down at one of Çakmak’s small tables and order a full breakfast with the works.
The first dish to arrive is a plate of thick, clotted cream, swimming in a pool of golden Turkish honey. We spread the white cream onto chunks of oven-fresh bread. To balance the sweetness, a platter of three cheeses arrive. This is the goldmine. Unlike many breakfast saloons, Çakmak is known for the quality of its cheeses, particularly creamy cheese matured in sheep’s skin, and a strong yellow cheese, sack-aged for several years.
We pair the trio of salty cheeses with fresh vegetables: crisp tomatoes and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil.
The most traditional Turkish breakfast dish is menemen, scrambled eggs prepared with tomato, onions, green pepper, cheese and spices. The vegetables in the dish are fresh and flavorful.
At the recommendation of Angelis, our food guru/guide from Istanbul Eats, we ordered pastırma and eggs. Similar to pastrami, pastırma is thinly sliced, air-dried, cured beef. Three sunny side up eggs are served in a deep pan, covered in a layer of the salty meat, spiced with Turkish seasonings.
We devour everything on our table, ending our incredible breakfast experience with small glasses of black tea. Though the meal itself is simple, there’s nothing quite like this combination of foods and flavors anywhere else in the world. Çakmak delivers one of the most memorable culinary experiences in Istanbul, certainly a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu is located at: Akmaz Çeşme Sok. No:20 Beşiktaş, Istanbul
2011 Mileage Total: 72217