The Turkish omelet that has started making its way around the world seems to be a simple dish. Fry up some green peppers and tomatoes, throw in some eggs and let it stew with a touch of salt, black pepper, and spicy Aleppo pepper. Easy, right?
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Perhaps, but it’s such a delight that people will passionately debate whether or not onions should be added, causing Twitter wars. Everyone is a purist with their own ideas. If some like it hot, they may love adding sucuk/sujuk (a spicy, garlicky Turkish sausage) or pastırma (a dried/cured beef with a spicy covering). Others like things a little on the cheese side. Whatever your tastes, below are the 8 best restaurants serving menemen in Istanbul:
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1. Lades Menemen, Beyoğlu
This traditional Turkish eatery has actually won awards for its menemen. If you try their minced meat menemen, you’ll understand. Just like a Chili con Carne but with less spice, you’ll find yourself unable to stop. If you’re feeling for a saltier version, the pastırma (cured beef) version with its crunchy peppers is the ideal way to start your day. If you’re feeling a little sweet, you could go for any one of their desserts, but their honey and water buffalo clotted cream breakfast dish is a bit like ambrosia: you may forget your way home!
The inviting, warm colors from the caramel yellow and white tablecloth give this humble spot, with wallet-friendly prices, a touch of elegant luxury.
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2. Meşhur Menemenci Cemal Polat, Kadıköy
This hidden gem is the kind of place you may wish to visit alone to finish a creative endeavor. The décor is simplistic, yet strangely, it seems to be a home for the muses. Perhaps it was the potato menemen that somehow gives off a uniquely Turkish tortilla de patata vibe. Yet what takes the cake in this place are the crazy menemen choices like olives, hazelnuts, walnuts, anchovy. You may order the white cheese version to witness lumps of white bobbing around in the orangey-red sauce, but the taste is indisputably handed from the gods. With generous toppings, the eggs are feather-soft from the amount of time they stew inside the sauce.
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3. Naga Putrika, Moda
Despite the trek to try the rosy-red menemen, the mıhlama took our breath away. For the uninitiated: that’s melted cheese that you dip your bread in. Although they do have set menus, there are 7 choices from different regions of the country.
This place has an inviting garden surrounded by plants or, if you sit inside, it has a precious artsy style like Coraline but without the creepy part. If you visit, you’ll be eating breakfast the way the locals do: by taking your time. This really feels like an escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
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4. Grandma, Nişantaşı
Basing their sourdoughs and a variety of viennoiseries, cakes, and dishes on their maternal grandmother’s recipes, this bakery has a chic vibe. The best part? If you like your apple blackberry bread, you can enjoy it with the kind of artisanal coffee that seems like it just hopped over from Italy or New Zealand. Yes, you can have your latte and drink it too, even if you’re lactose intolerant.
This cozy spot is fabulous for gossiping about that new Netflix show with their all-day breakfast and cute quiches. They’ve designed their menemen to be so moreish with the cream cheese, but you have to be careful, or you won’t have any space for that decadent strawberry chocolate cake with a cute kettle of tea.
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5. Emirgan Sütiş, Emirgan
We never knew it was possible to fall in love with the porcelain that houses bitter Turkish coffee until we stopped here. The chicken salad or anything with the sour cherry homemade jam on a hot summers’ day is perfect. On a cold winter’s day, a bubbling, bright orange soup-like menemen with crunchy peppers and streaks of white cheese is perfect. Forget the bread, dip the simit (Turkish sesame bagel) inside or, if you really, really need comfort food, order up some French fries and dip them one by one in the menemen to feel a pleasure that can’t be replicated. At least not until you get to the treats.
The mocha is an artistic perfection, especially when paired with the Oreo cheesecake. But if you want to push your limits, try the super Oreo cheesecake. Yes, it does exist.
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6. Menemenci Alaattin, Selimpaşa
Named after the dish, this spot is like a classy truck stop. Yet you still have to visit, especially when you’re hungry. About 3 minutes for tea and 10 minutes for the menemen, this place is the solution for hangry people. Not to mention the open buffet breakfast or the amazing gözleme.
The menemen here is a light orange with a bump here and there. It looks like a frumpy Cinderella waiting to be transformed, but the velvety dish somehow makes the tangy tomatoes taste graceful. What’s more, the white faux leather chairs with the mahogany tables are also accessible to less-abled customers. With the hum of Turkish conversation in the background, this is a place best-kept secret.
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7. Emek Cafe, Yeniköy
There’s ordinary menemen. There’s cheesy menemen, and then there’s menemen with the kind of cheese that stretches from this restaurant all the way to Naples. This place throws so much cheese inside the top is pure white, like snow, with a hint of meat – if you so order. It might remind you of the beginning of Snow White. Sitting in the garden, you can watch the boats go by on the Bosphorus.
Although this place is where the locals catch up with their friends, there’s something about this wistful spot that’ll make you feel less alone. However, if you do go with a friend, the breakfast plate with its healthy cucumber, tomato, boiled eggs, and cheesy options is great to share, as are the dreamy potato böreks. If you’re avoiding caffeine, the freshly squeezed orange juice will make you feel welcome. Don’t forget to try the fluffy tiramisu with the iced mocha for a real treat.
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8. Çakmak Kahvaltı Salonu, Beşiktaş
There’s nothing that can mend a broken heart. Except, perhaps, a sizzling hot, pumpkin-orange menemen. Whether you wake up early or decide to go for brunch, this extremely cheesy, tangy, smooth menemen stands out in a neighborhood that’s famous for breakfast. The vibrant, friendly vibe is lovely, but the cherry jam with cream is like a cheesecake with half the calories. Try the tahini mixed with molasses for a nutty, deep flavored touch to your breakfast if you want to feel like a local. And if you want to feel smart, they do offer sage tea!
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We hope you enjoyed our list of the best restaurants to eat menemen in Istanbul. If you want more information about Turkish cuisine, be sure to join one of our food tours and taste for yourself some of the most authentic Turkish dishes we have on offer!
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