ISTANBUL: Coffee enthusiasts and those seeking a cozy atmosphere will always find some delightful spot for themselves in the nooks and crannies of any city or street.
However, Istanbul’s historical quarters harbor small cafes tucked in the passages between the alleys still hiding a special charm and at the same time tangling with spirits of old times while witnessing the rush and vibrance of the modern city look.
These cafes not only offer an extensive selection of hot beverages and various special coffees infused with flavors like vanilla and caramel, but they also genuinely captivate visitors with their narrow, usually book-adorned spaces and vintage decorative collections.
Often petite, with a limited number of tables, these coffee shops, although similar to each other when considering space arrangement and black-white marble tables, still have the coziness particular just for them. Sometimes it may be a unique lantern, sometimes a neon writing on the wall, the other times the dozens of pink flowers that create the perfect “Instagrammable” spot – dozens, or better said hundreds of coffee shops in Istanbul tell their unique story to their visitors.
Whether you choose to explore the cafes in the bustling Beyoğlu area, the popular Sultanahmet quarter, or head to the quieter Asian side, you will undoubtedly encounter intriguing shop windows and cafe names that will capture your attention instantly.
In recent years, many of these cafes have embraced innovation, incorporating a variety of desserts from different countries, including particularly Latin ones such as San Sebastian cheesecake or churros.
Many locations now also offer creatively filled croissants along with coffees, including their savory variations – which provide a feast for both the taste buds and the eyes.
The influence of modern lifestyle and social media trends has certainly played a role in this evolution, but we can only appreciate the existence of these croissants that offer both a visual spectacle and a delightful culinary experience.
It’s hard to keep a strict line when comparing some of the places, but as someone spending more of their spare time roaming through “sokaklar” (streets) of the Asian side of Istanbul, I’m here to suggest tasty, filled French croissants served in one of the bit more famous local coffee chains and two other places I discovered randomly.
With a couple of branches around the city, mostly in Istanbul’s central districts such as Beşiktaş, Kadıköy and Beyoğlu, Viyana Kahvesi offers a long list of coffee options, probably more than half of other similar-style shops around the city.
Generally quite crowded in any of its subsidiaries, the one located near one of the most visited tourist spots, Galata Tower, is the one that (I believe) garners particular interest from both domestic and foreign coffee and sweets lovers.
As I’ve mentioned above, however, I want to highlight particularly one segment of the menu, which is well, croissants.
This coffee shop offers splendid yet more classic croissants, finely filled with rich Belgium chocolate and freshly picked strawberries or nicely cut bananas. Another very intriguing option is the one named “Lotus,” which comes with crumbs of the lotus biscuits and adds specific caramel touch to the delightful airy pastry.
Additionally, they also serve a cheese-filled salty version, which in my opinion always goes great with fresh filter coffee.
Although it may be impossible to find a table in this cafe sometimes, the polite personnel, especially close to Galata, regularly serves your desired option of the croissant on the huge white plate so you can eat it standing or feel free to capture some nice shots prior to delving into the chocolate.
With its two branches on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, La Lune is a relatively new addition to the list of places with a “fancy” and adorning mixture of tastes served between loaves of large-sized classic French croissants.
As I visited the one is Üsküdar recently, I’ll begin by saying that the location of this cafe alone with its green board, bearing its name in thin font, exudes elegancy and somehow transcends a Paris spirit.
With the sentiment of a Western-style coffee place, almost situated in the shadow of one of the most iconic mosques in the district, Valide-i Cedid Camii built in the early 18th century, La Lune offers a great list of warm drinks, including finely brewed coffees and herbal teas, and croissants that unexpectedly (at least for me) can fulfill a role of either perfect breakfast or brunch.
The thought of having avocado, a soft omelet and pastrami mixed and wrapped in a croissant for some may seem a bit overwhelming, yet the light fusion of all these ingredients in La Lune’s version provides an exquisite experience for any tastebuds – whether you are a fan or croissants or not I believe.
The “German” adjusted version of a salty croissant with sausage, or “wurst” as they say it there, which I’ve seen for the first time in this cafe also pointed to additional originality and I can say that truly this place deserves time for a visit if you are anywhere near Üsküdar.
From the sweet side, although I haven’t tried them yet, I was quite fascinated with their “double-layered” size, sprinkles and whip cream topping, and I hope I’d have a chance to grab some of those next time.
Nestled in a quaint and narrow street, adjacent to the vibrant “foodie area” of Kadıköy’s Rasimpaşa district, lies the enchanting Mill Bakery – a haven for discerning palates and a magnet for the expat community.
As you wander through the captivating Yeldeğirmen neighborhood, you’ll find yourself irresistibly drawn to this artsy coffee establishment.
Step inside and be greeted by an ambiance of serenity, where the majority of seating is thoughtfully arranged outdoors.
Mill Bakery effortlessly combines productivity and leisure, making it a favored haunt of urban youth who relish the opportunity to savor a cold latte while putting the finishing touches on their assignments or projects.
Despite its location deep within Rasimpaşa, I was pleasantly surprised to hear conversations in Russian and English, at the time of the visit hinting at its popularity among foreigners.
The staff, polite and proficient in English is open to engaging you in conversation and elucidating the intricacies of the menu, particularly the delightful croissants and invigorating coffees on offer.
Immerse your taste buds in a symphony of flavors as Mill Bakery ensures a steady supply of freshness throughout the day. Indulge in their Berliner creamy croissants or opt for the tantalizing allure of the “Black Forest” croissant, perfectly paired with a freshly brewed cappuccino.
Whichever path you choose, and whichever side you set on, the result is an exquisite sensory journey that will ensure unforgettable memory, merged with the new dimension of the word croissant.