Best Breakfast in Trieste: 7 Unmissable Cafés

Woman having breakfast at outdoor cafe
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Nestled on the northeastern coast of Italy, just 20 minutes from the Slovenian border, Trieste is the capital of the Fruili Venezia Giulia region and a historical maritime gateway for the Austro-Hungarian empire. There’s no doubt that the Italians eat well and the unique Triestino diet is a reason as good as any to visit this coastal metropole, but you might be wondering, where can you find the best breakfast in Trieste?

A mix of cultures and influential characters have been blown through Trieste by the chilly Bora wind, and the Triestino cuisine takes visitors down a winding path through her history. Sharing culinary traditions with Slovenia and Austro-Hungary, with quintessentially Italian eating habits, the traditional breakfast in Trieste is small, sweet, and usually accompanied by milky coffee. 

Breakfast is a fast affair in Italy and portion control is tight. Most Italians enjoy breakfast at home or on the go, but the city has a lively café culture and these breakfast places in Trieste have something to satisfy the tastes of tourists and locals alike. Let’s get into it.    

Caffè San Marco

coffee outdoor in Trieste

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It’s impossible to talk about dining spots in Trieste without mentioning Caffè San Marco, the historic meeting place of some of Trieste’s most iconic residents. Located in via Cesare Battisti, Caffè San Marco has been a part of the city’s furniture since 1914. The café was an instant hit as a rendezvous point for young students and intellectuals when it first opened, and Italo Svevo, James Joyce, Umberto Saba, and more recently, Claudio Magris, are among its notable visitors.  

Caffè San Marco was destroyed by Austro-Hungarian troops during World War I but later restored. At one point, it functioned as a laboratory for the production of false passports for fleeing anti-Austrian patriots. In 2013, Italians successfully campaigned to have the café protected and a bookshop was incorporated in its design. Today, Caffè San Marco’s interior still reflects the Art Nouveau style of the Vienna Succession, with frescos from Triestino painter, Vito Timmel. 

Brass chandeliers hang from the bronze leaf-adorned ceiling, red Veronese marble tables and mirrored walls reflect the original paintings that hang around the room, and an aroma of freshly ground coffee fills the air. Breakfast is served from 8.30 am, but like most Italian coffee houses, this consists of a limited menu of pastries, brioches (croissants), and coffee. The Caffè San Marco restaurant serves hot food from midday. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Address: Via Cesare Battisti, 18, 34125 Trieste TS, Italy

Contact: +39 040 203 5357, [email protected]

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8.30 am to 11 pm, Sunday, 9 am to 9 pm.

Mug Bakery

Italian breakfast
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If you’re after a more extensive menu of baked goods, sandwiches, and cooked weekend specials, Mug Bakery in Piazza Hortis is the place to go. Opened in February 2016 by Bologna-born baker and ballet dancer, Elena Giuffrida, Mug was envisioned as a space for people to sit, chat and feel at home, and Giuffrida has achieved just that. 

The café and bakery sell an international selection of cakes and pastries all with an Italian twist. Everything is baked in-house and from scratch, from the cookies to the bagels to the special occasion cakes. Mug has grown from a small team of three to 11 staff members in six years, and Giuffrida has hopes to expand to Ljubljana and Udine. 

For now, Mug caters to a diverse community of Triestinos and tourists, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Brunch is even served here every Sunday until 2 pm – a rarity for Trieste where you’ll usually struggle to find breakfast food after 10 am. The red velvet slices and cheesecakes, both baked and not, are firm favorites at Mug, and be sure to pore over a hot cup of coffee in collaboration with Trieste roasters, Guatemala.  

You can even get special party boxes, homemade granola, cookie bags, and cupcakes for home delivery anywhere in Italy, and most of the menu is available on Just Eat in Trieste. 

Rating: 4.6/5

Address: Piazza Attilio Hortis, 6, 34124 Trieste TS, Italy

Contact: +39 040 966 0293

Opening Hours:  Tuesday to Saturday, 8 am to 8 pm, Sundays and holidays, 10 am to 6 pm. 

Mimì e Cocotte

English breakfast
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Open since 2015, Mimì e Cocotte boasts an efficient and welcoming environment, great for study dates and working outside the office. Nestled next to Museo Revoltella in via Cadorna, Mimì e Cocotte is just seconds from the waterfront and the cultural heart of Trieste. 

Great Wi-Fi and plenty of electrical sockets are accompanied by sharing tables, colorful, upcycled furniture, and exposed brick accents to give the café a homely feel, just as if you’ve stepped into a friend’s kitchen. The breakfast menu consists of sweet treats including cake slices and maritozzo, the cream-filled Italian buns made from light and fluffy brioche, as well as pancakes piled high with whipped cream and fruit toppings, scrambled eggs and bacon, avocado toast, and even a cooked Mexican breakfast. Not forgetting plenty of coffee. 

Mimì e Cocotte is also an all-day eatery. Stick around for lunch and you can order simple, organic dishes such as Poke and Buddha Bowls, salads, and snacks of crostini. Mimì e Cocotte even serves a traditional Irish breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. The extensive menu of savory breakfasts here is a real treat for Trieste.

Rating: 4.5/5

Address: Via Luigi Cadorna, 19, 34123 Trieste TS, Italy

Contact: 040 340 8511

Opening Hours:  Wednesday to Saturday, 9.00 am to 3 pm, 6.30 pm to 11 pm, Sunday, 9 am to 3 pm (breakfast until 12 pm). 

Caffé Degli Specchi

pastry chefs laughing
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Caffé Degli Specchi is a more traditional café when it comes to breakfast options but a beloved spot nonetheless, enjoyed by both Trieste’s locals and tourists to the city. Open every day of the week, this coffee house is a must-visit, not only because of its refined interior that looks straight out onto Piazza Unità but also due to its rich history that dates back almost two centuries.  

Caffé Degli Specchi calls itself the first café in Italy and the old-world interior and piazza tables attract a record one and a half million patrons every year. Located in Trieste’s main square, Piazza Unità d’Italia, on the ground floor of Palazzo Stratti, Caffé Degli Specchi first opened in 1839 as a Viennese coffeehouse. It was designed and built by Antonio Buttazoni, the neoclassical Triestino architect, at the commission of Greek trader Nicolò Stratti, who owned the Palazzo and ran Caffé Degli Specchi for 45 years.

A seat at one of Caffé Degli Specchi’s tables was a ticket to meeting the entrepreneurs, ships owners, and insurers of Trieste who made use of the strategic location of the café for business meetings and rendezvous. The walls were once entirely covered in mirrors that bore witness to all the important historical events of the 19th-century in Trieste. Its name in Italian literally means, “Café of the Mirrors”. Today, only three of the mirrors remain, but the original charm of Caffé Degli Specchi has been well and truly preserved. 

Caffé Degli Specchi was seized and used as a warehouse during World War II, but new life was injected back into the coffeehouse when Trieste was united with Italy in 1947. In 2022, the café is owned by the Faggiotto family who helped restored Caffé Degli Specchi to its former glory. 

The internationally renowned pastry chefs and chocolatiers have left their mark on the breakfast menu that comprises brioches, hot chocolate, pastries, and pralines, all handcrafted with carefully selected Italian produce and uncontained imagination. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Address: Piazza Unità d’Italia 7, 34121 Trieste TS, Italy

Contact: 040 368033, [email protected]

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8 am to 9 pm

Café Vatta

café e brioche
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Situated in the outskirts of Trieste on the Karst Plateau of Opicina, Vatta might be a bit out of the way, but it’s worth the visit. Prized for the best breakfast in Trieste, and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region at large, Vatta has been awarded three coffee beans and three cups by Gambero Rosso, which is the highest honor for cafés in the Michelin Guide. 

Bread, jams, brioches, and pastries adorn the menu at Vatta, with plenty of whole grain and vegan options, but you also find a rich variety of sweets or dolci supplied by Maritani’s bakery, the only artisan in Fruili Venezia Giulia to graduate from the Academy of Italian Master Pastry Chefs. Macarons, hazelnut cream puffs, and the traditional Sacher cake, a rich Austrian chocolate and apricot torte, can all be enjoyed from as early as 6 am at Vatta. 

The fresh juice and ice cream here are also firm customer favorites, not forgetting the Illy coffee, which is among the best in Trieste and around 16 kilograms of which are sold every day, along with up to 500 brioches. Despite being always busy, service is impressively fast and you can always get a cappuccino in a few short minutes. Although like many Triestino cafés, Vatta is closed on Mondays.

Rating: 4.5/5

Address: Via Nazionale, 38, 34151 Trieste TS, Italy

Contact: +39 040 246 1354

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 6 am to 10 pm.

040 Social Food

industrial breakfast place
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Located in the heart of Trieste in Via Rossini, next door to Ponte Curto is Zeroquaranta, or Social Food, a contemporary café with dramatic impact. It might be better known for its hamburgers, with tables being extremely hard to come by at lunchtime, but Social Food is an underrated breakfast haven with pastries, brioches, and even cooked international options all available from 10 am to 12. 

The industrial interior is laid-back and inviting with vintage accents, posters, and hanging ceiling lights. The large central table is decorated with a wide selection of teas, pastries and cereals, and the cooked menu consists of crepes, waffles, and even bacon and eggs on toast. Fresh juice is made on the spot to accompany breakfast and the café is conveniently located next to the Church of Sant’Antonio for a mid-morning walk along the canal.  

Rating: 4.1/5

Address: Via Gioacchino Rossini, 8, 34121 Trieste TS

Contact: 040 760 0869

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 7 am to 12 am (breakfast from 10 am to 12 pm)   

Il Pane Quotidiano, Lungomare di Barcola   

Miramare in Trieste
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It might be related to the infamous international bakery chain, but this branch of Il Pane Quotidiano fully embraces the Triestino way and the spectacular seaside location of Trieste’s Barcola neighborhood. From the traditional breakfasts to the suspended terrace overlooking the Adriatic, Il Pane is a magical place to start the day with slick upscale decor and alfresco seating. 

The majestic and modern, wood-clad cubed building even serves as a place to soak up the sun during the day after you’ve enjoyed a hot coffee and freshly baked sweet, with seaside sun loungers adorning the lower deck. The location on the Barcola promenade offers great views of the nearby Habsburg-era Miramare Castle and easy access to the sandy-floored sea. If you stay beyond breakfast, Barcola’s Il Pane offers an impressive sunset view. 

Breakfast is served until midday.

Rating: 4.3/5

Address: Viale Miramare, 72 – 34135, Trieste

Contact: +390403403929, [email protected]

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 7 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday, 7 am to 12 am. 

What do Italians eat for breakfast?

Otherwise known as La Colazione, breakfast in Italy is typically short and sweet, designed to provide a short burst of energy to start the day. Italian breakfast traditionally consists of a milky coffee, fresh juice, or both, and one baked good, either a brioche or cornetto (both meaning croissant depending on the region), biscuit, pastry, or bread roll. Italians also have cereals with milk, fruit, and yogurt, or bread and jam. Savory-cooked breakfasts are untraditional and you’ll usually only find them on hotel menus and in touristy restaurants.   

What time is breakfast in Italy? 

Italians usually eat breakfast between 7 am and 10.30 am, and it is uncommon to find breakfast bars serving food beyond midday, or even 10 am in some places in Trieste. Breakfast is a straightforward affair and is usually eaten at home or at a bar within a 15-minute time frame. Breakfast in Italy might be surprisingly sweet, but Italians are health conscious and well aware of portion control. One small pastry will keep them going until lunchtime. 

What is a typical Italian lunch?

Lunch is Italy is more of a serious affair than breakfast, but it’s still less indulgent than it seems. Eating is an integral part of the elegant Italian lifestyle and even the busiest shops will close in most Italian cities from 12 pm to 3 pm for lunch. A proper Italian lunch consists of an antipasto, a primo (usually soup or pasta), a secondo (meat or fish), and a dolci (sweet). It sounds like a lot, but portions are always small and enjoyed slowly with a small glass of house wine.  

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Esmé is an English literature graduate and freelance writer. Originally from London, Esmé is lucky enough to call Bali home. Her travels have taken her from the far corners of the East to the islands of the Caribbean. When she's not writing, you'll find her lying on a beach somewhere, lost in a crime novel.