The best new breakfasts

Meet the most important meal of the day.

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  • Prime Meats

  • Prime Meats

  • The Breslin

  • Fort Defiance

  • Fort Defiance

  • Joseph Leonard

  • Joseph Leonard

  • Maialino

  • Maialino

Prime Meats

Prime Meats

Ideal for: The Brooklyn late shift

Prime Meats
This new steak-and-sausage destination has a menu as eccentric as the hours it keeps. The Mitteleuropean restaurant, from the two Franks behind Frankies Spuntino, serves breakfast late and dinner early—Prime Meats opens daily at 7am, but offers dishes from both meals until 1pm. Which means you can share a bite with a friend coming off the night shift, even if you’ve just woken up. The meaty breakfast items, which include expertly cooked bratwursts ($12) and skirt steaks ($14), with poached and fried eggs respectively, further blur the mealtime lines. In place of home fries, there are rsti ($4). The bar staff puts equal care into both the coffee and cocktails—offering Stumptown cappuccino with perfect nut-brown foam ($3.50) and an exceptional Bloody Mary with pickled turnips and a horseradish bite ($11). 465 Court St at Luquer St, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-254-0327). Breakfast weekdays starting at 7am.

The Breslin

Ideal for: Next-wave dot-commers

The Breslin
April Bloomfield, New York’s most talented Anglo chef, does her countrymen proud with a protein-rich, full English breakfast at her newest restaurant. This original Grand Slam features English bacon, homemade sausage, garlicky mushrooms, slow-roasted tomatoes and organic sunny-side-up eggs ($21). (Though the traditional baked beans and blood pudding are notably absent, unless you grew up on the stuff, you probably won’t miss them.) But breakfast here isn’t really about authenticity. It’s about fueling up in style—you’ll find entrepreneurial hipsters scarfing buttery steak and eggs ($17) and gulping rich Stumptown coffee ($2), before heading into the communal office the Ace lobby has quickly become. Though the kitchen is focused mostly on meat, there are also exceptional house-baked pastries delivered warm from the oven (banana walnut muffins, hot cross buns, blueberry scones; $3.50). And, though the Breslin is packed at night, don’t worry about fighting your way into a booth—mornings, the place is just as laid-back as its groggy patrons. Ace Hotel, 16 W 29th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway (212-679-1939). Breakfast weekdays starting at 7am.

Fort Defiance

Ideal for: Cheapskates

Fort Defiance
Until recently the weekday breakfast options were pretty limited in sleepy Red Hook—a banana on the go or egg and cheese on a roll from the corner bodega. Fort Defiance, opened by local writer and barkeep St. John Frizell, fills that and other voids. In the evenings it’s the only game around for nostalgic cocktails; in the mornings—starting daily at 8am—it’s the one comfortable spot for a home-cooked, sit-down breakfast. Which explains why, even with the wind whipping in something fierce from the waterfront, the place was packed on a recent weekday morning. Though the menu is limited, the egg sandwich—Berkshire ham, Emmentaler cheese and fried egg on a Balthazar bun ($6)—is a superior breed; and the sausage-enriched red beans on toast ($7) are the perfect hangover restorative. Counter Culture coffee ($2), ground and brewed to order on a drip rack, fuels the languid scene. The breakfast—so cheap it seems subsidized—is more of a charitable service than a bottom-line business, offering the many dads clutching babies who fill the place a legitimate reason to get out of the house. 365 Van Brunt St at Dikeman St, Red Hook, Brooklyn (347-453-6672). Breakfast weekdays starting at 8am.

Joseph Leonard

Ideal for: West Village freelancers

Joseph Leonard
Though the West Village is caf country, with plenty of spots to find croissants and coffee at the start of the day, real breakfasts are typically eaten at home. Joseph Leonard, Gabriel Stulman’s tiny labor of love, is a rare neighborhood hot spot that’s open in the mornings. With a hand-scrawled sandwich board out front, the corner shoebox entices passersby—freelance writers and other late-rising denizens—to consider a proper meal as they stroll by on their way to Joe, the popular coffeeshop just up the block. Those who give in to temptation will be rewarded with a fine meal—and a dining room that’s far less crowded and just as inviting as any caf (feel free to pop open that laptop). The egg dishes all come with chefly flourishes—the textbook omelette (filled with creamy goat cheese) is accompanied by delicious roasted mushrooms ($14); the egg sandwich (topped with sharp Manchego) sits beside an earthy heap of brussels sprout leaves drizzled with hot chili sriracha ($12). 170 Waverly Pl at Grove St (646-429-8383). Breakfast Tue--Fri starting at 8am.

Maialino

Ideal for: Italophiles

Maialino
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group covers significant dining territory: fast food, barbecue, catering and fine dining. But not one of his restaurants had ever served breakfast until last month, when Maialino, the new Roman-style trattoria in the Gramercy Park Hotel, debuted its early-day fare (we sampled it at a preview tasting). The restaurant’s sun-dappled front area, which serves as an enoteca in the evening, doubles as a caf in the a.m.: Customers can stand at the newspaper-strewn bar, order a shot of espresso or cappuccino (pulled from a La Marzocco machine using artisanal Four Barrel coffee beans, $2.75--$4.25), and nibble on house-made pastries and breads, including a wonderfully spongy olive-oil muffin ($4) and guanciale-pecorino rolls ($1.50 each) that recall the flavor of carbonara, made with cured pork jowl and coarse black pepper. For those in the mood for more substantial dishes, chef Nick Anderer melds American-style breakfast with Roman classics: Softly scrambled eggs are prepared in the style of spaghetti al cacio e pepe ($10), the fresh black pepper and pecorino amping up the custardy base. Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave at 21st St (212-777-2410). Breakfast weekdays starting at 7am.

Additional reporting by Daniel Gritzer

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