Analysts bemoan how many hard-working Americans are forced to lunch deskside, but another unheralded victim of modern workaholism is the big, buttery, old-fashioned breakfast. On-the-go cereal bars and $12 juices may seem de rigueur, but they are not the only games in town. We think it’s time to make more room in your week for a Bloody Mary and eggs Benedict—like, on a Tuesday!—and reclaim the day’s most important—and most delicious—meal. Luckily, the breakfast restaurants of America are well equipped to help. You can get boozy with a brunch in NYC (and boozier at a brunch in LA), get greasy at a gut-busting counter joint in Texas, or go healthy with a mound of fresh fruit at Oahu’s top café. From coast to coast—and beyond—America’s best breakfast restaurants are making a strong case for kicking off your day with a killer meal.
Best breakfast restaurants in America
What started as a preserves company is now one of LA’s most coveted eateries: Sqirl, a small nook of a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch made with farm-fresh ingredients. Chef Jessica Koslow is still churning out jams, but this time you can spread it on thick cuts of brioche toast with Sqirl’s house ricotta. If you’re not ordering toast here, you’re probably opting for one of the rice bowls, filled to the brim with seasonal flourishes such as sorrel pesto and radishes, sheep’s-milk and feta cheeses, plus a poached egg and juicy house sausage. There will be a line, but it’s well worth the wait (as will be Sqirl Away, no doubt—Koslow’s upcoming second venue, set to open next door).
The heralded lox emporium—a Lower East Side staple since 1914—serves old-world standbys like borscht, smoked-fish platters and egg creams at its nearby full-service restaurant. At breakfast, chow down on appetizing classics such as smoked fish-loaded bagels, plus potato latkes nestled with soft poached eggs.
Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine Bakery launched this roomy, 5,000-square-foot eatery in the Heath Ceramics complex in fall 2016. True to the Tartine brand, the pastry case is packed with over a dozen sweet and savory choices, including a fontina, herb and pepperoni biscuit and a preserved lemon pie with kale and Moroccan spices. The bready breakfast fare includes two egg sandwiches (on a griddled English muffin with Cabot cheddar, or a toasted bun with porchetta and salsa verde) as well as a range of fancy toasts, with toppings like coddled egg, trout roe, nduja and stracciatella.
Artisanal breads, like anadama miche, not to mention perfectly flaky croissants, are the foundation upon which chef Eli Kulp builds edgy, award-winning menus for this Old City favorite. Think beet-cured salmon with cream cheese and fried capers on perfectly crisp-chewy toast, or go for broke with the Hickory Town breakfast sammie, which stacks Lancaster bologna, horseradish-spiked Amish cheddar and a runny farm egg on a homemade kaiser roll.
Austinites’ patience for standing in line is legendary, but the wait at most brunch spots is still nothing compared to other hip avocado-toast outposts of Portland and Brooklyn. Paperboy's giving them a run for their money, with a long but totally-worth-it wait that holds rewards like a pimento cheese B.E.C. on brioche and potato hash shot through with unctuous pulled pork. The half-step away from traditional brunch fare manages to be both casual (you are in a dirt lot, after all) and elevated—there are few other places in town where pickled carrots and shaved radishes sneak their way into breakfast. Check out the second location on the patio of Radio Coffee & Beer.
Now under the talented Cosmo Goss, Paul Kahan's Publican is still as relevant as it was when it opened in 2008. It boasts a fantastic beer list, packed with Belgian and local brews; a menu that equally celebrates meat, seafood and veggies; and the best brunch in town, served Saturdays and Sundays. Stylish, wide-ranging options span a raw bar packed with pristine oysters; indulgent French toast piled high with snowy whipped cream; and chickpea and chorizo stew crowned with a slow-cooked egg.
“If you haven’t had breakfast at Brennan’s, you haven’t really been to New Orleans at all,” wrote novelist Peter S. Feibleman in 1971. Since 1946, like-minded breakfasters have arrived at the pink-painted French Quarter institution starting 8am for ageless indulgences like bourbon milk punch, crab omelettes and Creole crepes. The restaurant relaunched with chef Slade Rushing in November 2014, after which he was promptly nominated for a James Beard Award. In addition to its timeless a la carte, Brennan’s now serves a two-course prix-fixe breakfast starring savory eggs Hussarde.
In 2006, three North Carolina ex-pats started selling homemade biscuits from a Portland State University farmstand. Several accolades and countless butter-stained napkins later, Pine State Biscuits is an institution with two cafés, a takeaway window and a perpetually mobbed stand at Portland's seasonal farmers’ market. Locals revere the Reggie Deluxe sandwich, which combines fried chicken, bacon and cheese with sausage or mushroom gravy and a fried egg on a surprisingly buoyant biscuit. Like a soggy Portland winter, it’s not for the faint of heart.
This is the Grove’s command central for the socio-anthropological sport of people-watching, thanks to the Green Street’s strategic placement on a bustling corner. To accompany this activity, management thoughtfully provides excellent salads, flatbreads, pastas and burgers.
Clary's Cafe in Savannah
Neighboring grand dame Mrs. Wilkes might get all the guidebook ink, but Clary’s Cafe is the down-home real deal. Part diner, part greasy spoon and all Southern charm, Clary’s is staffed by a multigenerational cast of affectionately surly servers wont to call guests “hon,” serving gargantuan pecan sticky buns, country-fried steaks and cheesy grits to ravenous crowds of families, students and John Berendt–reading vacationers.
No detail is unaccounted for at Jordan Kahn’s Destroyer, where the presentation, architecture and ingredients all come together to create this minimalist breakfast and lunch spot in Culver City. The menu of tiny dishes changes daily and is no stranger to items like raw oatmeal and Icelandic yogurt. Breakfast bowls veer into seriously savory territory: think roasted yams with avocado and crispy cauliflower heaped with black garlic and a poached egg.
Yes! Picnik’s Paleo-friendly cuisine, previously only found on a trailer, is now also available at the eatery’s stylish new digs. Whether you visit the trailer or the restaurant, butter coffee, designed to send your energy through the roof, is an absolute must. We’re obsessed with the golden milk matcha (coffee, butter, MCT oil, turmeric, coconut milk, matcha chai, maple) and certainly recommend the harvest hash (roasted sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, grass-fed beef breakfast sausage, apple, toasted pecans and a sunny poached egg). Breakfast is available starting at 7am daily.
At this adorable, sunny, daytime-only café, health food is tasty enough to eat. The owners are committed to organics and offer meat-free options, but they’re okay with a little cheese, butter and sugar every now and then. Case in point: thick, dense blueberry pancakes and a heaping breakfast sandwich of fried egg, Gorgonzola, applewood-smoked bacon and fresh thyme. If that’s too good and gooey for you health nuts, there’s always the Vegan Epiphany, an organic tofu scramble that just may live up to its name.
Simply outfitted with gleaming reclaimed wood tables and floor-to-ceiling windows, Plow is a beautiful space to spend a morning. You’ll find standout dishes on both the sweet and savory ends of the spectrum, from the legendary lemon ricotta pancakes to the house-made biscuits topped with honey butter, scallions and ham or sausage. (Nab a biscuit while you can—they’ve been known to run out on busy mornings.) Even lighter fare is memorable here, like the chia seed pudding served with almond milk, bananas, coconut, almonds, plus local honey and bee pollen.
With locations in downtown Nashville, Franklin and Columbia, not to mention a roving food truck, Puckett’s is a Southern(-fried) institution. Grab a booth or wooden table, like one-time regular Willie Nelson, and start your morning right with pulled pork atop sweet potato pancakes or Bubba’s Benedict, a misleadingly named, gut-busting take on biscuits and gravy beneath fried eggs and bacon.
The Laundry in Fenton, MI
Adjectives like "fun" and "funky" are not frequently applied to Fenton, a sleepy city an hour north of Detroit, but this retro, diner-chic New American haunt defies expectations. In addition to pastries from nearby Zingerman’s and Crust bakeries (the latter’s cinnamon bun is a local favorite), the Laundry’s bombastic breakfasts include the Spanish Conquistador—a cast-iron skillet filled with Tater-Tots, chorizo, baked eggs, smoked mozzarella and house-made romesco—as well as bacon and brie pancakes studded with Nueske’s pork and covered with apple compote.
Not all brunch needs to feel like you’re competing in the Binge-Drinking Olympics. Sometimes, a poached, farm-fresh egg served over crusty Zak the Baker bread smothered in smashed avocado (the Smashed Avo) and a cold-brewed Panther coffee is all you need to feel like you’re winning at brunch. Going for gold? Order a side of bacon and monkey bread for the table (or yourself). As any good athlete should know, a pre-game snack is important. Waiting times typically exceed 30 minutes on weekends, so plan accordingly. Come starving and you might be disqualified.