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Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

The best breakfast in NYC

Devour the most important meal of the day with the best breakfast in NYC

Written by
Time Out New York contributors
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For those of us who seem to be rushing around in the morning, the best breakfast in NYC might be just a bagel and coffee. But breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? So for something more substantial, New York offers plenty of options for a hearty or healthy breakfast to get you going.

These breakfast spots will fuel your day in a wide range of styles. You’ll find traditional diner fare, juices and egg sandwiches on this list, but also some more out of the ordinary options like Malaysian or Japanese breakfasts. Mix it up a bit and try natto on toast for your morning meal! And don’t just aim for takeout — these breakfast restaurants offer excellent food as well as a comfortable setting for you to enjoy and fully wake up.

For those weekend mornings (well, let’s be honest — late mornings) when you’re looking for a long, leisurely meal, we have you covered with our list of the best brunches in NYC. Biscuits and bottomless mimosas are one of the best ways to recover from a night out or fuel up for another one, but for a straightforward, tasty start to the day, these are the best breakfasts in New York.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

The best of the city

Best breakfast in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

Open in the East Village since 1938, this venerable, 400-square-foot lunch counter long ago passed out of the hands of the Jewish immigrants who established it and is now run by a Polish Catholic and an Egyptian Muslim. Nevertheless, the slim restaurant still serves the kosher dairy dishes it has always been beloved for, such as a rotating selection of excellent hot (mushroom barley, split pea) and cold (borscht, cucumber) soups, and boiled or fried pierogi stuffed with cheese, potatoes or sauerkraut and mushrooms.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Williamsburg
  • price 1 of 4

A sit-down offshoot of Yuji Haraguchi's Kinfolk Studios and Whole Foods counters, the chestnut-walled restaurant specializes in ichi ju san sai—a traditional Japanese meal of one soup and three side dishes—for breakfast and lunch, with options like broccoli rabe shiraae (tofu-and-sesame-dressed salad), roasted Spanish mackerel and miso soup with ramp stalks.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

At Buvette, Jody Williams has just enough space to feed her strong neighborhood following. As at Gottino (which still operates a few blocks away without her), the approach is small but exacting. She's filled every nook with old picnic baskets, teapots and silver trays, among other vintage ephemera. Breakfast standouts include a walnut-cranberry toast smeared with honey butter and pure bee pollen. 

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Noho
  • price 3 of 4

Highlighting the nuances of Mexican and Central American cuisine through high-end dishes, the meal remains approachable.  The Noho hot spot is slick but not overly styled: Save for verdant accents and magical-realism decals by artist, Rachel Levit Ruiz. The cooking is simple but feels radical, showcasing a bounty of fresh Mexican and Central American ingredients prepared expertly and made healthyish. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Little Italy
  • price 2 of 4

At this Down Under java joint, Aussie expats Henry Roberts and Giles Russell dedicate a large wall to framed prints from local photographers. Camp out at natural-wood studio tables, where you’ll find room to spread a sketchbook or portfolio amid clay pots of cacti. The flat white is the most well-known of Australian coffees, but the shop’s true darling is the Outback cap. Served alongside chocolate-covered Tim Tam cookies, the espresso is dusted in cocoa powder, which rises to the top of the intricate fern-patterned foam head.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

The dim-sum juggernaut from chef-owners Mak Kwai Pui and Leung Fai Keung—which has five locations in its native Hong Kong and another 39 sites worldwide—became the world’s least-expensive Michelin-starred restaurant when it surprisingly scored a sparkler in 2009 for its freshly made pork buns and translucent shrimp dumplings.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant

Pilar Cuban Bakery is all about carbo-loading. At the decade-old Pilar Cuban Eatery’s Bed-Stuy sister spot, owner-chef Ricardo Barreras rethinks breakfast with underused-in-NYC Cuban ingredients. 

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

Russ & Daughters has been serving lox, herring and other specialty foods since 1914, and its Super Heebster of horseradish dill cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish-salmon salad form a holy trinity with an unholy name.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

At some restaurants, bread is an afterthought—baskets of chalky, uninspired dinner rolls shuffled out with chilled, foil-wrapped butter. This is not that restaurant, and it’s certainly not that bread.At this follow-up to the lauded Philadelphia restaurant, High Street on Market, idea of bread as mere mealtime filler has been obliterated. 

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The legendary eatery has relocated from again to the new Essex Market at Essex Crossing, but still churns out kitchen-sink dishes such as pumpkin-pistachio–peanut-butter–cinnamon pancakes and chicken-burrito soup. There are over a hundred options on the menu. More pancake-styles than you've ever even heard of. 

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Two Bridges

Temporarily closed
Joining a growing number of restaurants whose chefs left behind their high-end pedigrees in favor of more fun, laid-back takes on comfort food, Sam Yoo has pivoted from Momofuku Ko and Torrisi to debut a greasy spoon of his very own. While the new Two Bridges restaurant is decked out in the leather-covered swivel stools, doily-like curtains and stained-glass lamps of yesteryear, the menu offers all-day eggs, pancakes and other nostalgic classics that are updated with global accents, alongside more plant-based options than is typical of these retrofitted spots.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant

Rice that’s boiled until it softens to mush, congee is simple to make, but styles and toppings differ from Myanmar to Taiwan and China. Although it’s not hard to find in, say, Flushing, across the city, new Asian-inspired restaurants rarely revisit this traditional breakfast dish. An East Asian general store with bites at the counter, Maya Bed-Stuy may not serve the single best congee in the city, but it’s an entirely noteworthy experience, updated with quinoa, avocado and other good additions you see in fashionable grain bowls.The menu is the result of a sweet collaboration between owner Layla Chen and chef Matthew Tilden, the man behind the beloved SCRATCHbread bakery.

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Dimes
  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Chinatown
  • price 2 of 4

At this SoCal-inspired café, the lineup can change weekly. Expect colorful plates with equal parts Japanese, South American and Mediterranean influences like a bonito-chili–spiced black-rice bowl loaded with sweet potato and eggplant, and braised chicken in stick-to-your-ribs apricot couscous. In the early hours, start your day with love toast made with housemade tahini, raspberry, mint and honey or Encino man with sweet potatoe, za'atar, bacon, escarole, sunny side egg and alfalfa sprouts.

  • Restaurants
  • Upper West Side

Is there a more distinctly New York (or at least NYC- beloved) dish than the bagel? Maybe. During morning hours? Absolutely not. The fact is that we do this weekend wakeup must—or afternoon stomach-padder, depending on how last night went—better than anyone. And although Tal Bagels provides by no means the most calming bagel experience in New York—for that, head to High Street on Hudson or Sadelle's—OG New Yorkers know that they're best eaten hunched over on park bench or at a bagelry counter top anyway. And we can't think of a better spot than this.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Flatiron

The beloved Bourke Street Bakery Sydney café, debuted in NoMad with its first-ever New York expansion. Pastries and cakes include lemon curd tarts, carrot cake, ginger crème brûlée, as well as New York-only treats like a PB & J roll. But their savory sausage rolls—lamb and harissa, pork and fennel, as well as a vegetarian-friendly version made with eggplant, chickpea, feta and mint—are what they've come to be known for. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

A throwback to the artsy East Village of decades past, this 24-hour Ukrainian diner is famous for such authentic savory grub as borscht, kielbasa and pierogi. House-made treats like blintzes, rugelach, poppy-seed bread and wheatberry pudding will send your sweet tooth (or toothless sweetie) to heaven.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Noho
  • price 2 of 4

Despite no longer being the latest hip breakfast spot in Mahattan, The Smile continues to churn out perfect folded eggs and croissants. 

See the best breakfast restaurants in America

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