Look, we love brunch in NYC as much as the next mimosa drinkers, but there’s something special about breakfast. Maybe it’s the sheer breadth of comforting options—from stacks of pancakes to hangover-curing breakfast sandwiches to the best bagels you’ll find anywhere. If you’re looking for serious a.m. fuel, turn to these restaurants for the best breakfast NYC has to offer.
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The best of the city
If you grabbed brunch at Clinton St. Bakery and didn’t order the stack of fluffy blueberry pancakes, did you really even go? At least, that’s how sought-after the dish is among the early-morning (and breakfast-for-dinner) crowd.
Sure, Seinfeld launched babka into popularity after its notorious episode, but Breads Bakery put it on the map—and into our thankful mouths—when it opened in Union Square six years ago. Today, its chocolaty, gooey rolls of joy are considered not only the best babkas around town, but also some of the best pastries, full stop.
Best breakfast in NYC
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.
No matter the hour, this pint-size Japanese café—which specializes in comfort food like toast with natto or egg, tofu smoothies with matcha and uni spaghetti—has a lot to love.
The Malaysian café is now bigger and (arguably) better with an all-day menu of affordable small plates and snacks like nasi lemak in a new cutesy location down the block.
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.
At Gabriel Stulman's all-day Gramercy café, nosh on Mediterranean and North African plates in a stylish, mid-century setting in the Freehand Hotel. It's the perfect spot for before-work meet-up.
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.
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.
At this Down Under java joint, Aussie expats Henry Roberts and Giles Russell dedicate a large wall to framed prints from local photographers. The Wi-Fi isn’t free, but you can 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.
Chef Patch Troffer completely reinvented the menu, focusing for the first time on Japanese-American farm food. For breakfast, that means excellent sour cabbage pancakes and an egg sandwich with pickled chilli mayo.
At this gorgeous, sprawling restaurant you can get an elegant French breakfast with a side of atmosphere that celebrity restaurateur, Stephen Starr has come to be known for. After breakfast, pick up a boquet in their adjoining flower shop.
Inspired by Los Angeles all-day cafes like Gjelina and Sqirl, Gertie is a gorgeous 70-seat spot off the Lorimer L train, that's luncheonette-style dining made for today's scene.
Floret is an all-day cafe inside Sister City, an off-shoot boutique-hotel concept from the hip Ace Hotel team, located on the Bowery. Culinary partner, Joe Ogrodnek brings his expertise for making neighborhoody hits with his ricotta toast, soft scramble with Parmesan and banana macadamia bread.
Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman is an expert at architecturing neighborhoody feeling spaces. His revival of the beloved Great Jones Cafe will offer nods to its Cajun/Creole roots. In a seafood-led menu you can expect dishes like a bluefish tartine, sardines with butter and a filet-o-fish sandwich.
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.
Many new bakeries are opening in New York this year—Ole & Steen, Bourke Street Bakery and Michaeli Bakery—but none excites us as much about carbo-loading as Pilar Cuban Bakery, which opened back in February. At the decade-old Pilar Cuban Eatery’s new Bed-Stuy sister spot, owner-chef Ricardo Barreras rethinks breakfast with underused-in-NYC Cuban ingredients.
What Noods n’ Chill lacks in space (there are only 12 seats in this self-serve restaurant), it makes up in dynamic flavors. Fluffy brioche is topped with fragrant pork floss with a shiny spread of sweet chili paste. You’ll also find noodle soups (order the pork blood-enriched boat noodles) but there’s also a rarely seen Chinese-Thai rice porridge perfect for breakfast.
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.
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.
Grab one of Danny Meyer's signature cruellers or an egg sandwich at this essential New York bakery. Keep in mind, there are few seats.
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.
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.
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.
“Smør” means “butter,” which is fitting, as smørrebrøds—open-faced toasts with buttered rye bread—are this shop’s signature.
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.
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.
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.
It’s one of the city’s best bang-for-your-buck and an essential primer to New York dining. With each cheong fun doused in sweet soy sauce, there are few restaurants this comforting.
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.
Despite no longer being the latest hip breakfast spot in Mahattan, The Smile continues to churn out perfect folded eggs and croissants.