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The best breakfast in NYC

Make the most important meal of the day the best one at these top-notch breakfast restaurants in NYC

Jack's Wife Freda
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
By Christina Izzo and Time Out contributors |
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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.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best breakfast in NYC

1
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Restaurants, French

Buvette

icon-location-pin West Village

At her latest, the tiny Gallic-themed Buvette, Jody Williams has just enough space to feed a 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. 

Reason to get out of bed: Cr'Q Madame with classic ham, Gruyère and a sunny-side-up egg

2
Bagel with lox at Russ & Daughters
Shopping, Specialist food and drink

Russ & Daughters

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

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.

Reason to get out of bed: Classic bagel and lox sandwich 

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3
Restaurants, American

Sunday in Brooklyn

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

Contrary to what the name might suggest, Sunday in Brooklyn is open for brunch and dinner every day of the week. The rustic three-story space boasts an outdoor patio, marketplace, private dining room and rooftop garden. The breakfast menu includes both lighter bites, like warm oatmeal with goat milk butter and charred avocaado toast with wheatgrass, and heartier fare, like an egg-sausage sandwich with potatoes, cheddar and gojuchang aioli.

Reason to get out of bed: Hazelnut maple praline malted pancakes

4
Jack's Wife Freda
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Jack's Wife Freda

icon-location-pin Soho

Keith McNally protégé Dean Jankelowitz (Schiller's, Pastis, Balthazar) is behind this morning-to-evening café. The 40-seat restaurant—sporting dark-green leather banquettes, brass railings and marble counters—serves homey fare. In the morning, find Stumptown coffee, homemade croissants and full breakfast plates.

Reason to get out of bed: Green shakshuka with two baked eggs in a green tomatillo and challah toast

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5
El Rey Luncheonette
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, American creative

El Rey Luncheonette

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Chef Gerardo Gonzalez serves dishes inspired by the California coast at this Lower East Side eatery, having transformed the former El Rey café-bar into a modern lunch counter. In the 15-seat space—featuring communal tables, globe lambs and a multiwood bar—find breakfast dishes offered through the late afternoon, including garden-variety chia-seed pudding jazzed up with coconut ash and berries and an avocado del sur with flatbread and chimichurri eggs.

Reason to get out of bed: Bull’s blood beets with leeks, chili lime sunflower seeds and shaved egg

6
‘Japanese Asagohan (Breakfast)
Restaurants, Japanese

Okonomi

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

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.

Reason to get out of bed: Ichi ju Sansai meal

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7
Cheese blintzes from Barney Greengrass
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Restaurants, Delis

Barney Greengrass

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

Despite decor that Jewish mothers might call “schmutzy,” this legendary deli is a madhouse at breakfast and brunch. Enormous egg platters come with the usual choice of smoked fish (such as sturgeon or Nova Scotia salmon). Prices are high but portions are large—and that goes for the sandwiches, too. Or try the less costly dishes: matzo-ball soup, creamy egg salad or noodle pudding served in a glass jar.

Reason to get out of bed: Smoked fish platters

8
Balthazar Bakery
Restaurants, French

Balthazar

icon-location-pin Soho

Not only is the iconic Balthazar still trendy, but the kitchen rarely makes a false step. Even at breakfast, the place is perennially packed with rail-thin lookers dressed to the nines. But the bread is great, the food is good, and the service is surprisingly friendly. The full English-breakfast plate—piled high with eggs, bacon, sausage and fried bread—is one of the best in town, and sweet tooths won't be disappointed by gut-busting sour cream–hazelnut waffles crowned with a dollop of warm berries. Don’t hate the patrons because they’re beautiful; just join them.

Reason to get out of bed: Roasted pepper and caramelized onion quiche

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9
SANTINA tricolore cannoli
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Seafood

Santina

icon-location-pin Meatpacking District

Since debuting Torrisi Italian Specialties in ’09, Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick have gone from relative unknowns to restaurant moguls. Which brings us to theirsunny entry in the trio’s ever-growing domain: Santina, a glass-enclosed jewel box of a restaurant tucked neatly beneath the High Line. Though billed as “coastal Italian”—the place is named for Carbone’s Sicilian grandmother—the vibrant set-piece room reads more South Beach than southern Italy. Get the day off to a good start with an aromatic truffle egg salad and iced coffee. 

Reason to get out of bed: Italian chickpea pancakes

10
Mango pitaya at Dimes
Restaurants, Californian

Dimes

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

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.

Reason to get out of bed: Huevo kathmandu with spiced chickpeas, fried egg, date relish, spinach, green chutney and corn tortilla

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