There’s more to New York’s best breakfast sandwiches than a mere bacon egg and cheese. Doled out at the city’s best coffee shops, New York delis and all-day restaurants, these morning sammies range from smoked salmon piled on bagels to Italian porchetta on fresh-baked bread.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to brunch in NYC
Best breakfast sandwiches in NYC
At some restaurants, bread is an afterthought—baskets of chalky, uninspired dinner rolls shuffled out with chilled, foil-wrapped butter. Here, it's the meal. In the morning, it takes the form of pillowy, amply poppy-seeded potato rolls that come slathered with plucky gherkin mayo and padded with thick slices of sweet Lancaster bologna, horseradish-zapped Amish cheddar and fried red onions in the fan-favorite Hickory Town sandwich; or it’s the buttery biscuit, popping with black pepper and subdued with sage, that hugs a cloud-soft egg, malted sausage and melty aged cheddar in the kitchen’s gorgeous send-up of a breakfast sandwich.
When Ben Jones’s Park Slope coffeeshop reopened in September 2016 following renovations, it didn’t just come back with a fresh coat of paint—Jones had also brought on new partner and sandwich connoisseur Josh Sobel (Mile End, Court Street Grocers), who added a slew of sammies to the café’s breakfast lineup. For the namesake sandwich, Sobel jumpstarts the classic scrambled-egg sandwich with Heritage Meats ham, aged Cabot cheddar, pickled red onion and finger-licking red eye-style sauce that you’ll crave. $8
New York’s lox-and-schmear field is crowded. Not to be outdone, Noah Bernamoff and Matt Kliegman—the brains behind those cult-inducing Manhattan-meets-Montreal bagels—unleash this larger, 1,500-square-foot East Village expansion in the former home of century-old Italian bakery De Robertis. Inside, head baker Dianna Daoheung rolls out honey-boiled rounds topped with Black Seed standbys (tobiko cream cheese, beet lox), as well as exclusive new sandwiches like smoked salmon bookended with arugula, crème fraîche and a fried-caper omelette.
Capitalizing on the versatility of eggs, this breakfast-minded shop fries, scrambles, poaches and pickles its organic, locally sourced main ingredient to anchor bowls and to top sandwiches. Of the latter, find an advanced take on steak and eggs: Grass-fed tenderloin is crammed with chimichurri, caramelized onion aioli, farm green, fresh pickled jalapeno and a sunny-side-up egg inside a French hero.
There are plenty of healthy, colorful toasts on offer at this SoCal-inspired café—rhubarb compote with dragon fruit, housemade tahini with rasbperries and honey—but for a heartier morning meal, look to the house breakfast sandwich: Scrambled eggs are layered with sliced avocado, cheddar and pickled jalapenos, and doused with plenty of hot sauce. Now that should wake you up.
Ignacio Mattos has reined in his modernist tendencies at Estela, with an ever-changing, mostly small-plates menu that pivots from avant-garde toward intimate, bridging the gap between space-age Isa and the homey Italian he used to cook at Il Buco. You can see both influences at play with the chef's high-brow breakfast sandwich, which features salty pancetta, creamy avocado and a sunny-side-up egg tucked inside one of Bien Cuit's beautiful tebirke pastries.
At this restaurant-market hybrid, you can stock your larder or settle into the 19-seat dining room for dressed-up versions of classic sandwiches. You can go the refined bodega route with the house breakfast sandwich (soft-scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and arugula on a Balthazar ciabatta) or do as the Jerseyans do with a pork roll, featuring scrambled eggs, American cheese and Taylor ham on a Martin's potato roll.
At this 24-hour corner market, find stacked sandwich classics (chicken club, Italian sub) and original creations like the teriyaki-and-hot-pepper sandwich layered with creamy avocado slices, or the famous P.H.O. Sometimes what you want, though, is a purist BEC and for that, turn to the shop's breakfast sandwiches, simple combinations of griddled eggs, morning meats and American cheese on your choice of a roll or bagel.
At Il Buco’s casual offshoot—one part winecentric restaurant (Vineria), one part gourmet food pantry (Alimentari)—you can find an Italian-accented breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, slices of salame rosa and nutty Fontina cheese built on a loaf of house-baked bread.
Photograph: CC/Flickr/Robyn Lee
Low-and-slow meats are the stars of this midtown sandwich shop, outfitted with a communal table, wood counters and exposed brick walls. Breakfast combos include the Southern-style Ol' Grumpy(beef chili, soft-scrambled eggs, pimento cheese, cilantro) and the Mediterranean-esque Giulia, with sunny-side eggs, olive spread and basil.
This tiny, low-key sandwich shop comes to us from owners Caroline Fidanza (Marlow & Sons), Rebecca Collerton (Diner) and Elizabeth Schula (Il Buco). Together, they create simple yet remarkable sandwiches that rely on pedigreed produce. Most are served on house-baked sea-salt-speckled focaccia, a versatile vehicle that encases sardines, salsa verde;and house-pickled eggs in the Captain’s Daughter, a delicious riff on a pan bagnat.
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Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
The oyster bar inside iconic Grand Central Terminal has been serving commuters, tourists and diners since 1913. After going bankrupt and falling into disuse in the 1970s, it reopened with a renewed focus on seafood and a newly renovated interior. Today, Grand Central Oyster Bar serves 25 to 30 varieties of oysters and fresh seafood sourced from local purveyors across the Northeast. There’s the raw bar, of course, and plenty of other appetizers like oysters rockefeller ($16.45), grilled Spanish cuttlefish ($16.95) and broiled Peconic Bay sea scallops with casino butter ($11.95). Move on to the specials of the day, which on a recent visit, included tempura-fried catfish with spicy teriyaki sauce ($23.95) and grilled jumbo shrimp over penne with puttanesca sauce ($30.95). Thirsty? Pair your meal with something from the extensive wine list or one of the legendary martinis.
Venue says: “For over 100 years we have been serving the freshest oysters & seafood in NYC! Our Oyster Happy Hour features Bluepoint Oysters, $1.25/each”