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The case for breakfast over brunch

Food & Drink editor Christina Izzo sings the praises of the much underrated breakfast (not brunch) club

By Christina Izzo

Look, I totally understand the hullabaloo over brunch. It’s hollandaise-drenched decadence, a lively, luscious Sunday Funday spectacle, an enticing excuse to combat your hangover with garnish-toppling Bloody Marys and goat-cheese-crammed French toast. On the romance scale, brunch is the one you want to Netflix and chill with. Breakfast, on the other hand, is the one you marry—less titillating, sure, but more loving.

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And it’s not just the “It’s the most important meal of the day” virtuosity, although the fuel and the rise-and-shine health benefits of the morning meal are well founded. Breakfast neither leaves you hungover at 7pm on a Sunday thanks to sugar-clogged bottomless mimosas nor feeling flat-out slovenly because you basically ate two meals’ worth in one indecisive sitting. And while cocktail-swilling, social-bunny brunch is about more than what’s on the plate—it’s a scene; it’s a lifestyle; hell, it’s a verb—clear-headed breakfast has always been about the food, refreshingly oblivious to vibe and hype.

Breakfast doesn’t ask you to wait outside in an hour-long line for something as mundane as eggs Benedict, and it sees no need for a side of high heels, velvet ropes or thumping DJ sets with your buttery stack of griddle cakes. (We’re looking at you, Lavo.) People who eat breakfast didn’t drive the Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas to leave New York City for a brunch-free existence upstate (really—this happened), and they’re not daytime denizens gone belligerent, bratty and bedraggled. (Remember that caught-on-camera, Pranna-frequenting NYU coed who claimed to possess not only the number of Bill de Blasio but also “half of fucking Manhattan”? Yeah, people who are like him.) And it sure as hell ain’t called Brunch at Tiffany’s.

But our fondness for the true morning repast lies in something even more basic and fundamental than all that. Brunch gets props for its sheer breakfast-meets-lunch breadth—burgers topped with runny-yolked eggs, fried chicken and waffles, and frosting-cloaked cinnamon rolls all fall within its crowd-pleasing confines—but breakfast is no underdog when it comes to delicious diversity. Doughnuts to dim sum, rich shakshuka to syrupy waffles, Japanese kaiseki spreads to English fry-ups—it’s all up for grabs come breakfast time. And breakfast time is anytime; it doesn’t adhere to weekends-only, 11am-to-3pm restrictions. This is NYC; you can eat breakfast all day long if you want. It’s every day, everywhere, for the everyman. Brunch is for the indulgent few. Breakfast is for the rest of us.


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