There are few things more exciting than the prospect of a perfectly constructed breakfast sandwich. As opposed to other sandwiches, which can essentially be anything slapped between two slices of bread, a breakfast sandwich is truly a work of art: one that incorporates all of the flavors of breakfast into the perfect medium. We set out on a quest to find the 10 best breakfast sandwiches in America.
This breakfast sandwich is extremely popular in the Middle East, but it’s not exactly easy to track down stateside. At New York’s Taim, chef Einat Admony, who’s originally from Tel Aviv, serves a faithful and delicious interpretation: a pita stuffed with fresh-made hummus, Israeli salad, fried eggplant, shredded cabbage, sliced hard-boiled egg, and a pickled mango sauce called amba. The flavors all blend together into a vegetarian breakfast symphony.
Yes, their name is borderline inappropriate, but once you get over it you’ll realize that this place takes its eggs very seriously. The bacon, egg, and cheese and sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches are perfectly constructed (we’ll be putting honey mustard aïoli on all our sausage, egg, and cheeses from now on), but the Fairfax is what put it on the map. A warm brioche bun is filled with perfectly soft scrambled eggs and chives, then simply topped with caramelized onions and sriracha mayonnaise. It’s an egg sandwich in the purest sense of the term, and it’s damn near perfect.
To create this sandwich, the folks at Portland’s Meat Cheese Bread start with a homemade sausage patty, crisped to a golden brown on the flat-top. The patty is topped with oozy, melting spicy Cheddar cheese, which gets browned in the broiler, then the whole thing is placed atop some crunchy shaved fennel, which helps cut through the heaviness.
The logical next step would be to place the three ingredients on some sort of a roll — maybe crusty French bread — and call it a day. But no, they’ve gone and elevated it one step further: in lieu of bread, they use bread pudding. Maple-currant bread pudding, to be exact, also browned on the flat-top. It tastes like the best French toast you’ll ever have.
The simply named egg sandwich is the brainchild of Jam’s owner and executive chef Jeffrey Mauro (no relation to the “Sandwich King” of Food Network fame), and it’s a lot more than its name might imply. The sandwich starts with toasted ciabatta topped with slow-roasted and shredded pork shoulder. Below the pork are shavings of ricotta salata and plum preserves, and atop rest two perfectly fried over-easy eggs. Talk about a work of art.
Ignacio Mattos’ high-end small plates destination also serves a stellar brunch, and his pancetta, egg, and avocado sandwich is a serious standout. It starts with a poppy seed-topped almond cream-filled pastry from Bien Cuit called a trebirke, which is split and topped with mashed avocado, crisp pancetta, and a sunny side up egg. We’ll be making all our breakfast sandwiches with pastries from now on.
Austin’s Noble Sandwich Company, formerly known as The Noble Pig, is renowned for its ingenious sandwiches, so it should come as no surprise that its breakfast sandwiches are also the stuff of legend. Take the simple-sounding chorizo and egg, for example: A homemade challah roll is spread with a little tangy salsa, then topped with a mound of finely ground spicy chorizo, melted sharp Cheddar, and a fried egg. Just about every component is made in-house, and they meld together gloriously.
At Pork Slope, the roadhouse-style bar from chef Dale Talde, the brunch menu is whimsical and delicious. Take the McDowell’s Griddle, for example: named after the McDonald’s knockoff in Coming to America, it’s a knife-and-forker for the ages: two corn griddle cakes enveloping a patty of homemade Cheddarwurst and a fried egg, topped with a helping of sriracha-kicked maple syrup. That diet can wait until tomorrow.
The Lower East Side’s Russ and Daughters is a true new York classic (It’s widely regarded as one of, if not the, best spots in the country for lox, smoked salmon, and other Jewish bagel-toppers called “appetizing”), so you know that if there’s a sandwich on their menu called the Classic that it’s going to be, well, a classic. And it is: A fresh bagel from Park Slope, Brooklyn’s Bagel Hole is sliced and topped with housemade Gaspe Nova smoked salmon (thin-sliced by hand, of course), tangy all-natural cream cheese from a California dairy, sliced tomato, onions, and a sprinkling of capers. It’s the perfect New York breakfast sandwich.
At Charleston’s Hominy Grill, chef/owner Robert Stehling has landed upon the perfect formula: comforting Lowcountry cuisine, made with the highest-quality ingredients. The perfect expression of that philosophy is the Charleston Nasty Biscuit (formerly known as the Big Nasty): a light and flaky high-rise biscuit, cut in half and filled with a huge piece of golden-brown fried chicken breast, topped with melted cheese and a giant ladle of creamy sausage gravy. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sandwich, but if you have the opportunity to eat it even once, you’ll be very fortunate.
Rick Bayless is a master of Mexican cuisine, and at his casual Xoco his take on the classic torta, a traditional Mexican sandwich, is a wonder to behold. A soft roll is filled with soft scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, melted jack cheese, crumbled queso fresco, and a chorizo-poblano mixture bursting with spice, cinnamon, and vinegar. If you’re looking to wake up your taste buds and jumpstart your brain’s pleasure center, this is the sandwich for you. Thanks, Rick!