The Best Restaurant for Breakfast in Every State
January 18, 2019
Want to start your day on the right foot? Head to one of these local heroes
It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for most of us it’s an afterthought; something we quickly eat before rushing to work or skip entirely on the weekends in anticipation of a festive brunch. But there are plenty of restaurants out there that don’t just serve breakfast, they specialize in it, attracting local regulars and out-of-towners alike bright and early, every day of the week, and we tracked down the absolute best breakfast restaurant in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
There are few meals that are more satisfying out there than a truly great breakfast. When we get up early and take the time to go to a restaurant and relax with a newspaper, an omelette or a fruit-topped Belgian waffle, and a cup of coffee or a breakfast cocktail, it has the power to completely change our outlook for the day. Even a basic breakfast of eggs and toast can recharge our batteries, but there are certain things that we looked for on our quest to track down the best breakfast spots in each state: Is it open bright and early every morning? Does it serve all the expected classic breakfast dishes, prepared from scratch using fresh, high-quality ingredients? Does it offer some unique breakfast dishes and unexpected twists and regional specialties worth exploring, as well as options for the health-conscious? Is the restaurant itself comfortable, low-key, and homey? And is it beloved by locals and out-of-towners alike?
Not all of these restaurants are world-famous; in fact, very few of them are. The best breakfast spots are at their heart humble and free of pretense, with a team of skilled short-order cooks in the kitchen working tirelessly to turn out perfect renditions of dishes that we all know and love, day in and day out. Today, we’re celebrating those unsung heroes of the morning.
Alabama: Big Bad Breakfast (Birmingham)
James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence is the master of the Southern breakfast, and his menu at Big Bad Breakfast (which has another location in Oxford, Miss.) is chock full of classic breakfast staples like shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, and flapjacks. Biscuits and jellies are made from scratch, the Bloody Marys are spectacular, and it’s open daily at 7 a.m.
Alaska: Snow City Café (Anchorage)
Going strong in downtown Anchorage for 20 years, Snow City Café makes just about all of its menu items from scratch, is devoted to using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible, and offers a variety of vegan and gluten-free options. They’re open at 7 every morning and breakfast is served all day; on their menu you’ll find seven Benedicts (including one made with Alaska king crab cakes), build-your-own omelettes, a breakfast burrito with chorizo and green chile, Mandarin orange cream cheese-stuffed French toast, pancakes, and house-made granola.
Arizona: Matt’s Big Breakfast (Phoenix and Tempe)
Matt’s has two Phoenix locations and one in Tempe, and they all open for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. daily. Its owners strive to use the best ingredients possible, including cage-free eggs, all-natural pork and beef, and local organic produce. Offerings include a breakfast sandwich with two eggs, two slices of thick-cut bacon, American cheese, and grilled onions; three eggs scrambled with Molinari sopressata; two eggs served with an Iowa pork rib chop; and made-from-scratch waffles and pancakes.
Arkansas: At the Corner (Little Rock)
Located in the heart of downtown Little Rock and open at 7 a.m. for breakfast during the week, At the Corner uses locally seasonal produce and scratch-made diner classics. You’ll find the expected omelettes, pancakes, breakfast platters, and biscuits and gravy, but there are plenty of surprises, too: don’t miss the Wafflewich (a waffle sandwich with an egg, Cheddar, spiced maple syrup, and breakfast meat); Breakfast Bologna (bologna, pickled onion, smoked gouda, fried egg, beef bacon jam, and lemon thyme aïoli on a ciabatta); and toasts (ricotta and jam, mushroom and kale, or cranberry goat cheese and sweet potatoes). There are also a couple healthy bowls, including one filled with egg whites, house-roasted turkey, kale, farro, sweet potatoes, benne seeds, candied beets, cranberry goat cheese, and spicy maple.
California: Just For You Café (San Francisco)
Yes, this charming and unpretentious little café in the San Francisco neighborhood of Dogpatch is the best place for breakfast in the entire state. In business since 1990 and in its current location since 2002, Just For You bakes most of its own breads in-house, sources its charcuterie from local Zoe’s Meats, sources eggs from Petaluma Farms, sources its seafood locally, and only uses fresh (usually organic) produce. The breakfast menu (served from 7:30 weekdays) is absolutely massive; along with eggs, breakfast burritos, pancakes, brioche French toast, biscuits and gravy, and more lunchy stuff like salads and burgers you’ll find a surprisingly wide assortment of New Orleans-inspired offerings (Creole crab cakes, hot beignets, fried oyster po’ boys) Mexican and Tex-Mex specialties (chorizo con huevos, carnitas tacos, hatch green chile sauce); Southern staples (fried chicken, shrimp and grits), and a variety of vegetarian and vegan offerings. Wash it all down with some fresh-squeezed juice, and take a pan of homemade cornbread with you.
Colorado: Snooze (Various Locations)
Founded by brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel in Denver in 2006, Snooze now has eight Colorado locations and a handful each in California, Arizona, and Texas. Open daily from 6:30 a.m., Snooze’s menu is divided into five sections: Flavors from the Hen (omelettes, scrambles, house-made corned beef hash, breakfast tacos and burritos, and a pot-pie twist on biscuits and gravy); The Art of Hollandaise (six Benedicts, including one topped with pulled pork and chili verde); Sammies (including sausage, egg, and cheese on a pretzel roll and a play on a traditional Cubano); Sweet Utopia (several varieties of pancakes and French toast, including hot cocoa pancakes topped with Mexican hot chocolate); and Light as a Feather (healthier options including a quinoa breakfast bowl and an egg white and vegetable frittata). There are plenty of gluten-free and vegan options available as well, and substitutions aren’t just available, they’re encouraged.
Connecticut: Dottie’s Diner (Woodbury)
Dottie’s has been a Woodbury destination since 2006, but its history goes back to long before that: The Phillips Diner, which had been in business since 1934, was purchased in that year by Dorie Sperry, who kept many of the old Phillips favorites on the menu, including chicken pot pie and some of the best doughnuts you’ll find anywhere. But if you just drop in for some doughnuts and coffee, you’re missing out. It opens daily at 6 a.m. (Sundays at 7), and the breakfast menu is just about perfect: bagels and smoked salmon, fresh-baked muffins, eggs prepared any way you please, fresh corned beef hash, eggs Benedicts, buttermilk and buckwheat pancakes, French toast, and bacon from nearby Nodine’s Smokehouse. There are no big surprises here, just perfect versions of breakfast staples.
Delaware: Angelo’s Luncheonette (Wilmington)
In business since 1967, this picture-perfect corner lunch counter is run by August Muzzi (who inherited the restaurant from his father, Angelo, and can usually be found manning the griddle) and his family. Full of regulars and dripping with old-school charm, Angelo’s has just 12 stools and a handful of booths, and still retains many of its original fixtures and just about all of its original menu. The bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is a masterpiece of the form, the pancakes are flawless, and we’ll let you guess how great the grilled cheese is. It’s open from 7 a.m. daily, and closed Sundays.
Florida: Keke’s Breakfast Café (Various Locations)
There are more than 30 locations of Keke’s across Florida, with 13 more in the works, and the company prides itself on making nearly all of its dishes from scratch, using the highest-quality ingredients available. All locations open at 7 a.m. daily, and the menu is nothing short of massive. There are 11 waffle varieties and 8 pancakes (filled and topped with everything from fresh berries to bananas and pecans); 10 varieties of French toast (including one stuffed with pineapple, coconut, and cream cheese); and more egg preparations than we can list. You can always create your own combo as well.
Georgia: Clary’s Café (Savannah)
A classic Southern-style diner, Clary’s is a colorful, homey Savannah destination serving spot-on versions of Southern breakfast staples from 7:30 daily (8 on weekends). The waffles and sticky buns are legendary, but don’t miss the griddle cakes — two big buttermilk pancakes served with butter and your choice of pure maple syrup or Georgia cane syrup — filled with your choice of blueberries, chocolate chips, or Georgia pecans. House-made corned beef hash is also a specialty, as is the crab cakes Benedict. And if you can save room for an old fashioned banana split or a jumbo homemade eclair, you won’t regret it.
Hawaii: Kihei Caffe (Kihei)
Located a stone’s throw from the ocean, this charming counter-service café with a cute patio happens to be serving some of Hawaii’s finest breakfasts from a 40 item-strong menu, and to keep those early-morning surfers happy, it opens at 5 a.m. daily. The huge cinnamon rolls and classic Hawaiian loco moco (with two eggs, a burger patty, white rice, and brown gravy) are the real deal, and the big, fluffy pancakes are just about perfect, especially when stacked high and topped with bananas and macadamia nuts or pineapple and coconut. The biscuits and gravy are also surprisingly legit, as is the breakfast burrito and pork fried rice with scrambled eggs. And don’t forget about Spam! If you’re looking for a real Hawaiian-style breakfast, you’ve come to the right place.
Idaho: Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro (Boise)
Serving Boise’s best breakfasts since 1999, Goldy’s packs them in starting at 6:30 on weekdays and at 7:30 on the weekends. Owners Randy and Wanda Martinat source the best fresh ingredients they can find and use them to create breakfast-time favorites like Andalusian Eggs (two poached eggs over marinara sauce, baked with ham, chorizo, asparagus, and peppers); a frittata filled with spaghetti, Parmesan, romano, Asiago, and mozzarella topped with spinach nutmeg sauce; a variety of Benedicts and vegetables topped with their famous hollandaise; cinnamon-raisin-walnut bread French toast; house-made malted waffles; biscuits and gravy; and create-your-own-breakfast combos with a wide variety of meats, potato preparations, and bread. Eating here isn’t just a breakfast; it’s an adventure.
Illinois: Little Goat Diner (Chicago)
Little Goat Diner/Yelp
Chef Stephanie Izard is a culinary wizard, and has captured the hearts of Chicago with her acclaimed restaurants Girl & The Goat, Duck Duck Goat, and Little Goat Diner. Open daily at 7 a.m., Little Goat may ostensibly claim to be a diner, but it’s unlike any other one you’ll ever encounter. Sure, you’ll find eggs any style, a daily-rotating omelette, house-made breakfast sausage, corned beef hash with eggs, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, and insanely delicious cinnamon buns, but a large portion of her menu is firmly planted squarely outside of the box. There’s the This Little Piggy Went to China (sesame Cheddar biscuit, sunny-side-up eggs, Sichuan pork sausage, chile garlic chive sauce, and gooseberries); Everything Is Everything Crumpets (lox, fried egg salad, tzatziki cream cheese, and pickles); and a Parathas Burrito (Indian flatbread, sunny side up eggs, and avocado bean salad), for example. But if you’re just looking for world-class pancakes (topped with spiced apples or cooked with dark chocolate chips), waffles (topped with bananas, peanut butter putter, and bacon maple syrup), or French toast (sweet onion brioche topped with fried chicken and barbecue maple syrup), the versions served here will spoil you for life.
Indiana: Good Morning Mama’s (Indianapolis)
Good Morning Mama’s was a gas station before the owners of next-door favorite Mama Carolla’s decided to turn it into a world-class breakfast spot with an old-school malt shop atmosphere, open at 8 a.m. daily. Along with spot-on versions of breakfast staples like breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, homemade corned beef and hash, pancakes, French toast, and omelettes, visitors will also notice lots of intriguing specialties, like fried biscuits rolled in cinnamon sugar; a surprisingly authentic Hawaiian loco moco; and whole-wheat spaghetti scrambled with eggs, Parmesan, toast, and pancetta. Make sure you get some cheesy grits on the side.
Iowa: Bluebird Diner (Iowa City)
This low-key, retro style diner opens at 7 a.m. daily and serves elevated versions of classic country diner classics, like fresh-baked biscuits with cream gravy made with house-made sausage, eggs with homemade smoked pork chili verde, center-cut Angus sirloin and eggs, chicken fried steak and eggs, and expertly-prepared omelettes. The buttermilk pancakes are definitely a standout, as are house-made Belgian waffles, challah French toast, and cinnamon roll French toast, all topped with whipped butter and real maple syrup.
Kansas: The Depot (Leavenworth)
Located inside a former train station that was constructed in 1887, The Depot is today one of Leavenworth’s most popular restaurants. And it also happens to serve the best breakfasts in the state, starting at 7 a.m. daily. The menu here is fairly straightforward, but everything is made with the highest-quality ingredients, and there’s some real talent on display here. Popular specialties include biscuits and gravy, house-made corned beef hash, pulled smoked chicken hash Benedict, fried chicken tenders and waffles, and huevos rancheros. Don’s miss the cinnamon rolls or mini doughnut-muffins rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Kentucky: Lexington Diner (Lexington)
Open daily at 8 a.m., Lexington Diner is a small and unpretentious restaurant with tile floors, formica tables, a four-stool counter, and some of the finest all-day breakfasts you’ll find anywhere. Owners Ranada Riley and Karin West have assembled a stellar menu of egg dishes, French toast, waffles, and spins on regional specialties, and the results are nothing short of breakfast perfection, with some serious surprises thrown in. The overstuffed omelettes, bananas Foster French toast, breakfast burrito, biscuits and gravy, and Cheddar garlic grits are nothing to sneeze at, but the menu’s true jaw-droppers include a play on the Kentucky Hot Brown with chorizo, scrambled eggs, gravy, grilled tomato, bacon, and Cheddar; biscuits topped with chicken tenders, pit ham, Swiss, and bourbon honey mustard; shaved ribeye, caramelized onions, an egg, provolone, and horseradish aïoli on a toasted bagel; and French toast topped with pulled pork and balsamic drizzle. See, we told you there were some surprises!
Louisiana: Brennan’s (New Orleans)
One of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans, and one of the most influential restaurants in the history of breakfast, Brennan’s has been going strong since 1946, and by introducing some items not usually associated with breakfast to its menu it essentially invented brunch as we know it. It’s still family-owned, and today this renowned and refined eatery opens at 9 a.m. during the week and 8 a.m. on the weekends, serving a wide variety of classic Creole breakfast and brunch dishes with just the right amount of fanfare, washed down with classic New Orleans cocktails like brandied milk punch and Cajun-style Bloody Marys. Spins on eggs Benedict like Eggs Hussarde (house-made English muffins, coffee-cured Canadian bacon, hollandaise, and red wine sauce); Eggs Owen (red wine braised short rib, crispy fingerling potatoes, poached eggs, hollandaise, and red wine sauce), and Eggs Sardou (crispy artichokes, creamed spinach, and tomato-spiked béarnaise) are nothing short of legendary, but the deliciousness doesn’t stop there: barbecue lobster with Creole-spiced butter (an instant classic introduced by current chef Slade Rushing); baked apple with oatmeal pecan raisin crumble; house-made huckleberry blintzes; bacon and egg risotto; country fried rabbit with creamed collards and eggs over easy; and vanilla-scented French toast are groan-inducingly good. And should you feel the need to sample one of the restaurant’s most famous dinner entrées — steak Diane, topped with brandied mushroom reduction and flambéed tableside — it’s been kindly added to the menu, served with two eggs any style. Now that’s a brunch dish we can get behind.
Maine: Becky’s Diner (Portland)
In Portland, Becky’s Diner is nothing short of legendary, opening bright and early at 4 a.m. daily and serving a menu of flawlessly executed breakfast dishes from a comfortable dining room with a long counter. Omelettes with home fries and toast (try the lobster and Swiss), homemade corned beef hash, pancakes, French toast, fruit bowls, and the usual breakfast breads are on offer; there are no major surprises here, just stellar, hearty breakfasts from one of Maine’s most renowned restaurants. Breakfast is served until 4 p.m., so if you get there after 11 you can accompany yours with one of their famed lobster rolls.
Maryland: Pete’s Grille (Baltimore)
If you go to this old-school 28-seat breakfast counter, a longtime Baltimore staple, you don’t need to order what Michael Phelps used to back in his training days — three fried egg sandwiches, an omelette, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast, and three chocolate chip pancakes — but no one can fault you if you do; after all, the versions of these diner classics you’ll receive will be basically perfect. Going strong for more than 50 years, Pete’s is a family-run affair (owners Dave and Darlene are there every day), and it’s the kind of place where the head waitress is named Debbie and she’s been there for more than 30 years. It’s open at 7 a.m. during the week and 8 on weekends, and if you go, don’t forget that it’s cash-only.
Massachusetts: The Breakfast Club (Allston)
In 2002, restaurant industry vet George Athanasopoulos came upon a 1962-vintage diner in disrepair, and knew he had to have it. He restored and renovated it, named it The Breakfast Club, and gave it an ‘80s theme, and it wasn’t long before crowds were lining up outside the door, waiting more than an hour for a table on the weekends. What are they flocking for? A massive variety of three-egg omelettes filled with everything from house corned beef hash and Cheddar to shaved sirloin, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and pepper jack; 11 varieties of Benedicts; world-class buttermilk pancakes, French toast, and breakfast sandwiches; and combo platters called “Library Specials” (don’t forget the name of the restaurant). Open from 6 a.m. during the week and at 7 on the weekends, The Breakfast Club is simply the best place in Massachusetts for breakfast.
Michigan: Donckers (Marquette)
Donckers is perhaps best-known for its hand-crafted chocolates, but locals know that its restaurant (open at 7 during the week and 8 on weekends) serves some of the finest breakfasts you’ll find anywhere. As many ingredients as possible are all-natural and sourced locally, and the results are pretty spectacular: flapjacks and waffles made according to an old family recipe and served with real maple syrup; build-your-own-omelettes with options like smoked Gouda, steak, portobellos, basil, and avocado; hash made with house-made corned beef or grilled sirloin; steel-cut oatmeal; all-natural breakfast meats; and a wide variety of breakfast sandwiches served on locally-made ciabatta. Who needs chocolates when there’s a breakfast like this?
Minnesota: Pannekoeken Huis (Minneapolis)
An authentic Dutch restaurant located smack dab in the middle of Minneapolis, Pannekoeken Huis (Dutch for “Pancake House,” naturally) opens daily at 7 and has been introducing locals to Dutch pancakes for more than 20 years. These big, airy pancakes resemble a giant Yorkshire pudding, and they’re the perfect receptacle for the nearly 20 toppings and add-ins. If you’re not in the mood for a pancake, however (American-style ones are available too), there are also waffles, biscuits and gravy, and plenty of egg dishes including steak and eggs, Benedicts, corned beef hash, a breakfast burrito, a veggie frittata, and omelettes (try the Dutch Country, filled with smoked mettwurst sausage, ham, mushrooms, diced onions, peppers, and Gouda, and topped with hollandaise and tomatoes).
Mississippi: Fill-Up With Billups (Biloxi and Madison)
Fill-Up With Billups (named after a gas station) is only a year old, but it’s already achieved enough breakfast renown in Biloxi and Madison that a third location in Pass Christian is in the works. As many ingredients as possible are locally-sourced (including grits from Oxford-based Grit Girl), Belgian waffles are made to order, it’s inexpensive, and portions are appropriately huge. There’s a ton of creativity on display, too: along with classics like steak and eggs and chicken and waffles you’ll find bananas Foster waffles; bacon, egg, and cheese grits; grillades and grits; waffle sandwiches filled with peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, and ham, bacon, cheese, and eggs; and a split biscuit topped with Creole cream cheese, ham, eggs, and shrimp etouffee. The Madison location is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m, and the Biloxi location is open 24-7 (and serves beer!).
Missouri: Rooster (St. Louis)
The two locations of this charming St. Louis café — one downtown and one on South Grand Boulevard — open at 8 and 7 respectively, and specialize in crêpes. You’ll find plenty of breakfast crêpes, savory crêpes, and sweet crêpes, and the possibilities range from eggs with Cheddar, potatoes, and house-made salsa to homemade German sausages, spiced apples, and Cheddar; smoked sirloin with caramelized onions, arugula, goat cheese, and tomato jam; and cookie crumbs, marshmallow, and dark chocolate. If you’re not in the mood for a crêpe, though, there are several three-egg scrambles on the menu (try the one with ham, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach), biscuits and gravy, traditional Finnish custard pancakes, a brunch burger, and biscuit sandwiches.
Montana: Jam! (Bozeman)
Open daily at 7 a.m., Jam! is a bright and lively restaurant that’s guaranteed to start your day on the right foot. Start your meal with some house-made cinnamon rolls or buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy and follow it up with your choice from a wide variety of fun and creative crêpes, pancakes, Benedicts, omelettes, and specialties. Popular items include crêpes or omelettes filled with smoked pork shoulder, pork chili verde, cotija cheese, cilantro lime crema, pico de gallo, and crispy tortilla strips; blueberry ricotta or peanut butter cup pancakes; chicken and biscuit Benedict; huevos rancheros; house-made corned beef hash topped with poached eggs; and a biscuit sandwich filled with a basted egg, slab bacon, citrus arugula, chèvre, and red onion marmalade.
Nebraska: Mac’s Café (Fremont)
This unassuming family restaurant in small-town Fremont opens at 6:30 a.m. daily and serves spot-on breakfast classics to thankful locals. This is diner food the way your grandma would make it — if your grandma was from Nebraska and also happened to be a great short-order cook. As can be expected around these parts, anything with “chicken fried” in the description is going to be a home run (especially the Country Benedict, a house-made buttermilk biscuit topped with a chicken fried steak, two scrambled eggs, and country gravy and served with hash browns), but the three-egg omelettes, crispy corned beef hash, French toast, and sweet cream pancakes are also absolutely stellar. One-dollar cups of coffee are icing on the cake.
Nevada: EggWorks/ Egg & I (Las Vegas)
In a city that’s as breakfast-centric as Las Vegas, tracking down the restaurant that serves the absolute best breakfast of all was a tall order, but EggWorks, which has six locations in town (including one called Egg & I – the original) and opens daily at 6 a.m., fits the bill. Going strong since 1988, EggWorks is a gimmick-free restaurant with an absolutely massive menu that makes the most out of fresh, high-quality ingredients. Seven Benedicts (including one based on a croissant with blackened prime rib), a massive variety of four-egg omelettes and scrambles, homemade corned beef hash, several varieties of French toast and pancakes, waffles, breakfast skillets, crêpes, Tex-Mex breakfasts, and even Hawaiian-style dishes like loco moco are on offer. Classic down-home offerings include biscuits and gravy, country fried steak, and steak and eggs, and there are plenty of healthy substitutions available as well.
New Hampshire: Polly’s Pancake Parlor (Sugar Hill)
Picture in your mind’s eye an 80-year-old restaurant called Polly’s Pancake Parlor in a little New Hampshire town called Sugar Hill, and we bet you won’t be too off the mark from reality. Open at 7 a.m. Fridays through Mondays during winter and daily the rest of the year, Polly’s is a low-slung brown building surrounded by verdant fields and old farmhouses, and the inside is homey and rustic. And, of course, the pancakes (which are smaller than usual at about three inches across) are fantastic. Six freshly made batters are available (plain, buckwheat, gingerbread, whole wheat, cornmeal, and oatmeal buttermilk) and you can choose from four add-ins (blueberry, walnuts, coconut, and chocolate chip), but there’s really no wrong choice. Buckwheat, whole wheat, and cornmeal flours are organically-grown and milled in-house; the maple syrup is (of course) pure; and bacon and ham are provided by the nearby North Country Smokehouse. And there are plenty of egg dishes, Benedicts, and house-made baked goods as well. The restaurant was the well-deserved recipient of the 2006 James Beard American Classic Award.
New Jersey: Tops Diner (East Newark)
In a state with no shortage of spectacular diners, this East Newark institution has risen to the top of the pack. Open since the 1920s and operated by current owners Jimmy and John Golemis since 1972, Tops opens at 6 a.m. daily and serves a breakfast menu that keeps regulars coming back again and again. All the expected diner classics are on offer here, expertly prepared — omelettes, pancakes, ham and eggs, French toast, house-made corned beef hash and eggs, Monte Cristo, waffles — but everything’s been elevated to historic levels of greatness. Eggs are local and cage-free, and standouts include Eggs From Heaven (three eggs baked with cheesy grits in a spicy tomato jambalaya sauce with chorizo and toast), Sunrise Burrito (filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, chicken chorizo, cheese, fried potatoes, avocado, and peppers and onions and topped with spicy ranchero sauce), steak and eggs with a 12-ounce New York strip, multi-grain buttermilk pancakes topped with cinnamon and fresh fruit, Louisiana Benedict with spicy chorizo, chicken and waffles, and brioche French toast stuffed with peanut butter and spiced bananas. This place is, well, the tops.
New Mexico: Tia Betty Blue’s (Albuquerque)
In Albuquerque, Tia Betty Blue’s is the place to go for breakfast. Open at 7 during the week and at 8 on weekends, it specializes in homestyle New Mexican breakfast fare served all day, like huevos rancheros smothered in red or green chile salsa; breakfast tacos filled with house-made carne adovada; migas; a breakfast bowl filled with Fritos, potatoes, carne adovada, two eggs, chile sauce, and cheese; house-made blue corn waffles; and a play on eggs Benedict topped with ham, basted eggs, green chile cream sauce, and chile powder. Veggie hash plates, vanilla-cinnamon brioche French toast, and bacon caramel blue corn waffles join the menu on weekends, and just about everything on the menu can be made gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan on request.
New York: Shopsin’s General Store (New York City)
We’re just going to come out and say it: Shopsin’s is unlike any other restaurant on earth. It’s tiny, they don’t offer anything to-go, diners can usually hear proprietor Zack Shopsin (who took over the kitchen after his father, legendary curmudgeon Kenny Shopsin, passed away last year) engaging in playful banter that borders on the abusive with his employees in the miniscule kitchen, the menu is wildly creative and has literally hundreds of items on it, and somehow everything that comes out of the kitchen is insanely delicious. Among the more outlandish breakfast items are mac and cheese pancakes; Blisters on my Sisters (sunny-side-up eggs on corn tortillas topped with peppers, beans, collards, tomatoes, onions, rice, and Cheddar); Hunky Dory (hoisin duck tempura, “Jazzy Mac,” eggs, and toast); So Good (triple-decker French toast grilled cheese with poached eggs); Bibi (eggs, polenta, fufu fried duck, and chorizo kale gravy); Enchahuata (eggs, chipotle, and tomato peanut mole enchiladas); dozens of varieties of pancakes and French toast (including one topped with bacon, eggs, cheese, and mac and cheese and another with coconut sweet rice and pecan pumpkin fluff); and sundried cherry pancakes topped with jack cheese, brisket, and eggs. And that’s just the breakfast menu! It’s open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and Sundays from 10 to 2; we suggest you get there early.
North Carolina: Terrace (Charlotte)
Food made from scratch with fresh and seasonal ingredients with a Southern twist is the name of the game at Terrace, which has two locations that open at 7 a.m. daily and at 8 on Sundays. Founded by Stewart Penick (his son Jacob runs the kitchen), Terrace’s breakfast menu is massive and locally renowned. Specialties include fresh spiced doughnuts, fried green tomatoes, Southern sausage Benedict with sausage gravy, shrimp and grits, daily quiche, open-faced barbecue pulled pork biscuit, red velvet waffles, lemon poppy seed French toast, carrot cake pancakes, and chicken and waffles. But whatever you order, you really can’t go wrong.
North Dakota: Kroll’s Diner (Various Locations)
Kroll’s has five North Dakota locations, open daily from 6:30 a.m. and going strong since 1972. The rich and hearty breakfast menu is perfect for a North Dakota morning. Three- or six-egg omelettes (try the one topped with homemade chili and shredded Cheddar); six-ounce steak and eggs; country fried steak; and skillets (the Three Meat Skillet is filled with ham, country sausage, bacon, onions, green peppers, hash browns, and American cheese) served with two eggs and your choice of pancakes, toast, or a biscuit and gravy are sure to warm you up. The restaurant’s German influence comes through in the Breakfast Fleischkuechle (breakfast sausage, American cheese, and eggs wrapped inside a pastry and deep fried, served with hash browns and country gravy) as well as the knoephla, a thick and creamy, bright yellow chicken and potato soup.
Ohio: SuperChef’s Breakfast & More (Columbus)
Superchef’s, which opens at 8 a.m. and has locations in Downtown Columbus and Gahanna just outside the city, is a trip. Its motto is “Art for Breakfast,” and it’s most evident in the pancakes, which are super-fluffy and come in a variety of outside-the-box styles like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup pancakes with peanut butter layered between each cake and “Super Scriddle” pancakes stuffed with scrambled eggs, candied bacon, and house-made sausage. There are also some truly wild waffles (The Juggernaut is two red waffles topped with fried chicken, candied bacon, over medium eggs, American and pepper jack cheese topped with a honey drizzle and maple syrup); creative and delicious omelettes; and specialties like breakfast pizza and shrimp and grits.
Oklahoma: Hatch (Oklahoma City)
No Oklahoma restaurant does all-day breakfast quite as well as Hatch, which is open daily from 6 a.m. and serves a good mix of properly executed classics and super-creative and delicious inventions. There’s the Famous PanOKCake (bacon, local pecans, bourbon maple glaze, and mascarpone butter); house-made beignets; chicken-fried soft-boiled eggs served with Cholula ranch and smoked Cheddar hollandaise; steak and eggs Benedict with Texas goat cheese and seared tenderloin; an omelette with grilled Duroc ham, chorizo, sautéed peppers and onions, smoked Cheddar, red and green chile sauces, and cotija cheese; egg sandwiches; croissant monkey bread; biscuits and gravy; and Tex-Mex specialties. There are also lots of healthy options, so you can get your avocado toast fix here, too.
Oregon: Zell’s Café (Portland)
Open at 7 during the week and 8 on weekends, Zell’s is a quaint and cheery Portland institution best known for its fantastic breakfasts and free scones with every order. The menu isn’t crazy; it’s just straight-ahead breakfast classics with a twist, made with love. German apple pancakes, oat bread French toast, buttermilk cornmeal waffles, spot-on eggs Benedict, wild smoked salmon scrambled eggs with Gruyère and scallions, house-made corned beef hash and eggs, Italian salami scramble with scallions and Asiago, and house-made chorizo omelette with Anaheim peppers and Cheddar are some of the dishes that keep regulars coming back again and again. One visit and you’ll fall in love, too.
Pennsylvania: Eggs-R-Us (Pittsburgh)
The name of this Pittsburgh gem might be a little silly, but the big country breakfasts served at Eggs-R-Us, which is tucked away in a strip mall and opens at 6 a.m. daily, can’t be beat. Build-your-own omelettes; a French toast sandwich with eggs, cheese, and bacon, ham, or sweet or hot sausage; biscuits with sausage gravy and eggs; huge buttermilk pancakes and Belgian waffles; country fried steak; shrimp and grits; a huge breakfast burrito… the offerings here aren’t anything too fancy, but when it comes to breakfast, they’re perfect.
Rhode Island: Laura’s Pleasant View Diner (Smithfield)
Open daily at 6 a.m., this cozy and homey restaurant serves breakfast all day and makes nearly everything on the menu from scratch using top-quality ingredients. The menu isn’t especially fancy or groundbreaking — they offer breakfast platters, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, Belgian waffles, and French toast — but it’s all so soulful and satisfying that after one visit it’ll be your favorite breakfast place. The made-to-order Belgian waffles and three-egg omelettes are especially noteworthy.
South Carolina: Hominy Grill (Charleston)
Heather M./ Yelp
One of Charleston’s most legendary restaurants (and one of the best restaurants in America, period), James Beard Award-winner Robert Stehling’s Hominy Grill has been serving top-notch Lowcountry cuisine in two charming and comfortable dining rooms since 1996. It opens its doors at 7:30 during the week and at 9:30 on weekends, and its country breakfasts with a Lowcountry twist are simply beyond reproach. One taste of the shrimp and grits; huevos rancheros with jasmine rice; pimento cheese biscuits with sausage gravy; grit bowls topped with beef braised in Creole sauce or slow-smoked pork belly, egg, and Cheddar; buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes; bread pudding French toast; heirloom cornmeal waffle with Cajun pork cracklins; or the legendary Charleston Nasty Biscuit — a fried chicken breast and Cheddar biscuit sandwich drowned in sausage gravy — and you’ll understand why Hominy is so popular with the locals as well as a must-visit for so many tourists.
South Dakota: Baker’s Bakery & Café (Custer)
A quaint little restaurant in a quaint little town located in Black Hills National Forest about an hour’s drive from Rapid City, Baker’s opens at 6:30 a.m. daily, and during the tourist season it gets absolutely packed. Their motto (“You’ll love our buns!”) is admittedly pretty tacky, but it’s true: The homemade rye, wheat, sourdough, and black rye breads and cinnamon buns are delicious. Just about everything on the small but creative breakfast menu is delicious as well: breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, biscuits and country sausage gravy, a breakfast burrito (with eggs, sausage, hash browns, salsa and cheese and smothered in homemade green gravy), and loaded omelettes are all spot-on. The newest menu item, avocado toast, is a welcome nod to the health-conscious.
Tennessee: Biscuit Love (Nashville)
Biscuit Love got its start as a food truck in 2012, and the biscuits served by the husband-and-wife duo, Karl and Sarah Worley, proved to be so popular that in 2015 they opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in The Gulch that opens at 7 a.m. daily. Their “East Nasty,” a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, Cheddar, and sausage gravy, is a wonder to behold, but a plain biscuit with sausage gravy (chocolate and tomato gravy are also available) is the dish to order. Also make sure you try the “Bonuts,” fried biscuit dough with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. But there’s a lot more to love about this place besides biscuits: There’s a French omelette with Boursin cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and onions that would be right at home in Paris; flawless shrimp and grits; bananas Foster oatmeal; and an addictive shaved Brussels sprouts salad with hazelnuts, Parmesan, lemon vinaigrette, and two poached eggs.
Texas: The Guenther House (San Antonio)
The home base of Pioneer Flour Mills, originally built in 1859, this is the only restaurant in our list that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and the waffles, biscuits, and pancakes here are renowned (as you’d expect from a restaurant run by a flour company) and delicious. Their biscuits and Southern “Sweet Cream” waffles and pancakes are made with proprietary mixes that you can buy online. Other specialties include a breakfast platter with two fresh buttermilk biscuits, country sausage gravy, house-made preserves, fresh fruit, and bacon or country sausage; breakfast tacos; and strawberry waffles. It may not be a massive breakfast menu, but everything on it is just about perfect.
Utah: Penny Ann’s Café (Salt Lake City)
Open at 7 a.m. seven days a week, Penny Ann’s dubs itself the “home of the heavenly hot cakes,” and their sour cream pancakes (as well as their waffles, scones, and French toast) are indeed spectacular, especially when topped with cinnamon cream cheese, fresh berries, and whipped cream, or fire-roasted caramel apples. But the menu here is enormous, and you’re going to want to return again and again to sample dishes like the waffle with fried chicken cooked into it; pork chili verde skillet; smothered breakfast burrito; home fries mixed with chicken, ham, and Swiss, and topped with two eggs and hollandaise (an inspired take on cordon bleu); a fresh-baked buttermilk biscuit topped with bacon, ham, sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers, Cheddar, eggs, and sausage gravy; house-made corned beef hash; and their legendary breakfast nachos: house-fried tortilla chips topped with two eggs and smothered in house-made pork chili verde sauce, Cheddar, and sour cream. Oh, and there are 15 omelettes, too!
Vermont: Penny Cluse Café (Burlington)
Burlington’s popular Penny Cluse Café, which was founded by Charles Reeves and Holly Cluse (and named after Holly’s dog, Penny) in 1998, opens at 6:45 during the week and at 8 on weekends, when you’re going to want to get there early to avoid the massive lines for a table. This is the kind of place where just about everything on the menu looks delicious: buttermilk, buckwheat, or gingerbread pancakes served with Vermont maple syrup; biscuits and gravy; house-made banana bread; eggs with grilled polenta, black beans, and salsa ranchero; a full English breakfast (minus the black and white pudding); chorizo and egg tacos; sourdough French toast; and home fries with melted cheese, salsa, sour cream, green onions, and eggs. And for the vegans, all eggs can be replaced with tofu scramble.
Virginia: Dixie (Petersburg)
An old-school swivel-stool lunch counter, Dixieis a Petersburg icon that fills up with regulars from the moment it opens at 7 a.m. daily (it’s closed Sundays). It’s been in business since 1939, but in 2011 it was purchased by Charlie Rawlings, who fixed it up and revitalized it while keeping the menu of simple Southern breakfasts and lunches largely unchanged. Today the restaurant is warm and welcoming, and diners line up for buttermilk biscuits topped with sausage gravy or creamed chipped beef, buttermilk hotcakes, French toast, salt herring, scrapple and eggs, country ham, grits, and omelettes topped with cheese and their famous chili sauce.
Washington: Frank’s Diner (Spokane)
A Spokane institution for more than 100 years, Frank’s is best identified by the huge 1906-era Pullman car that’s been retrofitted into a lunch counter. Open at 6 a.m. daily, Frank’s prides itself on its “field to fork” cuisine; nearly everything is made from scratch, and many of the recipes have been passed down for generations (it’s been run by the same family since 1978). So what’s good? Regulars love the orange cranberry French toast, caramel-drizzled chicken and waffles, hotcakes with huckleberries made from a recipe dating back to 1886, homemade corned beef hash and eggs, chicken fried steak, fried green tomatoes and eggs, meatloaf “Benedict” with brown gravy on biscuits, spicy Creole Benedict with lobster and rock crab, and the Texas omelettes with kielbasa and Cheddar.
Washington, D.C.: Founding Farmers
Founding Farmers, which is located on Pennsylvania Avenue a stone’s throw from the White House (and has several additional locations further afield), has an interesting pedigree: It was founded by a fourth-generation farmer and President of the North Dakota Farmers Union named Mark Watne, and it’s collectively owned by the more than 47,000 family farmers in the union; it also sources much of its ingredients from hundreds of family farms. The resulting food? Delicious and ethical. Beignets with a trio of sauces, chicken and waffles with scrambled eggs and white gravy, sausage and gravy or crab Benedict, roasted vegetable pan scramble, maple cured ham or a ranch steak and eggs, waffles with strawberries and cream, buttermilk pancakes with whipped blueberry butter… There’s good reason why this place fills up quickly. It opens at 7 a.m. daily and 8:30 on weekends.
West Virginia: The Country Café (Harpers Ferry)
The name doesn’t lie: This place is about as country as a café can get. Wooden floors, ceiling fans, a front porch with rocking chairs, plastic tablecloths, locally-made original art on the walls, a sign that says “Family & Friends Gather Here”… the works. Owners Mandy Armstrong and Lynn and Mark McDonough, who took the 20 year-old restaurant over in 2014 and spiffed it up a bit, also markedly improved the menu; locals flock for the Hearty Breakfast (two farm-fresh eggs, two sausage patties or three strips of bacon, home fries, and toast), French toast, pancakes, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, and specials like creamed chipped beef or sausage gravy on toast, biscuits, or pancakes. It opens at 7:30 daily, and is closed Mondays.
Wisconsin: Stuff’s (Wisconsin Dells)
Open daily at 7, Stuff’s is a cute and charming Wisconsin Dells landmark that’s hugely popular with locals. All the bases are covered here to a tee: pancakes, biscuits with country gravy and sausage, skillets and omelettes loaded with eggs and breakfast meats, French toast, corned beef hash, ham steaks, country fried steak, and eggs Benedicts… they’re all here, and they’re all prepared fresh to order using top-notch ingredients.
Wyoming: Eggington’s (Casper)
This warm and inviting Casper breakfast spot opens at 6 a.m. daily (7 on Sundays), and its menu is a solid mix of the classic and the unexpected, all prepared with high-quality ingredients and served in ample portions. You’ll find your classic eggs Benedict, daily breakfast quiche, chicken fried steak, create-your-own omelettes, triple-berry oatmeal, and fresh-baked muffins, but there also several Mexican-inspired dishes like a breakfast quesadilla, chile relleno topped with eggs and cheese, breakfast tacos, and tamales and burritos smothered in homemade green chili. There’s also a Breakfast Banana Split, which is a lot healthier than it sounds: It’s layers of low-fat fruit yogurt with granola, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. And if you love pancakes, you should definitely check out the best pancakes in every state.
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