Our LocalEats editors picked some of their favorite breakfast places in America. Represented in this list you’ll find late-night diners, chicken-n-waffle spots, coffee shops, houses of pancakes, and more (leave room for pie!). These restaurants inspire an unparalleled devotion among locals and tourists who are willing to line up around the block and wait to snag a coveted booth or counter stool. In no particular order, here
FLORIDA AVENUE GRILL
1100 Florida Ave, Washington, DC 20009
If you’re looking to start your day with granola and Greek yogurt, landmark Washington, DC soul food spot Florida Ave Grill is probably not your kind of place. The rest of us will gladly wait in line for a red stool at the counter for heapin’ helpings of hot cakes, biscuits and sausage gravy, three-egg omelets, and spicy halfsmoke and eggs. The signed photos of celebrities, politicians and athletes above the open kitchen area attest that anyone and everyone can agree on a hearty breakfast.
207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
James Beard Award-winning chef Robert Stehling and his contemporary Southern standout Hominy Grill serve the city’s best shrimp and grits, which is saying something in dining rich Charleston. Breakfast menu favorites include high-rise biscuit with sausage gravy, huevos rancheros, house-made banana or ginger pumpkin bread, and the country breakfast with eggs, hominy grits, toast, and house-made sausage or double-cut bacon.
THE MAGNOLIA PANCAKE HAUS
606 Embassy Oaks, Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78216
Superb ingredients shine through at The Magnolia Pancake Haus’ in San Antonio. All pancake batter is made from scratch several times a day; syrup is made in house; and sausage is custom blended and all natural. Along with quality, Magnolia also values variety. Its “World Famous Pancakes” include buttermilk, buckwheat, blueberry, pecan and even bacon. For a unique meal that’s more easily digested than pronounced, go with the Authentic Munchener Apfel Pfannekuchen – a puffed up pancake covered in apples, cinnamon and brown sugar.
518 Tremont St, Chattanooga, TN 37405
Before scampering off to the Chattanooga Aquarium or visiting the gnomes at Rock City, get your day started right at fun and funky Aretha Frankensteins. You’ll likely have to wait, but it’s well worth it for breakfast specialties such as shrimp and grits, country ham and eggs, the potato and bacon omelet, and the sweet tooth-satisfying Elephants Gerald: a Belgian waffle topped with vanilla ice cream and pecans in syrup then dusted with cinnamon.
3 Bridge St, Gardiner, ME 04345
In a classic diner car circa 1946, the famed A1 Diner is one of Maine’s essential dining destination. The top-notch breakfast menu offers orange pecan waffles, steak and eggs, apple cinnamon pancakes, and banana almond French toast. For lunch or dinner, try your luck with the specials board which features everything from blue cheese meatloaf and scallop BLTs to spanikopita and pulled pork tacos.
BETTE’S OCEANVIEW DINER
1807 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710
First-time visitors to Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley will know soon enough, based on the line out the door, that it’s widely considered to be one of the best breakfasts in the Bay Area, as many weekend breakfast-goers wait up to two hours for a table. An eclectic mix of business executives, families, tourists and students comprise the patronage, plus a jukebox plays everything from modern country to opera. Bette’s is well known for its fluffy soufflé pancakes, made with whipped egg whites and topped with banana rum, apple brandy, fruit or chocolate. Huevos rancheros, lox egg scrambles, corned beef hash with poached eggs and fluffy omelets round out the breakfast menu.
MANNY’S CAFETERIA & DELICATESSEN
1141 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60607
One of Chicago’s most iconic restaurants, having opened in 1942, the South Loop’s Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen remains legendary for its corned beef, brisket and pastrami sandwiches, accompanied with sides of crisp potato pancakes and served cafeteria-style. They do a solid breakfast business as well, with thick challah French toast, matzo brei (fried matzo), buttermilk pancakes and three-egg omelets.
628 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Since 1960 the place to start your day in touristy Gatlinburg, the gateway of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pancake Pantry features a long list of fluffy and delicious pancakes that include Austrian apple walnut pancakes covered with apple cider compote and topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream.
21220 US Highway 19 N , Clearwater, FL 33765
Neighbors and tourists alike jam into quirky Lenny’s Restaurant for its huge all-day breakfasts and deli-style lunches and dinners. Second-generation family owners have kept founder Lenny Farrell’s spirit alive by maintaining the eccentric décor, complete with stuffed animals, baseball memorabilia, family portraits, autographed celebrity photos and numerous knickknacks. Hungry patrons appreciate the famed pastry basket that comes complimentary with most breakfasts. Well-priced breakfast items include pancakes, omelets with pastrami, salami or corned beef hash.
THE BREAKFAST KLUB
3711 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002
Twice as charming as the late director John Hughes’ angsty teen movie comedy bearing the same name, since 2001 The Breakfast Klub has abided by its credo, “If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why not have it twice, ” as this Midtown eatery serves breakfast until 2 pm daily. And just as the k’s replacing c’s in every instance on the menu foretell, this is not the traditional kind of breakfast you can whip up in five minutes after rolling out of bed. Signature dishes include the divine pairing of Wings & Waffle or the supremely southern Katfish & Grits. Lunch specialties with a Cajun twist such as “krawfish” fettucini, red beans and rice, and “krawfish” étouffée are available as well. Akkompany – apologies, it’s habit-forming – your meal with one of a few coffee or juice options.