Start 2016 Right With These Inventive Breakfast Spots
I made a New Year’s resolution I might actually be able to keep: Eat breakfast more frequently. This should be easy, because I almost never eat breakfast. I’d love to tell you about how I snap awake ravenous at 7:00 in the morning, in some kind of metaphor for my larger appetites for life and adventure. But the truth is I wake up with no appetite at all for the most important meal of the day. By about noon, I'm hungry, I'm back to normal, I'm OK. But by about noon, breakfast is generally over.
My new habit started in L.A., where I was persuaded to get up early and wait on a bench outside Trois Familia, a new French-Mexican restaurant that Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo recently opened in a tiny strip mall in Silver Lake. Once inside, at a picnic table pushed right against the wall, I ate warm nachos covered in sauce Mornay, which is just béchamel, the French milk sauce, high on cheese and egg yolks. There were grits, too, with a slick of superspicy mole butter and mushrooms, and a scattering of pepita seeds, all melding together with a runny egg yolk ($12). A lot of diners kept their sunglasses and leather jackets on inside and slurped horchata spiked with cold brew.
The theme had seemed a little goofy at first, but the food was exceptionally bright and delicious, and by the time I left I understood why a line was growing outside, on a weekday, before noon.
Back in New York, at High Street on Hudson, the brand-new Meatpacking District outpost of Philadelphia’s High Street on Market, I went looking for breakfast sandwiches. The big, gently peppery biscuit stuffed with sausage and a very soft, over-medium egg, aptly called the Bodega ($13), was basically perfect. A melt of bologna, cheddar, and fried onions in a poppy bun was a favorite too ($12). Alex Bois’s breads are fantastic (although some of the breakfast pastries were slightly under-baked inside), and I’ll be back soon for the stroopwafel filled with milk jam.
Breakfast may still be a bit early in the day for pig's head and chicken liver, both of which Tilda All Day has been known to serve first thing in the morning, but the coffeeshop in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill also offers more reasonable a.m. grub, such as omelets and baked eggs. The baked egg ($8) is stacked with sliced potato and hot, creamy, salt cod purée, crowned with parsley and breadcrumbs, and it demands that you make a bit of a mess when you go at it with a spoon. The room is generally full of freelancers with their laptops and journals, cool moms bouncing babies in striped onesies, and the kind of informal but important business meetings that involve malted milk cappuccinos and excellent, dense chocolate chip cookies. It’s lovely in there.
Okonomi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, run by co-chefs Tara Norvell and Yuji Haraguchi, may be best known for its ramen—Haraguchi made a name for himself serving it at Smorgasburg and later at two restaurants in Whole Foods—but go early in the day for breakfast, and you’ll find the duo’s beautifully simple ichiju sansai. The Japanese-style set meal ($10-12) includes hot miso soup and lots of little sides, often including local fish, fresh pickles, and a bite of sweet omelet with cream. You can forget about burgers and sandwiches and French toast, because this, here, may be the actual perfect cure for a hangover, no matter the variety or severity. And if waking up early for a proper breakfast isn’t your thing, rest easy: They serve the set meal through lunch service, up until 2 p.m.
More breakfasts on my to-eat list for 2016:
In Chicago, Dove’s Luncheonette, the year-old diner from the team behind Publican.