You know why breakfast is the best meal of the day? Because of the possibilities. The mystery. The day has just begun, and, despite your plans for it, no one knows what lies ahead. Maybe you’ll find a $100 bill. Maybe you’ll fall in love. Maybe a piano will fall on your head. There’s no telling! Breakfast is a meal to be excited about! And to drink coffee with! Don’t forget the coffee!! [takes a deep breath, steadies nerves] Just remember: we’re not talking that portmanteau meal, brunch. Breakfast is for closers; brunch is for bums. So rise and shine, cupcake! These are our favorite places to start the day.
If you still wrinkle your nose when you hear the word “organic,” this Knox-Henderson cafe will make you a culinary true believer. At least for breakfast. Nothing precious here. The Hangover Helper is an aptly named pile of grass-fed buffalo, mushrooms, and spinach layered with two eggs and topped with a plop of guacamole and salsa. It ain’t pretty, but, God, it’s good. The Beast is a four-egg omelet stuffed with beef, asparagus, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and raw cheese. Pancakes are offered in ginger, buttermilk, and gluten-free varieties. After a breakfast at Kozy, you might not go shopping for patchouli or tie-dye t-shirts. But free-range eggs will certainly sound a lot tastier.
Ordering breakfast at Kuby’s is not for lightweights. The menu is filled with German-inspired creations that highlight the fine meats from its market. Opened as a sausage-making deli in 1961, the space has expanded and now includes a restaurant that is packed every morning. Regular customers sit elbow to elbow at long, well-worn wooden tables and gab over endless cups of coffee (75 cents). Meat is the main reason to hit Kuby’s for breakfast, if only to add a side of bratwurst to a traditional plate of two eggs over easy and rye toast. For the full Kuby’s experience, we recommend the Kassler Rippchen, a substantial platter of house-smoked pork chops, eggs, potatoes or grits, and toast. Got a sweet tooth? Go with the German toast. For $3.95, you get four thick pieces of bread battered and browned on the griddle, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with warm syrup. Add one of Kuby’s famous smoked sausages or a side of Oma’s potato pancakes served with applesauce. Or both. You eat breakfast only once a day.
Mike Snider’s AllGood Cafe just celebrated its 10th birthday, but you won’t find a single wrinkle in the place. With a hip, Austinesque vibe, the cafe serves breakfast and lunch to musicians and art folks on weekdays. And it serves its fare to just about everyone else on weekends. With $2.50 mimosas on Saturdays and Sundays and endless cups of coffee, it’s the perfect fix for early birds who are just waking up and night owls who have yet to go to bed. Those taking the orders claim that the South Austin Migas—with plenty of eggs, cheese, green chiles, and tortilla strips—are the most popular dish. Others claim that the huevos rancheros take the crown with their sunny-side up eggs, ranchero sauce, and crispy tostado. We personally enjoyed the fluffy pancakes and the peppered bacon cooked perfectly. It doesn’t really matter what you eat at AllGood, though. With the coffee cups brought in by customers, the colorful origami hanging from the ceiling (left from a wedding reception a year ago), and fresh ingredients from local suppliers, you’ll feel right at home. If home is a farm with a creative bride.
All hotels must serve breakfast, but not all hotels serve breakfast from a kitchen like the one at Craft. Here farm fresh ingredients are prepared simply but elegantly. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice arrives in a frosty glass, the rosy pink liquid glistening in the morning sun. Everything from the sourdough toast to the house-made preserves and chicken sausage is high quality. Indulge in a frothy cappuccino or pick an exotic tea such as sencha from the extensive tea list. Eggs Benedict is topped with a mound of Jonah lump crab meat, and waffles are studded with hazelnuts. Each morning the kitchen blends rolled oats and dried fruit into a delicious granola that is served with made-from-scratch yogurt. Do not miss the potato hash made with bits of short rib and shishito peppers. Depending on your caffeine intake, it will either kick your day into high gear or send you back to bed for a nap.
Carnivores, rejoice. You’ve found your meaty mecca at chef/co-owner Tim Byres’ hip, haute smokehouse. Byres traveled the country before opening the Oak Cliff restaurant, sampling barbecue techniques and taking notes. His research paid off. Hardwood-smoked ham, smoked paprika and fennel seed beef sausage, and thick-cut bacon are all essential sides to any of Smoke’s Hungry Man-size breakfasts. Favorites include brisket hash with pearl onions and drop biscuits with spicy sausage gravy and a Dr Pepper reduction. For those with a sweet tooth, Smoke’s ricotta pancakes topped with blueberries and vanilla-poached apricots are a sugary revelation. Just don’t forget the bacon. Remember: meat is the main draw here.
The House Cafe
This breakfast spot is easy to miss among all the warehouses surrounding it. But with just one sign out front, the House Cafe has made a name for itself. The decor is less than appetizing. Fake plants hang in baskets above your head, and cream vinyl tablecloths weigh down the tables. But the crowd-watching and food more than make up for the decorations. You’ll find a lot of senior citizens here, and most of them are regulars. Waitresses know their customers. Customers know each other. And everyone knows the food. Co-owner Sergio Robles created the menus and did most of the cooking in the beginning (he owns the place with his mom, Silvia Robles). The House Cafe takes the trouble to make its own biscuits and salsa every day, so you know they’re fresh. The migas, eggs scrambled with sausage, onions, peppers, tomato, and just the right amount of cheese melted on top, are highly recommended. You don’t even need the corn tortillas, but you should splurge on a few carbs. And the meal’s only $5.25. That makes the drive to Richardson worth it.
You don’t go to this Addison breakfast favorite for the atmosphere unless your tastes run toward fake ivy, vinyl tablecloths, mauve tones, and brass accents. Benedict’s is like an IHOP stuck in a 1970s time warp complete with a plastic carafe of coffee left at your table and “Serve you, hon?” attitude. No, there’s only one reason to dine here: the eggs. Twelve omelets, three frittatas, and seven varieties of eggs Benedict. Try the decadent Rich Uncle Benedict: a flaky croissant topped with scrambled eggs, diced chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, cream cheese, and hollandaise. For spicier palates, the Cajun eggs features crawfish tails, onions, peppers, and a kicky New Orleans-inspired hollandaise. In fact, Benedict’s is so tasty it might even jumpstart a plastic ivy rennassiance. Maybe.
The Dream Cafe
This Uptown staple used to be a bit dreamier, before the grassy expanse off its popular patio was swallowed up in the rough embrace of a giant apartment complex. But maybe that’s not the worst thing that could have happened. In fact, now—in its almost hidden location in the back corner of the Quadrangle—a visit to the Dream Cafe feels like you’ve stumbled upon a secret. Of course, the place is (usually) so packed with early-morning diners (and the occasional rock star—it’s a favorite of Bono’s, among others) that it doesn’t feel like a very well kept one. Long a favorite of the meatless set for its vegetarian sausage and its willingness to sub scrambled tofu for eggs, the Dream Cafe is a mix of down home and bohemian L.A., from its all-comers menu (you can be healthy or decidedly not) to its eclectic, almost eccentric, brightly colored interior. And, thankfully, the prices are closer to down home than L.A.
The Mecca Restaurant
Just as Paris Hilton is famous for being famous, so some dining institutions are institutions only because they’ve managed to stay open a long time. The Mecca, “waking up Dallas” since 1938, is not one of those institutions. The classic diner in a converted house that stands next to a tire shop is revered for its buttery, catcher’s mitt-size cinnamon rolls. Deservedly so. Order the migas if you’re the savory sort. The tortilla strips arrive still crisp. Go for the buttermilk pancakes, served with a scoop of melting butter, if you prefer sweet. Melissa might refill your coffee mug plastered with ads for local businesses (Crawford Electric Supply: “Whatever it takes”). She has worked here for 13 years. The cops and the regulars know her by name. Assuming it’s too late for you to become a member of the former group, you ought to strive for the latter.
Ham & Eggs
Nothing exceeds like excess in Lewisville, home to Ham & Eggs. It’s hard to come up with enough synonyms for “big” to fully describe the crazy portion sizes at this quirky mom-and-pop. Pancakes are massive and fluffy, while the biscuits are simply gargantuan. Truthfully, the portions are almost too big, but the upside is that, if you eat here in the morning, you’re set for the day. Waffles are on the menu, too, along with the namesake ham and eggs. Service is diligent but spotty; that doesn’t stop the locals from coming back every day of the week. Folksy pig decorations on the wall lend a homey atmosphere that’s a refreshing alternative to the usual chains. This place seems like a surefire candidate for discovery by the Food Network.
Bill Smith’s Cafe
A bunch of new restaurants have sprouted up around McKinney’s old town square. And then there is legendary Bill Smith’s, McKinney’s oldest restaurant, serving down-home breakfast and lunch since 1956, when founder Bill Smith opened it in the middle of a cotton patch. It’s now run by Bill Smith Jr. and his children, yet you get the sense that not much has changed. The metal signs on the wall and the old-fashioned clock have practically been there since the place opened, and Smith’s mom, Jeannette, is still a fixture. Happily what has not changed is the cafe’s policy to make the food from scratch, including all of the pies, rolls, and biscuits. Breakfast includes waffles, omelets, French toast, and the house specialty: Bill’s Hash Brown Supreme, hash browns topped with scrambled eggs, ham, onion, and cheese. As reliable as the sun itself, the restaurant is open 365 days a year.
On any given morning, most breakfast lovers share the same dilemma: sweet or savory? At La Duni, the answer is both. Owners Espartaco “Taco” and Dunia Borga are the culinary yin and yang: Taco helms the kitchen, while Dunia is an award-winning pastry chef. You’ll want to savor both chefs’ Latin American creations. Start with a flaky guava and cheese Gloria or—if you’re really hungry—the cinnamon brioche French toast. Then move on to Taco’s eggs: delicate salsa-baked eggs, ham and Gruyère scramble, or breakfast tacos with crispy bacon. Make sure to order one of the more than 20 caffeinated pick-me-ups from the espresso bar. Besides, you’ll want to linger. La Duni feels like a sensuous slice of Argentina slipped into Highland Park.
Zaguán Latin Cafe & Bakery
Don’t get mixed up. “Latin” in no way means “Mexican” here. We’re talking traditional street food from much farther south, brought indoors to a cozy, blue-tiled corner of Oak Lawn. Zaguán’s twin claims to fame are its arepas and cachapas, both corn-based dishes that can be filled with eggs and vegetables and a variety of meats and cheeses. We prefer the English muffin-like arepas to the sweet cachapas (they are similar to a classy McGriddle), but we’re not judging if you want to go a different way. Beyond that, Zaguán also offers an assortment of empanadas (Venezuelan/Colombian and Argentine) and bread. Oh, the bread: dulce de leche and cheese, guava and cheese, and the deceptively named ham bread, which also includes olives, raisins, and bacon. The menu offers about a dozen such delights. A trip to Zaguán is worth it for the bread alone.
It used to be that if you wanted to spy a Dallas rock musician in his natural habitat, you’d head for the Gold Rush in East Dallas. On any given morning—make that early afternoon—you’d find a band or two huddled over coffee and migas, recovering from last night’s set. Higher rents have pushed out some of the starving artists, but brothers George, Virgil, and Mark Sanchez, who’ve owned the Gold Rush for 30 years, still guarantee a cheap, hearty breakfast for under $5. For that kind of deal, you don’t see the unswept floor or the cracks in your booth covered with electrical tape. Their John Wayne—flour tortilla, hash browns, eggs, hot sauce, bacon or sausage, chorizo, and cheese—is $6.95. The breakfast special of eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, and toast is a mere $3.95. Bottomless coffee’s only $1.35. Hey, isn’t that Reverend Horton Heat?
Poor Richard’s Cafe
Breakfast at Poor Richard’s in East Plano starts early: 5:30 am daily. The line can look intimidating as it snakes across the restaurant’s entry, but Poor Richard’s is a very big restaurant with plenty of tables, almost like a mess hall, and the wait doesn’t last long. The payoff is sweet: puffy omelets filled with ham and cheese, crusty home-style potatoes, and thick, golden pancakes. Proceed with caution as you approach the Big Tex breakfast. It’s a chicken-fried steak with gravy, grits, and toast. The restaurant has been a fixture since 1973, and it seems like the waitresses have, too. They don’t tolerate much in the way of silliness, and Richard Butterly himself is usually on hand, catching up with the many regulars. It isn’t cheap here, but there’s lots of food, and you do this kind of thing only once a week anyway, right?
This pair of nifty old-school diners is known for two things: awesome house-baked pies and generous, homey breakfasts. Big eaters will be drawn to the eggs with rib-eye steak and a broad selection of expertly made omelets. But the smartest route to take at Norma’s is to skip the eggs and just totally carb out. To enable you: crisp Belgian waffles, hotcakes, grits, heavenly cinnamon rolls, and—its trademark—moist, fragrant buttermilk biscuits, to be paired with sausage and gravy. The two branches boast a ’50s decor, with classic vinyl booths, retro signs, and vintage objects suspended from the ceiling. The cross-section of customers ranges from retirees on a budget to cops on the beat. Given the crowds, servers can be harried. Maybe today is the day you treat yourself to a slice of pie.
Bread Winners Cafe & Bakery
Let’s be honest: the breakfast at Bread Winners is quite nice. Egg-stuffed enchiladas with queso. Pomme de terre casseroles. Five flavors of French toast. Like we said: nice. And tasty. But the two main reasons we go to the original Uptown location are the fresh-baked pastries and the patio. When the weather is nice, dining in Bread Winners’ New Orleans-inspired courtyard is a sweet Southern charm, and the selection of muffins, scones, and breads can’t be beat. We give Bread Winners bonus points for serving free samples of its pastries before every meal. It appeals to our inner frugal gourmet.
When it comes to Buzzbrews, sure, sometimes breakfast happens at a nontraditional time. Like maybe 2 am. But that still counts, right? It is the morning, after all, and you can certainly avail yourself of all manner of New Age, diner-classic breakfast fare—egg sandwiches and a variety of pancakes and (the specialty) stuffed eggs. The latter menu items have whimsical names like the Hare Krishna (avocado and Jack and feta cheeses) and Californication (sautéed red bell pepper, corn, spinach, broccoli, onion, button mushrooms, and tomato). There is a location on Lemmon Avenue, but we always seem to find ourselves at the one off Central, located in the old Pitt Grill, with a heavy whiff of that greasy spoon vibe. One quibble: be prepared for what we’ll gently call “casual” service.
This popular late-night joint on Gaston has its own special mojo. Open 24 hours, it’s down the street from Deep Ellum, making it the go-to for many a tippler seeking a post-2 am layover before slinking back to the burbs. But eating here at 2 am is perhaps the best time. You’re slightly less fussy about the spot of sticky maple syrup left on the tabletop by the last carousers who sat at your booth. The Metro welcomes a broad cross-section of archetypes: Goth kids from the Lizard Lounge, early-rising blue-collar workers from the neighborhood, employees from Baylor nearby, and elderly men who seem to be permanent fixtures at the counter (a great place to sit, because when the joint is hopping, the cook performs a sort of short-order ballet). All come for Metro’s dense scrambled eggs, thin and crispy bacon, and assertively strong coffee. Extra points for unflappable waitresses who take it all in stride and its groovy jukebox loaded with rock and roll.
Original Market Diner
Like the classic diners in the Northeast, Original Market Diner comes from good Greek stock: the Vergos family, who founded it in 1989. An awning on the exterior tips you off that this was once a real drive-in. Inside, the vibe is thoroughly urban, with a snappy pace and no-nonsense efficiency that make you feel like you’re on I-95 instead of Harry Hines. It’s open for breakfast and lunch only, but happily serves breakfast all day. Could there be a more civilized act? The signature dish is the Easy Skillet, a kitchen-sink omelet with sausage, onions, peppers, cheese, and spicy Cajun seasoning. But don’t rule out the French toast made with raisin bread and “seasonal” dishes such as the strawberry pancakes served only during summer. Or just go with the basics, executed here with utter perfection: fluffy scrambled eggs, crisp hash browns, and coffee freshly ground for each pot.