The Breakfast Guide to New York City: Where to Get the Best Bagels, Blueberry Pancakes, and BECs
Photo: Baz Bagel
Going out to breakfast, on the weekend and especially during the week, is one of the small pleasures in life. Be it a solo plate of pancakes at a diner counter, a power meeting over eggs Benedict, or a grab-and-go smoothie, an outsourced morning meal is almost scientifically proven to jump start your day better than a bowl of (empty carb) cereal can. Plus, if you’re a denizen of New York City, the options for how to break a nighttime fast or cure a weekend hangover are endless, and eating at home is a missed opportunity for your palate. Here’s our master guide of where to get the best breakfast in New York — we’ve got the spot for a traditional Japanese breakfast, the best acai bowl below 14th Street, and the most mouthwatering bagel and lox combos.
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The Bagel Breakfast
Baz Bagel & Restaurant, 181 Grand St. between Mulberry and Baxter
The bagel landscape of New York City is a crowded one filled with opinionated glutenoids. A good bagel — crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside — is hard to forget and makes all subsequent bagels pale in comparison. A true New York bagel connoisseur will leave the confines of his or her neighborhood in search of the perfect boiled-then-baked carb, so instead of heading to your corner deli next weekend, go to Baz Bagel on the the border of Little Italy and Chinatown. The pink and palm tree-walled retro space specializes in hand-rolled bagels and Jewish comfort fare, so although there are egg sandwiches, expect smoked fish over bacon.
What to get: The Baz, nova scallion cream cheese, tomato and onion on a pumpernickel everything bagel, or the lower-carb SuperNova — nova, vegetable cream cheese, tomato and cucumber on a whole wheat everything flagel.
Photo: Baz Bagel, The Baz
The Pancake Breakfast
Clinton St. Baking Company, 4 Clinton St. between East Houston and Stanton
Sure, you can go to any old diner for a pancake breakfast, but in a city where there’s a specialist for everything from chai tea to arepas, you’d be foolish to satisfy your pancake craving somewhere other than Clinton St. Baking Company. This Lower East Side all-day breakfastery has been a neighborhood staple since 2001, but it wasn’t until every restaurant critic from New York Magazine to Lonely Planet voted its pancakes the best in the city that crowds started lining up for blueberry hotcakes. Your best bet is to go on a weekday, but if you’re set on Sunday morning, stop by early to put your name down and prepare to linger for two hours — they don’t take reservations and you have to show up in person to get a spot on the waiting list.
What to get: Blueberry or banana walnut pancakes with homemade warm maple butter
Photo: Clinton St. Baking Company, Blueberry Pancakes
The Power Breakfast
The NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway at 28th St.
New York restaurant history points to the Loews Regency Hotel as the birthplace of the power breakfast, where suited-up moguls eat eggs and toast at prices marked up well beyond what should be legal for a farm table breakfast. As the who’s of who of the city has moved downtown, so has the power breakfast. Enter the NoMad Hotel, whose proximity to the digital agencies of Park Avenue South and Flatiron tech companies makes its grand atrium a go-to for those who prefer to conduct their business at the top of morning.
What to get: Smoked salmon toast, eggs Benedict with crab and tarragon, egg sandwich with duck sausage and cheddar
Photo: The NoMad Hotel
The Japanese Breakfast
Okonomi, 150 Ainslie St. at Lorimer St.
One might find it ironic that in a city where there’s more than one Chinatown and a crowded one-street Koreatown, there isn’t so much as a Japantown. Not so. Nevermind the East Village side streets that constitute something of a Little Tokyo, the whole city is itself a jackpot of Japanese food — from ramen shops and omakase sushi to izakayas and sake bars. The latest cool kid is Okonomi, a Williamsburg Japanese that operates as a ramen shop at night and a breakfast specialist during the day.
What to get: Ichiju-sansai, the set breakfast, includes miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, a choice of fish, and an onsen egg
The Breakfast Bowl
Dimes, 49 Canal St. between Orchard and Ludlow
We’re in something of a “bowl phase,” defined by a one-dish meal whose ingredients vary but include anything from a grain like oatmeal or quinoa; dried fruits, nuts and seeds; bananas and berries; nut butters and granola; and mysterious superfoods like acai, pitaya, and spirulina. You’ve seen them photogenically filtered on Instagram and you can easily make one at home, but having one served to you at Dimes, the minimalist Lower East Side hotspot for the hip and healthy, is ten times better than foraging for the primary ingredients at Whole Foods.
What to get: Mango pitaya bowl: raspberries, banana, mango, atop pitaya (dragonfruit) with coconut, sunflower seeds, and mint
Photo: Dimes, Mango Pitaya Bowl
Liquiteria, 170 Second Ave. at 11th St. (and more locations)
Liquiteria was a pioneer in the cold-pressed juice scene when it opened its flagship East Village location many moons ago, and it’s hard to walk around Union Square without spotting a spandex-clad New Yorker sipping one of their healthy, superfood-packed drinks. Their smoothies are just as much a signature as their juices and aren’t easily replicated at home thanks to ingredients like coconut sugar, spirulina, and vegan protein.
What to get: The creamy peanut butter-banana-almond milk Bulldozer or the coconut and berry medley Blue Velvet. Perhaps the best thing on the menu is the peanut butter acai bowl, the closest thing to ice cream for breakfast.
Photo: Liquiteria, Peanut Butter Acai Bowl
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese
BEC, 148 8th Ave. at 17th St.
Most New Yorkers get their bacon, egg and cheese fix at one of two places: the coffee cart outside their office building or the bodega by their apartment. A good BEC is cheap and greasy, served on a toasted bagel and wrapped in foil. There’s a new player in town though — an all-day Chelsea restaurant aptly named BEC that plans to dominate the breakfast sandwich market in New York with high-concept takes on the fast food staple. Aside from the traditional BEC, the menu includes salads for the lightweights and sandwiches like the Italian-esque Godmother, a meaty stack of prosciutto and salami with mozzarella, arugula, and pesto on a Pugliese roll.
What to get: The BEC Classic with smoked bacon and sharp cheddar on toasted brioche