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The 101 Best Breakfasts In America: The Northeast

The 101 Best Breakfasts In America: The Northeast: Sean Noyce

Sean Noyce

From a pancake mecca on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, to a donut shop using an unexpected ingredient in Portland, Maine, Playboy editors and contributors have scoured the Northeast to find the region’s best breakfasts. It didn’t matter if the places were high-end or hole in the wall, all they had to be was good. Oh, and we did the same for the Midwest, South, and West. Did your favorite restaurant make the cut as one of America’s 101 Breakfast spots?

1. O’Rourke’s Diner
Middletown, CT
This classic diner was gutted by fire a few years back, and fans of the place chipped in cash to help get the place back on its feet. And since you’re visiting a spot with a name like O’Rourke’s, which sports a shamrock as it’s logo, it makes sense that you’d have to order the Irish soda bread French toast. –Sean Noyce

Flour Bakery

Flour Bakery

2. Flour Bakery
Boston, MA
Flour’s sticky buns—available at four locations around Boston—are soft and airy, sprinkled with toasted pecans and drenched in brown sugar-honey caramel goo that you’ll find clinging to your fingers for hours. The pastries are so popular that they never get a chance to cool on the counter after coming out of the oven. In fact, you usually need to call ahead to reserve one. *–Alyson Sheppard *

3. The Pour House
Boston, MA
You’re likely to witness a fistfight break out at this Boylston Street breakfast establishment. (This writer has seen two scuffles over supposed table theft.) Arrive before the college kids wake up and you should miss the swings. But bring your youthful appetite: The Pour House serves stacks of fluffy, banana-caramel pancakes and mounds of home fries that are grilled with bacon, sausage, Cheddar and Monterey cheese and then topped with eggs. You’d be on edge waiting for a seat too. –Alyson Sheppard

Keltic Kitchen

Keltic Kitchen

4. Keltic Kitchen
Cape Cod, MA
Get one of the most authentic Irish breakfasts this side of Galway in a cottage near Nantucket Sound. The owner of Keltic Kitchen is from Dublin and most of the diners sound like they are too. Order what they’re having: the corned beef hash, black-and-white pudding (blood sausage), baked beans, brown bread, rasher (Irish bacon) and potato pancakes loaded with local cranberries. You don’t need vegetables anyway. –Alyson Sheppard

5. Dock Street Coffee Shop
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
The Vineyard is where President Obama vacations, but Dock Street is about as far from hoity toity as you can get. Even though it’s just a tiny greasy spoon without much decor to speak of, it’s situated in a prime location overlooking Edgartown Harbor. The standard egg, meat, and cheese breakfast sandwich is elevated thanks to the linguica, a spicy Portuguese sausage. –Justin Tejada

The Holy Donut

The Holy Donut

6. The Holy Donut
Portland, ME
Donuts made with mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes? That sounds insane. Insanely good. These cake donuts will make you forswear Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme for good. –Ernie Monteiro

7. The Friendly Toast
Portsmouth, NH
If you’re within 50 miles of downtown Portsmouth, you’ve got to stop at Friendly Toast for its all-day breakfast. (There is a second location in Cambridge, Massachusetts.) The eclectic menu will leave you scratching your head. Cashew omelets? Maple sour cream? Scrambled eggs over corn chips? They dishes may sound weird, but they’re damn good. Plus nearly every plate comes with homemade Anadama bread, a yeast loaf made with wheat flour, cornmeal and molasses that’s traditional to New England. –Alyson Sheppard

Meemom

Meemom’s

8. Meemom’s
Wall Township, NJ
A short trek off Exit 98 on the Garden State Parkway will take you to the Jersey Shore landmarks chronicled by Bruce throughout three decades. Over the past few years, however, the towns lining Monmouth County’s shoreline have grown out of Springsteen’s rough n’ tumble tales, and hip food spots have replaced the area’s saltiest dives. Although it isn’t located at the Asbury Park epicenter of this food culture uprising, but is instead housed in a Wall Township strip mall shared by a Home Depot, the unassuming breakfast spot Meemom’s is a welcomed addition to the shore. The menu features a standout section, or perhaps chapter, that lists its outrageous selection of French Toast. For the indecisive breakfast eater there’s the ‘Tipsy Piggy’, which is topped with homemade bourbon maple mascarpone, candied bacon, powdered sugar & chocolate drizzle. Or for sugar-coma craver there’s the ‘Capt N’ Crunch’, which really shouldn’t require a description. –Matt Howard

9. Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory
Jersey City, NJ
Within walking distance of City Hall in Downtown Jersey City, the Brownstone Diner is known to be an early morning haunt for New Jersey politicians. And if Chris Christie is a regular at a certain restaurant, you know they must be doing something right in the kitchen. The Pancake Factory menu offers a wide variety (30+) of pancake styles, but you can’t go wrong with the perfectly fluffed old-standbys. If you’re feeling brave enough, hungover enough, or maybe a little bit of both, try the ass-kicking triple threat that is the King Combo: full stack, three eggs and a sirloin steak. Yeah, they’re ‘Jersey Strong’ for a reason. -Matt Howard

10. Diner
Brooklyn, NY
Yes, its Brooklyn. Yes it’s in hipster ground zero Williamsburg, and yeah its in a real old timey Diner car. And if that makes you sick to your stomach, the cure is the food. The menu really does change daily based on local ingredients, but there is always a breakfast option that’s sweet, savory, hearty or egg based. The Country Breakfast is one of the best, with rotating meat and potato options. It’s Artisanal, but in the best way possible. –Marya Gullo

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

11. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
Brooklyn, NY
A former co-worker had bragged endlessly about how awesome Peter Pan donuts were. I generally don’t buy in to such fawning praise, so it was with great skepticism that I took my first bite of one of the famous donuts that Tina Fey raves about. That skepticism was quickly drop kicked, stomped on, and choked out as soon as the deliciousness of the donut met my taste buds. You can’t make a wrong decision with the selection of donuts, but the red velvet cream crumb is definitely best in class. –Justin Tejada

12. Pies N Thighs
Brooklyn, NY
Other restaurants did chicken and waffles before Pies N Thighs, but few have done it better. The mob to get into the tiny space in Williamsburg is thick on a weekend morning, but it’s well worth the wait. The skin on the chicken is crispy and the meat is juicy. The combined taste pairs perfectly with the buckwheat waffles topped with cinnamon butter and strawberry jam. For dessert (who says you can’t have dessert with breakfast?), go with one of the monthly doughnut options. September’s was blueberry cream cheese long john. –Justin Tejada

Clinton St. Baking Company

Clinton St. Baking Company

13. Clinton St. Baking Company
New York, NY
You are here for the pancakes. Repeat: You are here for the pancakes. Why? They may be the best flapjacks in America. A fluffy stack comes with choice of chocolate, Maine blueberries or banana walnut and it’s served not with regular old maple syrup, but warm maple butter. The great secret of Clinton St. isn’t that its pancakes are so great; everyone knows this by now. It’s that when you come back for dinner service, the blondie sundae, with butterscotch and salted caramel, may be the best dessert in America too. –Jeremy Repanich

14. Russ & Daughters Cafe
New York, NY
Russ & Daughters has been selling the best smoked fish in New York City’s Lower East Side for 100 years. This year, they opened a nearby cafe so you don’t have to get your own plates dirty to enjoy their amazing lox, knishes, and latkes. The Classic is just that—lox, cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers on a bagel or bialy. Pair it with the latkes with applesauce and sour cream, or, if you’re feeling like a baller, with salmon roe and creme fraiche. –Justin Tejada

Green Eggs Cafe

Green Eggs Cafe

15. Green Eggs Cafe
Philadelphia, PA
Feast on cuisine with a conscience at this sustainable stop with three Philly locations. Open breakfast through lunch only, Green Eggs Café serves up eco-friendly, locally sourced fare that’s sure to satisfy. Menu highlights include the Southern-fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict (drenched in sage maple syrup and Louisiana Hot Sauce Hollandaise), and Red Velvet Pancakes stacked with layers of strawberry mascarpone. Hungry yet? –Jen Jones Donatelli

16. Honey’s Sit N’ Eat
Philadelphia, PA
The quirky cafe melds two great comfort food traditions: the American South and the Jewish Deli. Order the simple dish of three eggs with pastrami and treat yourself to a biscuit and their delicious potato latkes. –Mary Squillace

Marathon Grill

Marathon Grill

17. Marathon Grill
Philadelphia, PA
Years ago, Ben and Jerry blessed the world with the creation of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Marathon Grill, working in the same vein, has brought us the fantastic chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes. –Jeremy Repanich

18. Coca Café
Pittsburgh, PA
Cute boutique breakfast cafes across America take notice. Coca’s arty and adorable 20-seat dining room has patrons lined up outside the street, waiting sometimes an hour to try Lawrenceville’s favorite foodie-focused menu. What’s worth that kind of wait? For starters, the fried eggplant benedict with basil hollandaise, roasted tomatoes and poached eggs. It’s the café fave, but we love to get equally elbow deep in the herbed goat cheese stuffed French toast as well. While you wait, grab an exotic drink—Italian or French soda, seasonal shrub or kale apple lemon juice. –Keith Gribbins

Wally Gobetz/Flickr Creative Commons
19. P&G’s Pamela’s Diner
Pittsburgh, PA
How good are Pamela’s hotcakes? Presidential approval. Owners Gail Klingensmith and Pam Cohen served their crêpe-style pancakes (and famous treats like Pam’s Lyonnaise potatoes) to President Obama, his family, a group of American Gold Star Mothers and 80 veterans on the White House lawn for a Memorial Day breakfast in 2008. With six locations throughout Pittsburgh, you too can enjoy the presidential treatment with favorites like Pam’s Strawberry Hotcakes (pancakes stuffed with fresh strawberries, brown sugar, sour cream and topped with whipped cream). –Keith Gribbins

20. Nick’s on Broadway
Providence, RI
You could probably eat all your meals in Providence here and be happy, but there are too many delicious places to stay still in a small city that’s packed with good restaurants (so go to Nick’s for brunch and get it out of the way). Lines are fierce on weekends, but an ever-changing list of brunch specials explain why this place needed to move locations to accommodate more diners. Whether it’s for breakfast basics (homemade granola) or extravagant hangover cravings (Benedicts and Bloody’s), Nick’s is the place to be. –Zak Stone

21. Sunup Bakery
Killington, VT
Hit Sunup at the crack of dawn before you hit the slopes. Slurp down a latte—a rare delicacy in Killington—and carbo-load on brown sugar donuts and Sunup’s signature espresso banana pudding muffin. It’s so moist that you may need to eat it with a spoon. Everything is baked in-house and the cheeses and meats are all sourced from nearby farms. Because, duh, Vermont. *–Alyson Sheppard *


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