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The 101 Best Breakfasts In America: The South

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

Sean Noyce

From the ideal beignet in New Orleans, to smoothies at your last glimpse of civilization before heading into the Florida Everglades, Playboy editors and contributors have scoured the South 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, Northeast and West. Did your favorite restaurant make the cut as one of America’s 101 Breakfast spots?

1. Demitri’s BBQ
Homewood, AL
If you’re a breakfast traditionalist, this diner/barbecue joint just south of Birmingham is the spot for you. There’s no signature dish or unusual flavor combinations, just the most perfectly prepared omelettes, French toast and pancakes you’re apt to find in Alabama. But wake up early: They stop serving breakfast at 10:30 sharp! –Jason Horn

2. Founding Farmers
Washington, D.C.
For the best farm-to-table breakfast in D.C., head to the IMF. There, in a soaring two-story dining room down the street from the White House, is Founding Farmers, a place that prides itself on “sustainable agriculture,” where you’re just as likely to run into bankers as you are to overhear lefty professors discussing universal health care. The restaurant focuses on sustainable, fresh ingredients, which shine in dishes like the crispy red flannel hash, topped with poached eggs and made with beets, leek hash browns, and goat cheese. –Rachel Z. Arndt

Ted

Ted’s Bulletin

3. Ted’s Bulletin
Washington, D.C.
At most breakfast spots, your bread choice is limited to either toast or a bagel. Maybe a croissant if you’re lucky. Ted’s Bulletin has added everyone’s childhood favorite to that list by doing a homemade pop tart, complete with rainbow sprinkles. It comes with the Big Mark Breakfast, which also has three eggs, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage, and hash browns, but you can also add the pop tart to any order and we highly suggest that you do so. –Justin Tejada

4. Robert is Here
Homestead, FL
On the outskirts of Homestead, Florida, just before you enter Everglades National Park, there’s this kind of shabby-looking stand that sells a huge and amazing assortment of fresh tropical fruits, along with milkshakes and smoothies made from them. And nothing fortifies you for a day of fanboat rides, fishing or the long drive down to Key West like a rich, frozen blend of coconut, banana, pineapple and ice cream. –Jason Horn

5. Big Pink
Miami Beach, FL
If there’s one thing Miami is good at, it’s giving you hangovers. And if there’s one thing the Big Pink is good at, it’s giving you that much-needed layer of greasy (but not too greasy) breakfast goodness every hangover screams for. Off the beaten path far enough to be out of reach of tourists, but close enough to be walkable from your hotel, Big Pink is the perfect mix of comfort food done with a touch of class. Get the Hot Malted Waffles (and maybe just one mimosa. Nothing wrong with a little hair of the dog. –Cory Jones

6. Michael’s Genuine
Miami, FL
Yes, this bistro in the Miami Design District has its cornerstone the buzzwords of “fresh” and “local,” but there’s a touch of delicious whimsy to the place too, like the homemade Pop Tart (they call it a Pop T, of course. Lawyers and all, amirite?). The other must is the duck hash that features a duck egg. –Jenkins Chan

7. Home Grown
Atlanta, GA
There are plenty of excellent spots for breakfast in Cosmopolitan Atlanta, but it’s tough to top Home Grown. Located in Reynoldstown, a resurgent historic neighborhood just off downtown. As the name would imply, Homegrown is largely supplied by local farmers, so the menu changes regularly. A darn fine standard though is the BEST French Toast Sandwich, with bacon, spinach, and tomato between two slabs of battered, griddled bread. As an added bonus, Home Grown is located a few blocks from the East Side Trail, part of Atlanta’s expanding BeltLine. So no matter how full you’re stuffed, you can easily walk it off. –Chris Dixon

Watershed on Peachtree/Facebook

Watershed on Peachtree/Facebook

8. Watershed on Peachtree
Atlanta, GA
Atlanta’s best Sunday-brunch spot just happens to be run by a Grammy winner. Emily Saliers, one half of the Indigo Girls, owns Watershed (there’s a professional in the kitchen, though—Joe Truex) and apparently loves Louisiana-accented breakfast dishes. There’s a jazz brunch every Sunday featuring highlights like crab and crawfish beignets, eggs sardou and fried catfish. –Jason Horn

9. Firefly Café
Savannah, GA
Savannah may only finish second to New Orleans when it comes to great drinking towns in the South. To soak up Saturday libations have a Sunday Brunch at the Firefly Café, a quiet little bistro off Savannah’s beautiful Troup Square. Try the Savannah Eggs Benedict, a sublime dish that replaces Canadian bacon with Georgia blue crab. –Chris Dixon

10. Narobia’s Grits & Gravy
Savannah, GA
It’s unexpectedly awesome little joints like this that give Savannah so much soul. Narobia’s doles out heaping helpings of grits and eggs, but a specialty are the seafood-based dishes like Crab biscuits, a loaded seafood omelet and shrimp and grits smothered beneath a thick, peppery brown gravy. –Chris Dixon

11. Wagner’s Restaurant and Pharmacy
Louisville, KY
Wagner’s sits across the street from the Valhalla of horseracing—Churchill Downs. Opened in 1922, the diner and adjoining vintage pharmacy are scarily captured in time. Old horseracing photos decorate the walls. Families and old folks are stuffed into busy booths and crowded tables, while jockeys and trainers mix at the counter, all enjoying honey-glazed ham and eggs, biscuits and gravy, syrup-soaked pancakes and free refills of “meal coffee.” Fun fact: Pam & Jack’s Omelet (only $8.99!) won on “Throwdown! with Bobby Flay.” –Keith Gribbins

12. Cafe du Monde
New Orleans, LA
Yes, it’s the place across from Jackson Square where every single tourist goes, but Cafe du Monde really is the best spot for beignets in the Crescent City. The airy pillows of doughnut goodness come out piping-hot crispy and covered with an obscene amount of powdered sugar, and the bitter chicory coffee makes the perfect foil—skip the cream and sugar. The best part? It’s open 24 hours every day but Christmas, so you can have 4 AM drunken breakfast just as easily at 2 PM hangover breakfast. –Jason Horn

Stanley

Stanley’s Diner

13. Stanley
New Orleans, LA
A refined spot inside the French Quarter,the Breaux Bridge Benedict doesn’t disappoint. Two thick slices of baguette are topped with homemade boudin sausage, poached eggs, ham and creole benedict. –Tyler Arnold

14. The Country Club
New Orleans, LA
You had us at Drag Brunch. The first and third Saturday of each month (10 a.m.-3 p.m.), The Country Club (a gay-friendly party mansion with restaurant, bar, hot tub, sauna, and clothing optional pool) celebrates the art of both brunch and cross dressing with its Drag Brunch breakfast experience. The food matches the quality of fun too. Specializing in fresh Gulf Coast cuisine, the club serves up everything from potato crusted crab cake benedict and shrimp, andouille and stone ground grits to its popular Holy Roller grilled cheese brioche with fried egg, cheddar and Gruyère and $10 (ahem) bottomless Mimosas. –Keith Gribbins

15. Big Bad Breakfast
Oxford, MS
A hangover’s worst nightmare is named Twice Fried Pork Belly Quesadilla. The counter diner rubs tender pork belly with Adobo seasoning and then slaps it into a tortilla with onions, tomatoes, Cheddar cheese and scrambled eggs. It comes with lime crema and roasted jalapeño salsa. Add a side of brûléed grapefruit to replenish your vitamins and you’ll be back in business in no time. –Alyson Sheppard

Allison H./Flickr Creative Commons

16. The Early Girl Eatery
Asheville, NC
Since 2001, this cozy, noisy joint has been serving up farm-to-table goodness right in the heart of downtown Asheville, arguably the coolest mountain haunt east of the Mississippi. Owners Julie and Jim Stehling do it right by keeping their menu laden with southern standbys from pitch-perfect grits and locally raised sausage while also offering up vegan fare like a marinated tofu scramble. The Early Girl Benny is a sort of benedict of grit cakes (yes cakes), topped with tomato, spinach, poached eggs, tomato gravy and a stupid good biscuit. Get here early. –Chris Dixon

17. Luna’s Living Kitchen
Charlotte, NC
Located right along Charlotte’s light rail line and adjacent to Charlotte’s historic Dilworth neighborhood, there’s plenty to love about Juliana Luna’s vibrant menu. Originally from Colombia, Luna worked in a food service job for a big hotel chain in Charlotte where she became fed up with the whole world of corporatized food. Taking a leap of faith, she opened this tiny joint alongside the bustling Atherton farmer’s market. Today, her plant-based, raw menu is simply incredible. Nothing better illustrates her take on the new south than the Living Burrito–a big collard leaf wrapped around beans, cauliflower, pico and guacamole and sunflowers and a delicious cashew sour cream. –Chris Dixon

18. The Dixie Grill
Wilmington, NC
In the genuinely fascinating southern coastal town of Wilmington, Brian Mayberry’s Dixie Grill is as genuinely southern as it gets. In one form or another, this iconic downtown Wilmington landmark has been a restaurant in some form for 90 years. Today, locals crowd its booths and bar seats for dishes like Louisiana Hah with Cajun style Andouille sausage, and the epic Dixie Benedict, an open faced biscuit topped with fried green tomatoes, eggs and Vidalia onion gravy. –Chris Dixon

19. The Causeway Cafe
Wrightsville Beach, NC
The Causeway is a classic local haunt at the backside of this bustling little surfer-heavy North Carolina barrier island. Owner Dave Monaghan’s menu changes depending on what’s available locally, meaning that goodies like grouper and eggs or strawberry pancakes may not be ‘in season.’ Still, the biscuit in every form, and cinnamon-raisin sourdough French toast and giant Belgian waffles are sure bets. The place can be packed, so in the meantime, grab a coffee and hang out on the porch, or take a stroll down to the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway. –Chris Dixon

Chimera Cafe/Facebook

Chimera Cafe/Facebook

20. Chimera Cafe
Tulsa, OK
Smack dab in the state that has the fifth-highest cattle production in the country is a cafe and bar that has vegans drooling. Any of Chimera’s breakfast tacos, like the Green Eggs and Ham, featuring egg, bacon, pesto and Monterrey jack can be veganized at no extra charge. The other standout is the Teenage Riot breakfast tacos with fauxrizo, egg, caramelized onions, cheddar and avocado crema.

21. Hall’s Chophouse
Charleston, SC
If you’re in town on Sunday, you’d also do well to consider the “Gospel Sunday Brunch” at Hall’s Chophouse right in the heart of Charleston’s vibrant King Street district. Savor live gospel music over a mimosa and a plate of sweet potato pancakes and meet the Hall family, as they circulate around the dining room to make sure everything is just so. –Chris Dixon

Martin & Jessica O

22. The Hominy Grill
Charleston, SC
It’s tough to argue the wisdom of ordering breakfast from the kitchen of a James Beard Award winning chef. As Hominy’s legend has grown, so have its visitors - and fortunately, its seating. Still, it’s a good idea to get to this cozy southern hideaway before 9:30 or so. Chef Robert Stehling’s Nasty Biscuit (he’s the brother of the Early Bird’s John Stehling) is a southern staple. With a fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy, it’s the tastiest heart attack fodder you’ll ever sample. –Chris Dixon

23. The Lost Dog Café
Folly Beach, SC
No beach town on the East Coast can boast the moss-draped southern surfer’s vibe of Folly Beach. One reason for Folly’s renown is this long-standing icon and canine refuge (dogs are indeed welcome provided you sit at one of the outside tables). The LDC’s fresh-baked cinnamon rolls are divine stuff of local legend, while “Whistlin’ Dixie Shrimp and Grits, are a solid take on the southern staple–substituting bacon for the more standby Andouille sausage. Five Paws. –Chris Dixon

Aretha Frankenstein

Aretha Frankenstein’s

24. Aretha Frankenstein’s
Chattanooga, TN
This spot features all the hallmarks of a great breakfast joint: funny name, wacky decor and absurd wait times. All those people in line are here for the pancakes: inch-thick, fluffy monsters piled high and available topped with fresh fruit, pecans or chocolate chips. If savory breakfast is more your speed, there’s also a long list of omelettes, biscuits, grits and scrambles. –Jason Horn

25. Monell’s
Nashville, TN
There are two Monell’s locations in Nashville, but you should really go to the one in Gemrantown because it’s like walking into your grandmother’s house. If your grandmother was a “suth’n” woman who knew her corn pone from her corn pudding. You sit at family style tables (when I went there I was sandwiched between three hungover teens and a family that just got out of church and it was awesome) so you always make new friends. And the food is kind of unreal. No one thing stands out, so just get everything you can fit in your face. –Cory Jones

26. Magnolia Café
Austin, TX
During South by Southwest the Magnolia Café becomes the most important restaurant in the world as drunk festival goers, bands looking for a deal, and industry people flow into the restaurant at all hours of the day to attempt to stave off, and cure their hangovers. Most go for the Love Migas, a take on the Mexican staple that features eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, tortilla strips, and jack cheese scrambled in the restaurant’s famous Love butter (a combination of serrano peppers & fresh garlic). The smart move is to top it with half an avocado, and order a side of home fries to go with it. –Jaime-Paul Falcon

Cafe Brazil/Facebook

Cafe Brazil/Facebook

27. Café Brazil
Dallas, TX
Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to wait for a server to bring you coffee. At Café Brazil you grab your own mug and help yourself to seven rotating flavors of roasted joe. The bottomless cup means you can try bourbon pecan and then ice cream float or just stick to drinking gallons of Brazilian Chicory. Café Brazil has superb Tex-Mex breakfast including unique relleno crepes: crepes filled with scrambled eggs, a roasted poblano pepper, homemade chorizo and cheddar cheese. With 11 locations across the Dallas area, there’s really no reason to ever go back to bed. –Alyson Sheppard

28. Good 2 Go Taco
Dallas, TX
Breakfast tacos are the most important meal of the day and nowhere can you find a wider variety of taco options then this East Dallas farm to table spot. Highlights include the mouth watering Honey Bear which features scrambled eggs topped with fresh spinach, goat cheese, and a honey-chile bacon along with the cardiologist’s worst nightmare the Hotlanta, a waffle battered chicken strip that’s fried, placed next to sweet potatoes, and then topped with honey-butter. –Jaime-Paul Falcon

Hypnotic Donuts

Hypnotic Donuts

29. Hypnotic Donuts
Dallas, TX
There is a chicken biscuit at Hypnotic Donuts in Dallas that changes everything. In fact, there is not even a biscuit involved. A spicy fried chicken breast the size of your hand is sandwiched between two halves of a toasted glazed donut. The donut is turned upside down so that the glaze melts over the chicken. It comes with a side of Sriracha and two-dozen napkins. Run, do not walk. –Alyson Sheppard

30. Fountain View Cafe
Houston, TX
On its website this place touts it has, “Home style food so good you’ll slap your mama!” Well, then, that sets the bar high. The vanilla-infused, impossibly thin-you-could-nearly-call-these-crepes, pancakes may actually clear that bar. –Jeremy Repanich

Waffle House/Facebook

Waffle House/Facebook

31. Waffle House
The South, U.S.A.
In the decades since high school you’ve probably turned on your old friend Waffle House. You’ve probably maligned it, used it as the butt of a few jokes. But it was at this rendezvous point that you and your buddies would often sit at 2 A.M., curled over a booth, talking girls and eating good food. Think hard and you can still remember what it means to be smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, topped and capped—what it means to be home. You may have moved on, but Waffle House is still there, yellow sign glowing, waiting for your return. –Alyson Sheppard

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