Top Of The Morning
Breakfast in a restaurant is either a luxury or a routine. Lovely or lackluster, never in between. Some of us only eat a real breakfast when we’re staying in a hotel. That lends the meal a special pleasure when we're in a breakfast cafe in our hometown. It feels a little like vacation. This usually happens on a weekend, when we dawdle over what is really a very simple, inexpensive meal. Sometimes we get more relaxation and pleasure from that kind of breakfast than we might from a much more involved dinner.
On weekdays, few people can allow themselves to go limp over a newspaper and the third cup of coffee. Breakfasts on those days are brisk, quick, and to the point. The restaurants, sensitive to this need, serve in a perfunctory way. This is not Brennan’s. Not even the Coffee Pot. It’s a quick meal. But it still can be good, and useful, too. That maxim about breakfast's being the most important meal of the day is true. A good breakfast is especially important for those who might have to (or want to) skip lunch.
Around New Orleans are breakfasts of all kinds. Surprisingly delicious, boringly mediocre, surprising and predictable. But no meal is less subject to trends. Eggs are still king, and demand to be surrounded by bacon, sausage, and grits, with toast or biscuits. After many decades, that's the Number One breakfast order here, as it is everywhere in America. The rest of the menu is also set in stone: omelettes, French toast, pancakes and waffles. Fresh fruit, freshly-squeeze juices, and pastries are more common than they were a couple of decades ago. Coffee is either better or worse, depending on your perspective. I lament the passing of Pure and Chicory as the default choice in favor of regular and decaf. In many (far from all) breakfast places, the regular is much more interesting than it used to be.
Really, the only major change in the local breakfast menu has been the advent of some ethnic choices. Mexican and Southwestern dishes are now common. Italian flavors are coming in the form of frittatas. Some of the Vietnamese places offer their pho as a breakfast, but that's an entirely different world. The best breakfast restaurants are adding our own ethnic flavor to the mix, with great local classics like grillades and grits and the big universe of poached eggs and hollandaise on top of anything from a crab cake to a ham steak.
Below are restaurants where breakfast is the major meal of the day. Other places serving breakfast but better known for other meals (including the most famous breakfast place in town, Brennan's) are in the categories of their main specialties.
Click on any of the restaurants listed below for a detailed, updated review.