South's Best Breakfast Spots
Follow us to biscuits and gravy, bagels and schmears, boudin, country ham, and syrupy goodness.
The Alabama Biscuit Company (Birmingham, Alabama)
The menu items might sound down-home, but owners Meredith and Jonathan Burch are baking some serious biscuits, made with stone-milled grains and locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Their Fried Bologna Biscuit has oven-crisped mortadella, along with house-made pickles and grain mustard. Don’t even get us started on The Alabama’s maple butter sauce.
4133 White Oak Drive; alabamabiscuit.com
The Pancake Shop (Hot Springs, Arkansas)
Serving only breakfast since it opened in 1940, The Pancake Shop offers a simple, straightforward celebration of pancakes and other a.m. standards. Regulars sing the praises of the plate-size Blueberry Buckwheat stack. Waits can be lengthy, but the friendly staff (many of whom have worked there for ages) will point you next door to The Savory Pantry to browse and have some coffee while you wait.
216 Central Avenue; pancakeshop.com
The Cracked Egg Diner (Daytona Beach Shores, Florida)
In 2008, brothers Chris and Kevin Purucker took over a just-closed restaurant and turned it into a neighborhood favorite. Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, The Cracked Egg serves breakfast till closing. Regulars swear by the Homemade Apple Fritters (just $3.99 for four), along with about eight different omelets and such griddle favorites as pancakes and Belgian waffles. House specialties include Eggs Chesapeake (two poached eggs on an English muffin, topped with crab cake and Hollandaise sauce and served with hash browns, home fries, or grits). Taking advantage of all that great Florida citrus, the mimosas are made with freshly squeezed OJ.
3820 South Atlantic Ave., Suite D; thecrackedeggdiner.com
Datz (Tampa, Florida)
Owners Suzanne and Roger Perry describe their South Tampa brewpub as “a craft beer oasis, a bourbon lover’s paradise, a culinary education center, and a specialty food market all rolled into one.” Offering breakfast weekdays and brunch on the weekend, Datz serves its Egg Sammies on house-baked sourdough, with bacon-infused potatoes among the choice of sides. Some menu items carry the restaurant’s “datz-a-classic!” designation, among them Monkey Bread drizzled with vanilla icing, and Eggs Barbacoa made with pulled pork, corn tortillas, cilantro, onion, and New Mexico red chili sauce. Reservations accepted (and a good idea at peak times).
2616 South MacDill Ave.; datztampa.com
Ria’s Bluebird (Atlanta, Georgia)
Meaty, vegetarian, hearty, or healthy—Ria’s has it all. Famous for the 14-hour, slow-roasted Brisket Breakfast, the restaurant also offers veggie favorites, such as an egg-free Deep Dish “Frittata” of skillet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, kale, tofu, and herbs, sauced with red pepper romesco. Patrons swear by the decadent buttermilk pancakes topped with caramelized bananas, Georgia pecans, and chocolate chips.
421 Memorial Drive SE.; riasbluebird.com
The Silver Skillet (Atlanta, Georgia)
If you feel a touch of déjà vu on your first visit to the Skillet, you’ve probably seen this Atlanta landmark on TV or in the movies. It has all the classic diner touches—from swivel stools at a Formica counter to chalkboard specials—and the food is just as good as the ambiance. This place is Southern to the core, with breakfasts including Skillet Country Ham, with half a center-cut slice and red-eye gravy; the Southern Breakfast, which comes with two fried or grilled chops, two eggs, grits, white gravy, and toast or biscuits; all kinds of bacon-sausage-egg combos and breakfast sandwiches; a full menu of omelets and specialty biscuits; and a selection of what the owners call “syrupy things.” Stay for lunch and sample the old-school Lemon Ice-Box Pie.
200 14th Street; thesilverskillet.com
Café Des Amis (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana)
Located in a cool little town on historic Bayou Teche, this place serves up live music and Cajun dancing for its Saturday morning Zydeco Breakfast, live-streamed on its website’s Zydeco Breakfast Cam. The menu is loaded with such regional favorites as beignets, boudin, Oreille de Cochon (biegnets stuffed with boudin), Eggs Begnaud (a grilled biscuit with crawfish étouffée or au gratin, and two eggs cooked however you like), and Couche Couche (a Cajun cereal of cornmeal and milk with syrup and sugar).
140 East Bridge Street; cafedesamis.com
Camellia Grill (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Open since 1946, this classic NOLA greasy spoon closed temporarily after Katrina, and re-opened in 2007. Some regulars love the waffles and pecan pancakes most; others simply come for the entertaining staff and friendly service. Either way, there is generally a line out the door.
626 South Carrollton; 504/309-2679
Frank’s (Prairieville and Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Established in 1964, Frank’s has a Cajun-flavored breakfast menu like you won’t believe, and it serves breakfast “anytime day or night.” Along with smoked sausage and turkey sausage, you can get boudin and alligator sausage and choose from nine different breakfast platters; 16 omelets (including the Western, Spanish, Mexican, Louisiana, Cajun French, and Seafood Grand); Hershey’s Pancakes; New Orleans French Toast; Shrimp and Grits . . . on and on it goes. Expect a friendly staff—and a sea of purple and gold on LSU game weekends.
Prairieville: 17425 Airline Highway. Baton Rouge: 8353 Airline Highway
Russell’s Marina Grill (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Even if you had never been to this bend in the Mississippi River before, you could figure out what city you were in just by reading the breakfast menu at this waterfront favorite: Sweet Potato Beignets with honey lemon drizzle; Waffle Bananas Foster; The Big Easy Omelet; Eggs Gentilly, Eggs 9th, Eggs Pontchartrain . . . Open for breakfast daily (and serving it all day long), Russell’s also dishes up lunch every day, and adds dinner service Thursday through Saturday.
8555 Pontchartrain Blvd.; russellsmarinagrill.net
Stanley (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Chef Scott Boswell, previously of Stella!, has opened this all-day eatery on Jackson Square, featuring New Orleans comfort food and some of his favorites. The breakfast and brunch menu, available anytime, includes Eggs Stanley with cornmeal-crusted oysters, poached eggs, Canadian bacon, and Creole Hollandaise on a toasted English muffin; Bananas Foster French Toast; Corned Beef Hash, and more.
547 Saint Ann St., 504/587-0093; stanleyrestaurant.com
Surrey’s (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Serving breakfast and lunch all day, seven days a week, this self-described “eclectic and funky café and juice bar” has two Magazine Street locations, one Uptown and one in the Lower Garden District. They’re serious about “eclectic.” On the breakfast menu are Mexican dishes like Huevos Rancheros Deluxe (topped with house cured salmon, goat cheese, and capers); a Tofu Breakfast Platter; a vast assortment of egg combos; and local favorites including Shrimp and Grits, a Crab Meat Omelette, and Bananas Foster French Toast. Surrey’s invites guests to gather some friends and bring a bottle to pair with any of its fresh organic juices.
Lower Garden District: 1418 Magazine St. Uptown: 4807 Magazine St.; surreysnola.com
Big Bad Breakfast (Oxford, Mississippi)
One of the restaurants in what chef John Currence calls his “Dine-asty,” this college-town establishment serves breakfast all day. The Good Old Boy omelet includes house-made beef chili and Cheddar; The Creola is a skillet breakfast of eggs, crawfish, Andouille, onions, peppers, tomatoes, hash, and Cheddar; and the Pain Perdue spikes French toast with brandy, then adds powdered sugar, whipped cream, and strawberries for good measure. Prices are as student-friendly as the food, with most everything hovering in the $10 range. Big Bad recently opened a second location in Birmingham.
Oxford: 719 North Lamar. Birmingham: 5361 U.S. 280; bigbadbreakfast.com
Abe’s Grill (Corinth, Mississippi)
The original owners are still serving breakfast and lunch at this diner, which opened in 1974. And they’ll serve you lunch for breakfast if you like. The Famous Country Breakfast—two eggs with bacon, sausage, or bologna, homemade biscuits, and sawmill gravy—comes with coffee and rings up at a modest $4.99. Order two eggs with everything from pork tenderloin to pork brains, or thin-sliced rib-eye. And you can get your $1.38 biscuit with (among other things) sausage, ham, tenderloin, bologna, hot cheese, or even chocolate gravy.
803 Highway 72 West; abesgrill.com
Early Girl Eatery (Asheville, North Carolina)
This popular downtown spot serves breakfast all day. It’s best known for authentic, hearty mountain breakfasts like the Porky Breakfast Bowl—home fries, barbecue pork, scrambled eggs, and local cheese curd, smothered in Benton’s smoky bacon gravy. There are Southern classics like Shrimp and Grits, as well as an inventive Vegan Tofu Scramble with marinated organic tofu, peas, red onions, mushrooms, tomato, and spinach. Slather your homemade biscuit with vegetarian herb cream gravy or Benton’s smoky bacon gravy. Then hop on your treadmill for a while, and come back for lunch.
8 Wall Street; 828/259-9292; earlygirleatery.com
Sunny Point Café (Asheville, North Carolina)
This small, farm-to-table eatery has its own garden plot and outdoor seating where “well-behaved dogs are welcome.” The owners are happy to serve breakfast for dinner or a dessert for breakfast. The Savory One French Toast is filled with local sausage, cream cheese, and sharp Cheddar. Have Huevos Rancheros or Fucheros—with chorizo sausage or tofu chorizo. There’s a full menu of omelets, along with such griddle favorites as a Sweet Potato Waffle, Organic Carrot Hot Cakes, and Organic Cornmeal Hot Cakes.
626 Haywood Road; sunnypointcafe.com
Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen (Chapel Hill and Louisburg, North Carolina)
Sunrise was established in Louisburg in 1978, and has been baking Bigger Better Biscuits for breakfast and lunch ever since. Owner David Allen still relies on his grandmother’s recipe for his light and fluffy creations, dispensed from drive-thru windows to a long queue of cars at both locations. (The Louisburg location also has seating, but Chapel Hill is drive-thru only.)
Chapel Hill: 1305 East Franklin Street. Louisburg: 208 South Bickett Blvd.; sunrisebiscuits.com
Saxapahaw General Store (Saxapahaw, North Carolina)
Perched on the banks of the Haw River, this establishment calls itself a Five Star Service Station. (You really can fill up with gas or biodiesel at the Saxaco pumps outside.) Order your Basic Breakfast, Breakfast Burrito, biscuit and sausage gravy, or omelet at the counter. Then, take a seat at one of the booths along the front window, or browse the surrounding grocery—part country store and part gourmet gift shop.
1735 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road; saxgenstore.com
Hominy Grill (Charleston, South Carolina)
Proof that elevated Southern cooking doesn’t have to cost a fortune, Hominy serves made-to-order omelets, shrimp and grits, and buttermilk pancakes. But for delicious, down and dirty eating, try the High-Rise Biscuit with sausage gravy, or the Charleston Nasty Biscuit with fried chicken breast, Cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy. A brunch menu is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Besides classic drinks like Bloody Marys and mimosas, Hominy also makes the “RC/CR”—Crown Royal and Royal Crown Cola.
207 Rutledge Avenue; 843/937-0930; hominygrill.com
Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse (Travelers Rest, South Carolina)
This bike-themed eatery on the Swamp Rabbit Trail offers sweet and savory crepes, as well as waffles. Hearty specialties include The Lumberjack—ham, bacon, eggs, cheese, and béchamel in a cornmeal crepe with maple syrup. You’ll need to pedal fast to work that one off.
2 South Main Street; 864/610-2245; tandemcc.com
Log Cabin Pancake House (Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
Like many family vacation stalwarts, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are peppered with pancake houses. Log Cabin invites you to “come sit at our table.” Make sure it’s a big table, though, because their menu of “special treat” pancakes and crepes is mind-boggling—more than 20 in all, including Log Cabin Cornmeal Pancakes, Wild Blueberry Pancakes, Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Caribbean Pancakes, Peach Crepes, Continental French Toast . Pass the maple syrup, please.
Gatlinburg: Historic Nature Trail (Airport Road). Pigeon Forge: 4235 Parkway; logcabinpancakehouse.com
Bryant’s Breakfast (Memphis, Tennessee)
This establishment started as a barbecue joint, but the owner was inspired by memories of his mother’s Mississippi biscuits, and added breakfast to the menu. Breakfast specials (daunting platters of traditional morning favorites) share the menu with breakfast bowls, breakfast sandwiches, biscuit sandwiches, omelets, pancakes, French toast, and sweets. The restaurant’s plastic-foam coffee cups are famous for their logo: a stylized pin-up girl proclaiming “Gravy. Sop it up. It’s good. “
3965 Summer Ave.; 901/324-7494; bryantsmemphis.com
Biscuit Love (Nashville, Tennessee)
Sarah and Karl Worley founded Biscuit Love in 2012 as a food truck serving terrific beaten biscuits, and opened in The Gulch in Nashville in 2015. Their “John’s Ham Bar” comes with beaten biscuits and a selection of local and regional hams.
316 11th Avenue South; biscuitlovebrunch.com
Loveless Café (Nashville, Tennessee)
Annie and Lon Loveless started selling chicken and biscuits to travelers passing by their house in 1951. First a “party house,” then a motel and cafe, Loveless no longer rents rooms but has grown into a Nashville destination, with a café, market, and catering business. Annie’s famous scratch-made biscuit recipe remains a carefully guarded secret, and the café has created a charitable fund honoring longtime, beloved Biscuit Lady Carol Fay Ellison, who died in 2010.
8400 Highway 100; lovelesscafe.com
The Pancake Pantry (Nashville, Tennessee)
Run by the same family since 1961, this place is an institution. The menu offers more than two dozen kinds of pancakes, including buckwheat, cornmeal, and potato, as well as hash brown platters topped with eggs and accompanied by wheat toast to “mop up.” Located near Vanderbilt University, it’s a big favorite of students and alums.
1796 21st Avenue South; thepancakepantry.com
Joe’s Bakery and Coffee Shop (Austin, Texas)
Now run by the fourth generation of the founding family, Joe’s has been serving East Austin for 75 years. Breakfast is served all day, offering almost 20 different tacos, including Chorizo & Egg Taco, Miga Taco con Todo, and Huevos a la Mexicana Taco. There’s a menu of breakfast plates, including Chorizo con Huevos—scrambled eggs and Mexican sausage served with beans, potatoes, and two tortillas—and two classic Mexican soups, menudo and caldo.
2305 East 7th Street
Wholy Bagel (Austin, Texas)
Under the banner of “Keeping Austin Baked,” Wholy Bagel kettles and bakes fresh New York-style bagels every morning. Beyond their bagels, they offer a host of flavored cream cheese blends, from chocolate chip to Hatch pepper. Giving another nod to their inspiration, they sell classic black-and-white cookies and other “Sweets from the Bronx.” There are 14 bagels in their Wholy Texas Dozen, proof that everything really is bigger in Texas.
4404 West William Cannon Drive; 512/899-0200; wholybagelatx.com
AllGood Café (Dallas, Texas)
This popular spot shops local, even listing its area suppliers on the menu—from Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and Lopez Tortillas to Blue Bell Ice Cream and the Dallas Farmer’s Market. The breakfast menu, served 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily (except Monday, when they close at 2 p.m.), includes traditional breakfast platters, omelets, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches, as well as the more Texas-tinged Huevos Rancheros, South Austin Migas, Chicken-Fried Steak & Eggs, and two takes on the breakfast taco.
2934 Main Street; allgoodcafe.com
Crossroads Diner (Dallas, Texas)
What’s not to love about a local spot with its own Sticky Bun Club? (For every nine of these cinnamon-pecan-caramel dough fests you order, they’ll give you a tenth one for free.) Chef-owners Tom Fleming and Carl Strelecki had been kitchen colleagues at Lombardi Mare and friends for many years when they decided to open a restaurant together. Besides the famous Cinnamon Sticky Bun and other baked goods like croissants and house-made muffins, the chefs serve pancakes and waffles, five or six different frittatas, including the Crossroads Fritatta, made with roasted red peppers, local goat cheese, and house-made chorizo. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. till 2 p.m. closing. (Lunch service begins at 11 a.m.)
17194 Preston Road, Suite 101; crossroads-diner.com
Smoke (Dallas, Texas)
It’s the “Cured & Smoked” section of James Beard Award-winning chef Tim Byres’ breakfast menu that gets your attention: thick-cut pork belly bacon, artisanal-style pork ham, cured and smoked salmon, and link sausages made with your choice of All-Spiced rabbit; pork Andouille; or beef with paprika/fennel seed. Also offered are Smoked Brisket Cornbread Hash with Poached Eggs, Green Chili Rajas & Onions, and Heavy Handed Blueberry Pancakes with vanilla poached apricots and cream. Smoke serves breakfast daily and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. (Its Plano location serves brunch but not breakfast.)
Dallas: 901 Fort Worth Ave. Plano: 972/599-2222; smokerestaurant.com
Crave Kitchen & Bar (El Paso, Texas)
With three locations—historic Kern Place, the West Side, and the East Side—Crave fuels hungry morning diners across El Paso with its creative weekday breakfasts and Sunday brunch. Among the items that make it onto all three breakfast menus are sandwiches like the Breakfast BTS—bacon, tomato, spinach, egg, chipotle aioli, and sriracha—and the Hay Stack of crispy hash browns topped with bacon, eggs, and sausage. There’s also a Chorizo Scramble, as well as Cinnamon Roll French Toast; Red Velvet Pancakes; Green Chile Chicken and Waffles; and a Churro Waffle with cajeta and cinnamon ice cream. Yep, you’re in Texas.
East Side: 11990 Rojas; Kern Place: 300 Cincinnati; West Side: 631 Resler; cravekitchenandbar.com
Handsome Biscuits (Norfolk, Virginia)
The breakfast menu isn’t long, but it is interesting, focusing on sandwiches made with the signature sweet potato biscuits, which come topped or filled with everything from fried chicken to PB&J to caviar. On Friday and Saturday nights, Handsome makes an addition to its all-day breakfast menu: a Fishcuit, which is fried fish with cabbage, cucumbers, and wasabi tartar sauce.
2511 Colonial Ave., Park Place; handsomebiscuit.com
Country Style Donuts (Richmond, Virginia)
Some say this hot spot is the best reason to offer to pick up a friend at the airport. Just a stone’s throw from Richmond International, Country Style Donuts not only draws loyal locals but even lures drivers off the interstate and visitors from neighboring states.
4300 Williamsburg Road; 804/222-2466