When we were kids, we were told it was the most important meal of the day. Foundation for good health, essential component of doing well in school, that sort of thing. Words like “balanced” and “nutritious” got thrown around a lot. And while all of those descriptors may have been accurate, they do make the breakfast experience sound disappointingly utilitarian; a necessary if boring chore. Now that we’re adults, it’s time to acknowledge the powerhouse potential for pure morning enjoyment once you leave the bowl of cereal or instant oatmeal at home and head out into the world. After a gleeful amount of sunny-side-up research, we’re pleased to present a bevy of recommendations for some of the city’s most supremely delicious ways to break your fast and shatter your expectations at the same time.
Two English muffins, a thick slab of ham, perfectly poached eggs and a thick coating of practically the Platonic ideal of Hollandaise sauce. When it’s executed this well, how could you improve on an all-time great? (That question was rhetorical, but in the interests of complete reporting you can also get it Chinook-style, with salmon patties instead of ham.)
P.S. If you settle up and leave and then start to weep softly without knowing why, it’s probably because you neglected to try the side of cheese grits. They are magnificent.
JUAN DEL FUEGO
There are plenty of menu options at this little joint tucked into Norman’s Redbud Plaza (the banana or blueberry pancakes are both quite good), but given that its full name is Juan del Fuego Mexi-Diner, visitors owe it to themselves to swing for the spicy fences by trying one of the casa specials – like this cheesy omelet filled to bursting with deliciously slow-building heat courtesy of the homemade chorizo. The ripe avocado slices on top are an act of palate-soothing kindness.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN GRILL
The owner/chef is from Colorado, hence the name of his hole-in-the-Edmond-wall diner and his love for green chilies. If that’s not an affection you already share, it likely will be once you start making a dent in this gloriously giant helping of sausage, crumbled bacon, eggs, cheese, hash browns and peppers inside a tortilla and smothered in an eye-watering sauce. The wonderfully potent dish is an incredible value, like the menu as a whole – and should your taste buds not be in the mood for quite this level of fieriness, the giant fluffy pancakes are excellent examples of the form. The tiny diner is a genuine gem; highly recommended.
Lingering lazily over a lengthy brunch laden with mimosas and extra coffee is one of life’s enduring pleasures … but sometimes you simply don’t have that kind of time. That doesn’t mean you should skip breakfast entirely; grab a bite of portable goodness in the form of your choice with this sandwich whose every component conforms to your selection. We suggest fried eggs with ham and provolone
on a croissant, but follow your heart. (So much the better if your heart also wants a killer Mango Tango smoothie to accompany it.)
Kitchen Sink Omelet
When a locally owned restaurant has been this popular for this long (18 years under current ownership, under other names and management back to 1890), it’s a clear sign that they’re very good at what they do. So while you might be tempted to take them up on a daily special like the Southwest Eggs Benedict with its spicy Hollandaise, we recommend throwing caution to the wind and putting your trust in the chef: The Kitchen Sink is a three-egg omelet with five ingredients plus cheese, but the cook chooses the components. With a chaser of perfectly done hash browns or home fries, you have every reason to feel lucky.
GRIDDLE CLASSICS AND BAKED GREATS
The decision between starting the day with a crisp, hot, buttery waffle or a hefty mound of eggs laden with bacon and cheese can be a difficult one … unless you make your way to breakfast boutique Syrup, where the one is piled high atop the other in a luscious (and brilliant) combination. Or if you’re good at decisions, adorn a stack of pancakes to a specific tee by choosing from a bank packed with toppings. Wash them down with another cup or three of Stumptown coffee and get moving on your day. Any minute now.
The pastry counter is crammed full of handmade doughnuts, scones, chocolate croissants, Danishes and other goodness from the oven; symbolic of baking prowess that’s the foundation of much of the menu. The smoked salmon, roe, slivers of red onion and generous helping of cream cheese forming this dish would be lost without the toasty bagel holding it all together. And by the way, a glass of the tartly fragrant pineapple/green apple/lemon/mint juice blend makes a nice pairing with almost anything.
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
An aromatic hint of citrus freshens the impact of these fluffy confections, which are sweet enough to enjoy with no more ornamentation than a pat of butter … though they also work nicely with the warm syrup provided, and a little extra quirk of flavor is delivered by the dollop of tangy papaya chutney on top. And one more thing: they’re colossal. Diners should get a prize of some kind for managing to finish the stack of three, assuming they haven’t opted instead for the berry compote-crowned Challah French Toast or the Biscuits and Incredibly Delicious Gravy (it might not actually be called that, but it should be).
Apple Cinnamon French Toast
The German restaurant is famed for its bakery, and rightly so. It’s a prime source for huge Black Forest cakes and cookies by the score. But our focus is on main dishes, right? No problem: This sugary confection has sweetened apples baked directly into the bread, and is more than tasty enough to stand out amid a host of other carbs. And if you’re worried about the meal not being Teutonic enough, you can (which is to say “should”) always add a side of Nuremberg sausage.
Craft Pulled Pork Sandwich
Put aside for the moment the knowledge that WC’s namesake waffles can be served with any of a bevy of sugary toppings like lemon curd or peanut butter mousse, because you need to try this. While it might seem counterintuitive, after a few bites it can only be called a stroke of brilliance: Combining sweet and savory by wrapping a fresh, chewy waffle around succulent barbequed pork, coleslaw made with Maytag blue cheese and a drizzle of Tabasco honey forms a genuinely unique taste experience that sticks with you in the best way; recurring cravings await.
THE BEST OF BRUNCH
Shrimp and Grits
Upscale ambience needn’t be divorced entirely from fare that’s conceptually “down home.” In addition to a quite impressive plate of fried chicken and waffles, the OKC Museum of Art’s in-house dining establishment serves up a masterpiece take on a Deep South classic in this collocation of seasoned shrimp, bell peppers, chunks of tasso “ham” (which is really more of a spicy pork shoulder) and Andouille sausage, all swimming in white cheddar grits and set off with a pair of lightly fried eggs. Take it slow – it’s extremely rich – and don’t be a hero about cleaning your plate.
The haven for fine dining in Edmond is also home to a choose-your-own feast on Sundays, where traditional options in the vein of scrambled eggs and waffles and mountains of fruit cozy up alongside more substantial tastes like blue corn chicken enchiladas and selections from its renowned wood-fired grill. Culinary happiness can be as simple as selecting exactly what, and how much, you want.
DEEP FORK GRILL
A whimsical name for a seriously soigne weekend dining experience: The namesake ingredients are homemade biscuits supporting a slab of grilled pork belly, the thick-cut, uncured, unbelievably rich protein that dreams and bacon are made of. Regular old white gravy wouldn’t quite fit the tone, so instead replace it with a hearty mushroom ragout and serve with thoroughly creamy Boursin cheese, fried potatoes and fresh fruit, and voila! Or perhaps more appropriately, Mmmmm! In a more enticing option for those who aren’t fans of mushrooms, the Deep Fork version of French Toast is soaked in a mixture of eggs, cream, Cointreau, orange zest and cinnamon before being seared to a golden finish.
It’s a slightly different take on the dining concept – rather than perusing a menu and selecting individual entrées, weekend diners walk in and say “[x] brunches, please.” They’re then treated to a three-course setup served family-style, and while the components vary – one weekend might see a fruit/cheese/pastry tray, a platter of bacon and eggs with cheese grits and individual plates of gingerbread pancakes(!) – there’s always a flavorful bounty of the highest quality.
Masa Vallo con Huevos
Cheever’s says it specializes in American cuisine with Southwest influences – that’s code for “superbly delicious.” Though the enchiladas and migas are superb, for something unique sample this creative assembly of cornmeal cakes under a large dose of rich, creamy shrimp risotto, two poached eggs and a blanket of intriguingly flavorful ancho cream sauce (with sides of pico de gallo and salsa verde) and see for yourself. Just don’t be surprised if you decide repeated further research is necessary next week, and the week after.
Aside from Johns Hopkins, what’s the best thing about Baltimore? Crab cakes! (Sorry, Ravens fans.) The savory, slightly crispy crustacean-based patties are generally confined to the realm of appetizers … except when elevated to stars of the breakfast stage by topping two of them with poached eggs and a smooth coat of Hollandaise sauce, like a more maritime version of Eggs Benedict. And while they are undeniably great, if you fear feeling a trifle culinarily homesick (the East Coast is fairly far away, after all), drop a few bites of Southern style into the mix via a side order of Fried Green Tomatoes.
Steak and Eggs
While divinely delicate pastries and confections have their undeniable charms, sometimes you just want to sink your teeth into some protein – these done-to-order beef medallions are paired with two eggs and rosemary potatoes (a mix of white and sweet), and surmounted by a zesty pesto. Pro tip: Order a side of the Brioche French Toast, a sweet-toothed triumph with a beignet-like texture served with vanilla anglaise and chilled raspberries. It could be overpowering en masse but is just right as a smaller accent.
CAFÉ DO BRASIL
A restaurant named for a foreign country should by rights feature said country’s national dish; sampling it is more of a pleasure than a duty because it’s super-tasty. A dark, satisfying stew of black beans, pork, sausage and redolent spices, it’s served with rice, collard greens and the toasted flour concoction called farofa so diners can create their preferred texture profile. Top it off with some passionfruit mousse or enormous fresh-baked muffins. Or both.
The elegant French restaurant is a producer of pastries par excellence, though for the full breakfast experience, it’s a genuine treat to relish a slice of flaky-crusted quiche (available in multiple varieties), spinach-stuffed crepes set off with top-notch chicken sausage or the caloric glory of this toasted ham and Swiss sandwich slathered with a luxuriously smooth béchamel sauce. If it weren’t rich enough (you may be grateful for the accompanying fresh fruit), it’s then crowned with a pair of runny-yolked sunny-side-up eggs. You’ll need a fork, bien sur, mais c’est un sandwich formidable.
Poached Eggs on Polenta with Capicola and Tomato Sauce
Sometimes the name says it all, or in this case most: This dish’s title lists most of its ingredients but doesn’t mention that the base of polenta is lightly grilled to give it a little extra texture, or how its creamy flavor is balanced by the salty, thinly sliced capicola and smooth provolone. Of course, it would hardly be an Italian delicacy without a ladling of house-made rustic tomato sauce, given a bit of extra kick via fresh basil leaves for a sublimely savory whole. And speaking of savor, if you were only ever planning to have pizza for brunch once in your life, make it one of Stella’s brick oven specials.
A Guatemalan restaurant can’t offer a more traditional dish than this collection, whose name even translates as “Breakfast of Guatemala.” It weds the familiar (simple scrambled eggs) to the slightly more unusual (warm flour tortillas, sour cream and silky smooth refried black beans) to the delectably esoteric (a piquant salsa verde and naturally sweet slices of fried plantains). The desayuno’s flavor isn’t confined to the morning hours; it and other fiery delights like the Spicy Tecpan are served whenever the café is open.
TORCHES AND REGULAR FORKS
If your favorite haunt isn’t in this list, don’t think of it as a condemnation and get up in arms; everybody has favorites, be they wildly popular (Jimmy’s Egg) or niche (Good Gravy). It’s a big metro, and as we’ve been glad to discover, delectability abounds.