Atlanta’s Best Breakfast Dishes: 33 ways to start your day right

It’s the most important meal of the day—so make it a great one
Best Breakfast

Photograph by Ryan Hayslip

Biscuits  •  Eggs  •  Bowls
Soups •  Sweets  •  Sides


Fluffy breakfast biscuit, anyone?
A good breakfast sandwich can perk up a morning. A good biscuit breakfast sandwich can make your whole day.

Holler and Dash's Chicken. Set. Go.
Holler and Dash’s Chicken. Set. Go.

Photograph by Ryan Hayslip

Holler and Dash
The biscuits at this new outpost of the Nashville-based chain are sturdy enough to handle the load of the “Chicken. Set. Go.”: a hunk of fried chicken smothered in smoked cheddar pimiento cheese, zapped with a little acid heat from a few pickled jalapeños, and drizzled with sticky, sweet sorghum syrup. 1085 Howell Mill Road, 470-865-5660

Petit Chou
This Cabbagetown cafe’s biscuits, made with buttermilk from Waynesboro’s Southern Swiss, provide support for rich, peppery chicken-sausage gravy. Be warned, though: You’re going to need a fork. 662 Memorial Drive, 470-270-8996

Little’s Food Store
Almost the size of a softball, Brad and Nina Cunard’s biscuits are a two-handed affair stuffed with a few slabs of thick-cut bacon, a hard-fried egg, and one melting slice of American cheese. 198 Carroll Street, 404-963-7012

Mt. Paran Country Store
Wrapped in plastic and plucked by regulars from underneath a heat lamp, these three-bite biscuit sandwiches feel almost as old-school Southern as the circa-1906 farmhouse they’re served in. The filling: American cheese, scrambled eggs, and a thin breakfast sausage patty. 4480 Northside Drive, 404-869-2992

The Shell Station
In the shadow of an I-85 overpass, two women helm a tiny gas station griddle, cooking eggs to fill their cup holder-sized biscuits. Get there early to beat the rush: The biscuits frequently sell out by nine or ten in the morning. 496 Plasters Avenue, 404-724-9208

Star Provisions
Anne Quatrano’s housemade sausage biscuit with strawberry preserves was built for the sweet-salty breakfast lover, and her biscuits strike that golden balance of toasty crust on the outside and soft, airy layers on the inside. 1460 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, 404-365-0410

And then there’s the Croissan-wich, last seen as a real trend in the ’90s but alive and, incredibly, not too greasy, at Cafe + Velo. Try the classic bacon, egg, and cheddar cheese, aka the Penny Farthing. 381 Edgewood Avenue, 404-458-2979


How do you like your eggs?
However you take them, there’s a perfect spot for you.

Poached eggs at Rising Son
Poached eggs at Rising Son
So where does Hudson Rouse buy his eggs?
Darby Farms—and he goes through 150 dozen per week. “The yolks are so rich,” he says, “and such a bright orange color.” Order them for yourself at darbyfarms.weebly.com.

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Poached
Rising Son
“A poached egg should look like a comet flying through the air; that means it was dropped in the right amount of water that was the right temperature, and it cooked on its way to the bottom of the pot,” Hudson Rouse says. The chef and owner of Rising Son seasons his poaching water with salt and cider vinegar. “Some of that liquid is going to stay with the egg when you plate it, so it had better taste good!” 124 North Avondale Road, Avondale Estates, 404-600-5297
Pro tip: Rouse buys his eggs at Darby Farms—and he goes through 150 dozen per week. “The yolks are so rich,” he says, “and such a bright orange color.” Order them for yourself at darbyfarms.weebly.com.

Fried
Waffle House
No matter the style—over easy, sunny side up, over medium—Waffle House really gets the art of frying eggs. Perhaps it has to do with that flat top being warm for 24 hours every day, but the Two Eggs Any Style is always on point. Multiple locations

Cooked “in a hole”
Java Jive
Egg in a Hole, Egg in a Basket, whatever you call it—if you like your eggs fried in the center of a slice of bread, go to Shira Levetan and Steven Horwitz’s homage to ’50s-era kitchen kitsch. Know the right lingo, though: They call it the “Double Bullseye” (and you get two). 790 Ponce de Leon Avenue, 404-876-6161

As an omlette
Bread & Butterfly
With its silken exterior and custardy insides, this omelette shivers at the slightest touch. Remi Granger plates the uniformly golden mess seam side down and tops it with a sprinkling of finely chopped herbs. It’s a textbook French omelette. 290 Elizabeth Street, 678-515-4536

Stewed in a gravy
Spiller Park

At the Toco Hills location of Spiller Park, Hugh Acheson serves shakshuka, a North African dish of eggs poached in a tomato-y stew. Acheson’s thick ragout relies on green tomatoes and poblano and jalapeño peppers, and it’s topped with cilantro and feta. 2929 North Druid Hills Road, 404-919-2978

Sandwiched
8Arm
You better tuck a napkin into your shirt to eat Wilson Gourley’s Egg McMuff. Melted butter and cilantro-tabasco mayo gather in the craggy hollows of the housemade English muffins that sandwich soft-scrambled eggs, avocado, and thick-cut bacon. Be prepared! 710 Ponce de Leon Avenue, 470-875-5856

Baked in a quiche
Little Tart Bakeshop
Don’t let the intimidating size of Sarah O’Brien’s more-than-two-inch–tall quiche fool you: Its custardy insides are as creamy as panna cotta. At Krog Street Market, she usually serves a potato quiche, but at her Grant Park location, she switches it up with an array of seasonal vegetables. 99 Krog Street, 404-348-4797; 437 Memorial Drive, 404-348-4797

Muchacho eggs in a taco
Muchacho breakfast tacos

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Stuffed in a taco, part I
Muchacho
Chef Jason Simpson grew up on tacos in Santa Monica, California. His breakfast version at Muchacho uses housemade flour tortillas that are pliable but sturdy, so go ahead and add chorizo to the standard scrambled egg and onion filling for an extra buck. 904 Memorial Drive, 404-748-9254

Stuffed in a taco, part II
Ronaldo’s Resto Bar
The owners of College Park’s Manchester Arms pub opened taco joint Ronaldo’s Resto Bar last July, and they sell breakfast tacos from 7 a.m. until they’re gone. The cook, Uriel Cortez from Carrero, Mexico, fills six-inch flour tortillas with scrambled eggs and chorizo or roasted vegetables, serving his freshly made salsa verde on the side. 3719 Main Street, College Park, no phone

Scrambled eggs at Sun in My Belly
Scrambled eggs at Sun in My Belly

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Scrambled
Sun in My Belly
Perhaps it’s unfair that these soft, creamy scrambled eggs get some of that textural perfection from Boursin, the French cream cheese mixed with garlic and herbs—even if this version is homemade. But if cheating produces a scramble this spoonable, there should be no complaints. 2161 College Avenue, 404-370-1088

Wedged in a biscuit
Buttermilk Kitchen
In the South, biscuit sandwiches are serious business. Suzanne Vizethann gets that. Her Fried Egg BLT, with spinach instead of lettuce, is served on a warm biscuit, and it is no joke. 4225 Roswell Road, 678-732-3274


Oh you like bowls?
Then try these spoonable—or sippable—breakfasts.

Upbeet's Love You So Matcha
Upbeet’s Love You So Matcha

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

Love You So Matcha
Upbeet
All of Upbeet’s yogurt bowls support the healthy mission of this ecofriendly restaurant, but for sheer textural intrigue, none comes close to this combination of smooth yogurt, fresh blackberries, crushed pistachios, cacao nibs, and matcha powder. A sprinkling of sea salt and a few sprigs of mint bring the dish to life. 1071 Howell Mill Road, 404-347-1071

Warm Soy Milk with Cruller
Northern China Eatery
Available sweetened or salted (the latter is topped with splashes of black vinegar, chili oil, and chopped fresh scallions), this Chinese breakfast comes with freshly fried cruller-like sticks for dipping. 5141 Buford Highway, 770-458-2282

Brisket Bowl
Ria’s Bluebird
Ria Pell opened this Grant Park cafe in 2000, and while she passed away 13 years later, this hearty breakfast reminds diners of Ria’s talent for nourishing, unpretentious food. The cooks braise beef for 18 hours, shred it into a tomato broth, and then top the dish with two poached eggs served with a chunk of toasted baguette. 421 Memorial Drive, 404-521-3737


Consider the breakfast soup
Starting the day with a bowl of soup is a profoundly comforting experience that hasn’t quite been embraced by mainstream America yet. Whether it’s a long-simmered meat broth garnished with fresh herbs or a stick-to-the-ribs savory rice porridge, people all over the world are eating it for breakfast. (The bonus for home cooks: Soup reheats in less time than it takes to defrost a bagel.) Here are three restaurants open early enough to get your fill of international flavor.

Lee's Bakery's Pho Dac Biet
Lee’s Bakery’s Pho Dac Biet

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

Pho Dac Biet
Lee’s Bakery
All over Vietnam, cooks fill stock pots with beef bones, blackened onions, fresh ginger, star anise, fish sauce, cinnamon, and whole cloves and set them to simmer overnight. By morning, it’s ready to serve with meat, rice noodles, and handfuls of whole basil leaves and bean sprouts on the side. This version contains rare steak, well-done flank, brisket, and thin shreds of tendon and tripe. 4005 Buford Highway, 404-728-1008

Menudo
Mercado Acapulco
Widely regarded in the United States as a hangover cure, menudo is more of a family dish south of the border. At Mercado Acapulco, one of Atlanta’s most humble and lovable fondas, the spicy soup made with beef stomach, cow’s feet, a variety of dried and fresh red chiles, garlic, and oregano comes with fresh wedges of lime, corn tortillas, and an insanely hot red salsa made with guajillo peppers. Note: The dish is served only on the weekends. 2179 Cheshire Bridge Road, 404-477-3202

Congee
Xi’an Gourmet House in Jusgo Supermarket
The pleasure of congee, a thin rice soup, lies in its soothing blandness. In southern China, it’s usually a savory dish made with white rice, chopped preserved eggs, thinly sliced boneless chicken, or fish. Xi’an Gourmet House serves a more northern variety that’s slightly sweet, made with millet and pureed pumpkin. 3875 Venture Drive, Duluth, 404-547-3088


The sweet stuff
The beauty of adulthood is that these sugary morning treats count as “breakfast.”

Ashley Sue's Baked Goods' Strawberry Pop Tarts
Ashley Sue’s Baked Goods’ Strawberry Pop Tarts

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Strawberry Pop Tarts
Ashley Sue’s Baked Goods
Ashley Sue Holtzclaw’s scratch version of the classic Kellogg breakfast treat has strawberry filling and rainbow-colored sprinkles—but requires no toaster. Sold at Hodgepodge Coffee, 720 Moreland Avenue, 404-622-8525

Brioche Knot
The General Muir’s Deli
These cardamom-y pastries are sweet (but not tooth-achingly so) and substantial without sending you back to bed. 1540 Avenue Place, 678-927-9131

Red Bean Donut
White Windmill
Korean bakeries offer no shortage of baked goods topped or swirled with sweet, sticky red bean paste. This doughnut is stuffed with a healthy dollop, a textural counterpart to the chewy fried dough. Multiple locations

Cinnamon Sugar Mini Donuts
Highland Bakery
These moist, cakey donuts, no bigger than three inches in diameter, practically glitter with sugar. 655 Highland Avenue, 404-586-0772

Almond Croissant
Little Tart Bakeshop
Sarah O’Brien is the city’s croissant queen. Her feather-light almond croissants will make a mess of your shirt, as the best croissants do. 437 Memorial Drive, 404-348-4797

Pay de Elote
La Calavera
This sweet take on cornbread has a dense, almost custard-like filling studded with fresh corn kernels. 747 East College Avenue, 404-998-8389

Coffee Cake
Proof Bakeshop
A mainstay in Proof’s pastry case, this cake is striped with cinnamon and crowned with a crumbly vanilla and brown sugar crust. 100 Hurt Street, 678-705-3905

Pancakes
Bread & Butterfly
These quintessential pancakes are rich yet light, crafted from local organic eggs and King Arthur flour and topped with pure Vermont maple syrup. 290 Elizabeth Street, 678-515-4536

Guava Pastelito
Muchacho
Cream cheese cuts through the sweetness of thick guava paste in this classic Cuban-style puff pastry served in one of Atlanta’s cheeriest looking cafes. 904 Memorial Drive, 404-748-9254


And how about these sides…

Collard Greens and Grits at Rising Son
Collard Greens and Grits at Rising Son

Illustration by Lindsey Spinks

Collard Greens and Grits
Rising Son
“Most Southern collards have ham hock in them, but I’m a firm believer that not all Southern vegetables have to be bad for you,” says chef Hudson Rouse, who braises his greens in water flavored with cider vinegar, garlic, chili flakes, and salt. Rouse’s grits are also some of the best in the city. 124 North Avondale Road, Avondale Estates, 404-600-5297

Rice and Beans at Xela Pan
Rice and Beans at Xela Pan

Illustration by Lindsey Spinks

Rice and Beans
Xela Pan
Order the Desayuno Chapin, and get a platter of eggs, plantains, rice, and black beans. The beans are stewed with onions and pureed until they’re sauce-like, perfect for holding together the other ingredients when you stuff them into hot corn tortillas. 5268 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-452-8880

Mangu at Sabor Dominicano
Mangu at Sabor Dominicano

Illustration by Lindsey Spinks

Mangu
Sabor Dominicano
Ask a Dominican what he or she wants for breakfast, and the answer will probably be mashed boiled green plantains, or mangu, simply salted with a bit of butter. Better yet, top it with fried salami, cheese, and an egg—a heavy-duty combo typical of the island. 4186 Buford Highway, 404-963-1799

Fatback at K&K Soul Food
Fatback at K&K Soul Food

Illustration by Lindsey Spinks

Fatback
K&K Soul Food
Unlike bacon, which comes from the belly of a pig, the more unctuous fatback comes off its back, though it is similarly salted and cured. 881 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, 404-685-1073

Waffles at Annie Mae's Pantry
Waffles at Annie Mae’s Pantry

Illustration by Lindsey Spinks

Waffle
Last fall, CamiCakes owner Andra Hall opened Annie Mae’s Pantry, named for her late grandmother, Annie Mae Norton, a sharecropper in Monticello, Florida. Hall’s menu features four kinds of waffles: Buttermilk ones are “for people who want something plain and simple”; plantain waffles pair well with Hall’s jerk chicken; waffles made with hush puppy batter go with trout; and cinnamon-y sweet potato waffles are a must (“I love sweet potato anything,” Hall says). 1700 Northside Drive, 678-515-7561

This article appears in our March 2018 issue.

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