Thinking About The Weekend Yet? The New Seattle Breakfast

WE STILL LOVE WAFFLES, OMELETS, AND PANCAKES. But just look at what’s joining the classic canon. Dinner used to be a restaurant’s main event, the meal that best reflected a chef’s vision and creativity. Breakfast and brunch were reserved for basic ingredients, familiar preparations, and servers bleary-eyed from dinner service the night before. Not anymore. Thanks in part to the economy, a host of dinnertime destinations now open their doors in the a.m. and the morning meal is taking on a whole new look.

The Breakfast Sandwich
Cafe Cesura 

cafe cesura breakfast sandwich

Delicious any time of day.


Proof positive that Bellevue is now an urban center, Cafe Cesura, of the soaring ceilings and minimalist embellishments and aubergine walls, looks plucked whole out of Pike/Pine. The menu is short but trenchant, focusing on the item we’ll go so far as to call the Breakfast Trend of the Decade: the breakfast sandwich. One comes with caramelized onions and Mt. Townsend Creamery New Moon cheese and rosemary; another, even better, features sweet apple-smoked bacon and plenty of good cheddar scrambled into egg on a Macrina potato roll. When eating a breakfast sandwich, the insides sometimes squirt out; Cesura makes a fine place to contemplate that nonproblem, over a cup of Stumptown and a moist housemade muffin.

And don’t miss…

Oddfellows Cafe and Bar Eggs, bacon, tomato, and provolone
Revel Kalbi burger with bacon, shallot pickle, and egg
Serafina Prosciutto, basted egg, basil, and arugula with fonduta sauce

The Crepe
Anita’s Crepes

Pancakes? So yesterday. In the last half decade Seattle’s seen a crepe revolution that’s brought the crisped-at-the-edges golden folds to nearly every sector of town. Did it begin when pastry chef Anita Ross first fired up her griddle at a farmer’s market, or when she found a cozy little space in Frelard? All we know is that her exquisite creations have both ignited a trend and exploded a genre: most of the (organic) goodies on the ham and cheese crepe—the sauteed potatoes and onions and peppers and tomatoes drizzled with creme fraiche—come lavished on top. Even better are her sweet crepes enclosing delights like butter and cinnamon sugar and topped with chantilly cream.

And don’t miss…

The Hangar Cafe Egg, Black Forest ham, swiss, cheddar, red onion, Roma tomato, and baby spinach crepe, topped with poblano-basil vinaigrette and creme fraiche
The Ridgeback Café Sausage, caramelized onion, avocado, sauteed mushroom, cheddar, spinach, and egg crepe, topped with creme fraiche and poblano sauce
Saley’s Dulce de leche crepe with cinnamon and whipped cream

The New Benedict
Stopsky’s Delicatessen

Latkes aren’t traditionally a breakfast food. And yet their hash brown–pancake hybrid status makes them a natural to work the breakfast shift. At this Mercer Island delicatessen’s weekend brunch, compact cakes of shredded potato form the base of a most memorable Benedict. Diners have several choices for the meat (or greens), but really it’s no choice at all: Get the pastrami. Stopsky’s is just one of countless Seattle breakfast spots that have modernized the hollandaise-drenched tradition by upgrading the protein, the traditional English muffin base, or both.

And don’t miss…

Boat Street Kitchen Chevre-artichoke Benedict
Hunger Short rib Benedict with truffled hollandaise
Monsoon Shrimp and pork sausage Benedict with potato pancakes and curried hollandaise
Tilikum Place Cafe Sweet potato and Dungeness crab Benedict with caramelized vegetables and herbed hollandaise

The Breakfast Pizza
Cafe Lago

The unexpected feats the pros at this Montlake Italian classic pull off in a wood oven simply beggar description: featherweight cream scones and succulent cinnamon rolls draped in vanilla cream; sunny eggs in spicy tomato sauce; and—the stunner—wood-fired breakfast pizzas topped with savories like bacon and rosemary and eggs, or (our fave) sausage, arugula, fontina, onions, and garlic, with a yolk-rich sauce. Crusts are golden and bubbled and smokily redolent of their trip through the fire, and ever-so-fine with Caffé Vita coffee. Plus the familiar ristorante with the white wainscoting and the checkerboard floor feels bright and new (and as yet undiscovered) by daylight.

And don’t miss…

Golden Beetle Oyster mushroom, fried egg, and mozzarella wood-fired breakfast pizza
Mioposto Bacon and egg breakfast pizza with Tutto Calabria chili puree, pancetta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and two sunny-side up eggs
MistralKitchen Wood-fired pizza topped with salumi, mozzarella, tomato, and a soft egg

The Duck Egg
The Coterie Room

Duck eggs, currently everywhere on Seattle’s dinner menus, are the star of the brunch menu at this decadent restaurant, sibling to gastropubs Spur and Tavern Law. Denser and more fatty than their chicken counterpart, the eggs appear here on composed discs of hash and buried beneath ribbons of baby carrots. And on a precisely plated Benedict, where the perfect orb, cooked sous vide, mingles with meticulously chopped particles of black olive. We’re still crazy for a good farm-fresh chicken egg, but it’s no longer the only bird that can deliver indulgence in the form of a runny yolk.

And don’t miss…

Stopsky’s Delicatessen Farm duck egg and lentils with charmoula sauce and seasonal greens
Tilth Corned beef sandwich with mornay, choucroute, and duck egg

The Small Plates
Ma’ono Fried Chicken and Whisky

It’s a shame the former Spring Hill’s brunch menu of small plates is only served at the restaurant’s bar. Because mixing and matching the diminutive dishes is a playful solution to the “sweet or savory” dilemma that often plagues breakfasters. Consider it the latest iteration of dim sum (still a Seattle brunch classic), but with corn dog–like sausage beignets or a cascading popover to smear with Nutella. The main brunch menu is still home to chef Mark Fuller’s more showy dishes, but the brunch bar’s small plate of whole milk curds with fennel pollen, honey-comb, and smoky toast is at once perfectly simple and unlike anything else you’ve ever eaten.

And don’t miss…

The Harvest Vine Basque tapas brunch
Monsoon Dim sum brunch 

Nook Biscuit

Not to worry, these buttermilks will be back in December.

The Biscuit

Few are the seats and mighty is the reputation of this tiny biscuit shop, so come on a weekday or get here early on weekends and prepare for a line. The reason: crusty buttermilk biscuits that are terrific simply smeared with jam and sublime when bookending a sandwich of fried egg and goat cheese. Seattle has certainly rediscovered these dense, buttery carb bombs of late. Most breakfast menus have one, but Nook is essentially a temple of biscuit worship, adorning them with artful toppings like spiced apple butter, Nutella and bananas, or an insanely sausageful gravy.

And don’t miss…

Eats Market Cafe Buttermilk biscuit sliders with scrambled eggs, cheddar, and Zoe’s applewood-smoked bacon
Serious Biscuit Homemade ham, egg, Beecher’s cheddar, and apple mustard

The Hearty Veggie Plate


Veggiephiles and vegans rejoice! This unassuming Rainier Valley kitchen produces hearty plant-celebratory breakfasts that staunch meat lovers find sublime. The gravy adorning breakfast biscuits is seasoned with the same paprika and chilies used to flavor chorizo; the results have more heft than most meaty versions. Braised kale retaining a whisper of crispness helps atone for the richness of the biscuits and confirms that, in a just world, this green would be a breakfast staple. Even the maple walnut bread pudding feels slightly more virtuous here. Chefs across the city are finding increasingly delicious ways to go meatless (and eggless) in the morning, coaxing stellar amounts of flavor from herbivore standbys like tempeh, greens, and fruit.

And don’t miss…

Bang Bang Cafe Veggie “sausage” burrito with red and green Hatch chili sauce
Cafe Flora Hoppin’ John fritters with cayenne aioli, roasted red peppers, corn–lima bean succotash, smoky collard greens, and cheesy grits
50 North Scrambled cage-free eggs, roasted veggies, tofu, cheddar cheese, and a parsley-oil drizzle with potatoes
Fonté Cafe and Wine Bar Vegan tofu hash with potatoes, yams, herbs, and pepitas

The Unusual Grain
Sitka and Spruce

Besotted as he is by all things Middle Eastern, sunny Sitka and Spruce’s marquee chef and owner Matt Dillon makes generous use of that region’s ancient grains—buckwheat groats, emmer, rye berries. By morning you might see a dish of lush housemade yogurt on toasted quinoa, topped with pomegranate molasses and fresh oranges and warmed dates, and served with a crunchy complement of sunflower, fennel, and poppy seeds. Other houses might mix the grains into pancakes or waffles or even fries (then top them with sauce—right Emmer and Rye?), but Dillon’s approach at Sitka mystically transcends, as ever, the sum of its parts.

And don’t miss…

Brave Horse Tavern Quinoa hot cereal with brown sugar, cinnamon, dried fruit, and pistachios
Emmer and Rye Farro fries with poached eggs, wild mushrooms, and hollandaise
50 North Buckwheat-quinoa-polenta pancakes with maple syrup

The Grits Plate
Toulouse Petit


Till Toulouse bestowed its N’awlins brand of mosaic-and-wrought-iron loveliness upon Seattle, we hadn’t yet woken up to the perfection of shrimp and grits in the morning. And perfection is not too strong a descriptor for the dish called Creole crawfish, shrimp, and andouille with eggs. Yep, grits are there, creamy and Parmesan-rich, along with shrimp and crawdads and andouille sausage in a miraculous complexity of Creole fire (thank you, Crystal Cayenne Sauce), all gilded with egg yolk in a cast-iron skillet. Damn, it’s good. (Come on a weekday for breakfast happy hour and it’s also half price.)

And don’t miss…

Brave Horse Tavern Creamy cheddar grits with poached eggs and bacon crispies
Terra Plata Pencil Cob grits with sauteed winter greens, cheese, and a poached egg

The Runny Yolk

The Harvest Vine

Just as it does for dreams of lazy Spanish evenings, Harvest Vine fulfills Seattle’s longing for a ray of Basque sunshine at daybreak. Consider the pato confitado: a layered dish of sliced potato and onion, generously topped with musky shreds of duck confit dripping thickly with the rich yolk of a perfectly poached egg. (Ask any chef: The hardest job in the restaurant biz is poaching an egg.) There’s nothing outlandish or nouveau about such a creation; dripping egg yolks are as timeless as health-department-mandated warnings against them. They are, however, everywhere; now gilding every great breakfast advance from wood-fired pizzas to biscuit sandwiches.

And don’t miss…

MistralKitchen Sixty-four-degree egg with mushroom confit and carrot puree
Sitka and Spruce Ful medames with fried peppers, harissa, and egg

The Hash
Brave Horse Tavern

brave horse tavern

It’s Tom Douglas’s most “everyman” property—a dark, brick-lined upstairs tav with a pool hall vibe and the game on TV. Don’t let the all-Sunday-happy-hour aesthetic fool you, however; the weekend brunches please foodies and footballers alike. Take the hash: a dish that’s typical of the New Breakfast genre, but which here is achieved with big moist chunks of smoky brisket all griddled up with peppers and onions and satisfying potatoes, along with plenty of the crispy bits a smoked brisket will shed when cooked with suitable patience, and a royal crown of eggs sunny-side up. Oh, this is good eatin’.

And don’t miss…

Emmer and Rye House-cured corned beef hash with new potatoes, sweet onions, and hollandaise
Hunger Housemade corned beef hash with poached eggs and red wine demi-glace
The Publican Brussels sprouts, parsnip, and rutabaga hash topped with horseradish creme fraiche
Terra Plata Winter hash with fried herbs and poached egg

The Sea Creature

From brandade to oysters to gravlax, fish and shellfish are showing up with increasing frequency across morning menus. But no one puts the sea in Seattle breakfast quite like Lola, Tom Douglas’s downtown homage to the cuisines of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. Exhibit A: Tom’s Big Breakfast, a hash of rotating seasonal ingredients that might include white beans and caramelly cauliflower and chewy bacon over chive yogurt and crowned with a sunny egg—but which always stars grilled Pacific octopus, in bite-size bits, charry yet tender, and extraordinarily flavorful. Where to bring the out-of-towners.

And don’t miss…

Bastille Pacific cod brandade with fried egg and arugula salad
Cafe Nola Smoked salmon latkes with lemon creme fraiche, poached eggs, black pepper truffle oil, and caviar
Ma’ono Crispy fried Pacific oyster, bacon, roasted pepper, and egg

The Chicken and Waffle
The Publican

Geographically, few places in the mainland United States are farther removed from Southern food than Seattle. But wow, do we appreciate a good hunk of well-fried chicken. Set that chicken on a waffle, add maple syrup, and it’s socially acceptable to eat this rich combination for breakfast. Purists might object to the fact that the Publican, Tangletown’s new sibling to Brouwer’s Cafe, uses boneless chicken. But finally—an easier way to get that crisply fried meat and soft, bacon-studded waffle on the fork at the same time. We’re guessing those same purists won’t have an issue with the generous pour of gravy that finishes off the plate.

And don’t miss…

Local 360 Fried chicken and waffle with maple syrup
Skillet Diner Fried chicken thigh with cornmeal waffle and eggs

The Brioche French Toast
Volunteer Park Cafe and Marketplace


The Seattle area has its impossibly crisp French toast (Geraldine’s Counter soaks the bread overnight), its challah bread French toast (Cafe Nola’s caramel pecan version, thrust to fame on the Food Network)—and now, in versions aplenty, its brioche French toast, a breakfast sensation so wickedly rich it needs an offshore bank account. We’re pretty sure we’d love the sunny community breakfast nook that is Volunteer Park Cafe even without its caramelized-banana brioche French toast—two thick slices, stuffed with vanilla bean–ricotta custard, topped with caramelized bananas crisp with cinnamon sugar, and dusted with toasted pecans. We just wouldn’t love it quite so loudly.

And don’t miss…

Cafe Campagne Brioche French toast fried in bourbon egg batter with maple syrup
Cafe Nola Caramel pecan French toast with maple syrup, orange bourbon butter, and bacon
Geraldine’s Counter Brioche French toast with blueberry compote and creme fraiche
Macrina Bakery and Cafe Thick-cut brioche French toast with blueberry–Earl Grey compote, vanilla-sugar whipped cream, and toasted pecans
35th Street Bistro Brioche French toast with mascarpone cream, housemade jam, and maple syrup

The Porridge

No Dickensian gruel, this, but the city’s most ethereal version of congee—the rice porridge popular across Asia and Seattle’s International District. Where but Revel would top the bowl of warmth with such revelry? Productions vary by season but typically include a savory—think mushroom, bacon, kale, and red curry—and a sweet—a squash of some sort perhaps, with brown sugar and rummy raisins. Another sweet variant, enjoyed of a recent wintry morning-after, was a pumpkin porridge topped with streusel of sweetened pine nuts and papery slices of that candy of vegetables, delicata squash. In this clattering house of culinary artistry every flavorful nuance is intentional and harmonious, rendering hangovers but one of the conditions cured.

And don’t miss…

Dahlia Lounge Coconut congee with jasmine rice, grilled prawns, poached egg, Chinese doughnut, and pickles
Monsoon Dungeness crab congee with egg yolk, cilantro, and crispy garlic

The Gravy Pour
Meander’s Kitchen

Biscuits and gravy are having a moment on breakfast menus, but why confine good gravy to just one dish? This year-old West Seattle diner, with its ramshackle interior and killer comfort food, ladles perfectly peppery gravy over hash browns and tops it with eggs in a dish aptly named “The Hangover.” Slabs of country ham come covered in red-eye gravy, while vegetarians won’t stop raving about the meatless version. But really, the basic gravy is some of the best in the city. Let that information be your guide when perusing Meander’s enormous menu. And bring cash.

And don’t miss…

Grace Kitchen Montreal-style poutine with mozzarella cheese curds and sausage gravy
MistralKitchen Polenta with soft egg and sage gravy
Nook For $1.50, top any sandwich at this joint with a slathering of sausage or vegetarian butternut squash gravy
Terra Plata Manchego biscuits with chorizo gravy and chicharrónes



Special Thanks to Seattle Met Magazine


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