We already know that the first meal of the day is the most important, so shouldn't it be the most exciting as well? From beautifully plated Japanese ichiju-sansai to fancy funnel cake, check out these 10 nontraditional breakfast dishes being served up around town.
Breakfast Burrata: Dante
Why no one else offers burrata for breakfast is beyond us, but we’re glad this charming Greenwich Village Italian spot has taken up the cause. You have chef Rachael Polhill to thank for Dante’s version, which sprinkles sea salt on the creamy mozzarella orb and serves it alongside fresh honeycomb and hearty spelt bread. Wash it down with the heady “All Day Bloody Mary,” a mix of Aylesbury Duck vodka, cold-pressed vegetables, fennel salt and pickles.
79-81 MacDougal St.; 212-982-5275
Funnel Cake: Delaware and Hudson
We bring good news: You no longer need to schlep out of town for kitschy state fair treats. Williamsburg’s Delaware and Hudson has put a gourmet spin on funnel cake — made with sweet, pillowy, deep-fried dough, it’s topped with seasonal berries, sage breakfast sausage, maple syrup and powdered sugar. Although originally added to the brunch menu as a waffle alternative, it’s now so popular that diners can also order it as a side or dessert after lunch.
135 N. 5th St.; 718-218-8191
Kaiserschmarren: Edi & The Wolf
Round pancakes are so last year. Branch out with chef Eduard Frauneder’s traditional (and addictive) Austrian version of Kaiserschmarren: crumbled, caramelized pancake bits served with a seasonal apricot fruit compote and dusted with powdered sugar. The treat is named for Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I, who was very fond of the dish, perhaps to a fault; the name translates to "emperor's mess" in German.
102 Ave. C; 212-598-1040
Waffle Croque-Madame: Loosie's Kitchen
It's hard to improve upon the perfection that is a traditional croque madame; after all, it doesn't get much better than fried egg, béchamel and ham. But — French food purists hold on to your berets — what about adding waffles? Loosie's Kitchen executive chef Olivier Palazzo is especially fond of this French breakfast sandwich and even more fond of creating quirky dishes. By swapping out bread for crispy waffles, he adds a sweet note to what is otherwise a straightforward rich and savory dish. No one will judge you if you order more than one.
Cacio e Pepe Eggs: Maialino
Cacio e pepe is certainly having a moment this year, but not every version has pasta as a prerequisite. At Danny Meyer's beloved Maialino, the comfort food is transformed into the ultimate breakfast dish when paired with soft scrambled eggs. And this isn't your ordinary scramble: These eggs are so moist that they're eaten with a spoon out of a bowl. The addition of piquant pepper and a salty shower of cheese will make you wonder why you haven't always ordered your breakfast this way. Don't forget to scoop up any last bits with the crispy flatbread.
2 Lexington Ave.; 212-777-2410
Jamaican Breakfast: Miss Lily's
At brunch, Miss Lily's serves an excellent rendition of ackee and saltfish, which, to the uninitiated, is Jamaica's national dish. It's made up of a fruit similar to lychee and paired with salted cod. Served alongside are the traditional foods of festivals, including an addictive fried cornbread, callaloo (a dark leafy green) and sweet fried plantains.
132 W. Houston St.; 212-812-1482
Chinese-Style Congee Porridge: OatMeals
This is no regular congee — at this tiny Greenwich Village storefront, the base is made not from rice, but oatmeal. Placed on top of the warm porridge are a poached egg, scallions, sesame oil, soy sauce and furikake seasoning for a quirky East-meets-West mash-up. The resulting dish is warm, salty and intensely comforting. OatMeals, which bills itself as the world's first oatmeal bar, offers sweet concoctions as well, like the popular Elvis, made up of peanut butter, banana, bacon, honey and sea salt.
120 W. 3rd St.; 646-360-3570
At this multifaceted Williamsburg restaurant (it becomes noodle temple Yuji Ramen in the evenings), fans line up during breakfast hours for a taste of washoku, or traditional homestyle Japanese cooking. Okonomi specializes in ichiju-sansai, which translates to "one soup, three dishes," and this version includes everything from roasted tuna belly to miso soup to brown rice. While some ingredients may be unfamiliar to diners, there's one element that's found in more traditional American breakfasts: egg. Here, it's in the form of tamagoyaki, a Japanese omelet made from layers of rolled egg.
150 Ainslie St.; 718-302-0598
Cinnamon Toast Crunch–Crusted French Toast: Queens Comfort
Sometimes French toast just isn't sweet enough. Sometimes you need it coated in one of childhood's most memorable cereals. When that's the case, head to Astoria, where the kooky brunch menu at Queens Comfort can satisfy even the most hardcore sugar fiends. Case in point: The Cinnamon Toast Crunch–crusted toast is stuffed with creamy, oozy mascarpone cheese and sweet, plump blueberries. The more traditional accompaniments of maple syrup and a knob of butter are also on hand to complete the dish. Go big or go home, right?
4009 30th Ave.; 718-728-2350
Pretzel Bomb: Union Fare
Hardly anyone in this city has time to sit down for breakfast, but that doesn't mean your grab-and-go meal has to consist of a dry, coffee-truck Danish. At this new Union Square multihyphenate (restaurant, bar, gastrohall), they're elevating the humble breakfast pastry to impressive new heights. Get there early to grab a pretzel bomb, a soft-baked pretzel stuffed with warm egg, gooey cheese and salty bacon. If you still have room, try one of the buzzed-about croissants, which come in flavors like birthday cake and red velvet.
7 E. 17th St.; 212-633-6003