The Best Breakfast Spots in Atlanta
The first meal of the day doesn’t just break your fast. It also breaks open your day to a delicious burst of tasty possibilities and positive energies. And sometimes it even breaks through the massive hangover that could endanger your job security and general ability to function as a citizen of our fair city. If all you need is something to “soak up the poison,” you can go plenty of places to find a good biscuit in ATL. However, if you want the best edible start to your best day ever, here are the restaurants you need to hit.
This biscuit -- the Comfy Chicken Biscuit -- is as close to being made completely out of butter as is scientifically possible. On top is a locally farmed piece of fried chicken that's gleefully drowning in sausage gravy. Pro tip: Snag a spot at the counter for frequent coffee refills.
The one dish you're here for the French Toast made with challah... which is first egged and then fried. Their honey-enriched ricotta cheese and whatever fresh, seasonal fruit they have on hand are almost too pretty to eat. But real beauty is on the inside, where it belongs.
Don’t let the local-sourcing and veggie-consciousness make you think they don’t roll rich and delicious. They soak their buttermilk, buckwheat, and even gluten-free pancakes in their strawberry-rhubarb sauce, whipped cream, and top them with seasonal-appropriate fruit. If that last clause wasn't clear enough: order the pancakes.
Ms. Pell’s legacy is found in the buttermilk pancakes (with toasted Georgia pecans, caramelized bananas, and chocolate chips). If you're a pancake lover, you need to know Ria's.
Here's what to do here... walk in, sit down, and order the Southern Breakfast: Two battered and fried pork chops, two eggs, grits, gravy, and a biscuit. There is a reason that every star from Eastwood to Ferrell eats here. Good food and good people.
The delicious, fried puff is sliced down the middle, slathered with a fresh strawberry cream, and piled with fresh strawberries on top of that. Oh, it’s dusted with powdered sugar, too. If you want something a little less delicate, eating one of Chef Kamal Grant stuffed donut sandwiches in the morning will show the boss who the real player in the office is.
Smoked bacon, pimento cheese, and red pepper jelly are always on the menu. But keep on eye on the specials board because the fried chicken biscuit pops up regularly, and the pancake specialties are worth the wait outside their white deck.
This Tex-Mex brunch spot isn’t trying to impress you with anything but food... and maybe its impressive “mural” of cat photos. Both dominate, but the meal is what you’re here for, so get the Senior Sparky (a Thai-spiced scramble made with SIX eggs), the Felix omelette with Benton’s 18-month country ham and basil (try it or any other omelette as a quesadilla and your mind will explode with happiness). There’s also “Paris” French toast and two pancake types: sweet potato and vanilla buttermilk. It’s the fat cat’s meow.
OFW (& other locations)
This is BYO breakfast joint. You’re the architect, and your tools should include a few eggs (with cheese), grits (with cheese), two slices of ham, a pecan pancake, and a Belgian waffle (with pecans). You can throw in some fried catfish, too, if you’re a real Southern gentleman.
You can’t miss this Elizabeth Street French café -- look for the green and yellow bistro containing all the shiny happy people. Beginning at 7:30am, they ship out omelettes du jour, avocado toast, soft scrambled eggs and cold-smoked trout, quiche, pancakes, a steak and eggs plate with mixed greens if you’re ‘bout that life, and a daily patisserie selection. It’s also important to know that B&B came to us from the Cakes & Ale and PROOF Bakeshop team, so you don’t need the latter to know you need to eat your first meal here.
Old Fourth Ward
When you’re eating at Condesa you have a similar view of the iconic ATL highway shot from The Walking Dead, but that doesn’t make you a brain-chewing zombie. It makes you cosmopolitan and sensible, since you can have their excellent java in the morning along with a Nutella H&F Bread Co. croissant, an “adult grilled cheese” (goat and buffalo mozzarella on pain au levain, which is French for “sourdough” and therefore not painful at all), and various toasts like lox and cucumber with marinated onions and lemon ricotta, prosciutto with honey and cracked black pepper, and a version of s’mores on toasted brioche. Oh, they also have really good cocktails once you’ve responsibly eaten your breakfast and had coffee.
From 7:30 to 11am on weekday mornings you’ll catch all sorts of starter foods they consider simple but are actually kinda fancy, since they serve breakfast appetizers like sweet potato beignets and fried, pancake batter-dipped bacon. Follow that up with sweet potato waffles with fried chicken and whiskey peach compote, and it just keeps going with pork chili hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, and so on. They also make great Bloodies. It’s worth any wait you endure, folks.
Open at 8am daily, this periwinkle blue, French-meets-Southern comfort food shop gets you going with Savannah-based PERC coffee, then slows you back down again with yummies like croque monsieur ham & cheese sandwiches topped with Gruyère on sprouted grain bread, chicken liver mousse with Pink Lady apples, house preserves and local radishes, fresh biscuits with Boursin and chicken sausage, and the Cabbagetown Breakfast Bowl: a heap of grits topped with a poached egg, tomato concasse (peeled/seeded/chopped), Tillamook Farms Cheddar, sausage, ham, or bacon, and dressed arugula, which always looks fresh. Got 'em! That was a fresh joke, right?
Old Fourth Ward
There is no better place in the world for bike lovers to breakfast. Starting with its own special blend of ATL’s Radio Roasters coffee, C+V is like a French café for fixie heads, with “crandwiches” (croissant sandwiches) like the Nutella/strawberry “Stella” and the egg/bacon/Cheddar “Penny Farthing.” The eats are legit, but you’ll also love the courtyard and rooftop deck, special events like movie screenings and community yoga, bike rental programs, and a bocce court.
K-wood residents will fight you over this all-day breakfast market, where you can have custom egg sandwiches on a variety of fresh breads (flour tortilla, croissant, English muffin, Parmesan biscuit) with Delia Champion’s chicken sausage and a marinated pepper medley, or with a few other customizations. Between that and salmon croquettes, French toast bacon sandwiches, grits stacks, street tacos, or oatmeal with almond pralines, you may walk in Le Petit, but you won’t walk out that way.
“Devo ate here!” is one of the few things JJ puts out there to the world on social media (they don’t even have a website), but the husband-and-wife owners do dispense some consistently great morning stuffing from their wonderfully quirky Ponce diner, which could pass for your uncle’s renovated basement after blowing his lottery winnings on a yard sale. Aside from famously having some of the city’s best no-frills coffee, they’re known for big fluffy biscuits, buttermilk pancake short stacks, Georgia pecan mixed waffles, and egg dishes ranging from the Santa Fe scramble with spicy chorizo to the Double Bullseye with its over-easy egg in the center of a grilled bread slice.
Fill their fluffy eggs with whatever your heart desires: pecan-smoked bacon, ham, sausage, roast turkey, and a half dozen cheeses are appropriate choices. Keep your eyes on the specials though, because ingredients like crab and arugula find their way on there on a regular basis.
Richard Thomas passed away in January, but the octogenarian’s life was as full as our plates of his notoriously healthy 24-hour breakfast. Before the parrots showed up outside the large pink and green awnings on the north side of Peachtree, R learned a thing or two in his role as KFC’s president of operations, then as the founder of the chain that became -- yes -- Bojangles. Though he’s gone, his family still runs the joint and you can still enjoy free-range chicken omelettes with organic eggs, a bowl of red potato corn chowder “breakfast stew” with quinoa, dulse, and shredded nori, or sundried tomato breakfast quesadilla. They all go great with those astrological magazines free on the stands near the door. RIP RT.
Honorable mention: Waffle House
You don't need us to tell you about the Waffle House, but ever since the first location opened in Avondale, the hash browns have been the king of breakfast in Atlanta. Anyone who’s spent more than two 2ams at WH knows you smother, cover, and top them with onions, cheese, and chili. Peppers, tomatoes, ham, and mushrooms are all cherries on your fried potato sundae.
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Mike Jordan is an Atlanta-based breakfast-eater and hashbrowns critic who says it’s perfectly fine to have a morning cocktail if you’re grown. Send tweets to @michaelbjordan or find his Instagram account if you’re an ATLien of true grits.