13 Regional Breakfast Chains That Should Be Everywhere
We're all about lining up for artisan eggs (like regular eggs, but with goat butter!) at the hip restaurant down the street, but that doesn't mean we should overlook the great regional chains that fry up consistency in multiple locations on the regular.
Egg-centric restaurants ranging from 100-location behemoths to upstart chains-in-the-making are frying up eye-opening takes on AM favorites, and no matter how much you love your neighborhood diner, no part of the country should be deprived of kolaches, Cuban pastries, and even better neighborhood diners. Here are 13 such regional breakfast concepts that deserve to open on a corner near you.
Where it is: North Carolina and Virginia
Why you need it: There are many things that make Biscuitville among our favorite Southern chains, from the succulent fried chicken to the big ol' breakfast platters. But the real draw is the waffles. Wait, no, that's not the draw (though they DID just introduce waffle sandwiches). It's the buttermilk biscuits, which are cranked out every 15 minutes and stuffed with Souther staples like pimento cheese, fried chicken, pork chops, and other deliciousness that will make even the most hardened visiting New Yorker a reason to second-guess their beloved BEC bagels.
Where it is: California, Florida, and Massachusetts
Why you need it: It can be hard to find a decent bagel outside of doughy meccas like New York and Montreal. BWBC takes ridiculous measures to emulate the characteristics of Brooklyn water with a 14-step filtration process, and if you need more than just a smear of cream cheese it's also mastered the time-tested art of the bacon, egg, and cheese and Nova Scotia cream cheese.
Where it is: California, Arizona, and Nevada
Why you need it: Any time of the day is a good time for pie. This West Coast bakery makes a fantastic AM dessert that frankly pairs beautifully with a robust menu that includes staples like raspberry-stuffed brioche French toast and the green chiles-laden Santa Fe Quiche, which is also technically a pie. Which is to say, this is a place where you can, and should, pair your pie with more pie.
Where it is: Illinois, Wisconsin, and Georgia
Why you need it: Adorable small-town, country-cafe vibes don't come easy, but Egg Harbor has them in neighborly spades. If breakfast chains are measured by their potatoes, the perfectly brown cubed Harbor Potatoes make EHC a welcome addition to any city. And unique touches like poppyseed dressing on its Popeye Crepes make the menu stand out from the barrage of other brunch spots. Bonus points for summer specials like fried green tomato Benedict.
Where it is: The Southeast, Southwest, and Midwest
Why you need it: Every chain should have its initials ironed into its waffles, and HH has been emblazoning its secret recipe waffs for over 50 years. Stuffed hash browns and extra-fluffy omelets are beloved staples, but despite the chain's legacy status, it keeps current with recent innovations like wafflewiches and BBQ-influenced smoked sausages and pulled pork. It prides itself on a Southern come-as-you-are vibe, which everyone needs more of in their lives.
Where it is: Texas
Why you need it: Nothing says "wake up" like a chicken-fried steak, a tricky item that seems to be on every respectable breakfast menu, but seldom lives up to expectations. Those expectations are more than met at Jim's, whose logo is an extremely satisfied-looking cowboy, and thus the menu steers toward steer-wrangling fare like eggs paired with pork chops, chopped steak, and chili. And don't discount the border-busting plates like migas and huevos rancheros. But get that chicken-fried steak and two fried eggs if you feel like truly living... not for very long, but still.
Where it is: Texas, California, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Virginia
Why you need it: The pastry of choice for long Texas road trips, this Czech staple is a doughy double-threat, hitting all points of the savory/sweet spectrum. The breading is versatile enough to handle almost any stuffing, the bite-sized nature means you can crush several in one sitting, and their freezability makes cross-country evangelism almost too easy. Get two: one sweet, one savory. Given that the Factory is expanding rapidly, get them increasingly often.
Where it is: A scattering of 15 states spanning the Heartland, Southwest, Deep South, and Idaho
Why you need it: You can never have too many solid diner concepts. Le Peep succeeds in offering a ton of variety on the menu, from lighter alternatives like egg-white omelets to richness such as rock lobster scrambles and seldom-seen regional specialties like breakfast tacos. Considering it's got a footprint in 15 states, that makes it something of a culinary ambassador, one where crepes, chicken-fried steak, Benedicts, and breakfast enchiladas come together for the common goal of making you fall asleep by noon.
Where it is: Metro Detroit, Michigan
Why you need it: In Michigan, a coney island has nothing to do with New York. It's shorthand for a Greek diner, and this chain has become beloved for its chili-covered hot dogs, its trademark hani -- basically what would happen if chicken tenders, a club sandwich, and a gyro had a baby -- and its all-day breakfast. The 24-hour breakfast offerings here include a simple roster of scrambles, plus thick-cut stuffed French toast, feta-crammed breakfast burritos, and a massive, three-egg breakfast platter that comes with bacon, sausage, ham, and hash browns perfect for curing a hangover at 2am or 2pm. Even better, this is a rare chain where you can pair a plate of pancakes with a Detroit coney dog. Which you should, as often as is medically permissible.
Where it is: Oregon
Why you need it: Everyone needs a little family-run cafe in their lives, and Pig 'N Pancake has been at it since 1961. Everyone also needs kielbasas, pigs wrapped in pancakes, and razor clams -- an Oregon coast favorite -- alongside their eggs and pigs in a blanket. For folks who have spent time on the Oregon coast, this place brings back the kind of nostalgia usually reserved for quoting The Goonies at inopportune times.
Where it is: Southern California
Why you need it: Despite the proliferation of American diner concepts and donut chains, there's a severe lack of diversity on the national pastry landscape. We as a nation need Porto's. For now, though, it's a rare chainlet that's also a destination, a place where ground beef-stuffed potato balls, guava and cheese pastries, and Cuban toast hold their own against the area's best old-school diners. Should it ever expand outside of its native California (the owner says unlikely), it'd surely be greeted with open arms.
Where it is: Colorado, California, Arizona, and Texas
Why you need it: Snooze levels up traditional breakfast staples with guilt-free eggs, artisan meats like barbacoa and corned beef, and spiked sauces like green chile hollandaise and rosemary sausage gravy. Basically, it's like somebody took that ultra-fancy brunch spot you always see your friend waiting in line for on Insta, scaled it, dialed back attitude, and rolled it out in chain form. You can't go wrong, but the most right you can be involves ordering a pancake flight with pineapple upside downs, sweet potato buttermilk, and blueberry danish. Or chilaquiles Benedict.
Where it is: East Coast
Why you need it: Gas station food gets a bad rap, but Wawa breaks the sad heat-lamp mold. There are hundreds of these along the coast, and it's only a matter of time before its breakfast hoagie-slinging tentacles reach west of Virginia. There's a reason that East Coasters lose their shit over this place on the regular, and it's not because they just love ordering a drink while talking like a baby.
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Dan Gentile regularly skipped class during high school to go to Jim's. Follow him to reliving past glories at @Dannosphere.