What’s the best thing about the gig economy and the death of rigid office hours? It could be the rise of breakfast. We used to celebrate the morning meal mainly on weekends. But now we find eggs all day, coffee shops that stock real pastries, and brunch on the Tuesday menu. Counter sitting—a staple of dining culture two or three generations ago—has come back, though the leisurely brunch lives on: We’re still burrowing into a comfy booth for three hours of cakes and eggs (and bloodies) on a Sunday Funday. So wake up: There’s never been a better time for breakfast in the Twin Cities.
The perfect shot never eludes you, even at the first light of the day. The higher the pancake stack, the closer you stand to the gods of Instagram! But once you’ve posted the shot, you’re digging into the scene with fork and knife.
A selfie with a slice of Diane Moua’s crepe cake is like grabbing a snap with Chrissy Teigen. Sexy layers of delicate crepe float on top of vanilla Chantilly cream to form a cake that means business. While you’re there, why not order the Dirty French Burger to prove you’re more than some pretty pastry? Brunch Sa–Su 10 a.m.–2 p.m., 739 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-444-5200, bellecourrestaurant.com
The perfect brunch for your crew often involves some strategic mixing and matching. We can’t all order the pancakes, Karen. Here’s where the bundle comes in: For $25, you get to pick one sweet pastry, one brunch entrée, a bottomless coffee, and a bloody or mimosa. That means everyone is ending up with a lot of plates. A fried-chicken-topped Polenta Breakfast, a stunning Monte Cristo, that Pretty Yogurt, and maybe even a Cheesecake Sammy can all land on your table without breaking the bank. Brunch Sa–Su 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 2640 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-2640, thelynhall.com
Perusing the healthy bounty at the farmers’ market is a lot of work. You probably should fortify yourself with an early morning breakfast burrito bomb. The Quince booth foil-wraps a torpedo of egg, sausage, cheese, hash browns, and bacon jam. Don’t sleep in: You’ll see 40-minute waits for these winners, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Breakfast Sa–Su, May–Oct, 7 am–1 pm, 200 E. Lyndale Ave. N., Mpls., 651-323-8117, facebook.com/quincemplsmkt
»Fried Chicken and Pancakes
Let’s shake it up a bit, shall we? Why do waffles get all the fried-chicken play? This St. Paul seafood shack has rejiggered the classic. A shatteringly crisp hunk of fried bird sits atop a plate-sized sweetcorn pancake next to a sunny fried egg. The whole lovely mess gets a drizzle of brown-butter coconut syrup and jalapeño slices. Is eating this thing a meal or a mission? Brunch Sa–Su 10 a.m.–3 p.m., 1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-348-8541, grandcatchmn.com
Rise Bagel Co.
The stacked-bagel photo makes for an iconic morning post. But whatever lands in the middle—lox, scallion cream cheese, melty Havarti, sausage (pork or vegan)—it’s the bookends that really make the statement. These bagels have a toothiness that can stand up to the big toppings. But they’re tender enough to chew through when you shovel half the stack into your face. Breakfast daily, 530 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-354-3349, risebagel.com
Your dreams end when you fall into the dark center of a donut hole. You use waffles as an infusion system for maple syrup, and you chug mimosas. Hey, you need some sugar in your bloodstream before you chase it with a half-caf orange caramel mocha latte.
Rose Street Cafe
Forget those soggy, flabby french toast blobs from your past. Star pastry chef John Kraus turns his dish into a serious block of pastry. Think soft layers of laminated brioche, decked with fresh fruits and drizzled with local maple syrup. Breakfast Tu–Su, 882 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-556-4487, rosestreet.co
What on earth is a pizza place doing in the sweet section? This joint already bucks the conventional wisdom of “pizza = round” by offering Detroit-style pizzas in rectangular oil pans. During weekend brunch, Wrecktangle pours waffle batter into rectangular irons and bakes it into a slab. In the Leslie Knope tradition from Parks & Rec, whipped cream goes on top. A lot of whipped cream. Like, a lot. Brunch Sa–Su, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
»Brown-butter Glazed Donut
Sure, you can cut another half from the last half donut left in the office box. That’s soooo Minnesotan. But a killer donut should be inhaled in one twitchy move. That’s what will happen with the sourdough beauties from this pop-up market shop. Keep your pink-frosted junk. We’ll hoard these fried-until-craggy brown-butter bombs, which crack open to reveal a lacy, almost eggy crumb. March 14, Neighborhood Roots Winter Market; Summer Saturdays, Midtown Farmers Market, various popups, bakeryboxmpls.com
Sometimes you know ahead of time that you will need more syrup than what you’re going to find in the bottle on the table. That’s what happens when you meet face to face with the plate-covering pancake at Keys Café. While it reads like it’ll weigh as much as a manhole cover, this cake manages an almost buoyant springiness. Better tack it to the plate with more syrup. Breakfast daily at all locations, Nine locations, keyscafe.com
Isles Bun & Coffee
There’s no place else like this itty-bitty bakery. Inside, icing perfumes the air and the windows fog from the furious baking that happens right in front of waiting customers. Really, right in front: We’ve seen walk-in closets with more square footage. Since 1993, Isles Bun has been turning out warm trays of massive doughy cinnamon buns, caramel pecan buns, twisty puppy dog tails, scones, and coffeecake. It’s homey stuff that will win any morning meeting at the office. Breakfast daily, 1424 W. 28th St., Mpls., 612-870-4466, islesbun.com
All you need is one more drag of black coffee before the hash browns arrive. You’re not here for the caramel roll starters or the Champagne anythings. Just a briskly delivered plate overflowing with sausage, eggs, cakes, potatoes, toast, bacon, cheese, and maybe an orange slice. Which you’ll allow.
You’ve driven by the tiny house–like building on West 36th Street a hundred times and wondered what Our Kitchen might be about. Well, you’ve been missing one of the best hash brown counters in the Cities. True, you might have to wait for one of the 19 seats. But order the kitchen special and you’ll be graced with crunchy bacon, sunny eggs, thick sausage patties, and hashed potatoes that are crisp on the edges and buttery soft in the middle. Breakfast daily, 813 W. 36th St., Mpls., 612-825-3718
»America’s Favorite All-Day Meal
Usually around 2 am on a cold night, the new generation stumbles in and “discovers” Mickey’s. And so another generation finds the surest all-day meal in town: farm-fresh eggs fried in butter, a choice of meat (go with the 4-ounce choice New York strip), buttered toast and jelly, plus hash browns. Eventually, we all learn to upgrade to the O’Brians (potatoes with peppers and onions)—at which point, you’ve become a regular. Breakfast 24/7/365, 36 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-698-0259, mickeysdiningcar.com
The Band Box is the oldest operating diner in Minneapolis, the OG of a local chain that began in 1939. (The other outlets have all disappeared.) And yet you may have missed it all this time: The Band Box abides in a part of downtown that doesn’t see a ton of action. Which suits this place just great. Burger fiends treat this place like a secret haunt. They’re here for the flavor imparted by that onion-cured griddle top. But morning warriors order the BRO omelet with chopped beef, peppers, onions, and cheddar. Breakfast daily, 729 S. 10th St., Mpls., 612-332-0850, facebook.com/bandboxeats
»Poached Eggs on Corned Beef Hash
Al’s is a rite of passage. The first time you venture into this slip of a joint near the U of M, you won’t know what to do or where to stand. But pay attention and the rules and rituals will reveal themselves to you: where to stand on the wall, when to scoot down, when to claim one of the coveted 14 stools. Order pancakes or eggs or poached eggs on corned beef hash with a side of hollandaise to make it like a Bennie. The world at Al’s doesn’t change much, but it does allow some innovation every two or three decades. Breakfast daily, cash only, 413 14th Ave. SE, Mpls., 612-331-9991, alsbreakfastmpls.com
Sitting tidily on Central Ave., this neon-topped diner has boasted 14 stools, one counter, and no bathroom since 1949. It’s the perfect spot to escape and enjoy a solo meal that you’d rather not have to explain to or share with anyone. Battered and craggy chicken-fried steak with two runny eggs and hash browns is that meal. No point in bringing friends: There’s no room. Breakfast daily, 1314 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-789-7630, idealdiner.com
You wake up thinking about bacon and eggs. The idea that some humans eat smoked fish and fermented vegetables every morning seems thrilling to you. It’s not that you wouldn’t swipe a finger through the frosting on your tablemate’s cinnamon roll. But first, your hash browns require hot sauce and your eggs a lick of harissa.
»Breakfast Fried Rice
Bringing fried rice into the breakfast space is nothing short of genius. Imagine this dish appearing in front of you on a sleepy-headed Monday morning: a steaming bowl of jasmine rice, fragrant with breakfast sausage and bacon, mixed through with scrambled eggs and topped with a generous pile of sesame kale. If that doesn’t pop your eyes open, consider the king crab toast with avocado for weekend brunch. Daily breakfast, Sa–Su brunch 8 am–3 pm, 515 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-800-6033, noloskitchen.com
»Omelette Banh Mi
Our favorite kitchen-sink sandwich gets up early for breakfast. Chef-owner Christina Nguyen takes a crusty baguette and spreads it with pâté before jamming it full of caramelized pork, pickled veg, and jalapeños, then drapes it in a robe of omelet. Someone else at the table should get the Thai fried chicken and biscuit or the pho-spiced corned beef Benedict. Brunch Sa–Su 10 am–3 pm, 2121 University Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-223-8640, haihaimpls.com
Dutch babies are those puffed and fluted oven pancakes that you may remember from Grandma’s house—or from a national restaurant chain (Pannekoeken Huis!). But they’ve been in short supply on brunch menus for the past few years—or decades. Thomas Boemer brings them back in smaller skillet form, expertly adorned with salty ham, Gruyère cheese, and the perfect soft egg. Or order it with a handful of smoky mushrooms, onion jam, and goat cheese fonduta. You know, just like Granny made. Brunch Sa–Su,10 am–2 pm, (Inside Keg & Case Market) 928 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-237-9630, inbloomstp.com
»Loaded Skillet Tots
There’s no actual rule on the books that says your morning taters must be either hashed or home fried. Tots are 100 percent acceptable! Here, the starch supports a healthy portion of cheddar cheese and queso, bacon crumbles, a sunny egg, and a dollop of sour cream. Brunch Sa–Su 9 a.m.–2 p.m., 3675 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls., 612-729-3663, howempls.com
Lowry Hill Meats
The sandwich lineup at this artisanal butcher shop is always on point. But weekends bring a perfectly simple morning meal. Their housemade English muffin holds a griddled egg topped with shaved fried ham and melty cheese. A kick comes from Cry Baby Craig’s hot sauce. Add the Hamm’s michelada for a $12-total Saturday meal deal. Available all day Sa–Su, Available all day Sa–Su, 1934 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-999-4200, lowryhillmeats.com
Hair of the dog, chums. That’s your tried-and-true prescription for a Sunday Funday. You can get your daily vitamins in a bloody mary, fight off scurvy with a screwdriver, and kill off whatever you ate last night with a breakfast whiskey. Oh wait, there’s food here, too?
Candy crush doesn’t have to be just a game; it can be an art form. With the mile-long offerings at Hell’s Kitchen, your bottomless mimosa can rack up the points. Gummy worms, sugar-sparkle coated fruit, licorice whips in all colors, even chocolate-covered pretzels. However you play it, you’ll end up with the two most important food groups: booze and sugar. Breakfast daily, Mimosa/bloody bar at brunch Sa–Su 9 a.m.–2 p.m., 80 S. 9th St., Mpls., 612-332-4700, hellskitcheninc.com
If you’re seeking a boozy brunch, that means you are an adult. You call the shots. Want ice cream for breakfast? Order up a boozy milkshake and give yourself a high-five. The Harlan Pepper (named for a character in the movie Best in Show: He knows nuts!) is essentially a vanilla shake boosted with walnut liqueur and whiskey. (Just don’t ask us what it pairs with on the menu.) Brunch Sa–Su 10 a.m.–3 p.m., 267 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651 207 4433, parlourbar.com
»Mezcal Hot Chocolate
How do you take something as innocent as hot chocolate; amp it up with smoky mezcal, tequila, and mole spices; and come out with something that would hit the spot after a cold morning of sledding? The crafty bartenders know that 9 am on a snow day can be a very happy hour. Breakfast daily, 4020 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-353-6568, hi-lo-diner.com
»The Sparkle Donkey
It’s not like you come to this kind of hipster hangout for the peace and quiet. So saddle up and commit to a tequila morning: Sparkle Donkey reposado mixes with fresh orange juice, fresh lime, and a hit of triple sec. Order this take on the orange marg as the accompaniment to either Classic Fair Isle French Toast or the family-style brunch platter, which includes fried chicken, buttery scrambled eggs, and country club mini donuts. Brunch Sa–Su 10 am–2 pm, 2501 NE Marshall St., Mpls., 612-315-4997, bettydangers.com