Where to Break Your (Night’s) Fast
Whether your days are a series of BlackBerry interruptions or filled with the stress of carpooling and soccer games, the remedy is a warm stack of pancakes served with just-brewed coffee—and someone else doing the cooking.
(page 1 of 2)
Photography by Phil Mansfield
There’s something about breakfast that gets my juices going (no pun intended). The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the sizzle of bacon and eggs, and a perfectly crisp slice of buttered toast are enough to get this reluctant riser up and at ’em—and ready to start the day. As much as we’re all rushing, rushing, rushing, breakfast—when we stop for it—starts the day on a nurturing note (coffee being key, of course). Whether you’re looking for a place to jumpstart your mojo after a morning stuck in traffic or simply meeting a friend for a quick cuppa joe, there’s a host of eye-opening locales to fit every kind of scenario. Read ahead—just don’t blame me if your stomach starts to growl.
For Bleary Eyed Mornings
The Tavern at Croton Landing, Croton-on-Hudson
The eggs benedict at The Tavern at Croton Landing are a morning staple.
This laid-back pub surprises with its excellent food and come-as-you-are vibe. Personally, I love that the lighting is dim—meaning no one can see the circles under your eyes or that stain on your favorite sweatshirt. But mostly I love the food and almost hate to give away this still-below-the-radar eatery. Who knew that what essentially looks like a beer-and-burger joint from the exterior is such a hidden gem?
First, kudos to the Black Cow Italian roasted coffee, blended and ground from the local coffee place around the corner and the perfect caffeine fix. Second, a big nod to the creativity of the chefs who offer the coolest breakfast pizza you’ll ever find: homemade pizza crust served beneath scrambled eggs and your choice of toppings (cheese, sautéed veggies, sausage, and more). Another worthy invention: breakfast nachos—nacho chips topped with scrambled eggs, sautéed peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese with bacon, avocado, and served with pico de gallo and sour cream.
Chefs at The Tavern at Croton Landing cook breakfast in the dining room.
For those more in the mood for brunch, there’s the Sunshine Burger, with grilled tomato, caramelized onions, and an over-easy fried egg. Plus, while you ponder the menu, you're served warm crullers—crispy, sweet, French donuts from the 100-year-old secret recipe of the chef’s grandmother. Even more interesting: the kitchen is basically brought to the dining room—the chefs fill out a small corner—so you can see your order being cooked up close and personal. It’s just another point of differentiation for a tavern where the breakfast menu is etched from an old shingle from the front of the building and the ice cream sundaes come in a dog bowl. In warm weather, there are two large benches for outdoor seating.
Order Up: 41 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson (914) 271-8020; breakfast is served Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 2 pm.
When You Pine for an Authentic Irish Breakfast
Eileen’s Country Kitchen, Yonkers
Eileen's Country Kitchen offers a traditional Irish breakfast with rashers, grilled tomatoes, soda bread, and blood sausage.
There’s a comfortable, lived-in atmosphere at this cheery eatery that specializes in curing what ails ya and defines itself as “a diner with an Irish soul.” Gaelic touches include traditional soda bread in a basket, presented upon your arrival, along with a lengthy list of Emerald Isle dishes including Irish bacon, Irish sausage, and black-and-white pudding (blood sausage). Even oatmeal rises to the occasion here: it’s the European version—thick, hearty porridge served with sliced bananas, ripe blueberries, or juicy raisins. The traditional Irish breakfast includes two eggs with Irish bacon, sausage, black-and-white pudding, and grilled tomato ($8.95, a mini traditional is $7.95).
Country Kitchen is a cozy spot where you can enjoy breakfast with your entire family.
Eileen’s also offers a “Traditional Ulster Fry” (two eggs with Irish bacon, sausage, black-and-white pudding, grilled tomato, mushrooms, onions, beans, and potato bread) and a “Traditional Irish Mixed Grill” (pork chop, steak, liver, Irish bacon, sausage, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and beans with eggs any style), both served with hash browns. Yes, the food is good and filling, but it’s the cozy, red-checkered walls adorned with antique-looking cookery, the lilting brogues of the staff (and many of the patrons), and the friendly service that makes breakfast here worth getting out of your pjs for. The place fills up quickly, especially come Sunday mornings when church lets out. If you can, snag a cozy booth for a more intimate experience or the perpetually sunny table in the front where you can watch the action on the street and daydream that you’ve crossed the pond as you sip your spot of tea.
Order Up: 964 McLean Ave, Yonkers (914) 776-2001; open every day from 6 am to midnight; breakfast is always available.
For Old-Time Comfort Food at Old-World Prices
Star Diner, White Plains
Loyalty to one’s favorite diner isn’t based on food alone: it’s the atmosphere. And no place is more of a time warp than this narrow 1930s luncheonette with its five booths and 16 stools. Solid all-American dishes (e.g., pancakes, scrambled eggs, home fries) and friendly service make this vintage hangout a classic—the kind of place that hasn’t changed in decades. And that’s what we love about it. The interior gleams with the patina of 70-plus years of good grub and the rhythm of a simpler time. One could sit here all day nursing a cup of coffee and enjoying the music: the clattering plates, the sizzling grill, the bustling waitstaff, and the din of conversation. The diner has been in business since 1937 (though it was called something else), the diner’s prices seem to have stood the test of time—think $5.25 for a weekday breakfast special that includes an oversized plate of homemade fare with coffee or juice; $7 on weekends. Regulars favor the feta cheese omelet, home fries fresh-cut on the premises, and flapjacks served a buttery brown. Need something to endear you even more? Breakfast is served 24/7. The one caveat: it’s cash only.
Order Up: 66 1∕₂ E Post Rd, White Plains (914) 684-8702; breakfast served 24/7.
For a Mad Men Flashback
The Cupcake Kitchen and Luncheonette, Irvington
Go ahead—it's okay to have their cupcakes for breakfast.
Even on a gray day, The Cupcake Kitchen offers a cheerful respite with its retro blue-and-white luncheonette décor, and colorful baked goods in the window. Smack dab on Main Street, across from Irvington Middle School, this time-warp-to-the-Sixties feels like a place Mad Men’s Sally Draper would go with friends…at least before her meanie mom moved her family from Ossining to Rye.
Hop on a blue stool and watch the grill action or get a table in the back where, if you’re lucky, you can watch the waitstaff glazing a cake with pastel-colored icings. The menu isn’t extensive—think lighter fare like scrambled eggs, omelets, bagels, assorted pastries, and muffins (no pancakes)—but what it lacks in variety it makes up for in coziness. We like that there are newspapers (the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on last visit) to peruse while you wait. Though wait too long and you’ll soon be eyeing (and ordering) one of the restaurant’s famous cupcakes (or cakes) to go.
Order Up: 100 Main St, Irvington (914) 231-6261; breakfast served from 8 to 11:30 am (or all day if not super-busy, says owner Jennifer O’Connell).
To Nurse a Cup of Coffee All Day
On the Way Café, Rye
Pancakes are always a favorite at the On the Way Café.
You wouldn’t think this café, tucked next to a Sunoco station on the way to Playland, is anything special from its exterior. Inside, however, it’s a different story: a welcoming oasis of wood floors, white tablecloths (though with brown paper on top for coloring kids), low-hanging lights, and a sleek marble counter—the perfect spot to sit and read the paper or nurse a mug full of coffee.
It almost has a European ambience, albeit with a down-to-earth friendliness. Grace or Jarrett, the front staff who are here in the morning (Grace is married to co-owner George Degenhardt and is the aunt of the other co-owner and chef, Joseph Mortelliti) are happy to refill your cup, chat with you about the weather, or simply leave you alone to contemplate the menu (blackboard specials behind the bar and on the tables).
You’ll have a hard time deciding between the inch-thick brioche French toast lightly dusted with cinnamon or sugar; the plump, cake-like blueberry pancakes in which each bite reveals a moist, not-too-sweet homemade batter filled with bursts of fresh fruit; or the Feather Ridge Farm organic eggs, which are available in a frittata, or a variety of styles, including scrambled and sunny side up, often with Coach Farm goat cheese and other fresh veggies (the chef believes in sourcing local). House-made muffins and scones only add to your indecision. Lucky for you, the pancake mix is sold to go so you can try (emphasis on "try") to replicate the same experience at home, though, frankly, it’s more fun here and, dare I say, on the way.
Order Up: 34 Ridgeland Terrace, Rye (914) 921-2233; breakfast served 7 to 11:30 am every day but Monday. Cash only (ATM on premises).