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Perfection is: French toast that’s crisp and browned on the outside, custardy on the inside and topped with a blueberry-peach compote that tastes fresh even in winter. $8.95.By the time I made my way from the brioche’s crisp exterior to its custardy interior, an odd mass of whipped cream revealed its true identity—whipped maple syrup—as it reduced to its original form. Genius. $10.
Huevos rancheros rojos at Frontera Grill Putting the Bayless empire up against humble taquerias is a David and Goliath move, but you’ll side with the big guy once you taste the oh-so-soft housemade tortillas, the orange-yolked farm eggs and the beautiful blistered tomato sauce. $11.
The word quiche seems too pedestrian to describe this rich, smooth egg custard teamed with locally sourced vegetables, quality cheeses and, occasionally, meats (the selection changes daily). The puff pastry shell crumbles into a million buttery flakes. $6.
Band-Aid–flavored meat between gummy bread? Hearty’s version bullies that brown-bag disaster with thick, smoky bologna and a fried egg. Add a kaiser roll slicked with an egg wash and you’ve officially graduated from Oscar Mayer. $9.50.
When you can’t hack another pancake stack, order this: pleasingly chewy housemade durum-wheat noodles, pickled veggies including mustard greens and ramps, a poached egg and tender pork belly all swimming in an umami-laced, spicy broth. $11.
One bite of this decadent belly, topped with an oozy egg and mellow pickled onions, and it clicks: This isn’t so different from ham or bacon, two beloved breakfast meats. Except that it’s thicker, juicier and way better suited to a home between two halves of a fluffy, secret-recipe biscuit. (Oh, how I’m still dreaming about that biscuit. And the four, golf ball–size tater tots on the side.) $10.
Eating sweet dough–wrapped sausage for breakfast isn’t a new concept (see: Dunkin’ Donuts Pancake Bites, Jimmy Dean Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick), but this version won’t leave you with a belly full of grease and regret. A thin layer of red-velvet cake encases an enormous Big Fork bacon sausage, which you can dip in maple syrup. A side of scrambled eggs thickened with cream cheese reminds you you’re at brunch, not the state fair. $9.50
The devious minds behind this adorable Ukrainian Village spot think they can throw a couple of perfectly runny poached eggs on top of poutine—crisp fries, gooey cheese curds and smoked bacon gravy—and call it breakfast? Yes, they can. In fact, they could call it dessert and I’d still eat it any time of the day. $10.
I was perfectly pleased sipping Sprout’s Afternoon Delight (fernet, basil, fennel, yum)—until I tasted my boyfriend’s shandy: vodka, hard cider and truffle honey syrup, finished by a zillion lemon slices floating in the glass like little rays of sunshine. They brightened the drink and my mood, which always improves when I can pretend it’s summer. $9. Photo: Brendan Lekan
Apparently, whiskey is undesirable at brunching hours, when clear spirits rule. C-House comes to the rescue by offering its dinner drinks at brunch, too. Bourbon (softened by a cinnamon-vanilla-cherry infusion), amaretto and sweet vermouth go down just as smoothly as they did the night before. $13. Photo: Brendan Lekan
Longman doesn’t so much twist as tug this classic cocktail into something that’s better suited for the early hours, subbing mellow Aperol for Campari, introducing effervescence with prosecco and shoving gin out of the picture. $8. Photo: Brendan Lekan
Combining a mimosa, Bloody Mary, Bellini and margarita into one cocktail sounds like an idea we would have proclaimed genius the night before brunch. Yet talented bartenders make this concept work, producing a “bastardized” cocktail that’s fruity (orange juice), aromatic (basil) and doused with just enough tequila to make us want another. $9. Photo: Brendan Lekan
The cumin salt rimming this cucumber-laced tequila drink will smack any hangover to the curb. Though it’s the hoja santa, or “sacred leaf,” that’s the stuff of legend, says Tad Carducci, part of the New York duo that crafted Mercadito’s cocktail list: According to Mexican lore, Mary dried Jesus’s diapers on the plant. Here, bartenders make it into a syrup to add an herbal finish to each sip. $11.50. Photo: Brendan Lekan
A $6 cocktail? I watched Perennial’s bartender to see if he was pouring from a premade pitcher. Nope. He attended to each glass as if it were his firstborn, blending vodka and housemade pear puree (ingredients change often) with precision. This might be the best booze deal in town. $6. Photo: Brendan Lekan