WE STILL LOVE WAFFLES, OMELETS, AND PANCAKES. But just look at what’s joining the classic canon. Dinner used to be a restaurant’s main event, the meal that best reflected a chef’s vision and creativity. Breakfast and brunch were reserved for basic ingredients, familiar preparations, and servers bleary-eyed from dinner service the night before. Not anymore. Thanks in part to the economy, a host of dinnertime destinations now open their doors in the a.m. and the morning meal is taking on a whole new look.

 

The Breakfast Sandwich

Cafe Cesura 
cafe cesura breakfast sandwich
Image: Olivia Brent
Delicious any time of day.

Proof positive that Bellevue is now an urban center, Cafe Cesura, of the soaring ceilings and minimalist embellishments and aubergine walls, looks plucked whole out of Pike/Pine. The menu is short but trenchant, focusing on the item we’ll go so far as to call the Breakfast Trend of the Decade: the breakfast sandwich. One comes with caramelized onions and Mt. Townsend Creamery New Moon cheese and rosemary; another, even better, features sweet apple-smoked bacon and plenty of good cheddar scrambled into egg on a Macrina potato roll. When eating a breakfast sandwich, the insides sometimes squirt out; Cesura makes a fine place to contemplate that nonproblem, over a cup of Stumptown and a moist housemade muffin.

And don’t miss…

Oddfellows Cafe and Bar Eggs, bacon, tomato, and provolone
Revel Kalbi burger with bacon, shallot pickle, and egg
Serafina Prosciutto, basted egg, basil, and arugula with fonduta sauce

 

The Crepe

Anita’s Crepes

Pancakes? So yesterday. In the last half decade Seattle’s seen a crepe revolution that’s brought the crisped-at-the-edges golden folds to nearly every sector of town. Did it begin when pastry chef Anita Ross first fired up her griddle at a farmer’s market, or when she found a cozy little space in Frelard? All we know is that her exquisite creations have both ignited a trend and exploded a genre: most of the (organic) goodies on the ham and cheese crepe—the sauteed potatoes and onions and peppers and tomatoes drizzled with creme fraiche—come lavished on top. Even better are her sweet crepes enclosing delights like butter and cinnamon sugar and topped with chantilly cream.

And don’t miss…

The Hangar Cafe Egg, Black Forest ham, swiss, cheddar, red onion, Roma tomato, and baby spinach crepe, topped with poblano-basil vinaigrette and creme fraiche
The Ridgeback Café Sausage, caramelized onion, avocado, sauteed mushroom, cheddar, spinach, and egg crepe, topped with creme fraiche and poblano sauce
Saley’s Dulce de leche crepe with cinnamon and whipped cream

 

The New Benedict

Stopsky’s Delicatessen

Latkes aren’t traditionally a breakfast food. And yet their hash brown–pancake hybrid status makes them a natural to work the breakfast shift. At this Mercer Island delicatessen’s weekend brunch, compact cakes of shredded potato form the base of a most memorable Benedict. Diners have several choices for the meat (or greens), but really it’s no choice at all: Get the pastrami. Stopsky’s is just one of countless Seattle breakfast spots that have modernized the hollandaise-drenched tradition by upgrading the protein, the traditional English muffin base, or both.

And don’t miss…

Boat Street Kitchen Chevre-artichoke Benedict
Hunger Short rib Benedict with truffled hollandaise
Monsoon Shrimp and pork sausage Benedict with potato pancakes and curried hollandaise
Tilikum Place Cafe Sweet potato and Dungeness crab Benedict with caramelized vegetables and herbed hollandaise

 

The Breakfast Pizza

Cafe Lago

The unexpected feats the pros at this Montlake Italian classic pull off in a wood oven simply beggar description: featherweight cream scones and succulent cinnamon rolls draped in vanilla cream; sunny eggs in spicy tomato sauce; and—the stunner—wood-fired breakfast pizzas topped with savories like bacon and rosemary and eggs, or (our fave) sausage, arugula, fontina, onions, and garlic, with a yolk-rich sauce. Crusts are golden and bubbled and smokily redolent of their trip through the fire, and ever-so-fine with Caffé Vita coffee. Plus the familiar ristorante with the white wainscoting and the checkerboard floor feels bright and new (and as yet undiscovered) by daylight.

And don’t miss…

Golden Beetle Oyster mushroom, fried egg, and mozzarella wood-fired breakfast pizza
Mioposto Bacon and egg breakfast pizza with Tutto Calabria chili puree, pancetta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and two sunny-side up eggs
MistralKitchen Wood-fired pizza topped with salumi, mozzarella, tomato, and a soft egg

 

The Duck Egg

The Coterie Room

Duck eggs, currently everywhere on Seattle’s dinner menus, are the star of the brunch menu at this decadent restaurant, sibling to gastropubs Spur and Tavern Law. Denser and more fatty than their chicken counterpart, the eggs appear here on composed discs of hash and buried beneath ribbons of baby carrots. And on a precisely plated Benedict, where the perfect orb, cooked sous vide, mingles with meticulously chopped particles of black olive. We’re still crazy for a good farm-fresh chicken egg, but it’s no longer the only bird that can deliver indulgence in the form of a runny yolk.

And don’t miss…

Stopsky’s Delicatessen Farm duck egg and lentils with charmoula sauce and seasonal greens
Tilth Corned beef sandwich with mornay, choucroute, and duck egg

 

The Small Plates

Ma’ono Fried Chicken and Whisky

It’s a shame the former Spring Hill’s brunch menu of small plates is only served at the restaurant’s bar. Because mixing and matching the diminutive dishes is a playful solution to the “sweet or savory” dilemma that often plagues breakfasters. Consider it the latest iteration of dim sum (still a Seattle brunch classic), but with corn dog–like sausage beignets or a cascading popover to smear with Nutella. The main brunch menu is still home to chef Mark Fuller’s more showy dishes, but the brunch bar’s small plate of whole milk curds with fennel pollen, honey-comb, and smoky toast is at once perfectly simple and unlike anything else you’ve ever eaten.

And don’t miss…

The Harvest Vine Basque tapas brunch
Monsoon Dim sum brunch 

 

Nook Biscuit
Image: Olivia Brent
Not to worry, these buttermilks will be back in December.
The Biscuit

Nook

Few are the seats and mighty is the reputation of this tiny biscuit shop, so come on a weekday or get here early on weekends and prepare for a line. The reason: crusty buttermilk biscuits that are terrific simply smeared with jam and sublime when bookending a sandwich of fried egg and goat cheese. Seattle has certainly rediscovered these dense, buttery carb bombs of late. Most breakfast menus have one, but Nook is essentially a temple of biscuit worship, adorning them with artful toppings like spiced apple butter, Nutella and bananas, or an insanely sausageful gravy.

And don’t miss…

Eats Market Cafe Buttermilk biscuit sliders with scrambled eggs, cheddar, and Zoe’s applewood-smoked bacon
Serious Biscuit Homemade ham, egg, Beecher’s cheddar, and apple mustard

 

The Hearty Veggie Plate

St.Dames

Veggiephiles and vegans rejoice! This unassuming Rainier Valley kitchen produces hearty plant-celebratory breakfasts that staunch meat lovers find sublime. The gravy adorning breakfast biscuits is seasoned with the same paprika and chilies used to flavor chorizo; the results have more heft than most meaty versions. Braised kale retaining a whisper of crispness helps atone for the richness of the biscuits and confirms that, in a just world, this green would be a breakfast staple. Even the maple walnut bread pudding feels slightly more virtuous here. Chefs across the city are finding increasingly delicious ways to go meatless (and eggless) in the morning, coaxing stellar amounts of flavor from herbivore standbys like tempeh, greens, and fruit.

And don’t miss…

Bang Bang Cafe Veggie “sausage” burrito with red and green Hatch chili sauce
Cafe Flora Hoppin’ John fritters with cayenne aioli, roasted red peppers, corn–lima bean succotash, smoky collard greens, and cheesy grits
50 North Scrambled cage-free eggs, roasted veggies, tofu, cheddar cheese, and a parsley-oil drizzle with potatoes
Fonté Cafe and Wine Bar Vegan tofu hash with potatoes, yams, herbs, and pepitas

 

The Unusual Grain

Sitka and Spruce

Besotted as he is by all things Middle Eastern, sunny Sitka and Spruce’s marquee chef and owner Matt Dillon makes generous use of that region’s ancient grains—buckwheat groats, emmer, rye berries. By morning you might see a dish of lush housemade yogurt on toasted quinoa, topped with pomegranate molasses and fresh oranges and warmed dates, and served with a crunchy complement of sunflower, fennel, and poppy seeds. Other houses might mix the grains into pancakes or waffles or even fries (then top them with sauce—right Emmer and Rye?), but Dillon’s approach at Sitka mystically transcends, as ever, the sum of its parts.

And don’t miss…

Brave Horse Tavern Quinoa hot cereal with brown sugar, cinnamon, dried fruit, and pistachios
Emmer and Rye Farro fries with poached eggs, wild mushrooms, and hollandaise
50 North Buckwheat-quinoa-polenta pancakes with maple syrup

 

The Grits Plate

Toulouse Petit

Till Toulouse bestowed its N’awlins brand of mosaic-and-wrought-iron loveliness upon Seattle, we hadn’t yet woken up to the perfection of shrimp and grits in the morning. And perfection is not too strong a descriptor for the dish called Creole crawfish, shrimp, and andouille with eggs. Yep, grits are there, creamy and Parmesan-rich, along with shrimp and crawdads and andouille sausage in a miraculous complexity of Creole fire (thank you, Crystal Cayenne Sauce), all gilded with egg yolk in a cast-iron skillet. Damn, it’s good. (Come on a weekday for breakfast happy hour and it’s also half price.)

And don’t miss…

Brave Horse Tavern Creamy cheddar grits with poached eggs and bacon crispies
Terra Plata Pencil Cob grits with sauteed winter greens, cheese, and a poached egg