Ever wake up hungover in Philadelphia and want something to put in your stomach yet you just don’t know what? Okay, so maybe you didn’t wake up hungover in Philadelphia (rare occurrence), but at least I can tell you where to go for all of your breakfast desires. From greasy Huevos Rancheros, to a simple bagel with cream cheese – I’ve tried them all, so you don’t have to (although you should).
PSSST: This post is the first piece of a new Whiskey Gypsy series called: The Breakfast Club.
1) Best Breakfast Sandwiches – High Street
I am a Jersey girl, that means – I know a thing or two about Pork Roll. If you don’t know what Pork Roll is, you’re missing out on a serious breakfast meat that high-fives your mouth. I’m saying this because coming from Jersey, many people can agree that an original Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese sandwich is the ULTIMATE breakfast sandwich (with salt pepper + hot sauce of course). Ergo, being in Philadelphia I am very critical of who can make a quality breakfast sandwich.
Sure I found some mock-pork roll, egg & cheeses, but nothing was able to go above the norm. It took 4 years of living here to find the best spot – a spot that happened to make #2 on Bon Appetit’s 2014 Best New Restaurants in the Country for none other than it’s GLUTEN. GLUTEN, YES, ALL OF IT.
High Street on Market makes the best breakfast sandwiches, and I dare you to challenge that. Their homemade bread alone is enough to make you quit your Paleo diet. They have a breakfast sandwich for every kind – vegetarians, meat-a-tarians, and the simple-guy. My personal favorite is The Hickorytown. It’s sweet, spicy, juicy and filling; You’ll have to go there and try it for yourself.
2) Best Huevos Rancheros: Sabrinas
Can anyone say no to Huevos Rancheros? I think not. It’s typical for about 80% of brunch spots to have this on their menu, but unless you go over the top – you’re just following the rest of ’em. After trying many Huevos Rancheros around the city I have decided that Sabrina’s Cafe takes the cake (any location). I’m not sure what makes it so special – the variety of ingredients, the spices they use, or the huge portion – whatever it is, those Huevos-Rancheros win an award in my heart.
Also – their special menus are usually always up-to-date with pop culture references, it’s humorous.
3) Best Bagels – South Street Bagels
South Street Bagels is a family business that has been running for five-generations. There is always a line out the door but the staff is friendly and quick so don’t let that line scare you. With 20+ bagels, and 40+ Cream Cheeses, all made in-house – there’s something for everyone. The New York style bagels are always fresh and the sandwich possibilities you can make with the assorted cream cheeses are endless. Go here for the real deal if you just want a glutenous, guilty-free bagel.
My Go-To: Everything Bagel with Jalepeno cream cheese on one side, and honey on the other (you’d be surprised).
4) Best Bagel Sandwich – Benna’s
Benna’s is a small (and cheap) cafe in the heart of South Philly. You walk in and it’s almost like you’re walking into a family-friendly neighborhood bar. It’s small, but it’s known for it’s charm and the baristas are always welcoming. They have 10 bagel sandwiches on the menu, and any kind of coffee/latte you’d like. The bagel sandwiches are simple yet the ingredients are crafted so that you don’t feel like a douche while eating a healthy, veggie-optioned breakfast bagel. You’ll have a complete breakfast with either bagel sandwich you choose, and you’ll be surprised you got it from such a hole-in-the-wall place.
5) Best locally sourced breakfast – Sam’s Morning Glory
Sam’s Morning Glory is so incredible because of everything that they make in-house. Their biscuits (wow, their biscuits…….), their rotating jams, their KETCHUP, yes – ketchup – all homemade from scratch in the restaurant every morning. The vegetables they use in your omelette are grown right out in their back garden. It’s another family-run restaurant that brings you in, makes you happy, and kicks you out – really, they have a lot of people waiting.
6) Best Sweet Breakfast – Cafe Lift
Cafe Lift can make a list of it’s own with how good everything is on their menu, probably because their motto is “Brunch. All day. Everyday.” Their homemade hot sauce is too good to not put on everything, and I will say their huevos rancheros is also up there with Sabrina’s. But one thing I think Cafe Lift does so well at, is their sweet selection. Between the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and the Cannoli French Toast (pictured above) – Lord have mercy.
If you’re a guy and want to take a girl on a fancy brunch date – you’ll win her heart by bringing her here (hopefully she’s not on a diet).
7) Best Under-the-Radar Breakfast – Cafe Chismosa
This place is Philadelphia’s best kept secret. I don’t even think this place has a website, but they do have an Instagram and I drool over it constantly. Cafe Chismosa is a Latin-inspired cafe that serves breakfast and lunch fresh every day. Another cafe where everything is made from fresh ingredients in-house, but everything being cooked personally by Jugo the owner, his own home recipes at that.
Tortas, Soups, breakfast burritos, ceviche, sandwiches, muffins, everything you can imagine being on a brunch menu – this place makes it better. I have never been failed here, and I wish I could give you one meal to get (the short-rib quesadilla is a start), but they’re all good, and the menu is constantly changing. Jugo the Jugoslov (that’s what he calls himself) will be the one cooking and hand-delivering your breakfast/lunch. You’ll wish he was your daddy (did I just say that?).
Other great brunch spots worth going to:
Green Eggs Cafe | North Third | Jerry’s Bar | Porto (Porto has a chicken + waffle sandwich..) | Cafe La Maude | Honey’s Sit & Eat
Bottom line: I’m a sucker for a good breakfast dish, and those are all my opinions.
I encourage anyone to share their favorite spots/dishes as well, in Philadelphia or not.