Life

Chefs Tell Us Where To Find The Best Breakfast Sandwiches In The Country


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Breakfast sandwich conversations always make me think of Pauly Shore. When I moved to Portland, OR from Fresno, CA, I did it by throwing all of my possessions in the back of a junky 1990 Subaru station wagon and driving non-stop. It wasn’t 1990 at the time. However, my car still had a factory standard tape deck, which I was forced to rely on when the radio lost all reception through the Cascade Mountains. You know what I had in my car? A single tape. One. Pauly Shore’s two-decade old comedy album The Future of America. So, for close to six hours, I listened to the same routine over and over. It is the only part of that trip I think I will every truly remember.

Let me pause to admit there is a part of me that fears you don’t know who Pauly Shore is, but Twitter tells me differently.

For those of you in the 16 percent, it won’t make any sense for me to tell you he’s the “weasel” but he was, and there was a sound effect that went with that identity. From 1989-1995, the long haired valley boy was an MTV VJ, star of Totally Pauly, and the reason Encino Man, Son-in-Law, and Biodome were made. I appreciate him, but I also am smart enough to know I shouldn’t tell people that, even after his recent genius spin as Stephen Miller for Funny or Die.

Now, I won’t say that I still have his entire routine memorized because I refused to ever listen to that album again … until I sat down to write this. But, I do know he spends a considerable amount of time riffing on Guns n’ Roses, Love Connection and breakfast croissants. Relating the details of a backpacking trip through Europe to his audience, the lover of fresh nugs argues that it wasn’t the French who made up the croissant; it was a Jack in the Box creation. Unlike French croissants, which are “hard, crinkly fucking French bread make your teeth bleed shit,” Jack’s pastries are “soft, doughy, Wonder Bread buff croissants.” Needless to say, he is WRONG. But, he was also so passionate about it that I still think of him and his wrongness when eating the the buttery perfections that are authentic French pastries, especially when they are wrapped around other breakfast delicacies.

Rather than have Pauly Shore wax on about breakfast sandwiches 30 years after his apex of relevancy, we turned to some successful chefs. There’s a lot of cool new people involved in this post, a few old favorites, and a fantastic head shot that includes a fish. Comb through the responses, take in some gooey cheese and egg masterpieces, and then, leap into the comments to tell me about breakfast sandwiches, Jack in the Box, and Pauly Shore.

Cafe Cluny (New York, NY)

Chef Anne Thornton — Executive Chef, 33 Greenwich (New York, NY)

Cafe Cluny’s breakfast club Sandwich is served on a piece of perfectly toasted white bread with bacon, fried egg and avocado. I always order with an extra side of spicy aioli, too. And it comes with french fries … what more could you want?

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The Big Egg (Portland, OR)

Chef José Chesa — Chef and Co-owner, 180 and Ataula (Portland, OR)

The Big Egg Portland is one of my favorite places for breakfast! My wife took me a few years a go to their cart, and that was it. I have the sausage and pepper sandwich. These ladies are talented when it comes to cooking eggs. I think is the only place I wait happily for what’s to come. I go with the family on a Monday and love having breakfast together, or I go if I am close by and can stop in while doing errands. You can tell in every bite the level of thought they put into the ingredients, cooking, and flavor profile. Every single bit is delicious!

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Yes

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Gjelina Take Away (Venice, CA)

Chef Julio Hawkins — Executive Chef, Fly-n-Fish Oyster Bar & Grill (Newport Beach, CA)

I love their GTA egg sandwich, which is an English muffin topped with a fried egg, crispy bacon, melted gruyere, braised kale (so you don’t feel too guilty) and hot sauce if you’re so inclined. One bite and that beautiful egg yolk oozes out, and you slop it up with that homemade English muffin. That smoky hot sauce is just the right amount of heat. Simple ingredients and flavored nicely!

Division 3 (Los Angeles, CA)

Chef Melissa Rosen — Chef and Co-owner, Locali Healthy Convenience (Hollywood, CA)

Besides our vegan Cadillac breakfast sandwich, my favorite breakfast sandwich is the vegetarian breakfast biscuit sandwich at Division 3 in Glassell Park. It has fried zucchini, tomato and avocado with a delicious sauce they make in house. It’s a tiny portion at first glance, but ultimately, a filling and satisfying breakfast bite. I love their service set up, and I’m excited for their Hollywood location to open next. We love food spots that operate in tight spaces like us.

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#BiscuitLife #BiscuitLyfe #Division3eats

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The Coffee Pot (Astoria, NY)

Chef Nick Kayser — Chef, Vesta (Denver, CO)

I lived in Queens in my mid-20s, so I know a bit about the importance of local bodegas to the neighborhood. In a fancy restaurant, you can gussy up breakfast sandwiches all you’d like, give them French names and fuss around with tweezers, but at the end of the day there is something to be said about the old school New York City bodega breakfast sandwich. Every morning on my way to work, my roommate Mike Miloscia and I would stop in at our local shop, The Coffee Pot, on 23rd Ave between 28th and 29th street in Astoria, Queens and devour the perfection of a sausage egg and cheese sandwich. The perfect, buttery biscuit, sausage with just the right bite to wake you up, an egg cooked perfectly from years of practice by the guy behind the counter: can’t replicate that anywhere else, nor should you try. Washing it down with a cup of coffee in the ubiquitous Greek, unlabeled blue coffee cup got every day started the right way, giving us the focus to get through each new work day, or a perfect cure for the hangover on those lazy Sundays. I miss my local boys in there and think about it frequently, even to this day, when I am on my way into work.

Stein’s Deli (New Orleans, LA)

Chef Isaac Toups — Chef and Owner, Toups Meatery and Toups South (New Orleans, LA)

My favorite breakfast sandwich comes from Stein’s Deli in New Orleans. It’s smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers on an absolutely delicious bagel. I order this at breakfast time because I don’t usually care for composed egg dishes. I love Stein’s because it’s small and there’s a wonderful little grocery section. There isn’t a bad sandwich on the menu. They also have one of the better beer sandwiches in town.

Bridgeside Marina (Grand Isle, Louisiana)

Chef Cody Carroll — Chef and Co-Owner Sac-a-Lait (New Orleans, LA)

No two BLT’s are created equal. The “Best Breakfast Sandwich” has to be the “greatest” version and execution of a BLT … period. It’s found in the small fishing town of Grand Isle, Louisiana. At Bridgeside Marina, they know how to make the perfect BLT breakfast sandwich to gear you up for a day of fishing, even when you may not catch any fish. They know the perfect cooking temps, lettuce-to-tomato ratio and have their own signature spread technique of the mayonnaise. Oh, and they just so happen to perfectly butter the bread. Wrapped and ready for the hours of seaworthy interminability. Happy Fishing!

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Proper Sausages (Miami, FL)

Chef Will Crandall — Chef de Cuisine, StripSteak (Miami, FL)

I’m not typically a morning person, but those days when my eyes are open and the sun hasn’t quite peaked in the sky, I almost immediately crave a breakfast sandwich. In my area there’s only one place for such a gastronomic need, and it’s Proper Sausages. Yes, it’s a butcher shop. Yes, they specialize in creative twists on classic sausages, but they also have a secret (to those not in the industry). They happen to construct some of the best sandwiches in town using their arsenal of conscientiously sourced, artisanal meats. Each time I go I pick a different sandwich because every single one is superb. The owners Freddy and Danielle Kaufmann have crafted honesty and art and slapped it in between a beautifully toasted Portuguese roll for your convenience.

In fact, as I write this now, my stomach growls for their “Cubanish” sandwich, which as you might guess, is a twist on a classic Cuban. They use their own recipes for the roasted pork, mustard, and pickles and finish it with sharp cheddar and lightly smoked ham. Order at the counter and grab a beer from their hand-selected collection of vintage and small-batch brews while your masterpiece is being made to order. Great, now I’m hungry. The shop opens at 10AM (typical industry breakfast time) and they serve breakfast sandwiches ALL DAY LONG!

MIAM (Miami, FL)

Chef Santiago Gomez — Executive Chef, Cantina La Veinte (Miami, FL)

The breakfast sandwich at MIAM in Wynwood is the perfect sandwich to start the day with fresh ingredients like organic eggs, turkey, cheese, caramelized onions, avocado and a touch of spicy aioli inside a warm brioche bun. When you get a bite of this sandwich, you’ll want to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Familia brunch. 😍

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The Bookstore in the Grove (Miami, FL)

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli — Executive Chef, Glass & Vine (Miami, FL) and Owner/Chef, Eating House (Miami, FL)

The breakfast sandwich Adriana Egozcue makes is definitely my favorite. She incorporates the cheese into the scrambled eggs, making all the difference.

Maialino (New York, NY)

Chef Raul A. Del Pozo — Executive Chef, Lightkeepers (Miami, FL)

My all-time favorite breakfast sandwich is at restauranteur Danny Meyers’ Maialino located at the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC. What’s better than an amazing Roman restaurant in the heart of NYC? One that’s centered on pork, of course! Assembled on amazing fresh baked ciabatta bread, the “Porchetta,” comes with a fried egg, succulent roasted pork leg, and arugula and herb salad.

Pomperdale NY Deli (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Chef Alex Q. Becker — Executive Chef, Kuro (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

There’s a New York-style deli right by my house called Pomperdale. My mom actually discovered it one of the first times she came down to visit me. We went there a lot while she was in town, and she liked it so much that she bought me and my wife a gift certificate there. We didn’t use it until the next time she came back and that was one of her first stops. I tend to keep it classic and get a nova bagel but sometimes I splurge for the panwich with eggs, cheese, corned beef hash, bacon between two pancakes.

The Hideout (Lafayette, CA)

Chef Oscar Cabezas — Executive Chef, Teleferic Barcelona (Walnut Creek, CA)

I bet $100 that if you ask a friend who is a cook what they have eaten today they will answer “nothing” or “a sandwich”. The sandwich works as a miracle food in our guild: we are real professionals of engineering sandwiches with the remains that we find in the kitchen. However, the sandwich also has a starring role in our lives outside the kitchen — famous for its versatility, its ability to concentrate flavor, and, personally, my severe addiction to gluten. If I were dying for a sandwich at 9 am, I would go for the waffle sandwich at The Hideout in Lafayette. It consists of country fried steak, cheddar and an egg over-easy sandwiched between two waffles, covered in sausage gravy, maple syrup, butter and powdered sugar. It is like kissing the part of the world that is closest to hell, where the stomach and the smell are in the most lascivious drift: gluttony in its pure state.

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breakfast of champions

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McDonald’s (Nationwide)

Chef Nathaniel Nguyen — Executive Chef, Jinny’s Pizzeria (Santa Ana, CA), Paloma’s Paletas (Orange County, CA), Rooster Republic (Santa Ana, CA) and Milk Man Ice Cream (Santa Ana, CA)

I’m not afraid to say that I have a weakness for McDonald’s breakfast menu. My dad would treat us to McDonald’s breakfast once in a while on Saturdays to go along with our usual cartoons. He would get us the deluxe breakfast and I would butter the muffin, squirt some of their jelly on it and put the sausage right in between. That buttery, sweet & salty combo is so good! Still one of my all time favorite breakfast sandwiches to this day!

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One Taco (Austin, TX)

Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive Chef, City Winery Nashville (Nashville, TN)

We’re going to consider breakfast tacos a sandwich because I love breakfast tacos. I’d kill someone for a breakfast taco or burrito right now. When I was working for the Hard Rock Café in Austin, there was a place right up the street called One Taco that I’d go to every morning for their breakfast tacos. They made them with salsa verde, sausage, eggs and potatoes that they cooked in the eggs. They’re the best breakfast tacos I’ve had outside of the ones I make myself; I make a damn good breakfast taco.

Jumpstart Coffee and Grocery (San Francisco, CA)

Chef Andrew Greene — Executive Chef, Duchess (Oakland, CA)

My favorite spot for a breakfast sandwich is Jumpstart Coffee and Grocery on the corner of 24th and Guerrero in the Mission District of SF. Everything is made with love and a little bit of welcome attitude by my dear friend Peter and his amazing Family. My fav is bacon, egg, cheese, avocado, pickled jalapeños and sprouts on toasted duchess crunch. Seriously decadent and worth tasting!

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Open face breakfast bagel with bacon and ham!!!

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breakfast croissant sandwich😋

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Saigon Sandwich (San Francisco, CA)

Chef Yosuke Machida — Executive Chef, Chambers Eat & Drink (San Francisco, CA)

Saigon Sandwich on Larkin and Eddy. Vietnamese sandwiches aren’t typically eaten for breakfast, but I love them 24/7 and they’re open from 7am. It’s the perfect spot when you’re craving something savory and Asian early in the morning.

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