Best Breakfasts

The Breakfast Bucket List: What to Order at Houston's Top Breakfast Spots

From nostalgic classics to the flashy new fare, these are the dishes we can't live without.

By Timothy Malcolm and Gwendolyn Knapp Published in the February 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Fruity Pebbles French Toast: Bosscat Kitchen and Libations

Our ideal French toast turns out to feature, yes, Fruity Pebbles, which are showered over pain perdu in Bosscat’s surprisingly sophisticated, colorful take on the classic dish. There’s eggy, buttery bread, those edible pebbles endorsed by Fred and Barney, a condensed-milk glaze, fresh fruit, and a crumbled-bacon topping that will satisfy any meat lover. The plating is a beauty, too.
When to get it: Brunch (Saturday-Sunday)

Bacon & Eggs: Lankford’s Grocery & Market

This laidback landmark—part grandma’s kitchen, part kooky country store—is known for its juicy burgers, but the breakfast here is a heavy hitter, too. We like to get three perfectly cooked sunny-side-up eggs with a buttery biscuit to soak up all that yolk, plus a side of creamy, salty grits and lots of crispy bacon, then let the country breeze take us away.
When to get it: Morning (except Sunday)

Image: Jenn Duncan

Breakfast Sandwich: Hugs & Donuts

This not-so-secret menu item isn’t going for style points; it just wants you to stop drooling and start gorging, especially if you don’t have plans later. Thick, peppery egg, melted cheddar, and tender bacon come packed inside a halved doughnut as glossy as an ice-skating rink and as sugary as a birthday cake. It’s everything—sweet, savory, crispy, and salty—and it’ll leave you happy … and sleepy.
When to get it: Morning to late night

Chorizo Breakfast Taco: Dichos Taqueria

Austin and San Antonio can fight all they want about who serves up the best breakfast taco, while we quietly enjoy the perfection on offer at this family-friendly, all-day spot: warm, homemade flour tortillas—browned just enough, so they’re both crispy and cozy-soft—wrapped around a heaping helping of fluffy egg, smoky chorizo, shredded cheddar, and salsa verde. Other excellent additions to your breakfast taco include thick-cut bacon and preserved cactus.
When to get it: Morning to late night

Shrimp & Grits: Lucille's

Luxurious and downhome—that’s how we’d describe both this temple of Southern food and its signature dish, featuring plump Gulf shrimp, spicy andouille, to-die-for broth, and crisp microgreens, plus tomatoes and pickled onion that add tang to every bite of buttery, luscious stone-mill grits. You’ll get an extra bowl for the tails, and if your fingers don’t get a little dirty, you’re doing it wrong. Add an order of thick, hot, indulgent yeast rolls with soft whipped butter for the ultimate breakfast.
When to get it: Brunch (Saturday-Sunday)

Eggs & Upma: Pondicheri

Upma, a South Indian staple, is a comforting morning bowl of semolina, barley, and vegetables akin to porridge. In this version, creamy grits and shredded carrots come alongside two fried eggs. We couldn’t break the yolk fast enough, letting it meld with the hearty grits and alternating between eating it with mild-peanut and fiery-cilantro-and-chile chutneys. A tasty side of yogurt with chickpeas helps cool things down.
When to get it: Morning, early afternoon

Image: Jenn Duncan

Chilaquiles: Hugo’s

At Hugo Ortega’s incredible Sunday buffet brunch, the chef serves up a silver hotel pan of totopos (house-made fried corn chips) topped with tender, shredded pollo, soft and crumbly cotija cheese, tangy tomatillo sauce, and perfectly fried eggs. The dish defies logic: How do those totopos stay so fresh and crunchy under all the other ingredients? How is the egg so perfectly gooey and thick? Why can’t we stop ourselves from going back for seconds and thirds? We’ll never know, and that’s okay.
When to get it: Brunch time

Migas: La Guadalupana

Others may argue, but for us it’s the traditional migas—spicy chorizo scrambled with eggs, jalapeño, onions, tomatoes, and crunchy strips of fried tortilla, served alongside velvet-soft refried beans—that truly hit the spot at this unpretentious, no-frills, passionately beloved café. Get a seat on the patio, and alongside your affordable breakfast, order an El Vampiro, a killer mix of beet and orange juice. Hit the bakery case for cookies on your way out.
When to get it: Morning, early afternoon

Huevos Rancheros: Rio Verdence

At this humble corner spot, heavenly scents waft into the dining room as soccer plays on TV. Along with excellent migas, chilaquiles, and nopales, the family-run kitchen serves up the best huevos rancheros in the city. Enjoy two hefty, over-easy eggs, creamy refried beans, and plenty of toothsome potatoes basking in an almost citrusy ranchero sauce, perfect for soaking up with the toasty homemade tortillas.
When to get it: Morning, early afternoon

Image: Jenn Duncan

House-Made Pancakes: Lola

Sometimes—especially after a rough night—you just want big, fluffy, carb-a-licious pancakes, and you can get a beautiful stack at this luminous little diner that whips up breakfast all day long, plus sandwiches, pasta, and burgers at lunch- and dinnertime. Three thick, soft, soul-warming flapjacks hit the spot with a dab of butter and a drizzle of syrup, but for $1 more, you can take them over the top by adding candied pecans, banana, or chocolate chips.
When to get it: Morning to late night

Glazed Doughnut: Shipley Do-Nuts

There are other comers, to be sure, but in Houston, the Shipley glazed is, and always will be, the gold standard in doughnuts. You know what happens when you bite into one of these iconic treats, a go-to since 1936: Sugary flakes and moist dough melt together and dissolve into an irresistible nectar. It’s as if you’re eating the sweetest cloud in the heavens.
When to get it: Morning to late night 

Image: Jenn Duncan

Wings & Waffles: The Breakfast Klub

Among the best in town, the fried chicken here—three drumettes, three traditional wings—comes out piping-hot, crispy, and juicy, served atop a pillow-soft, powdered-sugar-dusted, strawberry-topped Belgian waffle that will soak up hot maple syrup like a sponge. Similarly, you’ll want to sit back and soak up the great hospitality—this is Houston’s finest front-of-house staff, even at seven on a Monday, which is when you want to go to beat the line that forms around the block.
When to get it: Morning, early afternoon; late night Friday-Saturday

Griddle Cakes: Kraftsmen Cafe

The thin, golden-brown flapjacks at this local favorite are cooked to the perfect crispness, their yeasty deliciousness brightened by sweet corn. They hit the spot no matter what you add or don’t add to them: maple syrup (cold or hot), honey, butter, applesauce... Spring for the tall order and add a side of lightly crispy bacon—oh, and a cup of coffee, too.
When to get it: Morning to late night

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