WHEN YOU RISE, THEY SHINE
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that doesn't mean you have to blow your whole budget trying to fuel up in the a.m. Here are the best cheap breakfast spots in every state where good wake-up grub is guaranteed.
ALABAMA: BOGUE'S RESTAURANT
When you want Southern comfort food done right, head on over to Bogue's diner, where perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs and fat stacks of pancakes have been paired with friendly service since 1938. Loosen your belt for the Linebacker breakfast special -- three eggs and a choice of two meats (bacon, sausage patties, or sausage links), grits or hash browns, toast or biscuits, and a large bowl of gravy -- and get ready to roll back to bed!
ALASKA: SNOW CITY CAFE
Downtown Anchorage's Snow City Cafe is a popular spot for made-from-scratch breakfast, which is served all day. The menu caters to diners of all types with fresh-prepared, local ingredients that carnivores, vegans, and gluten-free eaters will love, including Mandarin orange cream-cheese-stuffed French toast, house-made granola, and build-your-own omelets. Go for the "Deadliest Catch" benedict, a sampling of the Kodiak benedict with Alaskan king crab cakes and Ship Creek benedict with housemade smoked salmon cakes.
ARIZONA: MATT'S BIG BREAKFAST
City: Phoenix and Tempe
At Matt's Big Breakfast, where the "eggs are cage-free and cracked to order," breakfast is served all day at several locations in Phoenix and Tempe. Highlights of the simple breakfast menu include "The Hog & Chick," two eggs and a choice of all-natural thick-cut bacon or country sausage, served with toast and potatoes, and made-from-scratch griddle cakes with sweet cream butter and real maple syrup.
ARKANSAS: THE PANCAKE SHOP
City: Hot Springs
The Pancake Shop's namesake recipe hasn't changed since the family-owned restaurant started dishing up breakfast in 1940. While there are plenty of flapjack options, regulars (even jockeys and trainers during horse-racing season) order a heaping stack of banana pancakes. Tiny bits of banana are mixed into the batter, so there's tasty fruit to savor in every morsel.
CALIFORNIA: ARIZMENDI BAKERY
City: San Francisco
It might cost an arm and a leg (or two) to live in San Francisco, but Arizmendi Bakery is a blessing in the form of breakfast food. Just a few blocks from Golden Gate Park, the worker-owned cooperative serves must-try espresso, breads, and pastries. Score freshly baked lemon-poppy seed and banana-walnut muffins, fluffy chocolate brioche knots, corn-cherry scones, and fig-fennel and cinnamon-raisin sourdough bread and croissants without the sticker shock.
City: Denver and elsewhere
Denver-based Snooze has been waking up Coloradans (and now residents of nearby states like Texas, Arizona, and California) with its "fresh twists on America's favorite classics" and "creative morning cocktails." The energetic a.m. eatery slings a must-try pancake flight, a delectable trio of your choice pancake flavors like blueberry danish, pineapple upside down, and peanut butter. Plus, 1 percent of sales from each Snooze eatery is donated back to the community, so you can feel extra good about indulging.
CONNECTICUT: BELLA'S CAFE
City: New Haven
Fuel up on omelets with pan-grilled potatoes, freshly baked croissants, and griddle favorites at Bella's Cafe. The New Haven staple focuses on seasonal ingredients to create notable dishes like French toast prepared with challah or Italian bread and grits with wild-caught Gulf jumbo shrimp and chorizo alongside scrambled eggs and a homemade buttermilk biscuit.
DELAWARE: ANGELO'S LUNCHEONETTE
For a no-frills breakfast joint with some serious throwback appeal, check out Angelo's Luncheonette, which has been in business since 1967. The classic neighborhood corner diner with Elvis memorabilia and quick, friendly counter and booth service will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. This family spot slings a mean made-to-order spicy Italian sausage and cheese omelet and keeps the coffee refills coming.
FLORIDA: KEKE'S BREAKFAST CAFE
City: Orlando, Gainesville, and elsewhere
With more than 30 Keke's Breakfast Cafe locations -- and 13 more in the works -- you're bound to stumble upon memorable dessert-for-breakfast food in Florida. The diner-style eateries feature an extensive menu of made-from-scratch dishes, including 11 waffle and 10 French toast varieties. The Florida Waffle comes topped with fresh strawberries, banana, blueberries, and powdered sugar while the Piña Colada Stuffed French Toast is filled with pineapple, coconut, and cream cheese.
GEORGIA: WEST EGG CAFÉ
Atlanta's West Egg Cafe, named in honor of "The Great Gatsby," puts its own delicious spin on Southern-style breakfast food. That means sour cream pancakes with syrup and spiced honey butter, pimiento cheese and bacon omelets with a biscuit, and Georgia's award-winning shrimp and grits served with a poached egg, spicy pork andouille sausage, and pan-roasted okra. Morning, y'all!
HAWAII: EGGS 'N THINGS
City: Honolulu (multiple locations)
In Hawaii, lucky locals can dine on fresh-caught fish daily. Every morning, the kitchen at Eggs 'n Things dishes up super fresh, sautéed ahi tuna with eggs, a nod to the Japanese custom of eating fish for breakfast. If you want to dive into a traditional meal, ask for side of rice. For non-seafood eaters, the chefs can also whip up light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and the state's famous macadamia nuts.
IDAHO: GOLDY'S BREAKFAST BISTRO
Everything at Goldy's Breakfast Bistro is fresh and delicious, which is why the little Boise bistro's been consistently drawing morning crowds since 1999. But don't be deterred by the line out the door; this spot seats only 56 and closes at 2 p.m., but even the fruit cups are worth the wait. Hearty breakfasts include hollandaise-topped eggs benedict and banana-stuffed French toast as well as more unusual fare like a dish representing Boise's Basque population, Andalusia Eggs: two poached eggs over marinara sauce, baked with ham, chorizo, asparagus and peppers. A popular side dish, "Red Flannel Hash," features cubed beets and Idaho red potatoes peppered with chunks of crunchy bacon.
ILLINOIS: HOLLYWOOD GRILL
Like many iconic diners, Chicago's Hollywood Grill, "born in 1995," slings classic breakfast foods—from buttermilk pancakes, extra-thick French toast, and sizzling bacon right off the griddle to corned beef hash skillets and Southern smothered biscuit platters -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The retro spot also dishes up anything else you might be craving that morning.
INDIANA: VILLAGE DELI
Known for colossal, made-from-scratch pancakes, Bloomington's bustling breakfast staple Village Deli is an obvious hotspot for university students. Add fresh fruit, granola, chocolate or peanut butter chips, walnuts, or cinnamon to your giant buttermilk pancakes or pick from their spot-on seasonal options. But be sure to also try the other crowd favorite: Paxton's Potatoes, home fries served Hoosier-style, smothered in sausage gravy and shredded cheddar.
IOWA: HAMBURG INN NO. 2
City: Iowa City
As Iowa City's oldest family-owned restaurant since 1948, Hamburg Inn No. 2 has been a regular stop for presidential candidates during the Iowa caucuses. The decades-old, memorabilia-filled downtown diner, now with a second location east of the city, serves up hearty American comfort food. Go classic with the Iowa omelet with grilled ham, hash browns, and American cheese.
KANSAS: THE CHEF CAFE
The Limbocker family ran the original Chef Cafe from 1943 to 1986, and some nostalgic Manhattanites reopened the beloved establishment in 2008. The Chef Cafe's revamped menu put the spotlight on breakfast with updated fare like pancakes bananas foster topped with dark rum-pecan sauce, a "smothered" breakfast burrito (covered in sausage cream gravy), and the Buenos Dias Frittata packed with spicy, homemade chorizo and drizzled with sour cream and a chipotle sauce.
KENTUCKY: LEXINGTON DINER
The unpretentious Lexington Diner has a four-stool counter and some of the best all-day breakfasts you'll find anywhere. The neighborhood nook serves up overstuffed omelets, buttermilk biscuits with peppered gravy, salted caramel apple French toast, and cheddar garlic grits. But their breakfast spin on regional specialty the Kentucky Hot Brown -- chorizo with scrambled eggs, gravy, grilled tomato, bacon, and baked cheddar -- is life-changing.
LOUISIANA: SURREY'S CAFE & JUICE BAR
City: New Orleans
Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar, "New Orleans' oldest organic juice bar," slings local favorites like a crabmeat omelet stuffed with avocado and brie cheese topped with a creamy lump crab sauce; shrimp and grits with sauteed Louisiana Gulf shrimp in New Orleans-style barbecue sauce over grits; and a Cajun boudin breakfast biscuit with eggs.
MAINE: PALACE DINER
In the old mill town of Biddeford, Palace Diner offers old-fashioned comfort fare to start your morning off right. Counter service at the vintage railcar diner slings the essentials: locally roasted coffee, perfect hash brown potatoes, corned beef hash with eggs and toast, buttermilk flapjacks spiked with grated lemon zest, and the Deluxe Sandwich, an amazingly cheesy breakfast sandwich with crispy bacon, egg, jalapeño, and cheddar.
MARYLAND: MISS SHIRLEY'S CAFE
City: Annapolis and Baltimore
In Maryland, it's never too early in the day for fresh jumbo lump crab, and Baltimore-based Miss Shirley's Cafe is the go-to spot for a bevy of creative, crab-inspired breakfast dishes. "Shirley's Affair With Oscar" features fried green tomatoes topped with crab, two fillets of grilled beef, asparagus, and hollandaise, and a side of creamy stone-ground grits laced with diced bacon. For an extra kick, add a well-garnished Spicy Shirley bloody mary to your order. You can opt to tack on 2 ounces of jumbo lump crab to your drink, of course.
MASSACHUSETTS: MIKE & PATTY'S
Bostonians are addicted to Mike & Patty's breakfast sandwiches. The little sandwich shop churns out craveworthy handhelds like the flavorful breakfast torta with chorizo, two fried eggs, cheddar, potatoes, black beans, salsa, and avocado on a sesame torta roll. The "Breakfast Grilled Crack" features buttered sourdough loaded with fried egg, cheese trio (American, cheddar, and gruyere), and bacon -- add even more bacon if that's not enough.
MICHIGAN: FLEETWOOD DINER
City: Ann Arbor and Lansing
Kick off the day with the all-day breakfast special at Fleetwood Diner. For $8 and some change, you'll score a hearty helping of eggs any style with sausage, bacon or ham, hash browns, toast, and jelly. It's open 24 hours, so you can return for a late night/crack of dawn meal like the renowned "hippie hash," homemade hash browns with feta and tons of veggies.
MINNESOTA: PANNEKOEKEN HUIS
In the heart of Minneapolis, authentic Dutch restaurant Pannekoeken Huis (Dutch for "Pancake House") is well-known for its windmill-kitsch decor, Dutch potato pancakes, and pannekoeken -- giant, airy Dutch pancakes filled with sweet ingredients like apples and cinnamon sugar. The all-day breakfast establishment's apple pannenkoeken topped with brown sugar are some of the best you'll ever try. There are nearly 20 other toppings and add-ins to craft your own special pancake.
MISSISSIPPI: BIG BAD BREAKFAST
At the flagship Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi (and other locations in Alabama, Florida, and soon South Carolina), diners line up to get their fill of James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence's celebrated Southern breakfast fare. Wolf down soulful staples like brandy-spiked French toast and the Low Country skillet -- scrambled eggs, shrimp, andouille, onions, corn, tomatoes, hash, and cheddar -- alongside grits, sweet potato hash, and house-cured Tabasco and brown-sugar bacon.
City: St. Louis
Sweet and savory crêpes monopolize the breakfast menu at both Rooster locations, but one of the European-style cafe's stand-out dishes is a rendition of a St. Louis late-night staple called the "slinger": two burger patties, hash browns, and eggs (any style) covered with chili over thick-cut toast. The hangover-curing Rooster Slinger replaces burger patties and chili with chunks of andouille sausage and thick sausage gravy.
Want to start your meal with some mini house-made cinnamon rolls topped with caramel and pecans, seriously loaded hash browns, a sweet and savory chicken and biscuit benedict, challah bread French toast stuffed with jam-infused mascarpone cream cheese, or pulled pork omelet? Head to Jam! in Montana.
NEBRASKA: 11-WORTH CAFE
The bustling 11-Worth Cafe is not afraid to serve huge portions for your dollar, including an out-of-this-world steak breakfast burrito with hash browns and a notoriously giant chicken fried steak with creamy country gravy.
NEVADA: MR. MAMAS BREAKFAST & LUNCH
City: Las Vegas
Mr. Mamas, a hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint in Las Vegas, dishes up old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes made from scratch, huge cinnamon rolls, and egg- and veggie-loaded breakfast wraps. Not to mention half orders of homemade biscuits smothered in Mamas' sausage gravy to start the meal off right.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: RED ARROW DINER
City: Manchester and other locations
Comfort food like 20-piece mugs of crispy maple-cured bacon and a variety of eggs benedict choices (think crabcake benny and maple sausage patty benny), griddled pancakes paired with New Hampshire maple syrup, and famous golden hash brown specials topped with melted cheese or sausage gravy can be found at Red Arrow Diner.
NEW JERSEY: SAM A.M.
City: Jersey City
The cozy New Jersey cafe Sam A.M. churns out breakfast dishes and sandwiches with locally sourced ingredients alongside espresso beverages like fresh-milk lattes. Try the pimento breakfast sandwich with a farm egg and house pimento on ciabatta, oatmeal sweetened with maple syrup and loaded with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and pecans, or one of the weekly grits breakfast specials topped with a fried egg and shredded cheese.
NEW MEXICO: TECOLOTE CAFE
City: Santa Fe
In Santa Fe, the family-owned Tecolote Cafe dishes up an authentic Southwestern breakfast. For something savory, order the Huevos Yucatecos, a corn tortilla layered with black beans, eggs, Swiss and feta cheese, pico de gallo, and fried bananas. To curb a sweet tooth, go for the Atolé Piñon Hotcakes; toasted pine nuts are mixed in to give the blue-cornmeal hotcakes a crunchy texture and rich, nutty flavor. Balance out the meal with a side of jalapeño bacon.
NEW YORK: OATMEALS
City: New York
We'd be hard-pressed to find a bagel shop in New York City we didn't like, so we'll jump to the most healthy and timeless breakfast option you'll find for a steal instead: oatmeal from "the world's first all-oatmeal cafe," OatMeals. Hearty bowls -- made with whole grain steel-cut oats -- range from classic to inventive. Build your own bowl or choose a signature bowl -- in Baby Bear, Mama Bear, and Papa Bear sizes. Think peaches and cream with brown sugar or "The Elvis" bowl with peanut butter, banana, bacon, honey, and sea salt.
NORTH CAROLINA: SUNRISE BISCUIT KITCHEN
City: Chapel Hill
The famous fried chicken biscuits from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill are so good, they've got cars lining up at the drive-thru-only shack before the window opens at 6 a.m. Each house-made biscuit is buttered right out of the oven, then stuffed with a piece of crispy fried chicken. Of course, you can also opt for biscuit add-ins like country ham, sausage, gravy, a fried egg, cheddar, or just plain buttered. Just don't overthink it ... they sell out fast.
NORTH DAKOTA: KROLL'S DINER
City: Fargo and elsewhere
Since 1972, Kroll's Diner has been serving hearty, homestyle German and American breakfasts, perfect pick-me-ups for a North Dakota morning. Locals love the German-influenced Breakfast Fleischkuechle (a sausage, eggs, and cheese pastry with gravy) and sizzling signature skillets like the cheese-topped Rancher Skillet with eggs, ham, onions, green peppers, and hash browns alongside a choice of pancakes, toast, or a biscuit and gravy. As the famous tagline commands, "Sit Down and Eat"!
OHIO: TUCKER'S RESTAURANT
If you're in Cincinnati, you need to swing by Tucker's Restaurant for some goetta -- a German-inspired meat-and-grain sausage that's popular in the area. The classic mom-and-pop counter joint serves up generous-sized slices, cooked to crispy perfection on the outside and soft on the inside, as a side dish, built into a cheesy omelet, or a breakfast special occasionally.
OKLAHOMA: DILLY DINER
At Tulsa's Dilly Diner, you'll find awesome food and friendly, quick service. And with the quick service, you won't have to wait long to dig into a plate of breakfast tacos, fluffy and warm biscuits with gravy, or "The Jed," a huge, fresh-baked cinnamon roll, topped with your choice of a brown sugar pecan glaze or traditional whipped cream cheese frosting.
OREGON: PINE STATE BISCUITS
From three Portland locations, Pine State Biscuits doles out buttery biscuits with all the fixings you could possibly want -- from fried green tomatoes to fried chicken to pulled pork to tofu bacon. Aside from the biscuit business, house specialties like the triple stack of from-scratch blueberry cornmeal pancakes and bourbon-caramel cinnamon rolls are the real crowd pleasers.
PENNSYLVANIA: FEDERAL DONUTS
Pennsylvania might be the land of roadside diners, but there's something to be said about a shop that does doughnuts, fried chicken, and coffee really well. The expanding empire Federal Donuts only serves these three items, and they sell out every time. Rotating fancy doughnut flavors -- cookies and cream, cinnamon brown sugar, strawberry lavender, and s'mores -- keep even regulars on their toes.
RHODE ISLAND: LAURA'S PLEASANT VIEW DINER
Even the "Hungry Man" special -- that's two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausages, two pancakes, home fries, and toast -- will only set you back a crisp $10 bill at Laura's Pleasant View Diner. The made-to-order Belgian waffles and three-egg omelets at this Rhode Island diner are especially noteworthy, and the pancakes are so big they practically hang off the plate.
SOUTH CAROLINA: CALLIE'S HOT LITTLE BISCUIT
Callie's Hot Little Biscuit's grab-and-go bake shops in Charleston and Atlanta, Georgia, dole out piping hot biscuits, pimento cheese sandwiches, and other locally inspired breakfast treats made to order. Score three Hot Little Biscuits of any kind for $5: buttermilk, shortcake, cheese and chive, country ham, black pepper bacon, cinnamon, or blackberry. Then add accoutrements like cinnamon or savory thyme whipped butter, Carolina honey, bacon gravy, shredded cheddar, roasted tomatoes, avocado, fried egg, and more.
SOUTH DAKOTA: BAKER'S BAKERY & CAFE
Before exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota, stop in for breakfast at Baker's Bakery & Cafe. The seasonal mainstay (closes at end of September) is known for its homemade bread and buns, gigantic cinnamon and pecan caramel rolls (arrive early), breakfast burrito, and omelets like the Western style with crispy bacon, diced onion and bell pepper, and shredded cheddar jack cheese with salsa and huge slices of sourdough toast. Splurge the extra dollar for the green chile sauce.
TENNESSEE: BRYANT'S BREAKFAST
Fill up at Bryant's Breakfast, a cash-only joint in Memphis. The bustling, counter-serve eatery dishes out classic Southern breakfast like a superb grits breakfast bowl and cinnamon roll French toast. With so many menu options, it can be hard to decide what to order, but The Sampler breakfast special covers it all: three eggs, three homemade biscuits with country gravy, grits, a potato patty, plus a sampling of bacon, sausage, country ham, and pork tenderloin.
TEXAS: MI MADRE'S RESTAURANT
Mi Madre's has a full breakfast menu featuring breakfast plates and Austin's best breakfast tacos. Breakfast plates include "La Loca," house-marinated beef fajitas with two scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, avocado, and queso. As far as breakfast tacos go, #0 hits the mark with crispy bacon, fluffy eggs, smashed Idaho potatoes, and melted cheddar jack cheese in a flour tortilla, but you could just as easily select #1-18 for a morning pick-me-up.
UTAH: SILL'S CAFE
Longtime mom-and-pop spot Sill's Cafe serves up down-home American breakfast plates. The Utah institution's famous massive scones (not your average English scone; it's a Utah thing) are perfectly crispy and coated with honey butter "frosting" on the outside yet soft and doughy inside -- it's enough to make you come back for more. Don't miss The Boss' Breakfast (eggs with cheese, bacon, and hash browns topped with a spicy gravy called S.O.S.), which also comes with a Utah-style scone the size of your head.
VERMONT: PENNY CLUSE CAFE
Regulars come to the always-packed Penny Cluse Cafe for gingerbread pancakes and other creative options. This Vermont stalwart has your morning covered with the Penny Cluse breakfast plate. Named after co-owner Holly Cluse's childhood dog, the dish comes with two eggs any style, a mound of home fries, and biscuits with herb cream gravy (chef Maura O'Sullivan's special sauce -- tinted green by spinach, basil, and parsley).
VIRGINIA: DIXIE RESTAURANT
Dixie Restaurant oozes of small town Virginia, and the Petersburg mainstay fills up with regulars as soon as the doors open. The old-school counter service spot has been in business since 1939 (revitalized after a new owner took over in 2011), but its roster of simple Southern breakfasts stayed the same. You'll find the usual biscuits and gravy, triple stacks of hotcakes, cheesy grits and collard greens, and omelets with their famous chili sauce, but also more intriguing dishes like Virginia ham steak and eggs, salmon cakes, salt herring, and "The Haynie," a house-made scrapple with a side of grits or stewed apples.
WASHINGTON: THE BRAEBURN RESTAURANT
A short jaunt from Seattle, you'll discover Puget Sound's Whidbey Island and its cheery cafe with a charming patio, The Braeburn Restaurant, serving fantastic Pacific Northwest-inspired breakfasts and juice in a mason jar. Fresh bounty from the region's farms and local vendors make dishes like the Northwest Scramble with wild Alaskan smoked salmon and daily brioche French toast specials focused on seasonal ingredients that much more special.
WEST VIRGINIA: BLUE WHITE GRILL
If you're hungry in West Virginia, Blue White Grill has been solving that problem since it opened in 1958. Sit at the counter or slide into a booth at the all-American diner for pecan-loaded and Oreo cookie crumb-filled hotcakes or "Uncle Jimmy's Breakfast Bowl," an open-faced omelet stuffed with sausage, sautéed onions and green peppers, and home fries, then covered in sausage gravy and cheese and served with toast, a biscuit, or an English muffin.
WISCONSIN: AL JOHNSON'S SWEDISH RESTAURANT & BUTIK
City: Sister Bay
Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik embraces Wisconsin's Scandinavian heritage with real goats grazing on its grass-lined roof and house specialties like extra thin Swedish pancakes topped with Wisconsin butter and tart lingonberries with a side of Swedish meatballs. For something more savory, opt for another common Swedish dish, pyttipanna, a roast beef hash served with one over-hard egg and homemade pickled beets.
WYOMING: SHERRIE'S PLACE
If you're looking for a solid homestyle breakfast at an extremely reasonable price in Wyoming, Sherrie's Place is for you. The homey American restaurant is only open limited hours during the week and fills up quickly, but hearty portions of breakfast staple chicken-fried steak -- beautifully mastered by owner Sherrie Lopez with extra-crunchy crust and a thick gravy loaded with breakfast sausage crumbles -- keep regulars coming back for more.