2023’s Best Cities for Breakfast Lovers

Family having breakfast, daughter reaching over to put a biscuit into dad's mouth.

From eggs and avocado toast to pancakes and doughnuts, eating a delicious breakfast is the best way to start your day.

So, where are hungry early birds getting the best breakfast?

To find out, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Breakfast Lovers.

We looked at cities with plenty of access to breakfast spots like diners, cafes, and doughnut shops. We also considered quality and popularity by measuring consumer ratings, Google search interest, and the number of breakfast clubs, among 16 total metrics. 

Dig in and celebrate National French Toast Day on Nov. 28 with the help of our rankings and in-depth analysis below. 

In this article

City rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the Best Cities for Breakfast Lovers, a ranking based on access to high quality breakfast spots and popularity of breakfast among city residents

The upshot

Breakfast empire

Take a bite into The Big Apple, because New York is the best city for breakfast lovers. 

New Yorkers have a multitude of options for breakfast, from bodega sandwiches to bagels and fresh-baked pastries. Not only is breakfast easily accessible, but it is top Quality (No. 1). New York has many highly-rated breakfast vendors, a number of which are recognized in top breakfast lists.

Breakfast is also incredibly popular in NYC. The city is home to the most breakfast clubs and has the highest average monthly Google searches for breakfast-related keywords.

Local tips: 

  • For authentic New York bagels, head to Russ & Daughters. Here, you can get high-quality lox (among other smoked and cured fish) and various sweet or savory baked goods. 
  • Hit up your neighborhood’s favorite deli or bodega for a classic B.E.C. (bacon, egg, and cheese). 
  • Enjoy a pastry and reminisce on the era before the internet at Birch Coffee, one of New York’s top coffee shops where patrons are encouraged to take a break from their electronic devices.

Big city appetites

Large populations mean plenty of hungry folks, so it’s no surprise that big cities like San Francisco (No. 2), Chicago (No. 3), and Boston (No. 6) sizzled to the top. 

San Francisco has the top Access to breakfast vendors, including the most cafes, bagel shops, and coffee shops per square mile. Boston isn’t far behind with a third-place rank in Access and the highest number of bakeries per square mile. There’s a smorgasbord of breakfast options in Chicago and Seattle (No. 8), too. 

Chicago stands out thanks to Quality (No. 5) breakfast foods. Los Angeles (No. 10) is another big city with high Quality eats and a high number of well-rated breakfast vendors. 

Meanwhile, less-populated cities, including Midland, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, fell to the bottom, alongside West Valley City, Utah, at No. 200. Fewer people means fewer options in these smaller cities and suburbs. 

Local tips: 

  • San Francisco: Plow serves up farm-to-table fare, including lemon ricotta pancakes and custard French toast. Thorough Bread & Pastry is a beloved local bakery, selling French-style viennoiseries, bread, and pastries.
  • Chicago: The Brown Bobby — a triangular doughnut — got its start in The Windy City, where doughnut lovers purchased a machine for making them at home in the early 1900s. Brown Bobby machines are rare these days, so most Chicagoans get their doughnut fix at Old Fashioned Donuts. This local shop has been filling hearts and stomachs for more than 50 years. 
  • Boston: Cozy up at Theo’s Cozy Corner Restaurant. This cash-only diner serves up filling classics like eggs benedict, French toast, and English breakfast. Mr. Crêpe is a crêperie and café located in Davis Square, offering both sweet and savory (and gluten-free) crepes, along with an array of pastries.

First-rate feasts

A tasty breakfast can be the best thing to get you rolling out of bed in the morning. 

Bring out the beignets in New Orleans (No. 11), which has the largest share of highly-rated breakfast vendors. Charleston, South Carolina (No. 18) follows close behind, serving up mouthwatering Southern favorites in highly-rated cafes and gourmet eateries.

Portland, Oregon (No. 4), Denver (No. 17), and Nashville, Tennessee (No. 19) fared well in Quality, too, with Portland bringing home silver in that category. Breakfast culture is big in Portland, which has the second-most breakfast clubs out of the cities in our ranking. 

Local tips:

  • Portland: The Waffle Window specializes in Portland-style Liege waffles, with plenty of flavors and toppings ranging from blueberry cheesecake to bacon, brie, and basil. They offer vegan and gluten-free options, too. 
  • New Orleans: Whether you’re craving coffee and pastries or fried chicken and sausage gravy biscuits, Willa Jean has got you covered. A trip to NOLA is incomplete without biting into iconic beignets from Cafe du Monde
  • Charleston: Toast! All Day is a Charleston gem, vetted by TripAdvisor and The New York Times. They serve fresh, mouthwatering variations of Southern classics, such as biscuits, beignets, and chicken and waffles.

Behind the ranking

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into three categories: Access, Quality, and Popularity.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 200). 

Notes: 

  • The “Worst” among individual factors may not be 200 due to ties among cities.
  • Top Breakfast-Related Keywords include:
    • Breakfast near me
    • Breakfast places near me
    • Best breakfast near me
    • Breakfast restaurants near me

Sources

Culture Trip, Food & Wine, Expedia, Google, Mashed, Meetup, TripAdvisor, and Yelp

Final thoughts: Breakfast bucket list

Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” said it best: “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.” Whether you’re feeling scrambled or sunny-side up, breakfast is a great way to start (or end) your day. 

Add to your breakfast bucket list with inspiration from some more of the country’s top diners and breakfast joints below.

Atlanta

The Peach State is known for being home to the original Waffle House, but that’s just the beginning when it comes to delicious Southern-style comfort foods. Home Grown GA is an award-winning spot in The Big Peach, serving up affordable breakfast and brunch options. They even source some ingredients from their on-site garden.

Denver 

The Denver omelet may not have begun in the Mile High City, but it is still an American diner classic. Sam’s No. 3 is Denver’s favorite bustling diner, cooking up approximately 22,000 eggs every week. Sam’s has been in business since 1927 and has been praised by locals, national news outlets, and celebrities like Jack Black. 

Los Angeles

From doughnuts to breakfast burritos, LA has the variety to appease all appetites. Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles is a soul food staple, loved by celebrities including Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, and Shaquille O’Neil. 

Philadelphia

Federal Donuts serves up fried chicken, breakfast sandwiches, and (you guessed it) doughnuts. Grab breakfast before heading to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens at nearby Sam’s Morning Glory Diner. This is a cash-only spot with homemade breakfast and brunch specials. 

San Antonio

Head to The Original Donut Shop, which sells scrumptious doughnuts, but is better known for serving the best breakfast tacos in Alamo City. Kick your kolache cravings at Bexar Kolache Company, or head to Magnolia Pancake Haus for world-famous buttermilk pancakes and other classic breakfast fare. 

Main photo credit: iStock

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a recent graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.