The Philly Weekday Breakfast Guide

This one is for the brunch naysayers, the early risers, the champions of the most important meal of the day.

Middle Child Clubhouse’s Olivia Pancake with a smiley-face slab of chef Edwin De La Rosa’s signature citrus-honey butter. / Photograph by Matthew Cahn

Welcome to a list dedicated to the hard-working, weekday morning breakfasts of Philadelphia. We’re talking about the kind of places that will kickstart your day with Honduran tamales, spicy beef noodle soup, a mountain of pancakes, or an egg sandwich with vegan scrapple.

Consider these Philly breakfast options the next time you need a stick-to-your-ribs diner plate, a quick and reliable place to host a morning meeting, or a solo meal that feels more special than what you normally do at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Middle Child, Midtown Village and Fishtown

Both Middle Child locations offer their beloved fluffy-egged breakfast sandwich (with corned beef piled high and a super-crisp hash brown). If you want to have a sit-down breakfast and get some work done, Clubhouse is your spot: They have ample space, wi-fi, and serve a longer breakfast menu of dishes. Our favorite? Olivia’s pancake, a massive malted buttermilk and citrus pancake with a slab of honey butter slowly melting on top. But the original location feels especially cozy for a breakfast hang on a weekday with a friend. 248 South 11th Street; 1232 North Front Street.

Down Home Diner, Market East

With their retro tables and classic home cooking, there’s a kind of kitschy charm to diners. But what makes the experience of eating at Down Home Diner even more special is that it’s in the Reading Terminal Market. Swing by as early as 7 a.m. for a cheesesteak omelet with a house-made buttermilk biscuit and watch Philadelphia wake up. Reading Terminal Market, 51 North 12th Street.

Ants Pants, Grad Hospital

Inspired by Australia’s deep love of coffee, Ants Pants brings a taste of Sydney to South Street. There are plenty of “brekkie” items to choose from. For instance, a variety of hash dishes — from the vegetarian hash to the Italian sausage and bacon hash. And if you’ve never tried a flat white, considered by The Economist as “one of Australia’s greatest culinary exports,” then this is the place to do it. 2212 South Street.

Front Street Cafe, Fishtown

If you’re looking for a breakfast spot with a lot of meat-free and gluten-free options, Front Street Cafe should be on your radar. They have flavorful veggie-forward dishes to start your day, including a gluten-free lentil-and-mushroom scrapple. 1253 North Front Street.

Renata’s, University City

Renata’s is known for their Mediterranean take on breakfast, but their menu expands further across the globe. Where else can you get shakshuka, French toast topped with mango-pineapple chutney, and a chorizo-stuffed breakfast burrito. 3940 Baltimore Avenue.

Breakfast poutine at Cafe Lift. / Photograph by Kae Lani Palmisano

Cafe Lift, Poplar and Haddonfield

There are two directions breakfast can go in: the sweet route or the savory one. Cafe Lift lets you travel both. (Take that, Robert Frost!) The play here is to get one of their over-the-top egg dishes, like the breakfast poutine, waffle fries swimming in a pool of sausage gravy and smoked mozzarella topped with over easy eggs, and order a sweet for the table. You can’t go wrong with a classic stack of buttermilk pancakes. 1124 Spring Garden Street; 144 Kings Highway East.

The Tasty, East Passyunk

Take an old-school diner with a ‘50s-style aesthetic and make it vegan. Seriously. Everything here is vegan. We’re talking tempeh bacon, tofu eggs, and even vegan pork roll. 1401 South 12th Street.

Flannel, East Passyunk

Flannel brings a bit of Southern comfort to East Passyunk with homestyle grits made from local corn, chicken and waffles, and buttermilk biscuits drowning in country gravy. The best part? Breakfast is served all day. 1819 East Passyunk Avenue.

Café Diem, Bella Vista

If you’re planning on seizing the day you have to start your morning strong with the bold flavors of Café Diem’s bún bò huế, a bowl of beef and noodles swimming in spicy broth. Don’t forget to tap the MAC before you go. It’s cash only. 1031 South 8th Street.

Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat, Northern Liberties

Jewish comfort meets Tex-Mex and Southern-style cooking at this Northern Liberties institution. It’s one of the few places in Philly you can get fried green tomatoes and challah French toast in one breakfast. 800 North 4th Street.

An assortment of pastries from Machine Shop. / Photograph by Kae Lani Palmisano

Machine Shop, East Passyunk

No, you’re not at a boulangerie in Paris. You’re at a bakery in a former mechanic shop in the Bok Building. Employing classical French techniques, every pastry is made with precision and finesse. Their croissants, for instance, have a crust that shatters like thin glass into a billion golden flakes that give way to delicate layers of buttery pastry. 821 Dudley Street.

The Breakfast Den, Grad Hospital

The Breakfast Den is the sort of lovable morning spot you’ll wish was in your neighborhood. The Vietnamese American breakfast menu ranges from banana and chocolate-chip pancakes to chao ga made with chicken-broth-enriched rice porridge to a sausage-and-egg bánh mì. 1500 South Street.

Tamalex Restaurant, East Passyunk

Tamalex gets a lot of (deserved) fanfare for their weekend-only Mexican tamales. But even if you don’t make it in time for those bad boys — or simply want to eat a non-cereal breakfast on a Wednesday — their Honduran-style tamales are also exceptional. These come wrapped in banana leaves and they’re moist enough to sort of melt away as you chew. If you’re looking for something decidedly hearty, go for the baleadas made with a thick flour tortilla wrapped around eggs, beans and avocado. Bring cash or pay with Venmo. 1163 South 7th Street.

Dodo Bakery, South Philly

If you assume you can only get fresh Hong Kong-style baked goods in Chinatown, think again. Stop by Dodo Bakery for char siu bao, perfect egg tarts and Chinese sausage buns. And keep coming back for the ever-changing specials. 2653 South 11th Street.

Café y Chocolate, South Philly

Even the world’s elite breakfast foods can’t compete with chilaquiles. If you relate to this sentiment, escort yourself to Café y Chocolate in South Philly and eat a pile of semi-softened chips with crisp edges covered in homemade red or green salsas, plenty of cheese, and fried eggs. Each plate comes with a side of beans and rice and goes well with a fresh-squeezed juice or Mexican coffee. 1532 Snyder Avenue.

Alif Brew & Mini Mart, University City

In case you’re someone who chooses dining experiences based on the coffee you can drink with your food, you’ll like Alif Brew. This cafe and market in West Philly brews Ethiopian beans into strong cups, perfect for pairing with foul medames and shredded injera soaked with spicy sauce. And it’s a great place to set up with a laptop. 4501 Baltimore Avenue.

Taco Heart / Photograph courtesy of Taco Heart

Taco Heart, Bella Vista

If you haven’t been to this Austin-style breakfast taco place yet, here are two pieces of advice: order ahead, and make sure you pick up a bags of flour tortillas while you’re there. These chewy tortilla frisbees are perfect — as are the migas tacos, which come stuffed with slightly soft, slightly crispy chips, along with scrambled eggs, peppers, onions and avocado. 1001 East Passyunk Avenue.

Pho 75, East Passyunk

This is a reminder that although Philadelphians consume a lot of lunch and dinner pho, the noodle soup is most commonly eaten for breakfast in Vietnam. As such, Pho 75 is perfect in the mornings: they open at 9 a.m. every day of the week and the quick service and strong coffee are both ideal at that hour. 1122 Washington Avenue.

Honeysuckle Provisions, University City

Honeysuckle is the place for dishes you’ll crave on otherwise boring weekday mornings, like a plantain cake, breakfast hot pockets stuffed with collards and egg, or a breakfast sandwich with black-eyed pea scrapple and cheddar. 310 South 48th Street.

Sulimay’s, Fishtown

Rely on this Fishtown spot for your basic egg-and-pancake situations done better than the average American breakfast joint — all in a neighborhood diner environment that draws people to drive across the city just for the chance to hang in a booth. Also, Sulimay’s is home to the whitefish scrapple which sounds like it doesn’t work but once you try it, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. 632 East Girard Avenue.

Miller’s Twist, Market East

Soft pretzels don’t necessarily scream “breakfast.” But this famous Reading Terminal Market staple makes breakfast wrap-ups that are perhaps the most classic Philly option you can dream of: a soft, buttery pretzel wrapped around your choice of fillings, from eggs and bacon to turkey sausage and cheese. Reading Terminal Market, 51 North 12th Street.

Bandeja paisa with maduros on the side at Tierra Colombiana / Photograph by Casey Robinson

Tierra Colombiana, North Philly

Tierra Colombiana opens at 8 a.m. every day serving a huge breakfast menu that ranges from pancakes and oatmeal to Cubanos, arepas and gallo pinto. The North Philly Latin institution also happens to serve $28 carafes of mimosas every single day, just in case that’s how your morning is going. 4535 North 5th Street.

M Kee, Chinatown

Another great option for Cantonese breakfast is M Kee. Here you can sit and fill your table with chiang fun with shrimp, pork congee with preserved egg, homemade soy milk — all starting at 8 a.m. Go once and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been going longer. 1002 Race Street.

Cafe La Maude, Northern Liberties

French-Middle Eastern breakfast in what feels like a classy cafe. Or a movie about a classy cafe. Cafe La Maude is basically a breakfast-all-day, every-day kind of operation offering two kinds of shakshuka dishes, foul moudamas, and pretty much anything else you can dream of at 8 a.m. on a Thursday. 816 North 4th Street.

Walnut Street Cafe, University City

If you need a fancier spot for a breakfast meeting with your boss or someone you’re trying to impress, Walnut Street Cafe has the elevated set-up you’re looking for. You’ll be seated at a table where you can fold your napkin over your lap and daintily chow down on soft-boiled eggs or a bowl of oatmeal with dried berries. The added bonus? The food is better than what you find at most corporate breakfast spots. 2929 Walnut Street.