There’s nothing wrong with Bloody Marys and biscuit towers, but long before the South was brunch-obsessed, these restaurants had mastered hearty breakfast standards. Their skill is still on display most days of the week.
Surfside Beach, South Carolina
Don’t let the name fool you. Omega deserves to be first and foremost in all discussions of Grand Strand pancake houses. The restaurant specializes in the warm hospitality that breakfasters crave as much as coffee in the morning, but what makes Omega so special is its tender, lofty cakes, served with real butter and organic maple syrup.
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Even Pinehurst visitors who can’t abide hearing about any sport other than golf swear by this pint-sized breakfast bungalow, situated just paces away from the loop where harness racers practice. The menu lists French toast, biscuits, and eggs, but it’s the blueberry pancakes that come up in conversation on the links later in the day.
After two decades of charming customers with its slow-cooked grits and saucy shrimp, which get by just fine without an assist from pork products, Narobia’s in 2021 vastly expanded its dining room. Now three times as many eaters can simultaneously enjoy Reid family recipes, including a lacy French toast that’s promoted as being too sweet to need syrup.
As the name implies, the chatter and coffee are both forceful at this feta omelet stronghold, founded in 1975 by George and Loula Kolidakis. One point of agreement among loyal patrons is the supremacy of the crisp-edged home fries, bold and beautiful in their handwrought asymmetry and generous shake of black pepper.
Even though Coney Island has been serving its eponymous, red-skinned dogs with oregano-flecked chili since 1923, avid fans of the institution order them with last-chance enthusiasm at 6 a.m. Should you find yourself atop a swiveling stool at the diner counter or tucked into a booth decorated with fading Fokakis family photos, you might prefer eggs and bacon from the storied grill.
After Bogue’s closed in 2022, following an eighty-four-year run, Birminghamians weren’t sure where to go for breakfast. But Fife’s has been there nearly all along, having opened in 1959. The homey restaurant shifts to cafeteria service for lunch, but scrambles eggs and flips pancakes to order. Devotees are divided on sides: Some favor thick-skinned smoked sausage, while others are partial to sweet country ham.
Located just down the block from where Elvis Presley used to practice karate, Tastee is housed in a former Coleman’s Bar-B-Que, the 1960s chain that left ghost pits all over town. Barbecue is available at 6 a.m., but regulars typically take their before-work pork in the form of brawny bacon slices, smoked bologna, or zesty sausage, nestled against grits sagging with butter.