We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it makes sense that it would have some seriously amazing restaurants devoted to it. Maybe the appeal is the wide range of options, from custardy french toast to smoky, savory bacon. Or maybe it’s the eternal appeal of fresh squeezed OJ. Whatever it is, these chains are doing it right.
These daytime cafes have been supplying stellar breakfast food since 1983, when the first restaurant opened in Pacific Grove, California. People loved their rotating seasonal menus, featuring specialties like Rainbow Toast, made with fresh berries, mango, and homemade granola, as well as their fresh-squeezed juice. Right now, they have 261 stores across 23 states, about 75 percent of which are company-owned. First Watch plans to open 30 more restaurants by the end of 2018. Score one for the early risers.
There are a lot of reasons to love Snooze, the Denver-based chain of breakfast restaurants: from the kitschy, retro decor, to the creative menu (pineapple upside-down pancakes, anyone?), it’s a smashing success all around. But you can also feel good about eating at Snooze since 90 percent of its waste is diverted from landfills through composting and recycling, where facilities exist. Plus, the company is working toward a goal to be completely waste-free by 2020. It also donates 1 percent of sales to local communities, which translated to over $600,000 last year. As if you needed another excuse to go out for pancakes.
A Southern staple, Waffle House is so beloved that it has inspired more than one song, many of which can be found on the restaurants’ jukeboxes. It’s an essential pit stop on long road trips, and it’s even become a popular after-prom destination for many teens. In addition to their signature waffles, the chain offers hashbrowns with a variety of toppings, including mushrooms, gravy, and diced ham. Restaurants are open 24 hours, so any time you have a craving for an order of Papa Joe’s Pork Chops, they’ll be there for you.
Anyone who’s ever made pancakes at home knows that they just taste better when someone else is flipping them for you. The Original Pancake House has been fulfilling people’s pancake needs for over half a century, from one restaurant in Portland, Oregon, to more than 130 in three different countries. Their flapjacks are so famous that the original location in Portland was even honored with a James Beard award. Rapid growth isn’t the goal for OPH, as it can take a while to train new franchises in the fine art of breakfast, but they still anticipate opening six new stores in 2018.
Beloved by early birds and night owls alike, the International House of Pancakes has come a long way from its humble roots in Toluca Lake, California. Now diners from Saudi Arabia to Seattle can enjoy a variety of pancakes, like the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n Fruity option featuring a variety of fruit toppings and whipped cream. They occasional offer all-you-can-eat specials, so keep an eye out if you’re in the mood to gorge yourself on stacks upon stacks of flapjacks. IHOP made a major splash a couple of weeks back when it flipped its name to IHOb in honor of its new Ultimate Steakburgers. How will this pay off? Only time will tell. This past quarter, IHOP, which has 1,791 units, reported 1 percent same-store sales growth, year-over-year, after comps fell 0.4 percent in Q4 versus the prior-year period.
If you don’t know what a kolache is, you’re missing out. These traditional Czech pastries are filled with all sorts of goodies, from fruit to meat, and they make the perfect breakfast food. Kolache Factory, founded in Houston, Texas, took this staple, brought by Eastern European immigrants to the area, and made it the perfect choice for breakfast on the go. They have a wide selection of traditional flavors, along with a few more out-there options, like pepperoni pizza.There are more than 50 locations across eight states, split between company-owned and franchised, though they plan on franchising more expansively in the future. Pastries this good are definitely worth Czech-ing out.
If you’ve ever been on a road trip in the U.S., you’ve probably been to a Cracker Barrel. The ubiquitous restaurants are half general store, half dining destination, and 100 percent homey. Breakfast isn’t the only thing they serve here, but it’s a crowd favorite, particularly on Sunday mornings. Country classics like biscuits and gravy are the stars here, and the sides, like grits and hashbrown casserole, are not to be missed. With more than 600 stores across 40 states, you’re almost guaranteed to be within driving distance of a chicken fried steak right this moment. Cracker Barrel’s comps increased 1.5 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2018, year-over-year, marking the third consecutive positive period for the brand.