ELV note: In our world, breakfast is good for only one thing: thinking about lunch. But obviously, others disagree. For that reason, we’ve turned the column over to M. Uzmann today for his discerning delectation in divining these (sometimes delightful, sometimes disgusting) digestibles. FYI: you can access these and other reviews of Michael’s at www.endoedibles.com.
Special to Eating Las Vegas by Michael Uzmann
Born Catholic in the Midwest during the 1980s Sundays meant one thing, breakfast…after church of course, and although raised middle class in a city not particularly known for anything culinary save for Tony Packo’s it was probably those early years that formed a palate prone to hefty morning meals of pancakes, French toast, and ‘Moons over My-hammy.’ Obviously evolving my palate over subsequent years and having dined at several of the “world’s best,” many still question my choices for breakfasts so heavy in sweets, particularly given my career choice, but still those masticatory memories persist – the result an ever growing list of morning meals to please gourmand and inner-child alike.
Now relocated to Las Vegas, a virtual Mecca for 24-hour (or early morning) dining, suffice it to say that options have expanded substantially and although many are drawn to the hotel buffet or a celebrity chef brunch it is more-and-more that I find myself drawn to the local’s only joints – those mom n’ pop spots or small chains that aim not to please the tourists but rather their friends and neighbors while devoting time, debt, and passion to doing something they lover rather than making a quick buck. Admittedly impressed by favorites like Bouchon and Bacchanal plus underappreciated casino gems to follow on a future list, there is simply nothing like breakfast at Toledo’s Uncle John’s Pancake House on the strip yet willing to drive the choices abound – a personal Top-10* ranging from a small French Bakery to a Hash House not one bit “a go-go” at all
Blueberry Hill –
Locally owned and operated since 1966, with several 24/7 locations on each side of the Strip, Blueberry Hill is the sort of place where a steak is just as reasonable as soup, salad, or pie at 6:00am but the money at this homey space is in the pancakes, thick and fluffy stacks topped with any number of options for toppings while French Toast, Waffles, Muffins, and Cakes are also likely to tempt.
Bonjour Bakery –
Easily overlooked, with a quaint storefront inside a shopping complex off Rainbow, it would be a fool’s folly to mistake Bonjour as just another a bakery because although the croissants and chocolate brioche are indeed amongst the best in the city it is the caramelized, custard-laden French toast topped with berries, cream, and a scoop of ice cream that proves the pièce de résistance.
Born and Raised –
Not particularly a ‘breakfast’ spot, but rather a 24/7 Sports Bar full of Silver State Pride, B.A.R. is one of those ‘only in Vegas’ spots where one can indulge in Fruity Pebble French Toast, Banana Bread French Toast Sticks, and Fried Mac n’ Cheese alongside a Slider-based food challenge while smoking a stogie, playing video poker, and watching the Running Rebels.
Established as part of the Downtown Project before most could even envision what Tony and his team were hoping to achieve, Natalie Young’s EAT is the sort of downtown urban eatery one might expect to find in hipster hotspots like Brooklyn or Asheville but with a well-culled menu of Southern-inspired specialties dressed up with organic produce and consciously sourced meats the results here far outperform the expectations generated by such an unassuming space. Excelling in sweets and savories, both, those looking for the city’s best shrimp and grits are likely to be satisfied in the spice profile and creamy texture of eat’s iteration while those looking for something more unique should appreciate the brazen Eggs Motulenos offering poached eggs over chilis, bananas, feta, and beans – an order of NOLA-quality beignets for dessert every bit worth the frequently long waits.
EggWorks / Egg & I –
Now featuring five locations, with the most recent expansion to Summerlin featuring an in-house bakery, the EggWorks family of restaurants feature the sort of cooking most accomplished home cooks could achieve with little effort but with low prices frequently complimented by coupons, friendly service, and seasonal specials including spicy pumpkin pancakes alongside their signature banana muffins and stuffed French toast nearly everything here is as good as ‘homemade’ without the need for a grocery list and a resultant sink full of dishes.
Mary’s Hash House –
Often confused with the four options ‘a go-go’ speckling The Valley but decidedly different despite a similar Midwestern theme this Hash House is owned and operated by two ladies you just have to love – each arriving early in the morning to prep any number of scratch made specialties from omelets to pancakes along with one of the best Monte Cristo Sandwiches in town, and even a variety of housemade jams.
Mr. Mama’s –
Highly praised on Yelp! for downright cheap breakfasts and some of the best service in town Mr. Mama’s is the sort of place that anyone from fly-over country can appreciate, the honest to goodness work ethic of a dedicated team proud of their work and ready to serve both newcomers and regulars alike – consider the pancakes, fill up on bottomless coffee, and make the Cinnamon Roll a ‘must.’
MTO Café –
Toqued by Johnny Church and churning out breakfasts for downtown crowds with a new offshoot to open in Summerlin soon, MTO Café is probably the most ‘upscale’ option on the off-Strip everyday-breakfast list but with farm fresh produce, top quality proteins, and a skilled team overseeing each seasonal plate the extra few dollars are well justified for items including pancakes, chicken and waffles, burgers, eggs, and wraps able to please almost any palate.
Original Sunrise Café –
Located just off the 215 with a devoted clientele undoubtedly created by stellar customer service that seems to assent to any request, Original Sunrise Café is about as close as it gets to a ‘destination’ breakfast in the Southeast Valley. Open for breakfast and lunch with the full menu available all hours the Original “OG” and Travis Pastrami are quite popular alongside several benedicts for those seeking savories while French toast creations like the fried graham cracker “Home Run” are there to tempt children and adults alike, the butter-soaked bagel snowcaps doused in confectioners’ sugar strongly recommended regardless of age or taste.
Waffles Café –
Locally owned and operated by a mother and her sons, with five bases and innumerable toppings from which they begin, the namesake focus of Waffles Café on North Durango are simply amongst the best bites of batter in Sin City. The northernmost member of this list, not to be confused with the similarly named spot in Aliante, those desiring something savory are encouraged to check out the breakfast waffle sandwich while fans of dessert for breakfast would be well served by the “Sweet P” featuring a soft pumpkin waffle topped in apple pie filling, caramel, cinnamon, and ice cream.
* Note: Listed Alphabetically the list is limited to off-strip locations with no national franchising and no casino-based branch and (unfortunately excluding Bagel Café due to Del Mar Deli at Southpoint.) It also does not include “weekend brunch” restaurants or bakery-only options, but rather those serving proper breakfast most days of the week.
Also Considered: Al’s Donuts and Café Burger, Baguette Café, Crepe Expectations, Crepe Shack and Waffles, The Cracked Egg, Divine Eatery, Huntridge Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, Jamm’s, Kailyn’s Diner, Layers Bakery Cafe, Lula’s Bread and Breakfast, M&M Soulfood Café, Norm’s Eggs Café, Peppermill, Rise & Shine a Steak & Eggs Place, Tiabi Coffee and Waffles, Weiss Restaurant Deli & Bakery