A favorite, redefined
There’s French toast, and then there’s the custard-soaked bread pudding — a half-and-half mix of each day’s leftover bread and pastry, meaning every batch is slightly different — that chef Beth Fisher conjures up for a starring role on her brunch-all-day menu ($9 half, $12 whole) at the Wise Acre Eatery. Baked in the oven and then browned on the stove, this luscious treat is dressed with a nuts-and-dried-fruit granola and rests in a pool of intensely flavorful maple syrup. A dollop of pleasantly sour Greek yogurt is the inspired finishing touch. “It’s like no other French toast you’ve ever had,” said my server. Absolutely.
5401 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-2577, www.wiseacreeatery.com
The doors at Grand Cafe don’t open until 11 a.m., but the kitchen’s sublime eggs en cocotte ($12), a ramekin of soft, runny eggs baked with buttery puff pastry, creamy Gruyère and the barest trace of truffle oil, is well worth the wait. Runner-up: The scrambled egg-filled tacos ($2.50) at Rusty Taco. Four varieties are served all day, starting at 11 a.m.
Grand Cafe, 3804 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-8260, www.grandcafempls.com, closed Monday. Rusty Taco, 508 S. Lexington Pkwy., St. Paul, 651-698-2777; 6346 Vinewood Lane N., Maple Grove, 763-355-5064; and 522 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-315-5372, www.rustytacomn.com.
No waffling here
Sure, Al’s Breakfast enjoys a sterling reputation among the pancake-obsessed. But there’s a downside: Many never get beyond their beloved blueberry-walnut short stacks to experience the splendor that is this Dinkytowner’s bacon waffle ($6.90). Nurtured to a delicate golden glow in a stovetop iron, the tender-as-all-get-out waffle has slices of smoky bacon baked inside, a taste treat that blossoms under a generous drizzle of maple syrup (splurge and order the real stuff; you’ll thank me). With just 14 seats, expect a wait. Which, frankly, is part of the fun.
413 14th Av. SE., Mpls., 612-331-9991
At her Lucia’s to Go, Lucia Watson defines a.m. fast food as a generous wallop of creamy, pillowy scrambled eggs dotted with cheery snips of chives ($4.95). It arrives in what feels like a flash (my running average is four minutes), seasoned with a sure hand and piping hot. While you’re waiting, give into temptation and tuck into a cinnamon-laced, vanilla-iced mini-muffin (50 cents). Or maybe two of them.
Closed Mondays. 1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-825-9800, www.lucias.com
Everyone has their go-to pancake. I’ve recently claimed a new one: the Swedish pancakes ($9) at Blackbird, which gracefully reside closer to crêpe-like delicacy than flapjack heft. Chef/co-owner Chris Stevens also wisely pulls back on the sweetness by dressing them with a tangy cranberry-blueberry compote, and subbing out maple syrup with the juice from those berries. Instead of butter, there’s ricotta. Truly, perfect.
3800 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-4790, www.blackbirdmpls.com
Let’s cut right to the chase, shall we? There’s no better bagel in the Twin Cities than the crusty, chewy versions boiled and baked daily at Common Roots Cafe, and there’s no better expression of said bagel than a toasted “Everything” (read: garlic-, onion-, sesame- and poppy seed-crusted) stuffed with a hefty schmear of dill-infused cream cheese and the house-smoked salmon ($7.50).
2558 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-2360, www.commonrootscafe.com