From ABC Juice and steak sandwich to 'luchi-begun bhaja' and 'sapthaswara uttappam' (and not a five-star buffet or fast-food joint in sight)
Breakfasts are curiously underrated in urban India. For some, they come out of a packet during the dash to the door, or consist of a fruit consumed in the car. For others, they are the least imaginative meal of the day. For some old-schoolers, it doubles as lunch. No arguments, when time is at a premium—as in our lives today—tossing up between bagels and bisi bele bhaath is hardly the way we would like to begin our mornings. But when the schedule permits and the day stretches ahead, we could do worse than take time out for a breakfast that wakes the senses, tickles the taste buds and still leaves you with hours of plans and possibilities. This is true luxury: A mealtime not circumscribed by deadlines (as dinner is through the week in namma Bengaluru) or to-do lists.
To add a few more hours to your weekend, our food detectives in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Goa and the National Capital Region put in hours of admittedly pleasurable research, revealed their treasured secrets and contributed to this master-list of the best breakfasts. Yes, there are lots of Eggs Benedict in the recommendations, but you’ll also find the Mexican-inspired Huevos Rancheros in Goa, the Korean red-bean bing-su in Gurgaon and the Japanese-style omelette in Kolkata, besides can’t-do-without-home-grown-classics like podi dosai in Chennai and khara bhaath in Bengaluru—all served in eateries that add their own brand of quirk and class to the dishes.
Set that alarm clock now.
UNITED COFFEE HOUSE
Breakfast at this Delhi institution, with its balconied mezzanine seating, high ceilings and two large Viennese chandeliers, is brilliant: A pleasantly large selection of stuffed omelettes, pancakes, waffles and baked beans is on offer, with free coffee, tea or milk shake thrown in. The Eggs Benedict, while not the most prettily plated, has the most generous portion of smooth hollandaise, chunky bread and massive pieces of bacon rashers. Their Indian selection is baffling in its variety. The Mysore Dosa comes plain or with a choice of four stuffings, the most delicious of which is the egg roast. And for the Punjabi at heart, the Chana Bhatura or Puri Bhaji are clear favourites.
Where: E-15, Inner Circle, Connaught Place (23416075)
Don’t miss: Mysore Dosa with egg roast stuffing and Eggs Benedict
Breakfast for two: 900
Where: 73, Mehar Chand Market, Lodhi Colony (49050881); 31, Hauz Khas Village (33105386); the Good Earth store at the Select Citywalk mall, Saket (9711117516)
When: 10am-12.30pm (Lodhi Colony and Hauz Khas Village); 10am-8pm (Select Citywalk mall)
Don’t miss: The Full English Breakfast
Breakfast for two: 1,400
Where: National Crafts Museum, Bhairon Marg, Pragati Maidan (23378659)
Where: House No. 1054, Sim Vaddo, Anjuna, Bardez (9657210468)
When: 9am-5.30pm (closed on Tuesdays)
Don’t miss: Croissants, Danish, tarts, and eclairs
Breakfast for two: 800
One of the only places in Panaji to offer an all-day breakfast menu with regulars like eggs to order (everything from fried eggs to Eggs Benedict served on a savoury waffle), a fruits bowl with granola and cereal, pancakes and waffles with home-made fruit preserves, Bodega is a great place to catch a quiet, lazy breakfast. Surrounded by the art gallery spaces, the café is cozy, peaceful and inviting.
Where: 63/C-8, Sunaparanta, Goa Centre For The Arts, near Lar De Estudantes, Altinho, Panaji (2421315)
Don’t miss: Eggs Benedict With Smoked Ham And Breakfast Waffles
The all-day breakfast café has a varied “eggetarian" menu. The creamy Eggs Florentine with the addictive garlic-y spinach is one of our favourites, as is the Emmental & Truffle Oil Scrambled Eggs. Alternatively, try the light, fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes, served with melted butter, maple syrup and a pot of tart blueberry compote. For a more punchy start to the day, you cannot go wrong with the Breakfast Quesadillas; these come stuffed with black beans, mushrooms, peppers and cheese. If you’re pressed for time, down a Breakfast In A Bottle, a blend of oats, milk, dates and nuts. Skip the usual tea and coffee and try the instant pick-me-up Spiced Mandarin Tea, flavoured with cinnamon and star anise. And if you would rather have a cookie for breakfast, don’t miss the Seven Layer Cookie; the layered creation looks more like a brownie and is choc-a-bloc with biscuit crumble, butterscotch and gooey chocolate, topped with slivered almonds.
Where: Modern House, Dr V B Gandhi Marg, opposite One Forbes Building, Fort (22842430)
When: 9.30am-10.30pm (except Sundays—8.30am-10.30pm and Mondays—noon-10.30pm
Where: A1, Atlanta Building, Ground floor, Nariman Point (8080809554); Pali Naka, Bandra (West); Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.
When: 9am-noon, except Sundays (11am-noon)
Don’t miss: Sweet Breakfast
Breakfast for two: 1,200
For the sweet tooth, we suggest the fluffy French Toast, served with honey. If you prefer your breakfast savoury, we recommend the Vol Au Vents with an Indian Twist, puff pastry filled with spicy five-bean curry flavoured with coastal masala, and topped with a tangy pomegranate salsa. For a classic American breakfast, try the Lox on Bagels, slathered with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon, red onion and capers. Instead of the usual masala ‘chai’ or espresso, sip on the refreshing Parsi Chai, a milky tea with lemon grass, ginger and mint.
Where: Shop No.1, May Flower Apartments, New Kantwadi Road, Bandra—West (65279009)
Don’t miss: Villa Vandre Breakfast
Breakfast for two: 1,000
8TH DAY CAFÉ AND BAKERY
A fresh bagel, generously slathered with cream cheese, and a cup of coffee. Sounds like a good breakfast, right? Now picture this: A warm, chewy bagel crusted with sesame and poppy seeds and caramelized onions, and loaded with fried eggs, roast chicken, Cheddar, a few slices of onion, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and just the right amount of mayonnaise. That’s the Grant’s Sandwich, a favourite on the all-day breakfast menu here. The protein-packed sandwich is named after the cafe’s American owner, Grant Walsh.
Artisanal New York-style bagels are the mainstay of this American-style café with charming French windows and racks packed with books and board games. You can pick something as simple as a plain or wholewheat bagel with peanut butter or Nutella, or make your own egg sandwich, choosing from bagel crusts, cheeses, spreads and vegetables. Even the omelettes (the West Range omelette loaded with cheese, chicken, mushroom and vegetables is especially good) come with your choice of bagels and butter. Plus, there’s a range of tea and coffee. For those with a sweet tooth, there are cinnamon rolls and muffins.
The biker-lingo spills over from the interiors, strewn with biker paraphernalia, on to the menu. So there’s a fluffy Bobby Brown Omelette that comes with hash browns, grilled tomatoes and toasts (add-ons like ham or mushroom and cheese up the drool quotient), and The Hangover Downshifter, fried eggs spiked with green chillies and paprika, slices of ham, cucumber, tomato and lettuce slapped between slices of brown bread, perfect for that morning after.
Plus, there are sweet and savoury French toasts, classic French Benedict (add ham, bacon or salmon) and the option of eggs, made to order, with a choice of fillings like chipotle chicken, ham, mushroom, cheese, jalapeños and more.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a typical Indian breakfast, The Biker’s Café has a few highway-style breakfast dishes on the menu, like stuffed ‘parathas’, ‘matar kulcha’ and bun ‘samosas’ with ‘cutting chai’.
Where: Platinum Mall, First floor, 31, Elgin Road (30991303)
Don’t miss: Bobby Brown Omelette
Breakfast for two: 800
They also have a selection of egg specialities, ranging from regular poached, fried and scrambled eggs to Spanish omelettes loaded with onions and potato and Parsi Akoori. But those in the know come here for their Eggs Benedict—deliciously chewy English muffin topped with poached eggs on a bed of meaty Canadian bacon, finished off with a generous splash of velvety Hollandaise sauce—easily their best dish. For those who do not eat pork, there’s the Eggs Florentine, where the bacon is replaced by spinach.
Where: The Regency (first floor), 6, Hungerford Street (22900908)
Don’t miss: Eggs Benedict
Breakfast for two: 1,200
LA MAISON DES DÉLICES
Where: P596, Keyatala Road (24640052)
When: 8.30am-11.30pm on weekends; 11.30am-11.30pm through the week.
Don’t miss: Croque Monsieur
Breakfast for two: 700
Where: 570, Lake Terrace Road Extension, Keyatala, Southern Avenue (8697731491)
Where: 594, 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar (30752480)
Don’t miss: Pig Out
Breakfast for two: 800
Where: 46/1, Cobalt Building, Church Street (4171 3016); 29, Ground floor, Phoenix Market City, Whitefield (8033166661)
Don’t miss: Riyaaz’s Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast for two: 600
NEW MODERN HOTEL (NMH)
As far as institutions for a typically south Indian breakfast go, NMH’s credits lie in the multigenerational queues that form outside the establishment. Look for the day’s menu on one of the many chalk boards around. If unsure, start with a crisp ‘vada’ that comes piping hot with onion ‘sambhar’ and coconut chutney. The ‘sambhar’ is loud-slurp worthy. Move on to a ‘khara bath’ that sets the perfect base for a steaming ‘masala dosa’ with a knob of fresh butter. If space permits, do try the Chiroti with Badam Milk, a sweet that will have you sighing with pleasure. Filter coffee is the only way to end this meal.
Where: New Modern Hotel, AN Krishna Rao Road, near Minerva Circle, VVPuram (26612625)