For some, breakfast just means peeling a banana. For others, its the most important meal of the day. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, SoHo caters to everyone. Since we know it can be quite torturous to make decisions before 8am—or even before that first cup of coffee—we’ve narrowed it down for you.
Yes, Dominique Ansel garnered fame for his beloved pastry hybrid, but the bakery certainly isn’t just about the Cronut. The DKA, Ansel’s spin on a kouign amann, is a crackly, flaky, caramelized pastry rolled in sugar. There are croissants, milk bread piped with Nutella, quiche, and the Perfect Little Egg Sandwich: an egg, cheese, and herb sandwich squeezed into a mini brioche bun. Seating is limited, but take your pastries to go and station yourself on one of the benches lining Spring Street.
Transport yourself to the Mediterranean at 12 Chairs Café
Restaurant, Mediterranean, $$$
This cozy MacDougal spot rustles up flavorful Mediterranean and Eastern European breakfast dishes. Eggs are the star of the show at 12 Chairs. Choose from a roster of omelettes, shakshuka, and an Israeli breakfast packed with two eggs any style, Israeli salad, assorted cheeses and dips, as well as orange juice and coffee.
Balthazar is the city’s famed French bistro. Helmed by Keith McNally, it’s the kind of flashy, SoHo haunt that slings everything from buckwheat crepes filled with eggs, ham, and gruyère to thick slabs of brioche French toast topped with a tangle of applewood smoked bacon. For those looking for something a tad lighter, the teeny to-go bakery attached to the restaurant next door offers a straight-out-of-France selection of viennoiseries, scones, muffins, and freshly baked breads.
Crowds spill out of the perpetually packed Jack’s Wife Freda on weekends, but the best time to snag a seat (without a protracted wait) is weekday mornings. Inspired by the owners’ family backgrounds, the hotspot serves what they describe as “South African Israeli Jewish grandmother cuisine.” Breakfast options range from a green shakshuka—two baked eggs swimming in green tomatillos—to a plump rosewater waffle lined with Lebanese yogurt, berries, and honey syrup.
Breakfast in New York City simply isn’t complete without bagels. From the team behind Carbone and Parm, Sadelle’s leans toward pizazz when it comes to breakfast: triple-decker towers—similar to what you’d find at high tea—are flush with lox, sable, whitefish salad, and a host of bagel accoutrements. The bagels are crisp yet soft and doughy inside. Sadelle’s signature bagel is an ‘Everything 2.0’, which includes a showering of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dehydrated garlic, fennel seeds, salt, and caraway seeds. If bagels aren’t your thing, opt for the blueberry pancakes or cheese blintzes.
Looking to grab a high-quality coffee and a pastry in the morning? La Colombe’s your best bet. The Philadelphia-based mini-chain has snatched New Yorkers’ hearts and stomachs with draft lattes and black-and-tan iced coffees, all poured into painted ceramic mugs. Plus, unlike at big chains, the pastries, which come from several local bakeries, including City Bakery and Payard, are actually good.
The always charming Café Select specializes in Swiss-style breakfasts, from muesli pancakes to rösti (round, crisp hash browns) and bratwurst. SoHo shoppers fatigued from the morning’s activities can often be spotted sipping tiny cups of coffee or an Aperol spritz at the French-style outdoor tables.
West~bourne is a sleek, all-day cafe, fusing rainbow bowls with a philanthropic mission. The café donates one percent of every purchase to The Door, an organization that supports free youth-development programs. When it comes to the breakfast, things feel light and healthy: the Malibu buckwheat waffle is crowned with crème fraiche and blackberry jam, and the Sunrise Kingdom English muffin sandwich flaunts scrambled eggs, avocado, pickled onions, and a swipe of spicy shallot labneh. Portions are on the smaller side, so order a couple of dishes for the table.
Experience old-world SoHo at The Cupping Room Café
Restaurant, American, $$$
A neighborhood institution since 1977, The Cupping Room Café’s exposed-brick walls and aged paintings evoke the old bohemian feel of a long-gone SoHo. The menu sticks to classics—buttermilk pancakes studded with fruit or chocolate chips and stuffed French toast oozing with mascarpone and raspberry jam. All at reasonable prices, making this place the go-to for a solid, no-frills breakfast.
The small Smile to Go works best when you take things… to go. The space boasts no more than two tables, so patrons sip coffee out of cerulean cups on the many blacktop stairs that line Howard Street. Popular breakfast items include the egg sandwich and overnight oats, plus anything from the long list of pastries and loaf cakes, like the banana buckwheat bread and sticky pecan bun.
If SoHo has become synonymous with fashion, then the NoMo SoHo hotel is the hospitality version of Manhattan chic. Crystal chandeliers steal the limelight in the upscale restaurant and bar, while all the rooms have large windows and a bright, streamlined design. Breakfast ranges from lemon ricotta pancakes entangled with mixed berries and candied pistachios to banana French toast piped with Nutella.
A spin off of the acclaimed City Bakery, Birdbath Bakery offers a similar morning menu of vegan muffins, the beloved pretzel croissant, baker’s muffins, berry scones, and the deeply rich hot chocolate crowned with a squishy, house-made marshmallow. Even with all the pastries, you’d be remiss not to order one of the huge, chewy chocolate-chip cookies—despite the early hour.
Housed inside the Roman and Williams Guild, La Mercerie certainly doesn’t seem like a traditional restaurant. Everything in the restaurant—from the stylish chairs to the plate your oeuf à la coque is served on—is for sale. Grab a seat in the sun-drenched room or order a coffee and croissant at the kitchen counter to go.
Ladurée is unquestionably famous for delicate, brightly colored macarons, but the French import hosts an immaculate tea room with a hidden outdoor patio at its SoHo location. Opt for a prix fixe breakfast boasting a mix of French pastries, coffee, and hot entrées, or order à la carte. The mini viennoiseries, like the rose croissant and pain au chocolat, systematically touch down on every table.