Walk into abcV, the new restaurant from many-Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, at nine on a weekday morning and you’ll be greeted by a scene straight out of a Sex and the City episode, modernized with smartphones. An expensively blonded woman sitting at the bar is taking a flash selfie while pretending to drink from an empty coffee mug. The tables farther back are almost all full, mostly of groups of slim and chicly dressed women. Light floods in through the huge windows and renders the spare, white space almost blindingly bright.
The menu is full of healthful fresh-squeezed juices, photogenic and trendy breakfast bowls, and energy shakes. The pancakes are made either with einkorn (an ancient wheat; we’d never heard of it either) or gluten-free almond flour. You can get your avocado via the pervasive toast or in a dosa with unsweetened yogurt and sprouts. Health-food buzzwords like chia and bee pollen dot the menu; there’s no meat to be found, not even bacon. It’s a great place to fuel up for the day on healthful, nutritious foods. Unlike nearly all restaurant openings in NYC, abcV was open for breakfast and lunch weeks before you could get dinner there; the restaurant’s team apparently knows how much better the spot is for a morning meal. Even the few menu items that cross over into the dinner menu (like the avocado dosa) are somehow better suited to breakfast.
Likewise, and much as its big sister restaurant Cosme is better for brunch than for dinner, newly opened Atla, the latest restaurant from chef Enrique Olvera, is a better breakfast destination than it is for the evening meal. Rather than waiting for a table, you’ve got a good chance of scoring one in the morning—and even near the window, where you can be drenched in sunlight and gazing out at the street-fashion scene immediately outside. Some of the restaurant’s best dishes—the split-pea tlacoyos and the chilaquiles, in particular—are available during breakfast only (which is, in fact, served until 4 p.m.).
The restaurant’s very best dish, a colorful tomato-topped variation on the ubiquitous avocado toast, is available all day but, let’s be honest, it’s really a breakfast food. Atla also takes the breakfast-as-real-meal notion a step further, bringing the small-plates-for-sharing concept, now common during dinner, into the morning meal; a two-top might order four or five items to share. At Atla, breakfast becomes more of an event than it’s been elsewhere in the city, a meal that might easily stretch to an hour and a half or more in length. It’s an innovative approach, an indicator that the restaurant takes breakfast more seriously than others do.
The most in-demand items at Daily Provisions, the latest offering from legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer, are the crullers—eggy, churro-like donuts available in a trio of flavors—which often sell out by 10 a.m. These donuts are what the cafe is best known for; they’re as responsible for Daily Provisions’ popularity as the cronut is for Dominique Ansel’s. Since the crullers are only available early on in the day, Daily Provisions has become a de facto breakfast spot.
With these new restaurants, breakfast is finally coming into its own as a meal worth going out for and splurging on. Will the ladies-who-lunch scene of yore turn into babes-who-breakfast? With meals like this, that day might definitely be on its way.