Best Breakfasts: North

We've rounded up the most mouth-watering breakfast spots North Jersey has to offer.

Sam A.M. has won a following with hearty fare like country biscuits with chipped beef, sausage gravy, eggs and house-made tater tot.
Photo by Jason Varney

&Grain, Garwood
Owner John Ropelski cold-brews Portland, Oregon’s legendary Stumptown coffee to serve on tap from a keg. “Once the bubbles settle,” he says, “you get cold coffee with a smooth, creamy finish and frothy head.” Trained as a baker, he produces fresh Danish, croissants and crusty breads like the popular apple baguette sandwich. The best seller, a baked egg and cheese sandwich on ciabatta, is moist, fluffy and big enough for two ($4.75). Quiche with a side salad is another favorite ($6.50). Steel-cut oatmeal puts the usual motel mush to shame and comes with real maple syrup ($5.95). Fresh-fruit parfaits are available, too. 700 North Ave, 908-232-2233—Lauren Barbagallo

Beechwood Café, Jersey City
Enjoy primo people watching through the floor-to-ceiling window as you tuck into big sandwiches on challah ($7.45). The Santa Fe burrito is filled with scrambled eggs, salsa, cheddar, guacamole and sour cream, with a side of green salsa ($9). Cornmeal pancakes come with fresh fruit, honey and Chobani Greek yogurt ($11). 290 Grove St, 201-985-2811—LB

Bluestone Coffee Co., Montclair
The hulking roaster displaces precious seats, but it earns its keep, and regulars regard it almost as a mascot. Since Bluestone opened in 1998, super-fresh coffee has been the draw, along with challah French toast, the smoked-salmon Benny with spinach and Hollandaise, and an urban vibe. 123 Watchung Ave, 973-783-3523, bluestonecoffee.com—Eric Levin

Chillers Grill, Fort Lee

Where highways converge at the GW Bridge, three friends fixed up a rundown diner last spring, renaming it to suggest “a place where people can chill out,” says partner Nick Pappas. The coffee is Honduran organic, fruits and vegetables are fresh, omelets are made with four eggs. Lump-crab hash and eggs comes with toast or silver-dollar pancakes ($14.49). Weekdays before 11, coffee is free, with limitless refills, when you order one of the six specials ($4.99-$6.99). Weekends (call for exact times), 21s-and-over get a free mimosa with order. 2191 Fletcher Ave, 201-461-0075—Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco

Choc o Pain, Hoboken, Jersey City
Buttery croissants (almond, ham & cheese and the namesake chocolate) fly off the counters; so do the sweet-onion and bechamel flatbread and the petit kouign (orbs of caramelized dough, with fruit or chocolate chip fillings, from Brittany). Moms settle in with their broods (Hoboken has a second-floor playroom), freelancers grab tablets or laptops, to linger over made-to-order yogurt parfaits, house-made granola and quiche. Owner Clemence Danko, a native Parisian, is a stickler for detail. 157 First St, Hoboken, 201-710-5175; 530 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, 201-435-2462—LB

Country Pancake House, Ridgewood

“I got tired of eating three-egg omelets,” says Milan Pavlovic, on why he opened this bustling home of four-egg omelets in 1993. “To me, that’s nothing. Ours look like shoeboxes.” Famous for its 112 kinds of oversized pancakes—including 22 cake-like, oven-baked varieties—CPH delivers quality as well as quantity in every breakfast category. 140 East Ridgewood Ave, 201-444-8395—Cara Birnbaum

Just Janice, Ho-Ho-Kus

Formerly Janice a Bistro, this 12-year-old neighborhood favorite has a new look reflecting chef/owner Janice Tinari’s upscale menu and clientele. Mystery writer Harlan Coben, a regular, often taps away on his laptop while waiting for the Goat Cheese and Truffle Oil Scramble with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, toasted bruschetta and salad ($16). The steamy-creamy, bacon-and-leek-studded breakfast risotto with poached egg is worth the $16 splurge—“like oatmeal for grownups,” attested one diner. 23 Sheridan Ave, 201-445-2666—MACF

La Conguita, Jersey City

Opened in 1980 by Cuban émigré Adilio Gonzales, this sunny, tranquil spot is now managed by son Alex. Terrific grilled, buttered bread occupies you while you sip café con leche and peruse the menu. Huevos rancheros comes with a bowl of fresh avocado salad ($7.50). Chorizo y huevos includes home fries ($6.50). Chicken or steak quesadilla with onions, peppers, Oaxacan cheese and pico de gallo starts your day lustily ($8). 351 Grove St, 201-435-6770—LB

La Isla, Hoboken

Since Cuban-born sisters Ana Maria Costa and Annabelle Luis bought La Isla in 1996, Guy Fieri has taped a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives there, and Maria’s husband, chef Omar Giner, beat Bobby Flay in a 2010 Throwdown on stuffed French toast. Giner’s Flay-flaying dish—always on menu—is packed with strawberry-guava cream cheese, dipped in cinnamon egg batter, rolled in corn flakes and sliced almonds, pan-fried till crisp and drizzled with guava glaze ($9). Chill with a morir soñando (a popular Dominican drink that tastes like a Creamsicle, thanks to fresh-squeezed OJ and condensed milk, $4) or a batidos (a Cuban-style shake made with milk and frozen fruit, $3.75). The music of the late, great Celia Cruz adds to the lively atmosphere. 104 Washington St, 201-659-8197—LB

La Vie En Rose, Waldwick
Breakfast at one of the white-clothed tables by the lace-curtained windows gives you a taste of the namesake rosy life. Since she bought the café three years ago, Maureen Heller has expanded breakfast well beyond the original egg salad on croissant. Now choices range from house-made granola with milk ($5) to yogurt parfait ($7), herbes-de-Provence scrambled eggs with toast ($5; with home fries, $7; with cheddar or Gruyère, $7.50) and breakfast panini with mascarpone, fresh pears and apples ($9.50). 10 West Prospect St, 201-652-8880—MACF

Le Salbuen Café Market, Montclair
Kearny high school sweethearts Christina and John Salierno turned this tiny space into a lovingly curated expression of faded treasures, like the burlap coffee sacks above the front window or the antique mirror on which they write the names of their suppliers. Eggs for dishes like the dill omelet with sundried tomatoes, capers, onions and Gouda ($10) come from the pastured chickens of Havenwood Farms in Newton. Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley provides the nutty Gruyère in a moist frittata loaded with pinot grigio-braised eggplant, tomato and onions ($10). Pork sausage from Newark’s Ironbound accompanies a honey-topped Portuguese brioche French toast ($12). 97 Walnut St, 201-622-8473—CB

Le Peep, Edison, Randolph

Banana split for breakfast? Le Peep’s fills a sundae dish with yogurt, fresh fruit and granola ($5.99). Or stay savory with biscuits and sausage gravy ($5.49) or Desperado skillets (chorizo, green chilis, salsa, potatoes, onions, cheese and two basted eggs, $8.49). The Great Lite Way is Peepspeak for egg-white omelets. Though part of a Colorado-based chain, the two NJ Peeps are locally owned and, like all Peeps, chef driven. 561 Rte 1, Edison, 732-819-7666; 477 Rte 10, Randolph, 973-442-7337—TN

Marco & Pepé, Jersey City

Downtown’s restaurant renaissance began here, across from City Hall, in 2001. The breakfast menu reflects owner Ralph Rodriguez’s Iberian roots: The vegetable omelet includes Manchego and red peppers ($10), and pan-fried eggs and Parmacotto ham comes with melted Brie or shaved Manchego over a Portuguese muffin or croissant ($11). D’Artagnan supplies sausages such as chicken and truffle, duck and pork, and rabbit and ginger ($5.50 each). Popular dishes include poached eggs over gold quinoa with chickpeas, carrots, pineapple and tomatillo sauce ($11); and eggs cooked in two thick squares of toasted bread and served in a broth of asparagus, roasted tomato, mushrooms and truffle essence. 289 Grove St, 201-860-9688—MACF

Original Pancake House, West Caldwell, Fort Lee, Whippany

This international chain has three Jersey outposts, all owned by the Rentzis family and managed by family-member Artemis Karlsons of Whippany. They offer brisk, friendly service, comfortable seating and reliable food. Best reason to stop in are the baked Dutch-style pancakes. The apple goes into the oven topped with Granny Smiths and cinnamon glaze ($9). The unique Dutch Baby ($9), sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, looks like the mouth of a volcano in the snow. The bacon is thick and meaty. 817 Bloomfield Ave, West Caldwell, 973-575-9161; 831 Rt 10 East, Whippany, 973-515-8552; 1638 Schlosser St, Fort Lee, 201-585-0905—CB

Passport Café, West Milford
Two reasons to visit Greenwood Lake Airport if you don’t own a plane: The four-prop, 1946 Lockheed Constellation that stands next to the main building (you can peek inside the plane), and the Passport Café, whose entrance is right under the plane’s right wing. The reason to go in is chef/owner Tony Lembo’s flavorful omelets. Sundays, Lembo sets out a big breakfast buffet ($10.50). 126 Airport Rd, 973-506-7315, greenwoodlakeairport.com—Brian Yarvin

Plum on Park, Montclair

The counter, stools and arched, stained-glass windows probably look much as they did in 1929, when this railroad-car diner was built. But we doubt the original owners offered gluten-free French toast, a spinach and goat cheese omelet, smoothies or eight blended juice drinks, including Hangover Aid, with a dash of hot sauce. “It’s the most popular juice on weekends,” says owner Natalie Colledge, a professional baker and self-taught cook who opened in 2010 on a dare from two friends. “When most people order it, they swear they don’t actually have a hangover. We, of course, never ask.” Colledge, who grew up pitting plums for her parents’ bakery in Clifton, puts a little pot of thick and tangy plum jam on each table. 14 Park St, 973-744-7100—CB

Raymond’s, Montclair, Ridgewood

Raymond Badach grew up in Jersey City, entranced with its old-time diners and their colorful denizens. A decade ago, he and business partner Joanne Ricci transformed 28—their upscale, New American BYO—into Raymond’s, a romantic evocation of a 1940s diner. It became so popular that, as Montclair’s Yogi Berra might have said, “nobody goes there anymore—it’s too crowded.” Indeed, people love or hate Raymond’s, as they did Berra’s post-war Yankee teams, because it’s the one to beat. Adding a second location in 2012, Raymond’s remains unmatched at what it sets out to do—deliver expertly crafted comfort food at reasonable prices in a setting so hip and faux timeless you just hate to leave. 28 Church St, Montclair, 973-744-9263; 101 East Ridgewood Ave, Ridgewood, 201-445-5125—EL

Red Eye Cafe, Montclair
Named for a coffee spiked with espresso, the Red Eye is a critical pit stop for commuters heading to the train station. The menu is as hip and fun as the peppy rock soundtrack and the subway-like white-tiled decor. The Elvis sandwich heaps banana, peanut butter and honey on multigrain toast. Add bacon and you have a Fat Elvis. The open-face Vietnamese-inspired Highlander presents two hardboiled eggs (wrapped in house-made pork-shrimp-cilantro sausage and fried) on a crusty ciabatta roll with pickled daikon and carrots. Red Eye beef hash comes with a coffee-spiked, southern-style gravy. As for the hit green eggs & ham—a scramble with kale, shallots, Gruyère, and ham—“I created it to force myself to eat more vegetables,” says the café’s primary owner, Anthony Brinton. 94 Walnut St, 973-509-3663—CB

Rutherford Pancake House, Maywood Pancake House, Rutherford, Maywood
When his parents retired, Maywood native Spiro Alexander took over their Rutherford restaurant with a partner and renamed it. Four years later, they opened a sister Pancake House in Maywood. Like the friendly staff, the menus aim to be inclusive. Challah for French toast is baked in house in regular, gluten-free and vegan versions. Pancakes and waffles, too, come gluten-free and vegan. There are eggless scrambles like the satisfying Popeye (tofu, avocado, veggies, vegan sausage, multigrain toast, home fries, $10.99). The Irish Benedict features house-made corned beef hash with Hollandaise ($10.99). In a gesture too seldom seen, active military personnel receive a 10 percent discount. 40 Park Ave, Rutherford, 201-340-4171; 92 West Pleasant Ave, Maywood, 201-880-7844—LB

Sam A.M., Jersey City

Sam Kirk was inspired to open this hip breakfast-and-lunch spot last September by memories of lazy Sunday mornings in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and his dad’s slow-cooked bacon and chipped beef. Rustic and homey, Sam A.M. elevates the tried-and-true. Tired of bagels and lox? Try an Atlantic ($8)—locally sourced smoked salmon with green onion crème fraîche on crispy ciabatta with a seasonal salad. Chicken and waffles, another classic, smothers a crunchy waffle with pulled chicken and gravy over tart cranberry syrup ($15). The Gouda scramble tosses all the characters into the sauté pan—home fries, veggies, finally the eggs and cheese—for a major flavor meld ($10). Weekdays, the local young-mom mafia and work-at-home freelancers linger over their Stumptown coffee and chill to ’70s folk music. Weekends, you might have to wait for a table. 112 Morris St, 201-432-2233—LB

Station House Café, Berkeley Heights
For 25 years, owner Mouris Gawrgy has endowed this sunny little room behind the train station with rain-or-shine warmth. An Egyptian immigrant who recently became a grandfather, Gawrgy has been known to charm a toddler by waggling his hands like Mickey Mouse ears. Grownups appreciate the bottomless coffee, Greek omelets with sautéed onion added to the classic feta and tomato ($6.15) and Hangtown Fry, a skillet of oysters with bacon and three eggs. 128 Station St, 908-464-6522—LB

Sweet Basil’s Café, Livingston
Opened in West Orange in 1996, this casual spot moved to Livingston in 2012. It offers more than a dozen scrambles, omelets and Benedicts, eight kinds of pancakes and five types of French toast. Sweet Basil’s huevos rancheros adds smoky house-made pulled pork and chorizo to the traditional tortillas and eggs and keeps going with cheddar, poblano sauce and five-chili ranchero sauce ($10). Relax, vegetarians. Your options include Morning Crunch (organic granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, $6), portobello hash ($6) and R&B pancakes (whiskey-soaked raisins and caramelized bananas with pomegranate-caramel sauce, $10). 498 South Livingston Ave, 973-994-3600, sweetbasilscafe.com—Terry Krongold

Toast, Montclair, Asbury Park

Customers swoon over owner Amy Russo Harrigan’s sumptuous lemon-poppy and blueberry muffins. The secret, she says, is dispensing with the ruffled paper cups, instead pouring the batter directly into well-buttered muffin tins. Harrigan, who comes from a family of diner owners, knows comfort food. She adds sliced grape tomatoes, house-made salsa and sour cream to her best-selling California scramble of Monterey Jack and avocado ($9.95). She herself is partial to the spiced carrot-cake pancakes made with coconut, raisins, honey and walnuts ($10.95), which she terms, “more of an adult pancake.” 700 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, 973-509-8099; 516 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, 732-776-5900—CB

The Turning Point

Kirk Ruoff created the first Turning Point in Little Silver in 1998. Now there are eight (with a ninth, Sea Girt, opening soon). All share the same clean, airy look and classic menu, with a Theresa’s Good For You section featuring oatmeal and egg-white dishes with veggies or fresh fruit. Order coffee and you get an entire carafe to refill at will. Little Silver, Holmdel, Manalapan, Long Branch, Hoboken, Westfield, Brick, Marlton, Sea Girt—LB

Zafra, Hoboken
Breakfast gets a delicious Caribbean accent at this 14-year-old Cuban restaurant from historian and James Beard Award-winning chef Maricel Presilla. Replete with ceiling fans, tropical-patterned table coverings and paintings of sugar cane harvests, Zafra offers specialties like a tortilla (meaning omelet) stuffed with sliced plantains and served with spicy salsa and warm pressed Cuban toast ($6.50); and arroz a la Cubana—two eggs with white rice and plantains ($6). Though not on the menu, tamales ($5-$6) are popular. Have them with a side of chorizo sautéed with onions and green olives, or llapingachos—Ecuadorean potato patties with white cheese. Fresh-squeezed OJ, swirled into a creamy milkshake, lives up to its Dominican name, morir soñando—die dreaming. Splurge on an oversize mug of spiced Venezuelan hot chocolate—made not with the customary cocoa powder but with high-quality couverture chocolate, loaded with cocoa butter, and seasoned with cinnamon, anise and allspice—yet another way to die dreaming ($6). Presilla and business partner Clara Chaumont also serve breakfast around the corner at their 10-seat Latin emporium, Ultramarinos (260 Third St, 201-238-2797, ultramarinos.biz). 301 Willow Ave, 201-610-9801—MACF

Click the links below to view the rest of our Best Breakfasts package.

Best Breakfasts: Central

Best Breakfasts: South

Big Rig Breakfasts

Artisanal Scrapple?

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