Morning Glory: 30 Best Dishes

$: $4 to $7 $$: $7 to $10 $$$: $10 and above      : Alcohol available

the elsie combo
tommy's restaurant

The menu at Tommy's Restaurant is just as much about community as it is the food. Since 1972, chef and owner Tommy Fello has been cooking whatever customers can throw at him — then naming the dish after the creator. The Elsie Combo ($5.99) is no exception. Homesick John Carroll University students Mark and Mike McCue asked Fello to whip up their mother Elsie's triple-decker breakfast sandwich. Three slices of toasted white bread are loaded with tomato, lettuce, two eggs, American cheese, bacon, mayonnaise and fresh-ground peanut butter. "It seemed kind of strange," says Fello. "But I just made it." It's been on the menufor around 32 years now. "When people try it, they absolutely love it," he says. Mon-Fri 9:30-11:30 a.m., Sat 7:30-11:30 a.m., Sun 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 1824 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-7757, $$

Egg White Frittata

1890 at the arcade

"We're not trying to put anyone on a diet," says Chris Smith, executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland's 1890 at the Arcade. "But we are trying to give everyone some healthier options." It's part of the Hyatt's "Food. Thoughtfully sourced. Carefully served." motto, and it helped the egg white frittata ($13) find its way onto the breakfast menu at this sophisticated downtown spot. The egg whites are cooked up with chicken sausage, feta cheese and spinach and served in a miniature skillet, with a freshly cut tomato on the side topped with breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and garlic. Diners can add a touch of hot sauce, but Smith chooses to eat his as-is. "It's something we like to eat," he says of the inspiration behind the dish. "It's one of our top sellers." Mon-Fri 6:30-11 a.m., Sat & Sun 6:30 a.m.-noon. 420 Superior Ave. E, Cleveland, 216-776-4562, $$$ 

Fried Chicken Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich

beachland ballroom & tavern

You'll swear that a Southern grandma sprinkles love on the fried chicken buttermilk biscuit sandwich ($6.50) at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern's Sunday brunch. The savory, sweet, sticky, delightful mess includes two chicken breast fillets that are juicy on the inside with a crunchy crust, house-made pickles, whole-grain mustard and Amish-country honey. The biscuit is the superstar: Tender inside and golden brown outside, it clearly didn't come from a cardboard tube. It's easy to imagine the recipe handwritten on grease-stained paper and passed down through generations. "It's a really traditional recipe: butter, flour, buttermilk, leavening," says chef Melissa Dougherty. "It's so simple, but they come out perfectly fluffy every time." Diners can also order the biscuits with sausage or wild mushroom gravy or a la carte with honey or jelly. Next time you're craving a quintessential biscuit, head to the East Side. It's a lot easier than making a trip down South. Sun 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland, 216-383-1124, $ 

tournedos benedict

Heck's Cafe

The steak is tender, the Hollandaise sauce delicate. The tournedos benedict ($15.50) at Heck's Cafe is a thoughtful re-imagining of eggs benedict: fried egg over an English muffin with fresh spinach leaves and a small beef tenderloin fillet. It's one of three brunch benedicts at Heck's — besides the classic dish, there's a Portobello Florentine version. Tournedos benedict appears on ambitious brunch menus across the country, but Heck's owner Fadi Daoud says he created his version while remaking his menu three years ago, importing the fillet from a now-retired dinner item. It also has Daoud's stamp of approval. "It's probably my favorite dish — just enough spinach, just enough Hollandaise sauce. It's a small dish, but satisfying for brunch." Sun 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 2927 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, 216-861-5464, $$ 

smokey hash and eggs

west side market cafe

For the key ingredient in his breakfast hash, the West Side Market Cafe's new chef steps right over to Czuchraj Meats, a market stand just outside the cafe's door. Tom Szoradi dices Czuchraj's mild pork-and-beef smokies for his smokey hash and eggs ($8). "In my traditional trip to the market, I'd pick up a smokie and walk around eating it," says Szoradi. "I figured it'd work well if it were fried up and crispy on the outside." The cured meat adds a sharp smokehouse flavor to the hash, made with Yukon potatoes, while the smokie casing adds a satisfying crunch. For the mustard sauce, poured over the eggs, the chef mixes a spicy mustard powder, a grainy Dijon mustard, paprika and chili powder. Szoradi remade the cafe's menu in June, and the hash fits its theme; he says about nine of the 10 ingredients come from the market. Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-noon, Sun 9 a.m.-noon. 1979 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-579-6800, $ 

hot coconut cakes

Around the Corner cafe

Sonny Zarlis has lived in the States since the late 1960s, but he gets to relive a little piece of his Indonesian childhood every Saturday and Sunday morning. The head chef at Around the Corner Cafe in Lakewood introduced hot coconut cakes ($8.99) to the weekend brunch menu when he started there in 2000, borrowing a recipe his mother used when he was growing up. The pancakes, which are flakier and lighter than your typical flapjacks, offer a subtle hint of sweet coconut flavor. "The outside is a little bit crispier," says Zarlis. "I put a little coconut milk and a little bit of Coco Lopez, [a drink mix generally used to make piña coladas], and then add some sweet, grated coconut and put it on the flattop." Three cakes are served with a blueberry, strawberry and raspberry compote sauce, alongside crispy hash browns, sausage links and bacon. The syrup is actually an addition that Zarlis came up with on his own, but we're pretty sure his mother would approve. Sat 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. 18616 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-4413, $$ 

stuffed french toast


Market is always looking for inventive ways to prove its Sunday brunch is more than just a great bloody mary bar. Take the stuffed French toast ($8), for example. Elevated to a menu regular after several cameo appearances, the soft Italian bread is cooked in a traditional style, with a generous-but-not-outrageous amount of filling spread in between. "I was looking at just a basic cream cheese filling," says head chef Geoff Gus. "We had cinnamon-sugar in-house that we use for wontons, so I just tried a little bit of that in there. I was able to find a happy medium." It's topped off with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, dollop of cool, house-made whipped cream, and served with warm syrup on the side. Gus isn't done tinkering with it yet, either. "With it being a little bit cooler outside, I'm probably going to try a pumpkin cream cheese just for a couple weeks to see how that works out," he says. We'll be happy to give our opinion on that one too. Sun 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 1137 Linda St., Rocky River, 440-799-4292, $$ 

braised short rib hash

the Tavern Co.

Your mother probably told you it wasn't healthy to have soda for breakfast. But in the case of the Tavern Co.'s braised short rib hash, she'll forgive you. That's because head chef Jamie Wynbrandt uses three kinds of soda — Coca-Cola, 7UP and ginger ale — in his braising liquid to give the breakfast dish a good balance of salty and sweet. "It's a nice hearty dish," says Wynbrandt. "Short ribs in the winter just stick to your stomach." The pulled beef sits on crispy, diced potatoes and is topped off with two perfectly poached eggs. Though you might be tempted to immediately dig into the potatoes, Wynbrandt suggests starting from the top. "Once you punch open the poached eggs, all that yolk oozes out and it just makes it great." Sun 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 2260 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-6001, $$ 

Breakfast Nachos

Bonbon Pastry & Cafe

Courtney Bonning isn't about to make ordering breakfast at Bonbon Pastry & Cafe easy — even if you haven't had a sip of her French press coffee yet. "I want to put together the perfect combination of comfort foods," says Bonning, who is on the fifth version of her brunch-style menu since the Ohio City eatery opened a year ago. "I want you to walk in and see so many things that you want — that would make you feel good — that you can't decide what you want to eat." In that case, may we recommend the breakfast nachos ($10), topped with black beans, roasted peppers and onions, cheddar, pico de gallo, avocados and chorizo made in-house by chef Alexia Rodriguez. But you'll want to pay special attention to the eggs. Somewhere between fried and scrambled, they're light, delicious and the perfect complement to the chips. "That's something we take really, really to heart here," Bonning says. "We have to get eggs right." Mon-Fri 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat & Sun 7 a.m.-3 p.m. 2549 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-458-9225, $ 


Wally Waffle

the layers are what do it. One big bite into Wally Waffle's Elvis waffle ($6.99), and the flavors roll over your taste buds with the audacity of the iconic rocker's famous hip swivels. First, the syrupy sweetness of honey-drizzled fresh bananas; then the golden, crunchy-yet-soft perfection of a waffle made at a place with the word in its name; the warm surprise of gooey peanut butter chips buried inside the dough; and finally, the generous pieces of real bacon chopped up and ladled into the mix. Akron's Wally Waffle owner Joshua Miletti came up with the over-the-top tribute to the King's favorite sandwich years ago, but his brother, Justin, who owns a second outpost near Tallmadge Circle, nixed the idea. "About a year-and-a-half ago," says Joshua, "he called me and he said, •I've got this new waffle I thought of.' He was so proud of himself. He subconsciously reinvented it." It's sold like, well, hotcakes ever since it debuted on the menu last year. Daily 7 a.m.-4 p.m. 338 Locust St., Akron, 330-762-3388, $ 

oatmeal french toast bake

The Harp

Chef Joseph Nagy enjoys thinking outside the boxty for the Harp's Sunday brunch. The Irish eatery's Oatmeal French Toast Bake ($6.50), for example, uses sweet, traditional Jewish Challah bread to provide an airier version of the breakfast classic. "I wanted to give people different options than what they would get in a diner," says Nagy. With a crunchy oatmeal crown, the distinctive triple-decker bake has soft oatmeal layered between each piece of bread. Nagy also crafts house-made strawberry syrup. "[It] adds a different flavor dimension to the French toast," says Nagy. A sprinkling of powdered sugar and a generous scoop of cinnamon butter top it off. But don't worry, it still goes nicely with a pint of Guinness. Sun 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 4408 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-939-0200, $$ 

berries 'n cream panini

The Flaming Ice Cube

A vegan diet doesn't have to mean boring breakfasts, especially when you have a place like The Flaming Ice Cube that offers downtown dwellers tasty options without using animal products. Even the most hardcore carnivore would have a tough time resisting the Berries 'n Cream Panini ($5), a warm, sweet and delightfully gooey mix of strawberries, blueberries and soy-based cream cheese pressed flat inside vegan bread from Cleveland's Orlando Baking Co. "You can use bananas as binders instead of eggs," says manager Melissa Cusick, explaining how baked goods are made to fit a vegan diet. "You just need a binder and something to help it rise." If the two paninis on the breakfast menu don't grab you, go for one of the house-made vegan muffins. "They're our most popular menu item in the morning," Cusick says. Mon-Thu 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 140 Public Square, Cleveland, 216-263-1111, $

Kosher-style salami and eggs

Fresh Start Diner

the kosher-style salami and eggs ($7.39) that Fresh Start Diner serves up are just like the kind your Bubbe used to make: fluffy, overflowing the plate and stuffed with fat slices of smoky salami. "You can't make a good salami and egg dish without all-beef kosher-style salami," explains co-owner Robert Wyman. That means it's more like a highly seasoned kielbasa than the hard Italian version at the deli counter. "Oscar Meyer salami and eggs would just taste bad," he says. The salami in Wyman's dish is pan-fried, thick and garlicky, while the eggs are springy and light; they're served together, pancake style. It's just the way Wyman's Jewish mother and grandmother used to make it. Order a large glass of orange juice — so freshly squeezed that pulp clogs the straw — to help wash the whole thing down. Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. 16 N. Main St., Chagrin Falls, 440-893-9599, $$


Lucky's Cafe

It's a peculiar name — Canoewreck — but vegetarian brunchers at Lucky's Cafe know what it means: a savory, hearty pile of curried vegetables and tofu over toast ($12.95). The dish is chef Heather Haviland's meatless version of the shipwreck breakfast, a throw-it-all-in campfire classic she taught herself to cook as a Girl Scout. Haviland's shipwreck includes a heavy dose of bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese. For herbivores, she reinvented it. To the recipe's hash browns, zucchini, mushrooms and sautéed red onions, she added spinach, red and green peppers, crumbled tofu, yellow curry and brewer's yeast. "It's a natural way to add salty flavor," Haviland says of the yeast. "It has a great nutty, malty flavor." The result is an entirely different dish, built on the tofu's texture and the curry's flavor. Vegetarians were grateful that she didn't just serve them a modified version of the existing dish. "It was developed from start to finish without the intention of adding meat at any time," she says. "It's a complete dish with a well-rounded palate." Daily 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 777 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland, 216-622-7773, $$$

lemon souffle pancakes

Fire Food & Drink

Owner and executive chef Douglas Katz's version of the classic lemon ricotta pancake ($13) has been on this Shaker Square eatery's weekend brunch menu for 11 years now. And it's easy to see why. The 4-inch medallions, which are arranged cloverleaf-style on a plate and dusted with powdered sugar, are delightfully light and tart enough to nip the palate at first bite. "We use the zest of 20 lemons for about 20 orders," Katz says. "The oils from that zest really give them the flavor." The cakes get a sweet boost that doesn't weigh them down thanks to a liberal spoonful of thick blueberry compote rather than a drenching of syrup. Sat & Sun 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 13220 Shaker Square, Cleveland, 216-921-3473, $$$ 

Garbage Omelet

Touch Supper Club

It's the ultimate omelet-lovers omelet. Sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms, spam, tomato, spinach, corned beef, bacon, hash and provolone, cheddar and monterey jack cheeses overwhelm Touch Supper Club's Garbage Omelet ($12) and spill out onto the plate. "There's nothing better than having a nice, cheesy omelet with all kinds of stuff in there, where you can just dig into it like a pizza and the cheese is just all stringy," says owner Rob Ivanov. "It's almost like the egg is a secondary ingredient." In fact, each bite is a creation unto itself: spinach and ham; tomato, onion and pepper; spam and cheese. A new omelet each time. "One day we decided, What if I took everything from all the omelets and put it into an omelet," says Ivanov, who was also the chef when the Ohio City restaurant started serving brunch seven years ago. "I like to call it 5 pounds of breakfast." Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 2710 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-631-5200. $$ 

corned beef hash

Corned Beef Cafe

Owner and chef Sue Gaukin says customers from throughout Northeast Ohio flock to the Corned Beef Cafe for the fresh brisket she uses in the corned beef hash ($7.95). "Everything I do is the way I want to eat," she says. Thirteen years ago, she started making the dish with scraps from leftover corned beef used in sandwiches and Rueben soup. But when orders increased, Gaukin started using the entire brisket. The dish begins with a bed of potatoes that have been boiled, sliced, then sautéed in butter with green peppers and onions. That blend is covered with thin strips of moist corned beef prepared in house, then topped with three eggs cooked any way you want. True to its name, Gaukin says the cafe serves about 250 pounds of corned beef and 300 pounds of potatoes a week. Mon-Sat 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.-1 p.m. 9296 Broadview Road, Broadview Heights, 440-526-3856, $

chorizo burrito

Tremont Tap House

One of the reasons we look forward to Sunday brunch is the chorizo burrito ($14) at the Tremont Tap House. It's been on the menu since the gastropub opened in 2005, so when executive chef Andrew Gorski and sous chef Anthony Rossi came on board last June, they chose not to mess with the Mexican powerhouse. "It's one of our best sellers because people know the chorizo is house-made," says Rossi. The three-day process starts with marinating 60 pounds of pork overnight before grinding and cooking it. Come Sunday, the chorizo is wrapped in a hefty burrito with scrambled eggs, roasted red peppers and goat cheese before loading it up with guacamole, roasted red pepper pico, sour cream and scallions. "I usually split one of these with someone on Sundays when I'm here," says Rossi. "It's that big." Sun 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. 2572 Scranton Road, Cleveland, 216-298-4451, $$$ 

Sweet Plantain Baked French Toast

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar

it may say French toast on the menu, but the Sweet Plantain Baked French Toast ($11.95) is far from what your mother served you. Torn pieces of Cuban bread, sweet plantains and raisins are soaked in a mixture of eggs, milk, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla for half an hour before baking. "You soak French toast in the egg batter before you throw it in a pan, so we used that same philosophy in a different way," says Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar's executive chef Robert Cabrales. The result is a soft, bread puddinglike dish topped with whipped cream, rum caramel syrup and fresh berries. Cabrales also serves it with a side of fresh fruit ceviche. "The acidity helps cut some of the heaviness of the French toast." Sat & Sun 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 28601 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere, 216-896-9020, $$ 

central park

5th Avenue Deli

Each order of pastrami, corned beef or lox at 5th Avenue Deli comes with a hefty helping of expectations: It had better be authentic and it had better be good • or fugetaboutit. Take the grandly named Central Park ($8.95), for example, a combination of cured salmon, scrambled eggs and grilled onion. "It's a very typical New York deli dish," says owner Allan Ina. So the lox comes direct from New York City, the eggs are whipped up fluffy, and the hash browns made in-house. Even the bagel on the side is baked fresh each morning by Bialy's Bagels in University Heights, an East Side institution for more than 45 years. "I try to keep a New York flavor in the city of Cleveland," says Ina. Sun & Mon 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Tue-Sat 8 a.m.-8 p.m. 1445 SOM Center Road, Mayfield Heights, 440-442-5000 $$

steak & eggs

Joe's Deli

It's a morning meal that seems better suited for the farmer heading out to plow the field or a gritty coal miner, but Joe's Deli is giving the rest of us an excuse to start our day with steak and eggs ($8.25) as well. The Rocky River joint sticks to the basics with this classic, offering USDA choice steak that's cooked to your liking alongside two eggs any style, a mound of home fries and your choice of toast. "It's pretty straightforward," says chef Ed Zeagers of the dish, which is just fine when you can get it for that price. Joe's Deli is a bit different since it moved into its spacious new building this past June, but you won't notice it in the cooking. "The only time we change the quality is to be better," says Zeagers. "Our goal has always been to serve good food." Mon-Fri 7-10:30 a.m., Sat 7-11 a.m. 19215 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River, 440-333-7890, $$

Cure For A Hangover Pizza

Latitude 41n

We'll gladly raise our glass to this dish, especially knowing that all the toppings on the Cure for a Hangover pizza ($10.50) are geared to help us recover after a night out. The 10-inch pizza, layered with red sauce, chunks of potatoes, sausage made in-house with maple syrup and chili peppers, diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and two sunnyside eggs, is the perfect combination to soak up last night's overindulgence. "I don't drink anymore, but if I did, this would be what I want to eat," says Latitude 41n owner Kathy Brown. "Sometimes you wake up in the morning and need to guzzle a 2-liter of Pepsi. This is kind of like that. It settles your stomach." Mon-Fri 8-11 a.m., Sat 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.-3 p.m., 5712 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-961-0000, $$ 

Biscuits & Gravy

Washington Place Bistro

At Washington Place Bistro, Melissa Khoury is known as the Queen of Pork. And after a taste of the executive chef's biscuits and gravy ($11), you'll know why. Khoury, who learned the art of charcuterie while working at Atlanta's Abattoir Restaurant (which translates to slaughterhouse in French), replaces the usual sausage with a spicy chorizo carefully made in-house. "I wanted to do something different," says Khoury. "It seemed important to stay true to who we are with the dish." Fresh ginger biscuits, blanketed in a creamy chorizo gravy, add sweetness to the spice. Served with potato hash, the combination will stay on the menu for the cold winter months ahead. "It's sweet, spicy, savory," says Khoury. "In the end it's gonna make your belly feel good." Sat & Sun 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 2203 Cornell Road, Cleveland, 216-791-6500, $$$ 

bratwurst and eggs

Mary's Diner

At Mary's Diner, where the after-church crowd in Geneva can be found on Sundays, getting the bratwurst and eggs ($4.99) is almost like its own religious experience. Maybe it's because the sausage comes from the West Side Market, where co-owner Richard Sheppard brings the fresh bratwurst in from his stand, Frank's Bratwurst. Or maybe it's because the brats are crisp on the outside and the side of your fork struggles to break the meat before bursting through. Regardless, you've never had sausage and eggs that satisfy you more. "We're a diner known for hamburgers, but this is something different," says Sheppard. "It's not a traditional breakfast meat. We wanted to use it for more than just a bratwurst sandwich." Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 7 a.m.-8 p.m. 666 E. Main St., Geneva, 440-466-6393 $$ 

caribbean omelet

Creekside Restaurant & Bar

The omelet is the most versatile way to dress up eggs, which makes it an easy canvas for culinary globe-trotting. Throw in some prosciutto, basil and garlic for an Italian bent. Artichokes, olives and feta make it Mediterranean. Bacon, sausage and American cheese make it, well, American. Still, we can't remember the last time we've run across a Caribbean omelet ($7.95). Creekside Restaurant & Bar offers one packed with chicken, onions, spinach, Portabella mushrooms, jerk spices and spicy jack cheese (served with hash browns and your choice of toast). "We were trying to get away from the norm of ham and cheese all the time," says general manager Mark Murray of the nine omelets on the restaurant's menu. "The Caribbean omelet was one we came up with after goofing around with different things. It just all made sense together." Sun 8 a.m.-1 p.m. 8803 Bre

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