The 10 best breakfasts in the Twin Cities suburbs
Chicken and waffles from 3 Squares
Courtesy of 3 Squares' Facebook
A few weeks ago, we highlighted the hashiest hash browns and bonniest Benedicts in St. Paul. Then we explored every syrup-soaked nook and cranny of the best pancakes and waffles in Minneapolis. But all you real-life Ron Swansons and Leslie Knopes weren't satisfied. You wanted the lowdown on even more spots serving solid daily breakfast, specifically ones that required us to get on the cloverleaf highways. So for this go-around we're counting down the 10 best breakfasts in the Twin Cities suburbs.
See also: The 10 best breakfasts in Minneapolis
Ze's Diner has '50s diner flair
Courtesy of Ze's Diner's Facebook
10. Ze's Diner, Eagan This 1950s-themed restaurant serves consistently good diner classics like corned beef hash and Denver omelets, along with a few more modern favorites, like a Tex Mex burrito and a Cajun breakfast that's positively doused in spicy Hollandaise sauce. Unlike most of the other entries on this list, you won't feel like getting a "real" coffee after having breakfast at Ze's. They have a full list of espresso drinks and will even do you a morning malt or milkshake should the whole soda-shoppe vibe succeed in whisking you back to your high school production of Grease.
9. R.J. Riches, Mounds View We don't know who R.J. is, but if we were forced to guess based on the food served at his restaurants, we would say he's likely a large man with a larger-than-life appetite. This is all to say that the portions at R.J. Riches Family Restaurant in Mounds View are insanely big. Chocolate chip pancakes are the size of a Christmas ham serving platter. The hash brown melts -- cheese, veggie, and egg-covered farmers breakfasts -- feel like a Man vs. Food-style challenge that only Paul Bunyan would take on. Fluffy three-egg omelets take up the entire plate and are stuffed with at least five ingredients apiece (the Italian sausage here is quite good, but does make you crave pizza). Oh, and speaking of pizza, the Hawaiian pancakes, made with ham and pineapple, are a weird and wonderful, sweet-and-salty all-in-one meal.
8. 3 Squares, Maple Grove The spacious patio at 3 Squares is a major draw, especially if you're in the mood for a refreshing cocktail alongside your eggs. But since it's part of the Blue Plate group, this restaurant also has a certain comfort and familiarity about it, even if you've never before ventured into Maple Grove. Breakfast is one of the things 3 Squares does best, including lighter fare like Irish oatmeal and egg white scrambles or rib-sticking meatloaf hash and Cajun-spiced chicken and waffles to please diners who can't decide between breakfast and lunch. And the hash browns are seriously crispy.
7. Yum! Kitchen & Bakery, St. Louis Park During the height of the cupcake craze, Yum, with its exemplary Swiss meringue frosting and spongy layer cakes, quickly became a destination for sweets-seekers. But most visitors missed out by overlooking the fuller menu. Next time you're there picking up cupcakes for the office, treat yourself to a little breakfast. Yum uses its own house-made English muffins and peppery sausage for tasty fried egg sandwiches; freshly baked shiny challah as a base for simple, slow-scrambled eggs with chives; and oily, herby, bouncy focaccia for the hearty summer sandwich, featuring a tangy red pepper aioli and thick-cut Neuske's bacon. No matter what dish you decide on for your main meal, be sure to take one of the caramel pull-aparts to cap it off.
Peg serving up one of her popovers
Courtesy of Peg's Countryside Cafe's Facebook page
6. Peg's Countryside Cafe, Hamel Lovers of country kitsch and kooky old knick-knacks take note: Peg's in Hamel, just north and a little west of Plymouth, has your number. This itty bitty place has small-town charm, below-average prices (the most expensive items top out at all of $8.50), and above-average pie, so make sure to have a slice wrapped up to take home on your way out. For breakfast we loved the sage-y, nutty, just slightly sweet blueberry wild rice sausage and the over-the-top French toast breakfast sandwich -- a State Fair-worthy pile-up of scrambled eggs, cheese, and pork sausage on crusty slices of French toast. Ask about specials, which are nearly always good, but be forewarned that there's no real maple syrup in sight here. You'll have to bring your own. Like a Canadian. Or Buddy the Elf.
5. Original Pancake House, multiple locations OPH is a suburban staple, each with its own personality. The Edina location is always full and buzzing, no matter the day of the week. The Wayzata one seems to attract more families than morning meetings. And the Osseo one, well, we've never been to the Osseo one because there are three others much closer. If you've been carb-starved for a spell, we can't stress enough the importance of breaking your streak here, possibly with the cinnamon-glazed apple pancake but more likely with the signature Dutch baby -- a cross between a cast iron-cooked pancake and a giant popover. It's eggy, buttery, and warm, finished subtly with just some lemon juice and powdered sugar. If you venture into more savory territory here, consider the corned beef hash, which comes with a stack of crispy potato pancakes.
4. Tavern 4 & 5, Eden Prairie Suburban strip mall breakfast isn't usually the kind of thing that makes us want to set an early alarm, but for Tavern 4 & 5's Reuben Benedict, made with beef brisket, Gruyere cheese, and chopped pickles on caraway-studded toast, we might be persuaded to become morning people. This under-the-radar gastropub also has crispy malted waffles and a strong focus on carefully prepared proteins like the cedar plank salmon you can get on a bagel with cream cheese and capers or the truly distinctive and distractingly good pecan wood-smoked bacon. Bonus: The Tavern has a full bar and a beer list worth getting out of bed for. 3. Taste of Scandinavia, North Oaks and Little Canada Lots of other places on this list offer Swedish pancakes -- a silver dollar-sized, crepe-like cake that is thinner and richer than its American counterpart. But predictably, none are more delicate or dreamy than the ones they make at Taste of Scandinavia. Their French toast, made with fragrant Pulla bread that is heavy on the cardamom, is also delicious and crispy, served with apples and tart lingonberries to cut the richness of the custard. Lefse is available year-round and is done as either a sweet or savory dish for breakfast. We preferred the latter, which is kind of a Scandi take on a breakfast burrito, with scrambled eggs, cheese, and super mild salsa.
2. Good Day Cafe, Golden Valley This sunny spot is a the living embodiment of practice makes perfect. Having flipped thousands of pancakes, buttered billions of pieces of toast, and cracked more eggs than a teenage hooligan on Halloween, Good Day Cafe just has breakfast down pat. One of the most popular dishes, the crab cake Benedict, has legions of loyal fans, and for good reason. The cakes are meaty -- not bready -- and griddled until crisp on the outside; Hollandaise is tangy, frothy, and perfectly emulsified -- never gloopy or overly salty; and the pooling yolk of jiggly poached egg binds everything together. Expect a wait, especially on the weekends. But expect the wait to be worth it, too.
1. Fat Nat's Eggs, multiple locations Readers, this one was all you. You wrote us articulate, impassioned emails about your love for Fat Nat's Eggs and we finally took your good advice and swung into the Brooklyn Park location. Like parents swooning over the very nice boy that you finally brought home to meet, we took a real shine to Fat Nat's. Not only are the pancakes (gasp) better than Al's, Nat's green chile -- the sauce that smothers the huevos with black beans and carnitas -- impressed even a fellow diner who happened to be a Santa Fe native, and the portions on everything are not skimpy.
Send your story tips to Hot Dish.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.