One problem with staying at a hotel that serves a free breakfast is that you may feel compelled to eat it – “I already paid for it, right?” – rather than wander a little further afield for a better experience.
Sure, if you’re time-crunched or there are transportation issues, do what you’ve gotta do, but if you want a better start to your traveler’s morning….to feel like you’re actually getting to know a town….go eat breakfast where the locals eat.
Although I’m not a morning person, it’s been worth it to roll out of bed and make time to eat at the places below….
Waffle Champion in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Flip the menu – one side is sweeter offerings, the other more savory (think bacon, egg, and cheese, or fried chicken) and all of it is delicious.
I had the Blueberry Sunrise waffle: blueberry-thyme compote, lemon goat cheese spread, with an oat crumble sprinkled on top.
When I asked if they could add pecans, the answer was, “Sure! Are espresso pecans all right?” Um, YEAH, duh.
Waffle Champion is located in the OKC Midtown neighborhood; parking is available on street or in the back, but follow the signs carefully, as you’ll be sharing spots with local apartments and the customers for other nearby businesses.
Sidebar – If you’re in the southern end of Oklahoma City, it’s worth a short drive a little further south to University of Oklahoma “Boomer Sooner” territory to eat at The Diner in downtown Norman, Oklahoma.
Billy’s Downtown Diner in Bethlehem or Allentown, Pennsylvania
I had the Tonga Toast – “Sourdough bread dipped in our own French toast mix and topped with fresh strawberries, bananas and walnuts. Draped with low fat vanilla yogurt and dusted with cinnamon,” and my dining companion Mike had the Lil’ Havana Omelette – “Slow roasted pulled pork in authentic Cuban seasonings with grilled ham, Swiss and Pepper jack cheese wrapped by three fluffy eggs and topped with diced tomatoes.”
Don’t miss a side trip to nearby SteelStacks see how they’ve made an arts magnet out of the rusty old Bethlehem steel plant.
Frank’s Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Two visits to this town. Two breakfasts at Frank’s Diner in downtown Kenosha.
Batting 1.000 so far.
I did order the same thing both times, which isn’t terribly adventurous, but at least I varied the routine by sitting in a booth the first time and at the counter the second.
Mostly, I learned that I can’t finish a “short stack” of pancakes at Frank’s, but the “no stack” – one very large pancake – works out well, especially with a side of their excellent sausages.
You’ll find plenty of other local independent places to eat in Kenosha, so try them all.
The Breakfast Club, Etc. in Lake Placid, New York
This meal plus bantering with friendly waitstaff was key to my recent perfect morning in Lake Placid, New York, in the middle of the Adirondacks.
I lingered over their listing of six different versions of eggs Benedict on the Breakfast Club, Etc. breakfast menu, but finally went with the apple, sausage, and Brie rösti served in a hot skillet on a bed of home fries, plus a big mug of coffee, of course.
You might want to plan on more walking to burn all that off – here are some easy one- to two-hour Adirondacks hikes to help you along.
Magnolia & Kerbey Lane Cafes in Austin, Texas
It’s hard to overstate the charms of a place that is open 24 hours, and that includes breakfast whenever you want it.
Bleary-eyed visitors to the Austin City Limits music festival or SXSW (South by Southwest, which includes interactive, film, and music festivals) have long turned to either a Magnolia Cafe or Kerbey Lane Cafe when they’re trying to find a local breakfast in Austin, Texas.
They are two different businesses, but both are no-fail reliable for good food, much of it locally-sourced.
Even better, there’s now a Kerbey Lane right on Interstate 35, north of Austin in Round Rock.
Hit it up on your way into or out of town for migas, chilaquiles, lots of different kinds of pancakes, the famous Eggs Francisco, or keep it simple and pig out on a big order of Kerbey queso and chips.
What are your favorite local places for breakfast, especially when you’re traveling? Give them a shout-out down in the comments.
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