The local Broken Egg chain divorced back in 2013, separating into a one-off independent restaurant on Clark Road and two outposts of Another Broken Egg, a chain headquartered in Destin. Highlights at Another Broken Egg, located on Siesta Key and in Lakewood Ranch, can be found on the restaurant’s extensive healthy eats section. A bowl of house-made granola, fruit and Greek yogurt balances sweetness with whimsical hits of salt. The dish is centered around a mound of blueberry quinoa—bland on its own, but a nice counterpoint to the more powerful flavors arrayed around it. 6115 Exchange Way, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 388-6898; 140 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, Sarasota, (941) 552-8320. anotherbrokenegg.com
It’s located on stylish St. Armands Circle, but with its sunlit front windows and friendly staff, the Blue Dolphin Cafe feels like a welcoming neighborhood joint. The restaurant’s relaxed environment is sometimes at odds with the big crowds it attracts, particularly on in-season weekend mornings. Those who can find a spot, though, will find plenty to enjoy. The menu runs the a.m. gamut from corned beef hash to huevos rancheros and Belgian waffles, with a very worthy eggs Benedict playing a starring role. (The eggs in that dish and everything else come from Sutter Egg Farm in Sarasota, and you can taste the freshness.) The Dolphin is a perfect place for kicking back with coffee and the paper or your phone. Can’t find a table? Drive north to the restaurant’s second location, on Longboat Key. 470 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, (941) 388-3566; 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 101, Longboat Key, (941) 383-3787. bluedolphincafe.com
The Breakfast House
We may be exaggerating—but not by much—by saying that The Breakfast House has revolutionized the art of the pancake. At too many restaurants, a pancake seems like an afterthought—a fat, spongy disc of dough with little discernible flavor and topped with caramel-colored corn syrup masquerading as maple. Breakfast House’s pancake, though, marries a lovely, tight griddled skin to a creamy interior pocked with air holes and bearing subtle toasted notes. The package is enlivened by butter and genuine maple syrup. The ’cakes taste even better when eaten as part of “Uncle Harry’s hearty breakfast,” a belly-busting $9.99 sampler of most of what the house does best. The food is just part of the attraction here. The restaurant is located in a vintage cottage complete with white picket fence. If the weather is nice, ask for a table out back. The shady, sun-dappled patio with white wrought-iron tables and chairs couldn’t be more charming. 1817 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, 366-6860.
Buttermilk Handcrafted Food
Buttermilk smartly avoids the “restaurant” tag, because it’s not really a full-on sit-down establishment. Instead, it’s a charming gathering place with carefully thought-out biscuits, grits and toasts, pastries and pies that leave you shivering with delight and robust coffees that are a pleasure to linger over. Part Southern comfort, part heartland throwback, the baked goods at Buttermilk include layered, buttery biscuits slathered with salty gravy, cinnamon rolls the size of basketballs and dense, sweet oatmeal, pecan and sorghum pies. Buttermilk is a perfect place to meet up to go over a business plan or just chat the morning away. And if you order pie for breakfast? No judgment here. 5520 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 487-8948.
For almost two decades, C’est La Vie! has delivered a cup of joie de vivre to Main Street diners in the mood for crêpes, quiches, croissants, sandwiches and salads. The crêpes, made of eggy, stretchy dough, pack in savory stuff like bacon, cheese, mushrooms, potatoes and eggs, and just gazing at the pastry cases filled with fresh-baked French concoctions—oh, those chocolate and almond croissants!—can bring on a sugar and butter rush. The downtown location eventually proved so popular that a pair of Parisian transplants, Jean and Myriam Dandonneau, last year struck a deal with the original owners, Christophe and Geraldine Coutelle, to open a second location out east. 1553 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 906-9575; 8527 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 355-2323. cestlaviesarasota.com
Searching out ultra-affordable no-frills diner standards, regulars pile into this laid-back dive located next to a laundromat and a post office on Cortez Road, just east of the heart of the historic fishing village of Cortez and a hop, skip and a jump from the bridge that takes you out to Anna Maria Island. Pancakes so big they spill over the edge of your plate, chunky sausage gravy, hash browns with just the right amount of grease… what’s not to love? Cortez Cafe is a perfect pit stop before heading out to the island or out on the boat for the day. 12108 Cortez Road W., Cortez, (941) 792-0030
The little Amish-Mennonite community of Pinecraft is beloved by locals and visitors for its restaurants serving hearty comfort food. There’s no better place to sample that than at Der Dutchman’s big breakfast buffet. It’s tough to keep bacon crispy on a buffet, but this massive Amish dining hall has figured it out. The strips of pork hit your plate snappy and crackly, perfectly complementing the magnificent hash browns and big, doughy biscuits. You’ll see plenty of beards and bonnets here, of course, but along with Pinecraft neighbors, the eatery also attracts working-class guys filling up before a day spent repairing roofs and pouring concrete. The pancakes are too soft, the eggs are just all right, but trust us, you’ll go back for seconds. 3713 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, (941) 955-8007. dhgroup.com
This small cafe in a U.S. 41-fronting Nokomis strip offers crazy-affordable breakfast food from sunup until 3 p.m. every day of the week, cranking out primarily egg-heavy plates. Winners include the rich corned beef hash, topped with a couple eggs, and the “bacon Benny,” an eggs Benedict upgraded with applewood-smoked pork. The decor is old-school touristy Florida, with colorful images of the sun, the ocean, seagulls, shells, seahorses and lizards, and the service is equally cheery—and quick. 2282 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis, (941) 966-6652. eggstraordinarycafe.com
First Watch has grown from a Manatee-based chain into the nation’s largest breakfast-lunch operation. It now has more than 270 restaurants in 26 states. It’s easy to see why; the company's outposts serve fresh, affordable, straightforward breakfasts from kitchens that don’t use heat lamps or deep fryers, and the food is often delivered at breakneck speed. The formula attracts everyone from the dudded-up post-church crowd at six-tops to entrepreneurs working on laptops at the restaurant’s tall, communal, bar-style tables. Odds are you’ve already got a favorite First Watch item; we love the farmhouse skillet hash, a filling mix of potatoes, eggs, cheese, onions, tomatoes, bacon and avocado. 1395 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 954-1395; see other locations at firstwatch.com.
Fresh Start Cafe
The global touches on the menu of this downtown café truly set it apart. Israeli burekas—pastries stuffed with hard-boiled egg, tomato and pepper—are unlike any other breakfast in town. But even Italian dishes like Fresh Start’s frittatas are winners. The “el caliente” frittata isn’t very “caliente” (a nagging Sarasota trend), but the cilantro and jalapeños add depth to the eggs and a dollop of sour cream and salsa bring freshness. You can eat inside or out; opt for out. The brick patio is alongside a well-traveled downtown road, but somehow the space always feels quiet and relaxed, and the breezes can’t be beat. 630 S. Orange Ave., Sarasota, (941) 373-1242.
The Gulf Drive Café sits right on a gorgeous spread of Anna Maria Island beach. We like to eat outside, on a patio next to the sand or underneath the tiki roof. The menu includes classics like omelets, pancakes and waffles, but we’re suckers for the corned beef hash, served with three perfectly cooked eggs and a side of thick, sticky oatmeal swirled with brown sugar. Or pay a little more, $14.99, for the fresh catch and eggs. On a recent visit, the restaurant’s grilled mahi, just OK on its own, tasted exceptional when blended with the oozing yolk of soft eggs. Fish and eggs may sound like a strange combo—but you’re in Florida, and the Gulf Drive Café proves it works. Whatever you order, don’t take your eyes off that view. 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, (941) 778-1919. gulfdrivetiki.com
Home to a bright, airy dining room with views of a small garden and a palm-dotted patio, Harry’s serves a mix of traditional and innovative breakfasts every morning of the week. Both presentation and flavors impress. A humble omelet comes out bursting with bright reds and greens, and even the potatoes on the side have been artfully arranged. If you’re seeking something substantial (and a little pricey, at $18) try the shrimp and grits. Tender crustaceans circle a mound of rich, sticky, cheesy corn, and it’s all surrounded by a puddle of a powerful garlicky reduction. Enjoy it with a bloody Mary that comes with a slice of bacon. The tall red glass is layered with olives and pickled greens, too. This counts as a serving of vegetables, right? 5600 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, (941) 383-0777. harryskitchen.com
The Oasis Café
A pastel-hued mainstay of mid-Sarasota, this small café is a go-to spot for neighbors and for businesspeople putting their heads together for a working meal. Don’t miss the specials. The restaurant recently piled together a crispy black bean cake, slices of avocado, a poached egg and Hollandaise for a one-of-a-kind Benedict. Oasis displays its popular fresh-baked goods in a glass case and on some tabletops right inside the front windows. The selection includes everything from buttermilk biscuits to muffins laced with ingredients like oatmeal and brown sugar. Too full to eat a biscuit with breakfast? Take it to go. Thank us later. 3542 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 957-1214. theoasiscafe.net
Two years after the chain split up, the lone remaining independent Broken Egg restaurant underwent a rebrand, becoming The Original Egg. What hasn’t changed? The food. Owner Dawn Hair insisted the menu remain the same and the restaurant’s “colossal” pancakes and “eggseptional” platters still dominate the menu. We like “Kylee’s peachy waffle,” topped with peaches, pecans and cinnamon sugar. Or try the sheepherder skillet, a basic egg, potato and cheese concoction that tastes even better when doused in hot sauce. 4031 Clark Road, Sarasota, (941) 922-2868. thebrokenegg.com
When this Rosemary District newcomer opened in 2015, news of its excellent breakfast spread quickly. We’re helplessly in love with the fish cake eggs Benedict, which replaces the usual crab cakes with two small, crispy rounds filled with toothsome flakes of fish. A couple of perfectly poached eggs rest atop the cakes, and the whole thing comes drenched in Hollandaise. On the side: terrific cheese grits just like owner George Armstrong’s mother used to make, and roasted potatoes enlivened by caramelized peppers and onions. Armstrong hails from Austin, Texas, so it’s no surprise that the breakfast tacos sing, as do the migas, a unique mix of scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa and tortilla strips. 411 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, (941) 955-7600. therosemarysarasota.com
Sage Biscuit Café
Most weekends, expect a wait at this Bradenton breakfast spot. The crowds know that what Sage Biscuit cooks up is worth the inconvenience. Inside, the space is bustling, with servers hopping to and fro and shouting back into the kitchen through the open service window. The biscuits—scented with sage, of course—are a natural hit, as are the restaurant’s handful of jazzed-up Benedicts. We consider the jalapeño bacon and fried green tomato version an instant classic. A second location opened in downtown Bradenton last fall. 6656 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 792-3970; 1401 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, (941) 405-4744. sagebiscuitcafebradenton.com
The Serving Spoon
Southside Village’s Serving Spoon has been dishing up hearty breakfast fare for more than two decades. The interior includes a range of light-wood tables and booths, plus a long bar with seats that are perfect for individual diners. In addition to standards like pancakes, omelets and a very good Belgian waffle (crisp on the outside with a light and fluffy interior), you’ll also find hearty skillet combos, biscuits and gravy and fresh juices. Even if you’re a first-timer, the waitresses make you feel like you’ve been coming here since forever. It’s no wonder that when this place gets busy, you’ll see patient customers idling along Osprey, waiting for a spot. 1825 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 388-7235. theservingspoononline.com
Simon’s Coffee House
Simon’s on the South Trail has earned a reputation for its healthy offerings, which undersells just how delicious the food is. You’ll find everyone here, from retirees and real estate mavens to tattooed hipsters with little kids. You can eat inside or at tables crowded together on the narrow sidewalk. Breakfast options include a variety of egg platters, omelets and breakfast sandwiches, with an emphasis on vegetarian options. We’re typically guided by what’s new on the specials board, which leans toward culinary mashups with flavors that trot the globe, from the Caribbean to India, from Japan to Vietnam, from Scotland to Mexico. The creativity extends to the beverages, too. There’s local organic kombucha on draft and glasses of thick, fresh matcha served over ice with lemon. Delicious. 5900 S. Tamiami Trail, Unit GHI, Sarasota, (941) 926-7151. simonstogo.com
Station 400 elevates simple breakfast dishes, while keeping the food unpretentious and satisfying. And then there are the specials, a steady parade of creative updates to what the restaurant already does exceptionally well. Pesto Hollandaise on your eggs Benedict? Red velvet pancakes? A bacon flight? Why not? It’s all served in one of downtown’s prettiest outdoor spaces, a lovely patio with an urban garden feel that somehow stays pleasant even when it’s 500 degrees out. The Lakewood Ranch location is also a gem. 400 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, (941) 906-1400; 8215 Lakewood Main St., Suite P103, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 907-0648. station400.com
Sun Garden Cafe
This Siesta Key mainstay attracts both sun-blasted tourists and mainlanders making the trek out to the beach, offering a mix of egg-based standards, plus more unusual dishes like their iconic sweet potato pancakes—so smooth, so sweet, so fluffy that they can singlehandedly turn your week around. Waffles made with batter dotted with pecans and bacon are another fave. Outside, striped awnings protect customers from the sun on a wide stone patio bright with tropical flowers and an occasional visiting songbird. This may just be Siesta’s best place to wake up. 210 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key, (941) 346-7170. sol-food.net
This small café opened in December 2014, taking over a previously cursed greasy spoon attached to both an apartment complex and a hotel. The new look features tall, wide windows that let in an ocean of light. While lunch and dinner run Hungarian, the breakfast menu features mostly American classics, with a pleasant upgrade here and there. The restaurant salts its own salmon, for example, and throws you a curveball with out-of-this-world savory chickpea pancakes. If you’re looking for goulash, you’ll have to wait until lunchtime. If you’re looking for the finest breakfast on the north side of town, look no farther. 4900 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 359-9500. sunnysidecafesrq.com
Drive past downtown’s Toasted Mango and you’ll likely see a line of hungry people jostling for a spot on the wait list. They know what’s up. The Mango’s devoted following snaps up healthy items, including smoothies (from the Mean Green to the Mangotastic) and more conventional breakfast items and sandwiches. Recent imaginative additions include cinnamon-roll pancakes and a salmon hash. This summer, the Mango opened a south Siesta Key location, bringing a comprehensive breakfast menu to a neighborhood that desperately needed one. The service shone on a recent visit, and there’s even a sliver of water view—of a saltwater estuary the server swore sometimes hosts tarpon. 430 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 388-7728; 6621 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, Sarasota, (941) 552-6485. toastedmangocafe.com
Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth opened in Gulf Gate in 1996, well before the neighborhood grew into a foodie destination. Through all the changes, the restaurant has remained dedicated to simple, high-quality dishes served in generous portions. The dining room and long, curved counter are comfortable, if a bit shabby, but there’s nothing shabby about the homemade pastries, the omelets, or—our personal favorite—the towering breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese and either bacon or a sausage patty, which comes on either an English muffin or a buttermilk biscuit. Pick the biscuit, a delicate hunk of dough blessed with a crackling golden crust. 6604 Gateway Ave., Sarasota, (941) 925-2400, originalwordofmouth.com