Breakfast is in the midst of a makeover. Ethnic foods are trending strongly, as are crunchier, more “aggressive” foods like crispy chorizo. The idea of “breakfast all day” has passed the trend stage and must now be called an accepted (and expected) feature of restaurant culture. The spirit of the original purveyor of breakfast-all-day menus, the humble diner, is alive and well, still dishing up hundreds of delicious meals for customers daily. And in certain ways, diners are leading the charge when it comes to new, fresh ideas on how to prepare breakfast food.
Without a doubt, the most popular new items are those that incorporate ethnic flavors. These can originate from Latin American cuisine, such as the Huevos Rancheros at Fog City Diner in San Francisco (which features a stuffed Pasilla chile); have an East Asian influence, like the Szechuan pork in Little Goat’s This Little Piggy Went to China (also includes a sesame cheddar biscuit, sunny side eggs, chili garlic chive sauce and gooseberries); or even incorporate Korean flavors, such as the Korean omelet at Cook in St. Paul, MN, which contains kimchi.
Many diners are catering to the Millennial generation by expanding their menus to include healthier items and honor dietary restrictions. At Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla, CA, guests can opt for the Paleo-Rific Breakfast, which embraces a Paleo diet; substitute oatmeal pancakes for buttermilk; and opt for soy milk with their order of granola.
Entrées embracing more vegetables are also on the rise.The Millennial generation has a strong interest in healthy foods, and they are choosing them over more traditional steak-and-eggs fare. At trendy Diner in Brooklyn, NY, the first choice of breakfast menu item includes cherry tomatoes, zucchini, wax beans, squash, olives, tomatoes and herbs.
The Mighty Avocado
The avocado is the hot new breakfast ingredient of the year, having been well established in California by the turn of the decade and continuing its march across the continent. Variations on this healthy ingredient, such as Fog City’s Avocado Benedict, attract the younger set—“avocado toast” is ever-present on photo-sharing applications like Instagram. The fruit, which boasts an impressive amount of fiber and contains only monounsaturated fatty acids is packed with nutrients.
The Mainstay: Coffee
While diners and coffee have always gone hand in hand, the game is beginning to change—the younger restaurant crowd is craving specialty coffee, and as a result, diners are upgrading their coffee game. In addition to outstanding coffee service, coffee drinkers are looking for creative updates on some espresso classics (such as the Goat’s Milk Latté at Little Goat). Some diners are notably keeping to their roots—and in a nod to diner-ism, only serve drip-brewed coffee.