Start the day right
Selected places serving breakfast and brunch in metro Detroit
Published: May 9, 2012
The Ham Shop 330 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-965-0088; $: Once a favorite St. Antoine greasy spoon, the Ham Shop — formerly known as the "Ham Shoppe" — has spent the last couple years maintaining its reputation at its present Monroe Street location. It's ham everything at the Ham Shop: ham sandwiches, ham omelets, and on the list goes. Part of the place's reputation comes from the talk about their ham and cheese omelets, which were described before in these very pages as being "the size of a hubcap." And their offerings are varied enough to fill several pages of tiny-point type, including everything from broasted chicken to jumbo dogs to stir fries.
Hambo 2290 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-414-9400; $: Hambo Coney Island serves up inexpensive breakfast staples quickly, even during the packed weekend crowds. Popular breakfast choices include chili or gyro omelets.
Harvard Grille 16624 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-882-9090; $: You can create your own omelet here, piling items on until you've created a 2,000-calorie breakfast bomb. Or, you can choose from the usual omelets. One interesting choice is the Irish omelet, with corned beef (natch), green pepper, onion and Swiss cheese. All omelets come with hash browns and toast. Open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, Saturdays 7a.m.-3p.m., and Sundays 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Honest John's 488 Selden St., Detroit; 313-832-JOHN (5646); 313-832-5646; honestjohnsdetroit.com; $: This low-key Cass Corridor bar is actually a tried-and-true veteran of the breakfast game, offering a variety of omelets with names such as "the Oink" (ham, bacon, sausage and American cheese), "the Poor Richard" (spinach, mushrooms, bacon and Swiss) and "the Goyim" (corned beef, thousand island, coleslaw and Swiss). Early in the day, you'll often get free credits on Honest John's encyclopedic jukebox, and when weather warms up, the restaurant's small patio is at your disposal. Breakfast is served until noon Monday-Friday and until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Hilton Road Café 3150 Hilton Rd., 248-548-0008; hiltonroadcafe.com; $: This cozy café offers 15 choices of omelets, most notably the "Monster": ham, bacon, sausage, skillet potatoes, green peppers, onions and American cheese, topped with sausage gravy and served with hash browns and toast. Skillets, blueberry pancakes and cinnamon-raisin French toast are other worthy options.
Hudson Café 1241 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-237-1000; hudson-cafe.com; $$: Graham-cracker-crusted French toast with cream cheese drizzle, banana Nutella crepes, eggs Benedict on a bed of asparagus topped parmesan cheese; these are just some of the many detailed dining options on Hudson Café's extensive menu.
Janet's Lunch 15033 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-331-5776; $: Founded in 1938, Janet's Lunch is a cozy diner tucked away in the Kercheval shopping district of the Pointes. Those looking to score a sweet breakfast, look no further than Janet's caramel pecan French toast. Sure, it's a snug fit, and the calamity of the hardworking kitchen is open for all to see
Jumps 63 Kercheval Ave., Ste. 105, Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-882-9555; jumpstartrestaurant.com; $: Renovated and spruced up in 2009 with the addition of a liquor license, Jumps makes no bones about its vast breakfast offerings: From the likes of a special omelet stuffed with chorizo, avocado, Spanish onion, tomato and smoked gouda to side orders such as chocolate zucchini bread. The new spot sits one floor above the previous basement locale, so whatever oddities may have existed before are long gone.
Leon's 23830 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-563-3713; leonsgoodfood.com; $: Ah, yes. Leon's, one of Metro-Detroit's family dining mainstays along with Ram's Horn — and perhaps Leo's. The menu doesn't stray from the stubborn, sturdy classics of typical diner fare, but the breakfast specials or the all-you-can-eat breakfast bar ($5.99) can help enliven things a bit.
Louie's Ham and Corned Beef 3570 Riopelle St., Detroit; 313-831-1800; louieseasternmarket.com; $: A friend is fond of saying Louie's serves omelets as big as your head—a statement more likely true for the big-headed. Their showcase omelet is the $6.75 "piggy," which has ham, bacon, sausage links, green peppers, onions and both kinds of cheese, Swiss and American. For deli-heads, there's the pastrami omelet, which will set you back $6.25. There are 24 omelets to choose from, served with toast and jam. Open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday- Saturday, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Mae's 24060 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-548-5355; maesdetroit.com; $$: Previously known as the durable Anna's Coffee Shoppe, it's a classic space, with knee-to-ceiling windows on the north and west walls, a wealth of natural light washes across the white counter and the vibrant aqua vinyl stools and chairs. Vintage wooden soda crates and a milkshake mixer lay amid the shelves of kitchen tools and foodstuffs. Go inexpensive with a simple fried egg and cheese sandwich for $2.50 on your choice of a half-dozen styles of bread baked at Detroit's Avalon Bakery. Go gourmet with a worthwhile eggs Benedict complete with spinach, bacon and tomatoes on baguette.
Nello's 25994 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-546-0966; $: Opened in 1986, Nello's sticks with the "family restaurant" label and doesn't step outside usual boundaries with their breakfast. Expect a friendly, low-key environment, and nothing but classic diner dishes.
Omelette & Waffle Café 580 Forest Ave., Plymouth; 734-454-6510; $: Don't entrust your breakfast to people who only do it part time. O&W's slogan? "Breakfast is our specialty!" Expect fluffy omelets with thick chunks of the good stuff you desire, as well as a full breakfast menu that ensures you'll receive maximum satisfaction from the "most important meal of the day."
One-Eyed Betty's 175 W. Troy, Ferndale; 248-808-6633; oneeyedbettys.com; $$: Betty's has continued to soak up a consistent stream of customers who overwhelmingly responded to the opening of the bar specializing in Michigan craft beers. But, the bustling spot isn't a fixture for just burgers and beer: on weekends they open up early with a well-rounded breakfast menu. Each week brings a special pancake selection to compliment the always offered oatmeal pancakes or homemade cinnamon rolls.
The Original Pancake House 33703 S. Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-642-5775; 20273 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-884-4144; 19355 W. 10 Mile Rd., Southfield; 248-357-3399; originalpancakehouse.com; $: The OHOP bakes their omelets, which makes them extra fluffy. Expect large portions that fill up the entire plate. The "Spanish Omelet" is a specialty direct from Barcelona, filled with fresh mushrooms and smothered in a tangy sauce. A favorite is the spinach-and-cheese omelet, which comes with mushroom sherry sauce. If you are more interested in going the crêpe route, try the Continental, a sour cream-filled treat that is especially delectable when smothered in generous drippings of maple syrup.
The Pantry 34220 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights; 586-989-1370; 44945 Morley Dr., Clinton Twp.; 586-465-5514; thepantryrestaurant.com; $: The Pantry's website tells you to "get a load of the specials!" Well, there's certainly plenty to consider. All-you-can-eat pancakes — in 12 varieties on Tuesdays, a special asparagus and cheese omelet on Mondays, and weekends always bring unique dishes to the table. The Pantry's been running for over a quarter-century and their commitment to breakfast probably says part of the reason why.
PJ's Lager House 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; pjslagerhouse.com; $: Most nights PJ's draws out a decent-sized crowd for the live bands and well-rounded dinner menu. But, on weekends they also have a stellar brunch selection, which is super vegetarian-friendly. Other than standard egg-fare specials, there's also corned beef hash, frittatas, tofu scrams served as a dish or breakfast burrito with vegan queso and avocado, an Avalon Corktown cinnamon French toast and vegan biscuits and gravy. Open 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Russell Street Deli 2465 Russell St., Eastern Market, Detroit; 313-567-2900; $: On Saturdays, don't let the usual line out the door deter you — it's well worth the wait for the Deli's Saturday breakfast. Eggs get combined with fresh ingredients including avocado, smoked gouda and caramelized onions. There's a different (huge) omelet or scrambled special every Saturday, often involving double-smoked bacon; the special is posted on the Deli's website, russellstreetdeli.com, every Friday night. The menu changes consistently; such is the nature of the Deli's commitment to fresh foods. Breakfast served 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Monday- Friday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
The Steak Hut 1551 W. Lafayette St., Detroit; 313-961-0659; $: Vintage diner with live music every Sunday. Gus, the owner, makes "the" best homemade home fries and hippie hash. His "sizzle special," huge omelets and organic blueberry pancakes are great and cheap. The bands are different every Sunday morning: jug bands, keyboard and violin, steel guitars, banjos. And, of course, you can always have breakfast with the show.
Sunny's 6680 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-626-3750; $: Sunny's serves up specialty breakfasts and lunches throughout the week, such as homemade oatmeal and Belgian waffles drummed up from scratch. But, be advised: They close up shop at 3 p.m. daily and stop serving breakfast at 2:45 p.m.
Tim's Coney Island 16015 Southfield Rd., Allen Park; 313-928-6690; $: What else can one expect from a coney island, but the inexpensive prices coupled with solid service makes for a great bite to eat at the small locale. Keep the plastic at home, though. Tim's only takes cash.
Toast 23144 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-398-0444; $: Not only does their food taste marvelous — it is also beautiful to look at. Weekday egg-fests include some pretty fancy fixins along with more regular fare; it gets more lavish on the weekend. Consider the Parisian omelet, made with spinach, caramelized onion, tomatoes and goat cheese. The non-egg fare is also worth trying. For instance, the Grand Marnier French Toast is topped with almonds and brown sugar. Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends.
Toast Birmingham 203 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-258-6278; toastbirmingham.com; $$: The counterpart to its Ferndale locale continues to live up to the hype surrounding it. The owners may have gone out on a limb claiming they were introducing 'gastrocasual dining' to metro Detroit when this particular Toast opened — but, it's indeed a pleasant place to dine. The breakfast selection doesn't disappoint either: The enormous breakfast burrito — a blend of chorizo, pinto beans, black beans, seasoned eggs and more — could suffice for two. They don't let up on the griddle, either — for example, try out the "Granola Mountain French Toast" topped with vanilla yogurt, challah and fresh berries.
Travis 23500 Greater Mack St. Clair Shores, MI 48080; 586-778-0101; $: Serving up typical breakfast classics, Travis works wonders for those looking to keep things simple, and perhaps cure a hangover after a long night — thanks to the above-average servings they plate up. Open 24 hours other than Sunday.
Whistle Stop 501 S. Eton St., Birmingham; 248-647-5588; $: On weekends, you'll often see patient lines waiting outside this small, family-run breakfast and brunch place, hidden in a mostly residential, outlying section of Birmingham. The Whistle Stop's menu is full of classics: Cheese and meat omelets, giant meat-and-egg plates, and pancakes with fruit. Cinnamon French toast — sounds like a winner. The lunch items are equally traditional. Weekend breakfast specials, served all day, are a tad more adventurous.
Woodbridge Pub 5196 Trumbull Ave., Detroit; 313-833-2701; woodbridgepub.com; $$: The Woodbridge Pub's décor may seem a tad bit on the upscale, but it's certainly nothing to shy away from. One of the most pleasant environments to enjoy a drink or meal for anyone, the Pub also holds down one of the tastiest Sunday brunch menus in the area. For example, special omelets and a vegan tofu scramble that changes weekly, Chile Quiles — scrambled eggs with tortillas, salsa, cheddar cheese, peppers and onions, and for non-eggheads: try out the French toast — a few slices of brioche topped with a delicious lemon curd and fresh berries.
Special thanks to editorial interns Rachelle Damico, Ryan Felton and Jackie Rollin for their assistance with this column.
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