1. Fresh fruit and the SheepHerder at the Broken Egg are the perfect pairing. The juicy fruit medley makes a refreshing contrast to a dish hearty enough for a high-energy shepherd fixing to spend the next 10 hours herding his flock and fighting off Wile E. Coyote. The base is a glorious mesa of hash browns, supporting cheddar cheese and sour cream, two poached eggs and more melted cheese on top. Broken Egg of Lakewood Ranch, 6115 Exchange Way, Lakewood Ranch (941) 388-6898.
2. With its bright-eyed cheer, and absence of fry stains, First Watch is the antithesis of the greasy spoon. It’s more of a shiny spoon—the perfect place for a taste of the Sunshine State. Try the Key West crepe, a robust roll-up of smoked turkey, avocado, bacon, tomatoes and Monterey Jack cheese, topped with sour cream and served with a side of salsa. First Watch, 1395 Main St, Sarasota (941) 954-1395.
3. Remember the last time you had Mediterranean tofu scramble for breakfast? If not, consider a stop at Simon’s, one of the few area eateries serving vegan entrées. (Carnivores note: They also serve ham and eggs.) That said, we invite you to savor this aforementioned, animal-friendly dish; a mouth-watering mix of tofu, fresh basil, sun-dried tomato and olives. Smear some blackberry jam on your millet toast and let the critters off the hook. Simon’s Coffee House & Eatery, 5900 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 926-7151.
4. Can’t make it to Paris? C’est La Vie. No, we’re not being philosophical. This downtown sidewalk café offers all the Gallic charm of a Maurice Chevalier movie. No celluloid imitation of French life, but the thing itself. Coffee, as Sartre might say, that tastes like coffee. Buttery croissants and crispy baguettes—the real thing. Our favorite item? The tomato and leek crepe—a sleek, light and stylish concoction with more conjugations of taste than a French verb. Start your day here. Life is good. C’est La Vie, 1553 Main St., Sarasota (941) 906-9575
5. Since time immemorial, breakfast buffs have been faced with a painful choice: eggs and bacon—or pancakes and ham? Rejoice! Clayton’s Siesta Grille allows you to have it all with the Siesta Key Canoe, made with two scrambled eggs, bacon, and ham wrapped in a thin pancake and served with warm maple syrup and butter. The eggs are light and fluffy, the bacon crisp to perfection, the ham as good as it gets. Can we canoe? Indeed we can. Clayton’s Siesta Grille, 1256 Old Stickney Point Road, Sarasota (941) 349-2800.
6. Want to beat the Sunday-morning blues? Try blue crab for breakfast. Every weekend, the Blue Dolphin Cafe serves up blue crab eggs Benedict, a reinvented classic of poached eggs, topped with a succulent blue crab cake and rich, creamy Hollandaise sauce. Their seafood cure for your breakfast blues also comes in shades of red. Our good friend, lobster Benedict, is known to make an occasional weekend appearance. Blue Dolphin Café, 470 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota (941) 388-3566.
7. The bounty of breakfast and the beauty of the beach. Feel like enjoying both?
Drive on out to Gulf Drive Café. The location is great and the timing is perfect. It’s smack on the Gulf of Mexico—and breakfast time is all day long. You can feast on the signature Belgian waffles, smothered with ice cream and berries right up to 9:30 p.m., when they finally close for the day. Gulf Drive Café, 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach (941) 778-1919.
8. You can eat pecan waffles 24/7/365 at the Waffle House. This classic old American coffee shop has served 500 million of its wafflicious creations just since 1995, and it’s one of the few places left where you can listen to tunes on a real jukebox (punch up the Waffle Doo-Wop) while slathering sticky sweet syrup on these just-crisp-enough breakfast confections. Sidle up to that chrome counter stool, say howdy to your neighbor and tuck on in. Waffle House, 1414 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 953-7933.
9. Chef Eric Bein at Sierra Station thinks the world of his omelets; he christens each with a country’s name. He crowns his French omelet with melted brie and fine herbs; he fills his Spanish omelet with manchego cheese, cilantro and smoked paprika; he adorns his Italian with (what else?) fresh mozzarella, marinated artichokes, roasted peppers and basil pesto; his saucy American omelet is a melting pot of goat cheese, asparagus, crispy bacon and chives. Sierra Station, 400 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota (941) 906-1400.
10. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota serves a Sunday brunch to remember all week long. Enjoy your lavish repast al fresco on the terrace overlooking Sarasota Bay or inside the Vernona restaurant. The selections include a caviar station, a raw bar, sushi and sashimi, rack of lamb, made-to-order crepes, omelets, pancakes and waffles, and executive pastry chef Guillaume’s exquisite collection of tarts, tortes, flans, mini-pastries and chocolates. How do you count the calories? You don’t. $69 for adults; $35 for children. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota (941) 309-2008.
Our 10 Best lists are not ranked in order of numerical preference.