Whether it’s bagels or biscuits you wake up craving, one of these breakfast specialists ought to do the trick. And if you’d rather sleep in, they’ve got your lunch order covered, too.
Big Steve’s Bagels
12330 NC Highway 210, Benson
In a nutshell: A taste of New York served with a generous side of small-town friendliness. Bagels are worth a drive from Raleigh (plan on taking home a dozen). Additional temptations include house-baked pastries and breads used to create a varied assortment of sandwiches.
Breakfast bets: The Big Steve (double egg, bacon, sausage, ham, home fries and cheese on bagel of choice), Danish pastries, oversize cinnamon rolls.
Also try: nova lox on bagel of choice, tuna melt, homemade egg salad on house-baked Kaiser roll.
The Brunch Box
10970-120 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville
In a nutshell: Owners Steve and Karen Williams bring mom-and-pop-shop friendliness to this RTP eatery, along with a menu billed as “comfort food with a twist.” No wonder The Brunch Box has quickly found a loyal following.
Breakfast bets: Carolina Eye Opener (Roast beef, egg, pepper jack cheese, sweet-spicy pepper relish and chipotle ranch dressing on flat bread), Taylor pork roll sandwich.
Also try: Tuscan chicken melt, turkey bacon avocado sandwich, Grown Up grilled cheese with grilled tomatoes and bacon.
Crook’s Atrium Cafe
100 Europa Drive, Chapel Hill
In a nutshell: This spinoff of the landmark Crook’s Corner on Franklin Street serves a Southern-accented menu sprinkled with a few favorites from the original restaurant, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Breakfast bets: shrimp and grits, country ham or pork loin biscuit, buttermilk pancakes or French toast (both with real maple syrup).
Also try: fried green tomato BLT, grilled pimento cheese, shrimp po’ boy, Carolina sampler (Bullock’s pork barbecue, hoppin’ John, collard greens, black pepper cornbread).
100 N. Person St., Raleigh
In a nutshell: Blind since he was 15 years old and a 20-year veteran of the restaurant business, Ruben Bowens brightened downtown Raleigh’s daytime dining scene with last year’s opening of this cheery little diner in the former Biscuit Station building.
Breakfast bets: grits casserole (loaded with cheddar and three kinds of sausage), omelets, breakfast platter (two eggs, grits, biscuit or toast and choice of meat, including hard-to-find Southern traditions fatback and salmon patties).
Also try: classic Reuben sandwich, specialty burgers named for local college mascots (such as the Wolfpack with cheddar and chili, and the Blue Devil with jalapeños and blue cheese).