7 of the Best Cheap Breakfasts Around the Country

7 of the Best Cheap Breakfasts Around the Country

Here's what to order in each city, and where to order it.

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Breakfast burrito
Photo: Brent Hofacker (Shutterstock)

Times have certainly changed since I began my hunt for cheap eats back in 2015 for my TV series on the Cooking Channel. A global pandemic, inflation, and the looming possibility of World War III have made it harder to stretch a dollar at a restaurant. Still, I gotta eat, and with my kid’s relentless Pokémon-collecting habit, the food’s gotta be cheap, especially when I’m traveling for work.

In case you find yourself in a similar position, I’ve rounded up a list of cheap breakfasts in major cities across the country, and the best spots to grab each one. I’m starting with the big boys like Los Angeles, NYC, and Chicago, of course, but eventually I’ll get to every major metropolis, even if the NFL won’t. (Sorry, but I’m still bitter about the Rams leaving St. Louis, and yeah, I grew up there.)

Enough opening banter. Let’s get breakfast—and I’m buying, so you know it’s gonna be cheap.

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Los Angeles: Breakfast burritos

Los Angeles: Breakfast burritos

Corner Cottage Breakfast Burrito

LA is synonymous with tacos, but those are best enjoyed late at night. Well, maybe lunch and dinner too. At breakfast time, turn your focus to breakfast burritos. The list is long for great ones in America’s second largest city, but Corner Cottage, an old haunt of mine, continues to make the local roundups. For just $8 you can ruin your lunch plans with a well-folded flour tortilla weighed down with bacon, eggs, cheese, and hash browns.

Pro tip: Ask for the hash browns extra well done so that they come out nice and golden.

Corner Cottage
310 S. Victory Blvd
Burbank CA 91502

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New York City: BEC bagels

New York City: BEC bagels

My tradition when I visit NYC is to spend one evening on a good friend’s couch in the East Village so that I can wake up and eat a lox bagel at Russ & Daughter’s. That also costs, like, $17. So if I spend two nights on said couch, we go to Sunny & Annies Deli, a little bodega with a big rep for cheap eats. The menu, composed of bright neon Post-It notes, has tons of sandwiches that range from classic Boar’s Head meats to bulgogi. Breakfast is where you’ll find some bang for your buck, with the ubiquitous BEC bagel (that’s bacon, egg, and cheese) for just under $6.

Sunny & Annies Deli
94 Ave B
NY NY 10009

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Chicago: Cheap ’n good breakfast biscuits

Chicago: Cheap ’n good breakfast biscuits

Roost Carolina Kitchen Fried Chicken Food Review | Season 4, Episode 43

The list of edible Chicago cliches are endless: deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs, Italian beef, gyros, a Polish on Maxwell Street, pizza puffs—okay, I’ll stop. Yet even for the repeat tourist like myself, another visit reminds me that Chicago is a destination to which people bring their culinary talents from afar.

When my show, Cheap Eats, visited Chi-Town, we broke fast at Roost Chicken & Biscuits. North Carolina transplant Joe Scrogg found success in the Windy City thanks to his grandmother’s recipe for buttermilk biscuits and for buttermilk brined fried chicken. You can splurge a bit and get a fried chicken biscuit topped with bacon, egg and cheddar for $12 or spare the bird and your wallet and get a bacon, egg and cheddar biscuit for a reasonable $6.

Roost Chicken & Biscuits
2011 W. Roscoe St.
Chicago IL 60618

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Philadelphia: Scrapple, anyone?

Philadelphia: Scrapple, anyone?

Kyde Munches a Scrapple Sandwich in Philly

Philadelphia is one heck of a sandwich town. Cheesesteaks and hoagies (aka submarine sandwiches) loaded with Italian cold cuts could easily occupy lunch and dinner for a holiday weekend. But what about cheap breakfast, you ask? The answer lies in an Amish/Mennonite/Pennsylvania Dutch staple: scrapple.

This mystery meat is made from the odds and ends of a pig, which are boiled, chopped, and mixed with cornmeal before being formed into loaves and fried. I swear it’s good. I mean, do you want to know how hot dogs are made?

I scored a bespoke scrapple sandwich at Stockyard Sandwich Co., loaded up with egg, cheese, house-made scrapple, and house-made hot sauce, for $9. If that’s too rich for your blood—the money, not the scrapple—try the Dutch Eating Place at Reading Terminal. You can get a plate of scrapple plus two eggs and toast for $6.50. Technically you could get bacon or sausage instead, but how can you say no to scrapple from a place specializing in Pennsylvania Dutch dishes?

Stockyard Sandwich Co.
1541 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia PA 19130

Dutch Eating Place at Reading Terminal
51 N. 12th St.
Philadelphia PA 19107

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Phoenix: Diner heaven

Phoenix: Diner heaven

Phoenix: Matt’s Big Breakfast

One of the great things about having a TV show called Cheap Eats attached to your name is that people are always telling you where to go. Thanks to that (and Twitter), I found myself staring at hefty plates of diner breakfast staples at the aptly named Matt’s Big Breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona. Once upon a time the two-fister breakfast sandwich called the 5 Spot actually cost $5. Now the sandwich is up to $12, though the thick-cut bread still schleps two slices of thick-cut bacon, two eggs, and cheese with a side of potatoes in tow.

For nearly the same dough you can get the “Hog and Chick, which includes two eggs, thick-cut bacon or country sausage, toast, and potatoes. The pro move is to drop an extra $2 and order the off-the-bone ham. Yes, I’m telling you to spend more money here, but sometimes it’s not about how little you spend but rather how much you’re getting for what you pay.

Matts Big Breakfast
Multiple locations in Phoenix Metro area

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Miami: Big plates

Miami: Big plates

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop Review - Miami

It’s kind of a no-brainer to seek out a proper Cubano sandwich when you’re in Miami. I even went to the extra trouble of snagging one on the way to the airport, and let’s just say the term “mile high club” has a whole new meaning now. That is, I ate a brilliant lechon and ham sandwich at 30,000 feet.

Back to breakfast: How about one at a Cuban diner? Yeah, they’ve got those in Miami, and none of them screams “cheap eats” louder than Enriquetas Sandwich Shop. Almost the entire breakfast menu stays under $10, and I don’t just mean breakfast sandwiches. I mean omelettes and plenty of “2 egg + meat” plates. But if you do feel like seeing how the other half lives, try the Bistec a Caballo. For a very reasonable $11.50 you get steak, ham, two eggs, and fries or a salad. (The salad might sound out of place, but I guess this is the town that invented the South Beach Diet.)

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop
186 NE 29th St. MIami FL 33137
305-473-4681

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Austin: Breakfast tacos

Austin: Breakfast tacos

BREAKFAST TACOS 🌮 TACODELI in Austin, Texas 🇺🇸

I’ve called Austin home for seven years now, which means I know there can only one answer when it comes to cheap eats in ATX: breakfast tacos. Everyone is going to have their favorites, and many spots pack in some kind of extra value. Time and time again, my constant is the Otto from Taco Deli.

The prices aren’t the cheapest in town (spoiler alert: San Antonio is where the real deals can be found), but the magical combination of refried black beans, gooey jack cheese, and double bacon and avocado on a flour tortilla somehow sums up breakfast bliss on par with any breakfast sandwich I have ever had. It is a perfect combination of foods to eat before noon.

Priced at $3.95, one Otto taco is almost enough, but two will set you straight. I also saved the best for last: the salsas. You can breathe fire with the habanero or keep it chill with salsa roja, but the most celebrated, imitated salsa in town is the Salsa Doña, which is spicy and creamy at the same time. If Otto is the peanut butter, Salsa Dońa is the jelly.

Taco Deli
Multiple locations in Austin Metro area

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