Photo: David Braunstein of Pearl's Oyster Bar with Bacon N' Banana French Toast
The Down Home Diner and Dutch Eating Place have long been among Philadelphians' favorite breakfast destinations.
In the past five to seven years, though, they've been joined in serving eggs, ham and the like by a growing number of Reading Terminal Market businesses. Almost all of the food stands that have opened in the Market since 2007 have offered breakfast items "right from the start," notes Market general manager Paul Steinke.
Here's what you've been missing if you don't usually visit the Market in the morning, or at least haven't lately. After breakfast you might want to shop for dinner ingredients at a time when there are rarely lines. (Store them in the office fridge until quitting time!)
Termini Brothers Bakery sells individual muffins as well as six-packs of tea biscuits (like buttermilk biscuits and featuring raisins) and La Columbe coffee to wash them all down.
Breakfast is served all day at the Down Home Diner. Best-sellers include the Philly Cheesesteak Scram (featuring all the traditional cheesesteak ingredients plus scrambled eggs) and the Country Benny (eggs Benedict made with biscuits and gravy). Other menu highlights include a shrimp, grits and eggs plate, and decadent apple pie pancakes (with whipped cream).
On Saturday morning the Market's north aisle is usually clogged with lines of people waiting to have blueberry pancakes, Western omelets and fresh-squeezed juice at the Dutch Eating Place. Their breakfast items feature Jersey blueberries, and Lancaster eggs and meats (including the rarely-seen creamed chipped beef). Dutch Eating serves breakfast until noon Tuesdays through Fridays, and until 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Pearl's Oyster Bar only began serving breakfast and brunch in February but it has been a huge success. One possible reason: It was crafted by their new (as of fall 2013) chef Jason Ledee, a veteran of popular Philly bruncherie Green Eggs Cafe. Highlights of his fish-focused, somewhat fancy menu include a breakfast po' boy (with fried shrimp), shrimp and grits and chicken and waffle Benedicts, and Bacon 'N Banana French Toast (featuring banana-mascarpone-stuffed brioche, Applewood bacon bits and flambéed bananas). Breakfast items are served all day, every day.
Looking for some hair of the dog after a night of hard partying? Molly Malloy's has 24 beers on tap and a daily breakfast menu that includes omelets, egg sandwiches, oatmeal and their best-selling vanilla-cinnamon French toast and egg-topped spicy Potato Hash.
Valley Shepherd Creamery's Meltkraft grilled cheese operation's sole breakfast sandwich is the Toad in the Hole. It's offered only on weekends, mainly because of how much trouble it is to assemble prosciutto, Somerset cheese and roasted tomato on toasted brioche with a hole in the middle where the egg peaks through, says chef Rebecca Foxman. Meltkraft will add bacon to any one of their other sandwiches for an extra $1.25 any day of the week and Foxman thinks it goes particularly well with their Brielle cranberry-chutney sandwich.
Although most famous for interesting-flavored cupcakes and whoopie pies and cake/pie hybrid Pumple cake, the Flying Monkey Bakery now also sells breakfast items like banana bread and crumb cake (the latter variously featuring pecans, apples or berries).
The opening of Beiler's Donuts and Salads in May of last year rocked the Philly doughnut world. Best-sellers from among almost 35 varieties offered daily are the fritters, Salted Caramel, Dutch Crumb and Harvest Apple. Non-doughnut breakfast offerings at Beiler's Bakery include Danish, coffee crumb cake, muffins and traditional Philadelphia sticky buns in a variety of sizes and with a variety of toppings.
One of the newest breakfast offerings in the Market is also among the most unique: Pizza, Stromboli and foccacia topped or stuffed with egg, cheese, sausage and the like at Mezze. Pizza is sold by the slice and everything else, cafeteria-style so you can grab and go to work quickly.
You can also get egg, cheese and sausage or bacon-stuffed pretzels at Miller's Twist until 10 a.m. every day they're open.
Market Bakery offers breakfast baked goods they make on-site or procure from a variety of local artisanal bakeries, including glazed scones from Philly Cupcake, croissants from Four Worlds and bagels from Le Bus, which you can buy plain, as part of an egg sandwich or dressed with black raspberry and bacon, cheddar and horseradish cream cheese, among other flavors.
Hershel's East Side Deli is the Market destination for cream cheese and lox on a bagel, as well as their almost equally popular pastrami, egg and cheese bagel sandwich and challah French toast.
Lamb fans have two breakfast choices at Border Springs Farm: a lamb "ham" sandwich on a challah roll and a breakfast hash plate featuring lamb sausage, onions, peppers, fried egg and hash brown potatoes.
Old City Coffee offers three baked goods to accompany its wonderful coffee: Jewish apple cake, sour cream cake and walnut apple muffins.
Metropolitan Bakery's breakfast selections offer something for (almost) everyone), from Power and Millet muffins and bagged granola for the health foodies to scones, bagels, croissants and cheese Danish for the rest of us. Weekend-only treats include the rich, cinnamony Morning Buns and/or the caramel-encrusted Kouign-Amann.
Beck's Cajun Cafe's taut breakfast menu includes the best-selling Bourbon Street (a red beans and rice, fried egg, cheese and grilled corn bread platter) and a Breakfast Po Boy sandwich (featuring andouille sausage and eggs "over easy"), which are served until 11:30 a.m. daily. But Beck's famous beignets, New Orleans' signature powdered donettes, are only available Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays before 1 p.m. Wash them down with equally New Orleans-authentic Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee.
The most popular breakfast crepes at Profi's Creperie are the steak egg and cheese and the BLT (featuring egg and turkey bacon).
Tootsie's Salad Express' hot lunch offerings change daily but one of their cafeteria tables always features scrambled eggs, grits, fried fish, roasted potatoes and chicken and pork sausage (plus steel-cut oatmeal in cooler weather) from open to 11 a.m.
You can build-your-own breakfast sandwich at both Spataro's Cheesesteaks and Smucker's Quality Meats & Grill. Spataro's options include steak or ham with scrambled eggs with or without cheese on a bagel, toast or a long roll. Smucker's breakfast sandwich meat choices include scrapple, pork roll and their famous slow-roasted pot roast with a fried or scrambled egg or egg whites, on a muffin, long roll, wrap or toast, with or without cheese, all available all day. Smucker's also sells slices of French toast for a mere $1.35 each.
Unless otherwise noted, breakfast items discussed above are available until 11 a.m.
Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour.