PHLGuide

The Best Breakfast Sandwiches In Philly

16 of our favorite sandwiches to eat before noon.
This is a breakfast sandwich at Darnel’s Cakes.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

A just-okay breakfast sandwich gets your day off to a lukewarm start. But the Holy Grail of breakfast sandwiches—those packed with melty cheese, housemade sausage, or garlicky aioli—gets your day going full throttle (Lewis Hamilton style). In Philly, they come on bagels, biscuits, and rolls like everywhere else. But we’re also serving up stuffed soft pretzels, ramen-flavored sandwiches, and layering peanut butter and jelly on crispy bacon (trust us). Before you settle for something microwaved at Dunkin’ or, worse, crack an egg yourself, head to these 16 places and bite into something that will rewire your brain. 

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Korean

Center City

$$$$Perfect For:DessertDoing WorkCoffee & A Light BiteWalk-InsTakeawayKeeping It Kind Of Healthy

Calling this layered beauty just another meat, egg, and cheese sandwich is like calling the Rocky Steps some stairwell in Fairmount. The specialty at this Korean spot in Center City is an unforgettable bulgogi, egg, and cheese sandwich. We get it on an everything bagel, and the collision of salty, melted cheddar, buttery fried egg, and sweet stir fried beef runs through every crevice. If you’ve ever wondered just how excellent a bagel sandwich can be, start at this shop. And you only have to spend $6.55 to find the answer. 

If you randomly ran into Beyoncé, got your crush’s number, and had the breakfast sammie from Darnel’s in Northern Liberties in one day, the highlight would be the sandwich. It may seem like a basic egg and cheese (we get it on a biscuit instead of a brioche bun), but it's the creamy blend of gruyere, cheddar, and parmesan that would make us sit in traffic for hours just to grab one. It’s not ginormous, so a ravenously hungry person might be better off ordering two. But if you do plan on running into Bey, we wouldn’t advise it. 

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Paffuto is a casual spot in Bella Vista that makes excellent panzerotti, but their savory creations are just as delicious. Stop by in the morning and watch the neighborhood eat away a hangover with cream-filled maritozzi alongside the crispy morty sandwich. We get the combination stack of scrambled eggs, cooper sharp, and fried mortadella on the kaiser roll, though long Italian rolls are also an option. The mortadella makes this classic breakfast combo a bit smokey and savory, so it works for a late morning meal when you’re not ready to go full lunch but wouldn't mind flirting with cold cuts. 

Soft pretzels can serve as a placeholder between meals, a salty element in a sweet dessert, or, according to Rowhome Coffee, a doughy bed on which to stack a breakfast sandwich. Sure–we enjoy the snacks and sweet treats as much as your average toddler, but the latter is what we’re obsessed with. The Kensington shop layers crisp slabs of bacon, two fluffy scrambled eggs, and cooper sharp on two soft pretzels topped with everything seasoning. It’s a large sandwich, so you’ll have to make a mental plot about your first bite if you don’t want it on your shirt. Or just bring a spare. It’s worth it. 

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

People can make plenty of mistakes in this city: believing it’s finally the Flyers’ year, going to Geno’s, or honking when someone is double-parked. Going to Càphê Roasters in Kensington and leaving without the XO egg sando would be another. This isn’t a classic sausage, egg, and cheese. The Chinese sausage is smoked, the eggs are light and airy, cheddar cheese drips out of the sandwich, and the garlicky aioli brings everything together. Spend your morning here with one on a long, buttery roll, sip on a frothy egg coffee, and be satisfied that you avoided one of life’s blunders. 

You can pretty much depend on anything made with dough at this East Passyunk bakery (we love the bagels, babka, and donuts). The za’atar croissant sandwich is no exception. It’s built on a full, crescent-shaped croissant with so many ripples inside, it looks like an elaborate maze (a beautifully laminated one). Packed with sliced soft-boiled eggs, the whole thing is creamy and lemony thanks to the rich labneh spread. Easily the most satisfying thing on a croissant in Philly, it’s a sandwich that lets quality, simple ingredients take the lead.   

We know. There’s a part of you wondering, “Is that even a sandwich?” And after countless research, which just included eating more, we landed at yes. Simply put, the pretzels at Miller’s Twist in Reading Terminal Market are incredible. And if they want to pack their fluffier-than-average soft pretzel with cheese and eggs, we’ll find a way to sneak it into a guide so we can rave about it. The sausage, egg, and cheese is essentially a long meat rod of spicy sausage wrapped with eggs on the inside of a salty pretzel. Is it a pretzel turnover? Is it really a sandwich? We don’t care. It’s f*cking delicious.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

If you ever saw something like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles or a birthday cake and thought, “that would be great as a baked good,” Roxborough’s The Biscuit Lady is for you. The menu here spans from sweet treats like peach cobbler to overstuffed breakfast sandwiches, but it’s the Uptown Girl that will make your regular BEC look boring as hell. Bacon, egg, and cheese share the same giant buttery biscuit as creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam. It’s like half the elements of a continental breakfast in one sandwich. It's a gorgeous, melty, salty-sweet creation. We’ll take three, please.

Just know that if you come rocking your favorite Phillies jersey to eat this breakfast sandwich, you’ll need a new Harper when the whole scarfing session is over. The two over-easy eggs and earthy basil aioli drip from the whole messy ordeal, but it’s worth it—especially with the sausage and bubbly ciabatta in the mix. Head to this South Philly shop immediately after your alarm rings for one of these babies. You can never have too many Phillies jerseys anyway. 

We all know breakfast for dinner is a thing, but what about dinner (flavors) for breakfast? That’s what this West Philly bagel shop has created with The Ramen Thing. An airy bagel of your choice gets stacked with a soy sauce marinated egg, pickled ginger, bamboo, togarashi mayo, nori crisps, and scallions. It stays as intact as a cartoon character’s hair, with sliced boiled eggs holding everything together, sans side spillage. Each bite is slightly sweet, salty, and full of the umami punch that makes a bowl of ramen so good.

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Honeysuckle in West Philly is a perfect spot for a quick lunch hoagie or an exciting dinner you’ll talk about all week. But you can’t leave the cookbook and plant-filled spot without their maple sage sausage breakfast sandwich. The “BLACKenglish muffin” is sweet potato-based, has an outstanding balance of crunchiness and squishiness, and the inner airy pockets sop up all the cooper sharp and sweet potato spread. While it’s easy to go for anything behind the glass here, this subtly sweet and compact-but-mighty sandwich needs to be as much a part of your morning routine as brushing your teeth. 

The BEC at this Kensington cafe is so special that we’d sign up now for a lifetime supply. The warm sesame seed brioche bun gets nice and cozy with the bacon-packed scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, and a blanket of cheddar cheese. The oversized golden dome keeps the salty juices safely inside. Come hungry (because it’s massive), order one, and while you wait, add three chai sugar donuts to your order. 

There are many bagel and pastry options at this Rittenhouse Square cafe, but the Jerusalem bagel is the one you want to start your day with. The sandwich has a fried egg, cooper sharp, herby schug, and za'atar pressed onto a warm, oblong bagel. When you break it apart, you’ll see sticky strands of cheese, like a gooey strip tease, so it makes sense that a bite into its crisp and nutty edges produces satisfying moans.

Both breakfast sandwiches at this all-day Fishtown spot have eggs that are as soft and pillowy as marshmallows. And they both have creamy cheddar cheese overloading the toasty potato bread they come on. So deciding between the classic breakfast sandwich and the pastrami, egg, and cheese may be more complicated than picking your favorite Philly mascot. We say get both. The house-smoked, deeply savory pastrami will put your favorite BEC on the shelf to collect dust. And the egg and cheese—that comes with arugula—will do more of the same, just with a bit more peppery bite. 

We may argue over how to correctly stack a lox bagel sandwich, or how much schmear to use. What we won’t argue about is how much this city loves them. At Queen Village’s Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, the Nova platter comes with velvety, mildly salty salmon, tomato, onion slices, iceberg lettuce, a mound of cream cheese, and beads of capers. You choose the bagel (we go with a chewy everything) and create your own masterpiece. They provide all the supplies to execute it.  

Sure, we love this Queen Village classic for their puffier-than-average bagels and housemade spreads. But when we’re really hungry (read: hungover), nothing is better than the croque madame. Their French toast bagel—mildly crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside–is layered with grilled turkey, salty ham, and creamy gruyere, and topped with a perfectly fried, jammy egg. Hints of cinnamon and powdered sugar mingle with the meats in the ultimate breakfast mash up.

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