Every New York breakfast sandwich you’ve ever eaten has fallen into one of two categories. The first is a tin-foil and wax paper-wrapped roll slick with American cheese residue. This breed of sandwich is famously available any time of day or night, and is concocted in under three minutes in a place possibly called Spring Deli Gourmet LLC or inside of a tiny cart decorated with saran-wrapped danishes. We call these sandwiches “utility BECs,” and it’s your job as a New York person to find the closest, most satisfying version near you.
The second category is what we’re here to discuss today: the destination breakfast sandwich. These versions tweak the standard model, taking the typical BEC craving to new, irreplicable heights. These are the breakfast sandwiches we venture for, the ones that may create intimacy issues between you and your regular old bodega BEC.
So what are the qualifications for the best in the city? Well, each sandwich must contain eggs, as well as some form of vehicle to hold everything together (although breakfast tacos don’t count). When a “utility BEC” doesn’t suffice, use this guide to find one of the best breakfast sandwiches in NYC.
Thai Diner Egg Sandwich
Now is a good time to revise the statement that a great breakfast sandwich requires bread, since Thai Diner’s excellent version comes on a buttery roti. The roti keeps all of the sandwich elements tightly compact so that every bite includes the same consistent layers and flavors. From top to bottom, you’ll taste herbaceous sai oua sausage, a mash of mayo and scallions, a soft, folded egg crepe covered in oozing American cheese, and a couple slivers of fresh Thai basil, all pressed tightly between a double-layered, flaky roti. Eat it at their Nolita restaurant or take it to Elizabeth Street Gardens for some privacy.
Chinatown Egg Sando
If you didn’t believe in the miracle of hashbrowns in your breakfast sandwich before, we invite you to try Golden Diner’s “Chinatown Egg Sando.” This excellent BEC comes on a cushiony sesame scallion milk bun from a local Chinatown bakery, with at least half a carton of eggs scrambled and then layered with American cheese, and a big crunchy hashbrown to top it all off. The hashbrown is key - it’s almost a full inch thick and the crispy texture contrasts perfectly with the soft bun and eggs.
Regardless of your emotional ties to New Jersey’s sacred Taylor ham, eating Court Street Grocer’s satisfying pork roll will make bacon appear basic by comparison. CSG makes a couple different breakfast sandwiches but this pork roll is our favorite - it’s served on a potato roll with soft scrambled eggs, melty American cheese, and fried Taylor ham that tastes like a fatty, salty, Canadian bacon cousin. You can find the pork roll at all of Court Street Grocer’s locations around the city for $9 a pop.
Guanciale, Egg, & Cheese Sandwich
Leo’s soft-scrambled egg sandwich comes on a fresh sourdough brioche bun, which is precisely as puffy and perfect as you’d expect from what is, in our opinion, the best sourdough pizza place in the city. Between the salty, crispy, thinly-sliced guanciale, chili jam, cheddar, and aioli, every bite of this sandwich is as savory as it is creamy and sweet. Also, there aren’t any other pizza places that also happen to make incredible breakfast sandwiches. That’s a feat in itself.
Egg Crepe Sandwich
The egg crepe in Wildair’s relatively-new breakfast sandwich is possibly the best-cooked egg example on this list. It’s sunny yellow in color, light, folded like a nice napkin at a dinner party, and steamy without being rubbery at all. On top of that perfect egg crepe are two thick-cut pieces of confit bacon and tangy pickled pineapple instead of cheese - you won’t miss cheese even a little bit when you have delicious, acidic-but-not-overpowering slices of pickled pineapple. An important fact that nearly disqualified this from our list: Wildair doesn’t start serving this breakfast sandwich until noon. Call it brunch if you must.
Bacon, Egg, & Cheese On An Everything Bagel
Bagel breakfast sandwiches usually let you down, often by way of excessive slippage and overpowering doughy bites without much egg. So it’s all the more impressive that Tompkins Square Bagels in the East Village has constructed the perfect BEC on an everything bagel through the sheer power of American cheese glue. The thick layer of egg and cheese is about the same width as the bagel slices themselves, meaning you’ll taste every element of the sandwich. Fresh bagels normally shouldn’t be toasted but, in this case, the toasted bagel makes the bread more compact and tougher against the delicious mess of well-done scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. Thompkins’ BEC will fulfill a week’s worth of sodium needs for your body, especially with its snowfall of everything seasoning in every bite. Get a watery iced coffee or an orange juice for salt relief.
Signature Egg Sandwich
Even though this tiny cafe right near the Franklin Avenue C train station in Bed-Stuy serves an all-around exciting Middle Eastern menu for brunch, we always get the same breakfast sandwich. Their signature version is stacked tall on an onion and poppy seed challah bun with melted kashkaval cheese, bright sumac onions, a heap of scrambled eggs, and nutty muhammara that kind of acts like a meat substitute. It’s delicious without anything added, but you should throw in some avocado for creaminess, too.
Patacon Tres Golpes
Dominican Cravings, like Thai Diner, again proves that a great breakfast does not need bread to be great. Especially when you sub in giant disks of salty tostones that are perfectly fried and incapable of getting soggy. That’s only one component of the “Tres Golpes” patacon from this spot in Essex Market. Between the patacones you’ll find a combo of fried salami, fried cheese, a runny sunny side up egg, and a slathering of mayo-y pink sauce that cuts through all the salty, rich elements. This sandwich has not only increased our morning consumption of tostones, but has also confirmed that any breakfast sandwich can be improved if you add fried salami.
Egg Shop BEC
For all those looking for a delicious, runny yolk breakfast sandwich (also known as a threat to napkins everywhere), look no further than Egg Shop’s classic BEC. In addition to a broken, over-easy egg, it’s layered with hunks of partially-melted sharp white cheddar, tomato jam, pickled jalapeños, and bacon that extends out of the sides of the sandwich like arms. There are a bunch of other BEC options on this brunch spot’s menu (like one with fried chicken and a version with sausage from The Meat Hook), but we always go for the classic because of how much bacon comes on it.
C & B Cafe
The merguez, egg, and cheese from C&B might be the messiest sandwich on the list. That’s mostly because the combination of slightly runny scrambled eggs, melty cheese, and dripping sausage create a juicy and spicy creation that will deplete your napkin stockpile. Don’t think that means the roll on this sandwich is soggy though - the kaiser-like bread is partially crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. Our recommendation is to grab this sandwich early, since this place is perpetually packed on the weekend, and enjoy it in Tompkins Square Park watching the crazed squirrels search for their own breakfast.
Pastrami, Egg, & Cheese
Why must we settle for just bacon, sausage, or ham for the choice of meat in our breakfast sandwiches? Why not throw in hunks of shredded pastrami that taste like they’ve been smoking since the Knicks last made the playoffs? Well at one Jewish deli in Greenpoint, that’s exactly what they do. Frankels’ excellent pastrami joins three eggs and American cheese, and while you can get in on a bagel, we prefer ours on the challah roll. The buttery bread is the perfect vessel for the combination of smokey meat, and eggs and cheese that melt together, forming one unit - the kind of teamwork that Knicks fans haven’t seen since the days of Willis Reed and Red Holzman.
Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Sandwich
Imagine the best plate of thick-cut bacon and fried eggs you’ve ever had. There’s a crunch in every bite of crispy pork and the yolk is still runny when you cut into it. Now envision that, topped with a blanket of melted cheese, and served on a freshly-baked poppy seed bread roll. If you somehow can’t imagine how this would taste, you probably haven’t yet had the BEC at Daily Provisions. It’s a perfectly-executed breakfast sandwich that you’ll probably finish in just a few bites. And that’s just how we like it, especially since we can’t leave Daily Provisions with scarfing down a cinnamon-sugar cruller.
The Brekkie Sando
The “Brekkie Sando” from & Sons is a sandwich that you’ll want to take your time with - starting by appreciating the pillowy bread which made us wonder why every sandwich isn’t served on a toasted milk bun. Since it’s only served on weekends, we recommend you pick one up on a Sunday afternoon, play some jazz, and savour every moment of the smoked sausage, thick egg patty, cheese custard, and tomato relish inside.
McGruffin Biscuit Sandwich
When you go to Comfortland, get the “McGruffin” biscuit sandwich. It’s so thick you’ll struggle to fit all of its layers in one bite, and the moist buttermilk biscuit is so fluffy and sweet it could be classified as a cupcake. Inside, you’ll find a fried egg, grilled sausage patty, and a layer of melted cheese - all of which create a combination of sweet and salty flavors that’ll make you wonder why “pastry sandwiches″ don’t have their own tier in the food pyramid.
Cheese & Egg Sandwich With Sausage
Sunday in Brooklyn is a Williamsburg brunch spot that feels like it should have a bottomless option for the influencer crowd that visits on weekends. But we’re here to talk about great sandwiches, and that’s exactly how we’d classify their egg and cheese sandwich. It’s essentially a breakfast burger, except with sausage instead of beef, topped with gochujang aioli and fried potatoes. This breakfast sandwich won us over in the end, thanks especially to its incredible syrup-infused patty and fluffy seeded bun.
The New School Sandwich
Have you been let down by overcooked eggs, partially melted cheese, and un-sauced bread on a breakfast sandwich? That will never be the case at Southside Coffee, a tiny coffee shop in South Slope where people line up for sandwiches, cinnamon buns, pie, and Counter Culture coffee. Your first order of business should be a “New School.” The soft and buttery scrambled eggs, bacon, and sriracha-miso-tahini spread on a crusty seeded hero will undo any malaise caused by a subpar bodega BEC. This sandwich is a pleasant reminder that crunch, spice, and greens don’t have to just be reserved for lunch or dinner.
Stop 1 Deli
Bacon, Egg, Cheese, & Hashbrown
We know we said we weren’t here to talk about bodega breakfast sandwiches, but this one is an exception. Stop 1 Deli on the corner of Rivington and Suffolk Street on the Lower East Side makes a rare bodega BEC worth a walk in the wrong direction on a Sunday morning. The rolls here are premier examples of the massive, nearly-stale-tasting style of a deli sandwich, complete with a thin layer of buttery eggs, coagulating American cheese, crispy-curly bacon that’s been chopped and dispersed evenly, and the essential ingredient: a nearly-burnt hash brown. Order a hash brown inside the sandwich for the complete texturally-explosive experience (they even sell them in the fridge by the dozen if you want to attempt to recreate this marvel at home). Opening up the sandwich halves in their foil and wax paper coat is like waking up to the day all over again, but with wafting eggy steam instead of a generic iPhone alarm.