$20 and Under: And Now for Something a Little Different
Nov 19 2019

$20 and Under: And Now for Something a Little Different

By: Kim Ranjbar

When you think about the typical morning meal, what springs to mind? Is it bacon and sunny-side-up eggs with toast? Fruit-topped waffles drowning in maple syrup? A bagel and cream cheese or a bowl of hot oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar? We all have a certain dish in mind when it comes to breakfast. In the United States, breakfast often means flocking to places like Waffle House or IHOP, making a drive-thru run for a Sausage McMuffin with a side of hash browns, or grabbing a croissant with your pumpkin spice latte at the nearest Starbucks..

Realistically, breakfast can actually consist of pretty much anything, from last night's leftover pizza to a sweet Fuji apple, or a grilled medium-rare New York steak smeared with Southwestern butter. Like anything else in life, it's always healthy to challenge your viewpoints about what should and shouldn't be and selecting your next breakfast shouldn't be any different. You just have to step outside your comfort zone. You'll never know what incredible new dish you might discover until you try.

For instance, though you may not consider the new Aloha Grill & Sushi on Calhoun Street as your next breakfast destination, you might want to consider it. Tracey Davenport and her husband Dave Kirtland, the pair behind Aloha Lei at Auction House Market, launched the grill only a few months ago in mid-August, offering "Hawaiian comfort foods with a Southern flair." Located in the Fontainebleau neighborhood in the space that briefly housed the Cuban restaurant El Libre, Aloha Grill features a larger menu with the same sushi, sashimi, and poke bowls found at Auction House Market, but they have added sandwiches like a "Burger Americana" with bacon/pineapple jam and Hawaiian BBQ Shrimp stuffed inside a crusty baguette, along with several adventurous items for breakfast. Try their version of chicken and waffles with panko-fried chicken served atop green pandan (a tropical leaf with a sweet floral flavor) and roasted coconut waffles; the "808 Breakfast" with eggs, Portuguese sausage, bacon, and ham served with your choice of coffee or POG-a sweet mix of pineapple, orange, and guava juice; or the Aloha Breakfast Bowl with Kalua pork, fried eggs, and avocado served atop Spam and pineapple fried rice-drizzled with lava (sriracha and mayo) and Waikiki (pineapple, brown sugar, soy, and
vinegar) sauces.

Are your taste buds piqued? Are you ready for the next breakfast adventure? Then get yourself to Saba, the James Beard Award-winning Chef Alon Shaya's Israeli restaurant on Magazine Street. You'll have to get a reservation because brunch (as well as dinner and lunch) are immensely popular at this Uptown gem. Grab a booth inside or sit under an umbrella on their patio and enjoy Chef Shaya's hummus and labneh with fresh-out-of-the-wood-fired-oven pita bread. You should also dip into the interesting entrees on offer. Stay on the safe side with pancakes (but be wowed by the rose tahini topping)or enjoy the orange blossom granola with thick labneh, fresh sweet peaches, and local honey. But be encouraged to step outside the box for "Green" Shakshouka-eggs poached in tomato sauce, spiced with cumin, nutmeg, and cayenne, served with Shaya's additions of spinach, whipped feta, and pine nuts.

For your next gastronomic undertaking, venture into the Warehouse District for a taste of "innovative Mexican cuisine" at Otra Vez. Famed New York chef Akhtar Nawab has ingeniously combined his native Indian cuisine with that of Mexico, and the resulting dishes are interesting, to say the least. Though they just opened this spring, Otra Vez has already jumped into the New Orleans brunch fray offering cocktails and "platos" that will alter what you thought you knew about the morning meal. Try chilaquiles with fideos, sunny-side-up eggs, avocado, and tomatillo salsa; leavened pancakes with coconut sugar, and orange-honey syrup; or Mexican roti with chorizo verde, crema, and sunny-side-up eggs.

Over in the Marigny, Paladar 511 is a California-esque Italian restaurant with a rotating seasonal menu of dishes like fried arancini, wood-fired pizzas, and house-made pappardelle, but they change things up a bit from their usual fare at brunch. Though they still have a yellowfin crudo and a most excellent farm egg pizza with proscuitto, fingerling potatoes, and goat cheese, the menu also offers an incredible Korean steak and eggs with well-seasoned and braised short ribs, shiitake mushrooms and rice, all topped with a fried egg. It's a tough call to choose between the steak and eggs or their lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote-but not if you go with a friend who's willing to share.

Finally, one of the most affordable examples of an unusual breakfast would have to be the Deviled Egg Toastada at Molly's Rise and Shine-the new breakfast spot on Magazine Street by chef and owner Mason Hereford. In all honesty, there are quite a few unusual breakfast items at Molly's, from Scotty's Collard Greens and Grits with salsa matcha and roasted peanuts to the sweet potato burrito with scallion cream cheese, chow chow, raw honey, and jalapenos. But for a mere $5.50, you can enjoy that tostada, a small dish with a whole lot of flavor, with cotija-whipped egg mousse "stuff," refried red beans, cilantro, pickled peppers, and Daniela's spicy peanut salsa. You'll never look at breakfast the same way again.

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