The Best Regional Breakfasts Around the U.S.

My husband and I, in our 13 years of marriage, have had the pleasure of living in four of the regions of the country: on the East Coast in New Jersey, in the flat grassy panhandle of Texas, the Rocky Mountains of Utah and now in sunny Southern California. They each have their own unique set of pros to living there including the various activities you can do with the given geographical landscape. Amarillo, Texas, well…...forgive me if you are from there and think the natural landscape is stunning but, there’s not a whole lot there to see except the “Cadillac ranch”, where there is a field with ten old Cadillacs buried nose-down in the ground.

Besides the outdoorsy stuff, one of my favorite things to do was try all the local food I could. Each region has their own unique, popular dishes that have cool stories at the origins. I am a girl who loves breakfast food so I love trying breakfast dishes at diners or bagel shops to see what is best in the area.

My mom, being an excellent cook from the South, made us delicious breakfasts with biscuits and heavenly sausage gravy with all the fixings. Or for a more simple breakfast we’d occasionally have a bowl of crumbled cornbread and milk, which is also from the South.

Here are a few of the most popular breakfast foods around the United States, with a little bit of history for each of them from

1. Bagel with Lox and Cream Cheese.

You can get this delicious bagel with lox and cream cheese in Jewish delish across the US, but people mostly associate them with New York City. There are a few different stories about the origin, but they became known as a Jewish food in the 13th century in Poland when Jewish people were not allowed to bake bread, so they made and sold bread that was boiled. This dish often includes capers, sliced red onion, tomatoes and more. The most famous places to get one of these delicious sandwiches are Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City’s Lower East Side and at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, California.

2. Beignets.

If you are a donut lover you will love this delicious pastry from New Orleans that is simply a deep fried piece of dough, topped generously with powdered sugar. The name actually means “bump” or “lump” in old French and they have been in America since French settlers landed in the New Orleans area in the 18th century. I feel that the name “lump” is fitting, but far too humble and simple a name for how delicious they are!”

3. Shrimp and Grits.

This meal originated in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia and used to be called “shrimp and hominy” because people in Charleston referred to boiled cornmeal as hominy. Historically, Native Americans soaked corn in lime or lye water and the word hominy possibly takes its name from the Algonquin word “rockahominie”. People from the South enjoy this meal for breakfast lunch or dinner. It really gained popularity in the 20th century when a popular restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, called Crook’s Corner, put it on their menu.

4. Hoppel Poppel.

This dish is a dish the people in the Midwest, particularly Iowa and Wisconsin take seriously! It is a mixture of eggs scrambled with a hash of potatoes, onions and meat. You can add whatever meat you like including sausage, bacon, ham or beef salami. The funny name comes from a German nursery rhyme, in case you were wondering what the story was on that name.

5. Loco Moco. 

This is a specialty in Hawaii and is a very tasty way to start your day. This breakfast has a layer of rice, a fried egg, and hamburger patty and is topped with gravy. It is loved for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but is most often thought of as breakfast food.

It’s origin story is disputed since both Cafe 100 and the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii each believe they were the inventors of the meal but you might be able to find it if you have any Hawaiian restaurants near you. Or of course you could look up a tasty recipe online and make it at home. This definitely sounds like something I want to try!

6. Chicken and Waffles.

This soulful classic breakfast can actually be traced back to the Pennsylvania Dutch, who cooked a version with pulled chicken and gravy in the 17th century. 

It really took off and became a sensation in the 1930’s when the Wells Supper Club in Harlem, New York, put the combo of crunchy fried chicken and hot waffles on the menu. They quickly became a crazy and they had famous singers like ‘Nat KIng Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. hooked!

7. Breakfast Burritos. 

These are most commonly found in California, but are also commonly eaten throughout the West, like Colorado. These are simply a mixture of ingredients like potatoes, cheese, eggs and meat (like carne asada, bacon or chorizo) wrapped in a large tortilla. 

Is there a specific regional breakfast that you love from you where you grew up or where you live now? Or is there one that I forgot that should be on the list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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