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There's no better way to kick off a day of Manhattan sightseeing than with one of New York's famous breakfasts. Want blueberry pancakes, bacon and biscuits, crispy hash browns and your eggs done differently every day of the week? You got it. Here's our pick of some of NYC's finest spots for a bumper breakfast blowout...
Deep in New York's NoHo neighbourhood, Peels describes itself as a regional American restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails and a full brunch menu at the weekend. Inside it's elegant and airy, with huge windows, exposed brickwork, white wood panelling and a mixture of tables, booths and counter service, as well as an outside area in good weather.
While there's an exceptional breakfast menu at Peels - everything from oatmeal to roasted tomato benedict to buttermilk pancakes with whipped maple butter - it's the Build-a-Biscuit extravaganza that most people rave about. Just take one light and fluffy biscuit (something akin to a savoury scone) and add your fillings from the selection of cheeses, avocado, eggs, bacon, ham and sausages on offer. We doubt you'll need any lunch.
Peels, 325 Bowery (Corner of 2nd St), NYC
British restaurateur Keith McNally is the man behind a string of successful restaurants in New York, including the Meatpacking district's Pastis and underground caviar and vodka bar Pavda. Since 1997, lively Parisian-style brasserie Balthazar has been delighting diners with its atmospheric interior - deep red banquette seating, dark woods, huge mirrors - and no-holds-barred French cuisine.
The breakfast experience, which starts at 7.30am, is a little more low-key, though no less delicious. For a rich and authentically French start to the day, opt for the Eggs en Cocotte - eggs, cream and thyme baked in a ramekin and served with soldiers, or the brioche French toast and smoked bacon. A simple croissant, tartine or apple chausson from the adjacent Balthazar Bakery is an option for those looking for something sweeter and lighter, and can always be paired with a mimosa or bellini for a decadent twist.
Balthazar, 80 Spring St (Between Broadway and Crosby), NYC
With only a handful of tables, this intimate cafe in the West Village has something of an upscale fleamarket vibe, with pale wooden floors and white brick walls providing a gallery-like backdrop for its tasteful arrangements of vintage trunks, photographs, art and antique mirrors.
Breakfast-wise, not only is Joseph Leonard feted for its excellent Ethiopian coffee and inventive egg dishes, but also for its ability to turn brussels sprouts into appealing early morning fare. Order the egg sandwich - a feather-light croissant with eggs, manchego, sprouts, sriracha (a spicy Thai sauce) and optional bacon - and you'll see just what we mean. Those after a more standard start to the day can fill up on oatmeal or granola, or plain old toast and jam.
Joseph Leonard, 170 Waverly Place, NYC
Pershing Square is a busy American brasserie uniquely situated on 42nd Street underneath the Park Avenue viaduct, directly across from the main entrance to Grand Central Terminal, just a few minutes walk from Fifth Avenue, Times Square, the Theatre District and the Empire State Building. Due to its location there's a steady stream of business folk and tourists, yet it still manages to retain a relaxed vibe and you won't be rushed.
The breakfast menu is extensive and varied - the best in New York if the signs in the window are to be believed. 'Simple Starts' include Irish oatmeal with bananas and berries, or a cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel, while the egg dishes range from simple omelettes to a health conscious plate of poached eggs over lentils and quinoa.
Pershing Square, 90 East 42nd Street (at Park Avenue), NYC
Kitchenette's two Manhattan country cottage-style diners, one Uptown and one in Tribeca, are all about homemade comfort food. Inside, the polka-dotted pink and black interiors hark back to the 1950s, shelves of brightly lit pastries, cakes and muffins fill the glass cabinets by the door and jars of cookies line the counter.
Great for late risers (it's served until 4.30pm), breakfast starts and ends with bottomless coffee and jam jars of fresh orange juice, but the pancakes are the speciality here. For purists, the plain variety are close to perfect but the peach ones are our favourite (with the banana and blueberry running close behind). For those with hearty appetites, try the Lumberjack (pancakes) or Lumberjane (french toast) breakfasts, both served with egg, bacon or sausage. For something less sweet, try the Chipotle turkey hash with sweet potatoes and corn or a build-your-own omelette.
Find Kitchenette in Tribeca at 156 Chambers Street and Uptown at 1272 Amsterdam Ave.
Virgin Atlantic flies to New York five times daily. For all the best fares, head to www.virginatlantic.com. Need somewhere to stay in New York? Check out one of our favourites, the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.