Ask the Experts: What Makes a Perfect Breakfast Sandwich & Where Can You Get It?


Whether you’re battling a cruel hangover at noon on Sunday or you just need to carbo-load for a busy Monday morning at the office, nothing can set your day on the right path like a beautifully made breakfast sandwich — preferably by someone who knows exactly how you like your eggs. So what makes up the ideal breakfast sandwich, and where can you get it? A bunch of chefs, bartenders, and restaurant owners were kind enough to share their perfect recipes, and/or directions to the bodegas where those sandwiches can be found.

Ollie Cleary, bartender at Bua Bar in the East Village

Rich Wade / Bua Bar

Rich Wade / Bua Bar

I get my breakfast sandwich at 5 in the morning, after I get off a bar shift at Bua and I haven’t eaten in seven hours and I’m starving. It involves a scrambled egg, pepper jack cheese and bacon on a soft white roll, not toasted. No hot sauce; the cheese gives it a little bit of spice. I get it from the bodega on South 4th and Bedford in Williamsburg, a stone’s throw from my apartment. Shorty and Moe are my guys there, and they’re open 24 hours a day. I crush it and then I go crawl into bed with my girlfriend and sleep. It’s perfect.

Justin Cairo, bartender at The Penrose on the Upper East Side

The Penrose

The Penrose

I prefer to make my own breakfast sandwich because I’m super particular about it. My favorite way is to do a toasted everything bagel, scooped out a little bit, and then either prosciutto or speck — something thin, not like ham or bacon or that bullshit. It’s got to be crispy, crispy prosciutto, crisped up in a pan with a little oil – otherwise, when you bite into it, it all comes out in one piece. If I’m getting crazy, I’ll do caramelized onions and two runny fried eggs with whatever cheese is in my refrigerator. I’m never mad at a smoked gouda. And then a little hot sauce – either Cholula or Valentina – and a little ketchup. If I don’t have an everything bagel, I’ll toast some bread, top it with shredded cheese, then griddle it over low heat. I let it get nice and crispy, and then I make the sandwich with the cheese on the outside. That’s if I’m not really hungover and have the energy to get fancy, of course.

John Schafer, executive chef of the New York Yankees Steakhouse


Michael Choe Photography

When I had my store, I made a breakfast wrap called the Truck Stopper. It was a flour tortilla with country scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, picante sauce, sausage and tater tots. It was big enough to stop a truck, and keep you energized all day. Now, when I’m going out for the day, I’ll make a smaller version and use whatever fromage du jour I have in my fridge.

Damien Del Rio and Vincent Marino, co-founders of Loosie Rouge in Williamsburg

Loosie Rouge

Loosie Rouge

Damien: Stan’s Cafecito, BEC Breakfast Burrito. He’s closed now. It used to be on Havemeyer in Williamsburg, but you can make it at home. The secret is to crush Doritos and add it to the scrambled eggs.

Vincent: Mott Corner in Nolita – They have the best BLT bagel of all time! Very funny place where a bunch of taxi drivers hang out. You can watch some serious old school Bollywood movies too!

Michelle Amara Micca, bartender at Sweet Afton in Astoria

I have a breakfast sandwich that I’m always trying to replicate, a sandwich that my friend Josh from my hometown of Winsted, Connecticut always makes whenever I visit. Anytime I go home and we make a date to get together, I always ask him to make me breakfast. It’s two eggs and cheese on a toasted, buttered everything bagel, but the key is that he melts the cheese between the eggs so it’s more like a grilled cheese with eggs. First he cooks the eggs over easy. Then he lays a slice of cheddar cheese between the eggs and melts that over low heat. Then he sandwiches the whole thing in the bagel. You don’t want to overcook the eggs – they have to be over easy so they explode when you squish them in the bagel. It’s the first thing I want when I wake up in the morning after working a long night shift — or more like when I wake up in the afternoon, really.

Jamie Sofroniou, bartender at The Bonnie in Astoria 

The Bonnie

The Bonnie

Anything that has eggs and that is in between a croissant is my favorite breakfast sandwich. My number one place to get one: in my own kitchen, made by my boyfriend Shaun, who is a chef. I’m not picky about the croissant — even Pillsbury dough works — but yesterday we got a really rad croissant from the bakery at Lafayette, and that made a great sandwich. The eggs have to be over easy, for sure — you need that goo to drip. I’m a vegetarian, so I like the fake sausage patties that Gardein makes. For the cheese, I’ll use literally anything that’s in the pantry or on sale at the supermarket. Like I said, I’m not picky.

Chrissy Dommer, bartender at The Wren in the East Village/NoHo
When I close the bar at The Wren, I get out at 5:30 or 6am — in the summer, the sun is already coming up — and I go to Sunny & Annie’s Deli on 6th and B for eggs, spicy peppers and avocado on a croissant. It’s awesome. They’re open 24 hours a day, so when you go in at the crack of dawn, you’re not the only weirdo in there that’s still up from the night before. If I wait a little bit longer, Black Seed Bagel opens at 7am. They’re real fancy, you know. I get smoked salmon on an everything bagel with lettuce, tomato, and onion. I’m usually the first one there and I haven’t slept yet and they’re looking at me like I’m insane. I take it straight home, but sometimes I’m so tired I can’t even eat it before I fall asleep.

In case you missed it, we also recently asked our chef and bartender friends to tell us where they go for their late-night munchies.