Individuality, coupled with a respect for simplicity and tradition, is what keeps a breakfast spot percolating. That's certainly true of these restaurants, which have the right ingredients to rank as top-of-the-morning kinds of places. All eateries taste-tested by Joan Reminick.
The Cook Room
The Cook Room, Middle Island: This gleaming vintage diner serves a homestyle menu that includes such dishes as meltingly tender "oaty oat" pancakes studded with pieces of apple and walnuts. Try the egg sliders, flaky Cheddar biscuits sandwiching eggs, melted cheese and Canadian bacon. (Pictured: The ABC omelette, with avocado, bacon and cheddar.)
Cornucopia's Noshery, Amityville: In an attractive, sun-splashed space, chef-owner Erica Reichlin serves up omelets made with organic eggs, angel food pancakes, coconut-crusted brioche French toast and, for vegans, a tofu curry scramble. Mimosas and sangria, too. There's also outdoor dining at this Amityville spot. Cash only.
Empress Diner, East Meadow: Open since 1955, this spot will start your day right with a roster of oatmeals -- 21 in all. Also good are the surprisingly fluffy pancakes, made with a hint of vanilla. You'll also find a host of omelets, including options with pastrami and gyro meat.
Relish, Kings Park: At this eatery, produce, much of it locally sourced, is noted on a chalkboard. The "new school" egg sandwich with house-made maple turkey sausage, tomato, Swiss and spinach (pictured) gets an A, as do the ricotta pancakes with fresh berries, Mexicali omelet with chorizo and whole-grain cereal.
Morning Rose Cafe
Morning Rose Cafe, Bellmore: A bed-and-breakfast vibe and an imaginative repertoire define this spot, a charming little cafe where executive chef Roberto Baez puts no end of panache into his irresistible Voodoo berry lemon pancakes (pictured); flaky Bubba biscuits topped with sausage gravy, eggs, roasted tomatoes and house-made maple-pork sausage patties; and flavorful, hot chilaquiles.
Thomas's Ham & Eggery
Thomas's Ham & Eggery, Carle Place: It's the eggs, fritattas, omelets and corned beef hash all served in a skillet that sets this spot apart from all other diners on Long Island, and that certainly includes scrambles (pictured). Thomas's also has stuffed French toast, and at the counter you will find a daily array of freshly baked muffins.
Premier Diner, Commack: Here, co-owner Helen Georgatos offers a regularly changing menu insert that showcases her imaginative thinking. Proof comes via clever pancakes, including pistachio (pictured) and cloudlike angel food. Baked oatmeal is also good, and the omelets are light yet substantial.
Jo Jo Apples Cafe
Jo Jo Apples Cafe, Point Lookout: The charming, all-American eatery impresses with its clean-tasting, airy-textured, fruit-studded pancakes (including strawberry, pictured). Or try the farmer's frittata with ham, sausage, potato, tomato and cheese; also good is the spicy corn frittata.
Maureen's Kitchen, Smithtown: This cute, quirky spot has garnered the attention of diners and food fans from Montauk to Manhattan. You'll find large-portion egg dishes (the sausage, apple and cheddar cheese omelette is pictured), stuffed raspberry French toast and baked oatmeal that's a virtual hot oatmeal cookie-in-a-bowl. Note: Cash-only.
Atlantica, Long Beach: Inside the Allegria Hotel, this spot offers great views of the waves from a sharp dining room where glass doors touch the boardwalk. But we like the breakfasts, too, including buttermilk pancakes (pictured) served with pure maple syrup.