For the Most Important Meal of the Day, Breakfast Free or Die.
Heads up: This post was last updated June 2019.
If you consider yourself a breakfast enthusiast, Portsmouth, NH, is the place for you. The following is a list of the best breakfast spots to visit in our fair city, as well as a few honorable mentions just a stone’s throw away.
Best Breakfast Spots in Portsmouth, NH
A recent addition to the cafés in Portsmouth, Cup of Joe beautifully renovated the former t-shirt shop “I Like That” to bring us a warm, rustic environment with a variety of organic, fair trade coffee blends. Between their fresh pastries and savory breakfast menu it’ll be hard to order just a cup of joe. Cup of Joe is a great place to cozy up and read a book or open up your laptop to bang out some work.
Bring your appetite to Bennett’s for some ridiculously good breakfast sammies. You’ll love any of their 12-inch — that’s right, 12 whole inches — breakfast sandwiches but here at Vital, the steak, egg and cheese with peppers, onions and mushrooms, topped off with sriracha mayo on a deliciously soft roll is the fan favorite. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it. If steak, egg, and cheese isn’t your thing, Bennett’s super friendly staff encourages you to get creative. Stack the freshest produce, meats and sauces high on your choice of an English muffin, whole wheat or white wrap, or an 8-inch or 12-inch sub roll.
Located on Congress Street right in the heart of Portsmouth, it’s hard to resist stopping in for these legendary subs. And let’s not forget coffee! Bennett’s has their own line of beverages and offers some smooth nitro hot and cold brew coffee.
The Goods market and café is owned by Portsmouth locals looking to do more to bring the community together with local foods, farmers, artists, and craftsmen. Their fair-trade coffee and espresso will definitely kickstart your morning. If you’re not a fan of coffee (sounds crazy, but we won’t judge), their smoothies and tea selections make for a great substitute. The Goods egg sandwiches and wraps are the talk of the town, and their avocado toast with roasted tomatoes, red onion, sprouts and balsamic reduction is so good that it’s worth putting off buying a home.
Pâtisserie Française and Bar à Vin (translation: “French pastry and wine bar”) makes visitors feel as though they’ve been transported to a cafe in the cobblestone streets of Paris. in the cobblestone streets of Paris. We’re big proponents of treating yourself to something sweet early in the day, which is good, because you’ll be tempted to do so after taking one look at MN’s unbelievably delicious looking pastries.
But don’t indulge too much — you’ll still want to save room for breakfast! MN’s traditional French croissants are rich, flaky, and make for a great travel-friendly snack for foodies on the go. If you can spare the time, we recommend that you stay to enjoy the ambiance, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee or try their fresh French crêpes.
The Works is Vitalians’ favorite place for Friday morning — well, any day of the week, really — coffee and bagels. These folks get up before sunrise to fire up the boilers and ovens to make fresh New York-style bagels every single day. With 12 varieties of bagels to choose from, 8 cream cheese options (including a Tofutti spread), and an impressive lineup of egg/meat/cheese/veggie breakfast sandwich options, it’s no wonder that this is the unofficial Portsmouth breakfast club HQ.
Native to New England, The Works uses the freshest local ingredients, including free-range eggs, hormone-free meats, and Vermont cheddar and goat cheese — they even use New Hampshire’s own Stonyfield Organic yogurt in all of their smoothies.
When owner Jeremy Colby took over Karen’s diner in 2003, he transformed it into Colby’s, a local favorite breakfast joint that’s atmosphere is as cozy as its food is delicious. In addition to their regular breakfast menu, which includes classic combo meals and an impressive lineup of pancake and French toast options, Colby’s offers exciting specials such as an asparagus, goat cheese and scallion omelet and a smoked salmon, baby spinach, and tomato benedict.
Though there’s almost always a line at peak brunch time (10am–noon) on weekends, there’s usually a few open tables on weekdays. For diners willing to brave the line, you can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee on the patio while you wait.
Known for its all-day breakfast menu and eclectic décor, the Friendly Toast is both a literal and a visual feast. Plan ahead if you want to visit on a Saturday or Sunday morning because the Toast’s cleverly named menu items (such as “Doughnut Stop Believin’” and “Shakshuka Your Booty”), creative cocktails, and lively atmosphere have made it a popular destination for Portsmouth residents and the weekend brunch crowd.
Passionate about diner food? Then Roundabout’s the place for you! Conveniently located off the Portsmouth traffic circle, the Roundabout is the best place to meet for breakfast if you want to avoid the hassle of parking downtown. And even if you’re already downtown, the Roundabout’s worth the drive for its retro vibe, locally roasted bottomless coffee, and friendly waitstaff.
If you’re in the mood to indulge a little, add a shot of vodka to your juice — seriously, their menu encourages it! — or star in your own one-man rendition of Cocktail with their build-your-own Bloody Mary bar on Sundays. The Roundabout’s French toast is to die for, and its menu features a huge variety of all-American breakfast fare. Whether you’re catching up with an old friend, getting the kids out of the house or just want to settle in with a good book and a big plate of breakfast food, this is your jam.
Sitting on the hallowed ground of the dearly departed Eagle Photo building, Popovers on the Square is famous for its signature dish — you guessed it — the popover. But their all-day breakfast menu doesn’t stop there: From their banana panini with Nutella to the steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar, and berries to the vegetable and swiss quiche, each dish is more delicious than the last.
As one Vitalian poetically put it, “The oatmeal tastes as though the chef journeyed out to a dew-covered meadow at dawn, hand-selected the three most perfect strawberries and the three most perfect blueberries, and lovingly arranged them on top of my handmade steel cut oatmeal.” Sounds like a damn good bowl of oatmeal, if you ask us.
Popovers’ location on Congress street makes it the ideal place to meet a colleague or a client for breakfast and coffee … and then maybe a piece of carrot cake, too, because it’s just that good.
Located just over the Sagamore Bridge, the Golden Egg is a breakfast and brunch institution for Portsmouth locals — which is why it’s the spot where you’re most likely to bump into a stumping presidential candidate during primary season. Crowded and sometimes chaotic, there’s nothing fancy about the Golden Egg, and therein lies its charm: This is pure traditional New England breakfast fare served fast, hot, and with a wink, if you’re lucky.
You might’ve heard about their Ceres-ously delicious lunch specials, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Ceres Bakery’s breakfast specials, too. A bakery of their caliber is bound to have some of the best pastries in the game, and Ceres does not disappoint: They offer an appetizing array of muffins, scones, sticky buns, cinnamon swirls, and flavored coffee cakes, as well as breakfast wraps and sandwiches.
For a special seasonal try, visit between Lent and Easter to taste their hot cross buns — they’re well worth the year-long wait!
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No list of the best breakfast spots in Portsmouth would be complete without Hebert’s. Like the Golden Egg, Hebert’s is an under-the-radar local fave that promises to serve you breakfast “eggs-actly as you like it.” With breakfast classics such as steak and eggs and Belgian malted waffles with mountains of whipped cream, Hebert’s is a casual and comfortable eatery that Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson themselves would be proud of.
If you’re looking for something outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Portsmouth, Café Espresso on Islington Street dishes up breakfast from 6:30am–4pm every day in a friendly and welcoming environment. Can’t decide which item on the menu to choose? Try one of their “Café Piggies”: either pancakes, French toast or waffles served with eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, and home fries.
Prefer tea to coffee? Like your ingredients to be organic? Want to support sustainable businesses? How about all of the above? Look no further than White Heron.
White Heron boasts a seriously impressive organic tea selection, including Darjeeling noir, green peach rooibos, osmanthus green, and many, many more, as well as a variety of breakfast wraps and pastries out of its main location on Islington. Coffee drinkers are welcome, too, with their pick of medium, dark, and full city roasts. Perhaps the coolest thing about White Heron, though, is its commitment to sustainability. With 114 solar panels on its café and roastery, White Heron is a community leader in green energy, and even lets its customers track its energy usage in real time.
If you prefer your mornings with hot sauce on the side, you’re in luck — Dos Amigos now serves breakfast! Since relocating from State Street to Portwalk Place (where it shares space with none other than White Heron!), Dos Amigos has expanded its menu to include breakfast items, such as iced turmeric lattes, a house chorizo breakfast burrito, pepita butter toast, and more. Though coffee and burritos might sound like an odd couple, they’re actually a match made in heaven — stop by Dos Amigos between 7am and 11am to see for yourself!
Jewish delicatessen aficionados know that Bubby’s is the real deal. With egg bagels, latkes (oh, the latkes), challah bread French toast, sweet cheese-stuffed blintzes, and homemade borscht, Bubby’s is like a little slice of New York in the heart of Portsmouth. If you’re new to Jewish delis, there’s a whole Yiddish glossary right in the menu, as well as a playful illustration of Bubby herself by South Berwick-based artist Dan Blakeslee.
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If it’s Sunday morning, Rudi’s Jazz Brunch is the place to be. Enjoy lively music while sipping mouth-watering cocktails and digging into your eggs Benedict (their menu boasts four different varieties) in a warm and inviting environment. Best of all? Rudi’s is right around the corner from Vital headquarters, so you might spot some of your favorite marketing professionals treating themselves to a fabulous meal!
A recent addition to our list, Elephantine Bakery aims to bring French tradition and Mediterranean flair to downtown Portsmouth. Tucked away on Commercial Alley, Elephantine’s storefront is evocative of a quaint European café, while its interior is full of bright colors and Old World charm. Come for the décor, stay for the food — from buttery, flaky croissants to fresh-baked bread to sweet, gooey treats, Elephantine Bakery offers a breakfast spread you won’t soon forget.
BONUS Breakfast Intel!
If breakfast with a view is what you’re after, there’s no better place than SALT Kitchen & Bar at Wentworth by the Sea. Located in New Castle, NH, SALT technically isn’t a Portsmouth joint but its modern elegance, ocean views, gourmet dishes (did someone say poached eggs with Maine lobster?), and weekend Bloody Mary bar more than merit an honorable mention.
Another rulebreaker, Lil’s is across the bridge in Kittery, ME. Although it’s in an entirely different state, it’s only a 10-minute walk from downtown Portsmouth — and once you arrive, you can reward yourself with one of their amazing crullers. Once a local secret, Lil’s has been featured in the Boston Globe, Maine Magazine, New Hampshire Magazine, Down East Magazine and more.
When you aren’t ordering a dozen crullers to go to share with your coworkers (a common occurrence at Vital — and yes, we’re bragging), you can sit and enjoy the bright airy space and exposed brick walls while sipping a latte, replete with latte art. Not a fan of crullers? We can’t relate, but we’re happy to report that Lil’s menu also features other breakfast items, including muffins, danishes, scones, croissants, and sandwiches.
Beach Pea lives by the motto “Simple is Best!” and they aren’t wrong. Best known for their artisan breads, this beloved Kittery establishment also dishes up melt-in-your-mouth croissants, fruit-filled scones, powdered sugar-coated coffee cakes, and more, all baked to perfection onsite. Take a quick trip across the bridge today to get your fill!
There you have it — a not-quite-but-still-pretty-close to comprehensive list of breakfast spots in and around Portsmouth! There’s enough delicious breakfast food in the City of the Open Door to keep breakfast aficionados eating their favorite meal of the day all day long and all year round!
Did we miss your favorite Portsmouth breakfast joint? Let us know! If you’re interested in also finding the perfect lunch spot downtown, we’ve got you covered there, too. Happy dining!