How Chefs Across The U.S. Are Reimagining Classic Beef Breakfasts

September 17, 2016

We partnered with the Beef Checkoff to share what writer Paula Disbrowe uncovered when she went looking for how restaurants across the U.S. are reimagining classic beefy breakfasts.

Iconic American breakfasts are hearty knife-and-fork affairs, and not for wimpy appetites. Classic preparations like steak and eggs and meaty hash harken back to a time when our ancestors spent their days plowing fields and wrangling cattle (not tied to a laptop and counting “likes” on Instagram).

Beef + Breakfast = <3. Photo by Photo by James Ransom, Infographic by Tim McSweeney

While times have changed, with plenty people starting their day with kale smoothies and turmeric shots, the smell of wood smoke or steak sizzling on a flat top isn't far, and many chefs across the U.S. are embracing classic preparations of beef at breakfast—and giving it their own touch. You might even say it’s a growing trend: From bucket list taco trucks to stylist brunch spots, interpretations of egg-topped hash, steak and eggs, and in my neck of the woods, breakfast tacos, have never been more enticing.

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It’s easy to see the appeal: Even a small amount of beef lends extra flavor to a handful of other ingredients, like potatoes, onions, and seasonal vegetables.

That’s precisely the formula for corned beef hash, a dish that became an American staple in the 1950s (although recipes date back much further), when post-war rations were in effect. These days, you'll see the endlessly versatile dish has made a comeback across the U.S. One of the best I've found is at Revival Market, a popular Houston craft butcher and café in the Houston Heights neighborhood. Chef Ryan Pera serves hash made with beef from nearby 44 Farms and roasted butternut squash. “Like many of our dishes, it is a modern version of a classic dish, updated with the highest quality and freshest ingredients we can get our hands on.” At Nashville's hip adult playland Pinewood Social, Chef Andrew Rodriguez serves up a version featuring Short Rib, potatoes, peppers, and a sunny-side up egg.

Another quintessential beef-centric breakfast, to me, is steak and eggs. The double protein of eggs served alongside a juicy Ribeye or Sirloin was once meant to provide lasting fuel for a hard day’s work. These days, it’s a weekend staple at restaurants like Prune in New York's East Village, where Gabrielle Hamilton serves a grilled Newport Steak with parsley-shallot butter and two eggs, toasted English muffin and potato rosti. Biscuit Love, in Nashville, uses local Bear Creek Tenderloin with 2 eggs, accompanied by cheese grits, a biscuit, jam, and herb butter for their version.

At Juliet Ristorante in Austin, the dish comes with fingerlings, assorted chicories, and charred scallion butter, and is a best seller on the restaurant’s brunch menu. "We serve steak for breakfast because beef is king,” chef Jacob Weaver says.

Here in Austin, we line up at The Violet Taco, a popular food truck on West 6th Street, for steak and egg tacos—beef fajita meat and a fried egg nestled in a homemade flour tortilla, topped with a fiery salsa.

You can get an A.M. steak fix in Dallas, too. El Bolero serves Wagyu Flank Steak tacos and steak and eggs (with homemade tostadas, salsa ranchera, and black beans) on their brunch menu, but don’t overlook the incredible “Empanadas Trio” appetizer, which includes Braised Brisket Empanadas, alongside two others. It’s the weekend after all, and there’s a bloody mary bar and strolling Mariachi musicians, so no one is too concerned about the remainder of the day.

These are just a few of the trends we're seeing that celebrate beef for breakfast—what's in your favorite beef breakfast? Tell us below!

We teamed up with the Beef Checkoff to share recipes, tips, and videos all season long, showing you how to prep and cook beef at home like you've been doing it forever.

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Paula Disbrowe writes frequently about Food and Travel. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her bread baker husband David Norman, two children, and menagerie of retired ranch animals.