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In search of a delightful South Florida breakfast

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The perfect breakfast means many things to many people. For some, it is a mere cup of coffee and a few moments of silence with the day’s newspaper, while for others, southern tradition dictates a hearty meal of cheesy grits, greasy bacon and buttermilk biscuits. And for the late sleepers and day-drinkers, the quintessential element of an ideal morning meal is a mimosa or blood mary served beside a plate of fresh fruit. Regardless of what you prefer to eat or drink, breakfast utopia is often shattered by bad service and dreadful ambiance. In South Florida, it seems that enjoying a morning meal in conjunction with stellar service and sparkling ambiance is anything, but possible.

Looking for the best places to enjoy a morning meal with friends? Steer clear of these South Florida breakfast spots – that is, if you were hoping to start your day off right:

Bakery of France, Boca Raton, Florida. Just a mere half mile from the Boca shoreline, this breakfast establishment appears to be the place to enjoy culinary delights for breakfast and lunch influenced by exquisite French culture. The ambiance is quaint and then menu looks promising, but good luck getting service. The restaurant can’t be bothered to have a hostess seat you or a waiter to bring you menus. When you enter the crowded space, you will find that menus are placed on each empty table, inviting you to be seated with the hopes of service. However, takeout is the only business that seems to be moving along in a satisfied fashion at this South Florida café. As you sit perusing the menu, you will have more than enough time to decide what you want to eat and drink for the current meal and any subsequent meals that might bring you to this café. And, even when you ask for service, you won’t get it. The takeout window is too busy to be bothered with patrons dining-in, even if all you want is a cup of coffee with your morning paper. And, when you get up to leave after 20 minutes without service, you can breathe a sigh of relief –it’s not you they don’t want to serve – as you pass the five tables that have sat down during your 20-minute waiting fiasco, you see the heads of these patrons are craning about, exasperated and seeking service.

The Original Pancake House, Aventura, Florida. Just a few blocks from the lifestyle center, Gulfstream Village in Miami, is The Original Pancake House. It’s not a boutique establishment, but it has reputation for delicious. While the food is as satisfying as the hearsay claims, the ambiance and service leave a lot to be desired, but the diner-style environment is to be expected. Even on a not-so-busy Monday morning in Aventura, you can expect to be promptly seated, but not see your server until your need for caffeine has reached a boiling point. When you do get service, it is spotty at best, including missing crucial elements from your order and delivery delayed until the other half of you meal has already gone cold. You might have enjoyed the over-sized omelet, if only the kitchen had not forgotten your home fries and toast, intended to be enjoyed with your main entrée. Oh, and, the state of the bathrooms – eeewww!

Balan’s, Brickell, Miami, Florida. This is a South Florida chain that masquerades as a boutique restaurant – meaning they have mastered ambiance, but rain will quickly fall on your parade. The wait staff lacks knowledge of the menu and professionalism with customer service issues, but then again, so does the management. Blame the trickle-down effect. Balan’s offers a delightful selection of fare, including a plethora of unique cocktails, but choose carefully. If you hate your drink and swap it for a beer or water, you will still have to pay for the $15 cocktail you took a sip of – and that is, apparently, the policy. As you express your fury with the policy, be ready for your server to beg you to understand that it’s not his fault and to please, tip generously.

So, where should you go for breakfast in South Florida?

The Old Breakfast House, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This is establishment is untouched by corporate nonsense and still maintains the heart and soul the original owner poured into its being. Even reading the website, o-bhouse.com, which may sound like a haughty chef’s diatribe, tells you that passion is behind the brand. The owner spares no expense to bring you the very best to serve a delicious breakfast. Over-sized meals prepared to tantalize your taste buds and the vintage ambiance is nothing short of adorable and cozy. You may have to wait for a table on busy weekend mornings, but unlike many places in South Florida, the wait is worth every moment. Each guest and their meal gets careful attention. And, it’s a good thing too, because there are so many “must-try” dishes on the menu that you will long to come back again and again. Whether you want a fancy coffee and your newspaper, or that mimosa with the to-die for Big O-B BLT – The Old Breakfast House is the place to rise and dine.

Il Piccolo, Miami, Florida. This tiny Miami spot near Bay Harbor may be more well-known for its lunch cuisine, but anyone who fails to give their breakfast a try is missing out. The restaurant doesn’t keep early morning hours, but around 11am, you can venture over to try a strong espresso and the homemade eggs benedict. The hollandaise sauce is made from scratch in-house, making it hard not to ask for extra toast to sop up every last drop from your plate. A quiet ambiance and reasonably decent service awaits.

Where have you found the best (or the worst) breakfast? Is there a hot spot with bottomless mimosa or blood marys? Share your thoughts in the comments and help South Floridians and tourists find a delightful breakfast to match the superior sunshine.

Looking for the best of South Florida? Check the Top Spots on CBS Local Miami.

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