Whether you're in the mood for an authentic English breakfast in London or the perfect desayuno in Barcelona, forget room service. We've tracked down the most memorable ways to kick off your day in five cities.
There's no tastier way to start the day than by prowling the bustling Boqueria market, with its riot of tomatoes, chanterelles, and boutique beans. And that's before you even zero in on the dining bars. While Pinotxo (466 Mercat de la Boqueria, La Rambla 91; 34/93-317-1731; breakfast for two $35) deservedly gets the tourist traffic, serious breakfast buffs—vendors, foodies, the city's top chefs—gather at El Quim de la Boqueria (584 Mercat de la Boqueria; 34/93-301-9810; breakfast for two $22), Quim Márquez Durán's pocket-sized stand, where the stove is flanked by the extravagant produce that inspires his meals. LOCAL FAVORITES Regulars opt for just-made tortillas (vegetable-filled omelets) or a straight-ahead Catalonian breakfast of café con leche with pa amb tomàquet, Spain's ubiquitous tomato-rubbed toast. DON'T MISS Heartier offerings, such as tender baby squid sautéed in fragrant olive oil and accompanied by a farm-fresh fried egg with a Day-Glo orange yolk, or roasted baby artichokes with a porcini and lentil timbale. T+L TIP Go early (before 8 a.m.) to see the market in full swing, or wait till after 10:30 so you can watch Márquez preparing for lunch.
Legendary for its mellow house-roasted Kaffee and kuchen (cake), Café Einstein (58 Kurfurstenstrasse; 49-30/261-5096; breakfast for two $19) has spawned a chain of swank coffee bars across the city. Nothing, however, beats the original: a gilded Viennese-style café, as grand as a ballroom and housed in a sprawling mansion that seems worlds away from the edgy construction that marks Berlin today. LOCAL FAVORITES There are as many themed options here as there are international newspapers: the Pariser (croissant, madeleine, baguette); the Wiener (poached eggs, rolls, apricot jam); the Triestiner (prosciutto, bresaola, Italian cheeses); even the New Yorker (smoked salmon, bagels, cream cheese). DON'T MISS The flaky apple strudel—not-too-sweet dark-amber-colored fruit barely held together by paper-thin pastry sheets—ceremoniously delivered by a bow-tied waiter, sets the gold standard. Mit Sahne (with cream), of course.
Dinner bookings at the Wolseley (160 Piccadilly; 44-20/7499-6996; breakfast for two $45), Chris Corbin and Jeremy King's opulent evocation of Continental cafés, are still as coveted as they were when the place opened almost three years ago. But these days the real power meal here is breakfast. Enter this soaring space—with its tall black columns, mirrors, and acres of marble—and nod yes to the waiter, who will obligingly offer you a Financial Times while you wait for your crêpe complète (filled with a fried egg, bacon, and gooey Gruyère). LOCAL FAVORITES In the mood for something British?Try deviled lamb's kidneys with Madeira, or one impeccable fat kipper with mustard butter. DON'T MISS The decadent eggs Arlington Royale (a variation on eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and a dollop of sevruga caviar). Go ahead, you're on holiday.
Ah, Paris, so many reasons to pry oneself out of bed: the wickedly luscious pain perdu (French toast) at Ladurée, the ultra-crispy buttered tartines at Café de Flore. Want a jolt of style with your café crème?Head for Delicabar (2638 Rue de Sèvres, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-22-10-12; breakfast for two $35), the Pop artinspired café at Le Bon Marché department store. Designer Claudio Colucci's curvaceous white room with bright pink, red, and orange chairs is a cheerful take on modern style, while chef Sébastien Gaudard's clever blending of the sweet and the savory is sure to tickle even the most jet-lagged taste buds. LOCAL FAVORITES Gaudard's morning masterpiece is oeufs coques et fines mouilettes, which translates as a perfect boiled egg in its shell presented on a white Corian pedestal and served with baguette sticks for dipping. Order your coffee spiked with praliné or a hot chocolate zapped with gingerbread spices. DON'T MISS The young chef's whimsically outré sweets (glazed-carrot mousse bombe with a surprisingly salty sesame center)— no matter how much you covet that fitted Martin Margiela on the rack nearby.
Once purveyor of gourmet edibles to the Hapsburgs, Meinl am Graben, Vienna's most lavish food hall, is also known for Meinl's Restaurant (19 Graben; 43-1/ 5323-33499; breakfast for two $40). This Viennese salon is where the city's movers and shakers satisfy their morning caffeine and chocolate croissant cravings. LOCAL FAVORITES Settle into a cushy orange velour banquette and order the smoked salmon with blini, tender Munich Weisswurst (white sausage), or silky scrambled eggs served on a hefty slice of seed-studded Vollkornbrot bread. This is also where you'll find Vienna's frothiest, most aromatic melange (cappuccino's Austrian cousin) and an almost-encyclopedic tea list, including such exotica as Darjeeling Top Second Flush and South African honeybush. DON'T MISS A visit to the shop below after breakfast. Inhale the heady aromas of rare artisanal cheeses and stock up on truffled mayonnaise, Riesling vinegar, and fruity Wachau Valley apricot jams. T+L TIP Call ahead to book a window booth overlooking the Baroque tangle of cherubs and saints of the Pestsäule monument on the square below.
Julius Meinl am Graben is all about Mediterranean-Austrian fusion cuisine. Tucked behind a grandiose cheese display in his cafe of the same name is this dignified, wood-paneled dining room with white tablecloths and soft lighting. In this popular Innere Stadt establishment, chef Joachim Gradwohl utilizes fresh, top-quality ingredients in his dishes, most notably the veal cutlet with porcini mushrooms and smoked duck breast. The cafe offers a wide range of specialty products, while the basement-level Meinl's wine bar offers countless varietals and late night operating hours.
A Berlin institution and hot spot for the city’s elite, Café Einstein is housed inside a villa that once belonged to silent movie star Henry Porten. The café’s stylish interior recalls the opulence of a bygone era with parquet floors, red and gold curtains, and crisp, white tablecloths. Patrons are served coffee roasted by the establishment itself, alongside a tempting selection of cakes, including the ever-popular strawberry cake. Customers with a healthier appetite can also order traditional Austrian fare, such as schnitzel and goulash.
El Quim de la Boqueria
Everything at this Boquería Market stall is exalted, especially the llanqueta, tiny fried fish served with eggs.
First designed as a luxury car showroom for the Wolseley Motors Company, this cavernous Art Deco building now houses an all-day brasserie frequented by both tourists and local celebrities. Renovated in 2003 by famed restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the Venetian-inspired interior still contains original design elements, including high vaulted ceilings, black marble columns, and grand staircases. The restaurant serves modern European fare from 7 a.m. to midnight, with options ranging from classic eggs Benedict to steak frites and Weiner schnitzel. Also popular is the traditional afternoon tea, which includes homemade fruit scones and tea served in antique teapots.
A Barcelona institution, Bar Pinotxo is located inside the Mercat de la Boqueria. This small tapas bar is owned and operated by Juanito Bayen. The cuisine is Catalan, and there is no menu; Juan or a server will simply spout off the day’s offerings. Pinotxo’s food has kept the restaurant in business for more than 50 years, and some offerings may include such traditional dishes as lamb stew, lentils, and chickpeas with botifarra, a Catalan white sausage. Dishes are complemented by the restaurant’s own sparkling wine, fittingly called Pinotxo.