“This is an authentic bakery,” said Jackie Pavilla, who owns La Brioche along with her husband. “Everything is from scratch. We use organic flour, locally sourced.”
The smell of fresh baked goodness hits you as you enter one of the newest businesses in the NEON, La Brioche. There are rows upon rows of French delicacies, like eclair, turnovers, meringue, and croissants. Pavilla and her husband are both native to France, so the sound of French also fills the air. “Authentic” is an overused word in our society, but if you are a francophile, at La Brioche, you feel authentically home.
“I am always tasting,” said Pavilla. “I’m very picky. If I don’t love it, the customer doesn’t get it.”
For breakfast, Pavilla said that customers enjoy the quiche, croissant with ham and cheese, or the traditional French breakfast of coffee and plain or chocolate croissants. Le vie en délicieuse in the NEON.
While La Brioche offers a taste of Europe, Commune NFK offers a menu of the same ingredients Virginians around here have been utilizing for centuries.
At Commune NFK, every ingredient is both local and seasonal. They work with 15 to 20 local farmers to ensure that word “preservative” need never be spoken in the restaurant.
“It’s homegrown,” said front of house manager Josh Wax. “You know where your food is coming from. You know you’re being taken care of.”
Commune NFK is one of Hampton Roads’ true cultural intersections. You’re just as likely to run into a muralist as a local civic leader, a CEO as the farmer whose chickens’ eggs you’re enjoying. Folks come to Commune NFK for a varied menu that includes chicken and waffles, sorghum pancake stacks, and breakfast sandwiches with prosciutto, sausage, bacon or smoked sweet potatoes on a sourdough brioche bun.
“You can’t get that good of a sandwich for under $10, anywhere,” said Wax, who said he can’t resist having at least a couple a week himself. “It’s consistently good.”
Bring your recyclable grocery bag: Commune NFK has a fully stocked farmer’s market up front, too.
Zeke’s has what is objectively, unquestionably one of the best breakfast deals in Tidewater. For about five bucks you can get a bowl of scrumptious: acai topped with granola, along with the likes of mango, pineapple, coconut, and strawberries.
It’s healthy. It’s filling. And it’s pretty, too. Berries, bananas and kiwi dressed in honey is a lovely sight to behold.
Along with the bowls, Zeke’s offers egg breakfasts, and a full selection of fresh juices -- all bottled in-house -- and smoothies, including ones with names like Greenia Colada and Coffee Nut Frappe. It is conceivable that if you ate Zeke’s for breakfast every day you would live forever.
Come for the food, stay for the art. Zeke’s passionately curates and supports local artists like few others. There’s always something fresh in their dining area gallery, just as there’s often a nice breeze in their backyard patio area.
Wisteria, the cafe within the Chrysler Museum, makes it onto the list by a hair: they open at 11am, just in time for a late breakfast. Shrimp and grits is probably your best bet if you have breakfast on the mind at the Chrysler, which itself is one of the gems of Hampton Roads.
“The nice thing about this cafe is its own little corner of the world,” said its manager, Stephen Brown.
He’s right. Sitting in Mary’s Garden, by one of the oldest oak’s in Virginia, in the midst of so many priceless art treasures, any meal is elevated by the atmosphere. It’s a good place for a meeting, date, or to bring the grandparents. Wisteria has wide lanes between tables with walkers and wheelchairs in mind.
Wisteria offers a full brunch menu on Sundays starting at noon. The star of the show is the green chili migas, layered with corn tortilla, topped with verde sauce and Jack cheese.
Just Sunday Brunches
Last but never ever least, the NEON has some great weekend brunch options.
Sanctuary Norfolk (109 Addison St.) has brunch on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm and Sundays from 11am to 8pm. Beside their regular menu (somebody say tacos?) they add egg and ground sausage as an option. It’s always a party at Sanctuary, where at brunch they also have the requisite mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and orange crushes. On Sunday, their happy hour drink prices are offered the entire day.
Jhane’s Sweet Lounge (731 Granby St.) has got everyone’s taste covered for Sunday brunch, which goes from 11am to 4pm. Nutella Frech toast with strawberries, seafood omelette, triple layer cheeseburger quesadilla (what?!), citrus BBQ sliders and chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream are just a few of the options.