Ruby Slipper Café

2001 Burgundy St.; 200 Magazine St.; 139 S. Cortez St.; 1005 Canal St., (504) 525-9355; therubyslippercafe.net

From a small corner eatery tucked down a Mid-City side street, this breakfast specialist has grown into four successively larger restaurants around New Orleans and a few more down the Gulf Coast. The downtown editions seem to be rather close to each other, but their track record shows that when it comes to breakfast the morning table can never be near enough. The standards are fired off consistently, and the menus have plenty of personality, bringing Southern flavors for the eggs cochon and a few Latin turns, like the rice and beans combo of the Costa Rican breakfast. Breakfast and lunch daily. $

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Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The original Toast cafe opened on Laurel Street in 2014. A second location is now in the works for Gentilly.

Toast

5433 Laurel St., (504) 267-3260; toastneworleans.com

An offshoot of the nearby French bakery Tartine, this small café starts with excellent breads and pastries and builds a roster of easy-to-love breakfast favorites with high quality and a bit of French flair. A crisp, simple side salad completes a hearty croque madame with greens, the steak and eggs is made with a bistro-worthy hanger with tarragon aioli and crepes cover the sweet to savory range. Come early and watch this place fill up fast or be prepared for a bit of a wait. A second location is slated to open this fall in Gentilly, at 1845 Gentilly Blvd. Breakfast and lunch daily. $

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Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A salmon tops an open face sandwich at Willa Jean, a cafe and bakery from the Besh Restaurant Group.

Willa Jean

611 O’Keefe Ave., (504) 509-7334; willajean.com

This bakery and café from the Besh Restaurant Group feels like a modern downtown diner. That starts by giving the cravings of country cooking some stylish, ingredient-focused updates, like fried chicken and biscuits with Tabasco honey and the open-faced sandwiches with poached eggs and avocado built on beautiful bread. There’s a take-out coffee bar stacked with pastries and ready-made baguette sandwiches. The dining room feels like a diner counter crossed with a bar, with its own take on coffee cocktails, bloody Marys and a slushy frozen rose. The CBD location is ideal for morning meetings. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $$

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.