Toast

1845 Gentilly Blvd., (504) 351-3664; and 5433 Laurel St., (504) 267-3260

Toast got its start at the Uptown French bakery Tartine, which helps explain some of the French flair running through its menu. The Southern sass must have just come with the territory. Each of these tiny spots feels vital to their respective neighborhoods and are interesting breakfast destinations too because the menus go beyond basics. A crisp, simple side salad completes a hearty croque madame with greens; the steak and eggs is made with a bistro-worthy hanger steak with tarragon aioli. Crepes cover the sweet to savory range. Breakfast and lunch daily. $

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Advocate staff photo by John McCusker -- Salmon tops an open-face sandwich at Willa Jean, a cafe and bakery in downtown New Orleans.

Willa Jean

611 O’Keefe Ave., (504) 509-7334

When chefs tackle bar food, we call it a gastropub. The way Kelly Fields has built up her downtown bakery and café, the term “gastrodiner” seems to fit. Fields, pastry chef for BRG Hospitality, made her name with exquisite desserts. Willa Jean, named for her grandmother, pairs modern design with a menu that can feel as cozy as a creaking back porch. It’s a spot for biscuits with fried chicken and sausage gravy in the morning, composed salads and avocado toast at lunch, a glass of rosé after the workday and a salt-speckled chocolate chip cookie to get you through it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $$

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.