I believe Ron Swanson captured my feelings best with this quote, “There has never been a sadness that cannot be cured with breakfast food.” After a long work week, dreary weather, and an unrelenting cold, I decided breakfast food was just what the doctor ordered. I was feeling adventurous and found a new breakfast spot in downtown Raleigh, Manhattan Café. Conveniently located near the Red Hat Parking Deck, the café is unassuming from the outside but the atmosphere inside is lively and upbeat. The restaurant has an uber casual vibe and is self-service for drinks, refills and cleaning up. The employees are friendly and willing to offer suggestions and help navigate the menu. Manhattan Cafe has a no frills ordering system: the menus are written on chalkboards above the counter where you simply order when you’ve made a decision.
The first thing that caught my eye upon entering the restaurant was a glass case full of beautiful doughnuts – my favorite food! Seriously, how is there a place in Raleigh that sells doughnuts that I have not tried?! Obviously, I had to have one and since I believe calories from doughnuts do not count, I got some real breakfast food as well. I decided on a glazed doughnut ($1.00), “The Two Egg Meal” with sausage, home fries and toast ($6.49) and a side pancake ($2.99) while my husband chose “The Western” omelet with home fries ($7.99).
All of the food was brought to the table quickly, hot and made to order. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day and my personal favorite, I have very high standards for breakfast staples, especially pancakes. Thus, I judge all breakfast joints based on their pancakes. Manhattan Café did not disappoint. The pancake was golden brown, covered with powered sugar and served with maple syrup. My sweet tooth is a bit out of control; if you are like me, this pancake is for you! The pancake itself isn’t overly sweet but the powered sugar and syrup turn it into sugary goodness. The pancake had a fluffy texture that seemed to almost melt in my mouth. While the portion is generous, the size of a plate, the pancake was not too filling. Overall, an excellent deal for the price.
We were off to a good start. Next up was the two egg meal which came with home fries and a choice of sausage or bacon. I chose scrambled eggs and sausage. This typical breakfast plate included fluffy eggs, slightly spicy sausage and delicious home fries. The home fries were really something to write home about! (Pun intended) They were perfectly seasoned and sautéed with peppers and onions. If you are a person who loves onions these are for you. If not, beware because the onions are strong with this one. I was starting to get a bit full halfway through this plate but it was so good that I finished every bite! If you are looking for straightforward breakfast food this plate is enough food to fill you up and a steal for the price.
My husband’s western omelet looked so tasty that I had to steal a few bites, okay maybe several bites. This omelet was jam packed with flavor; the bacon was crispy and the veggies were nice and crisp. The chipotle sauce definitely elevates this seemingly basic omelet to new heights. My husband, who considers himself an omelet connoisseur, said it was one of the best he’s ever had. I have to agree with him, it was quite tasty. If you are looking for an omelet with a bit of pizzazz, this one is for you.
I have saved the best for last – the doughnut!! The menu says “Made today from the hands of an angel.” The description sets lofty expectations and the doughnuts live up to the hype. The counter houses all the doughnut offerings, which included: glazed, cinnamon sugar, maple bacon and fruity pebbles. Many of the options were sold out when I rolled in around noon. So I went with a glazed doughnut. Seriously, one of the best doughnuts I have ever had. It was light, airy, covered with a sugary glaze and even had edible sugar snowflakes! This thing was sweet, like might cause a toothache kind of sweet. If you also believe that dessert is acceptable at breakfast, then you must stop and get yourself one of these doughnuts. The most important thing to know is that the doughnuts are ONLY offered on Saturday. If you want a yummy breakfast check out Manhattan Café next time you find yourself in downtown Raleigh.
Laura Moore is an ICU nurse at UNC Chapel Hill and is going back to school to pursue a doctorate degree in Nurse Anesthesia. She has an out of control sweet tooth and is constantly in search of the perfect dessert; her favorite foods are doughnuts and cupcakes! Laura is an avid Duke Blue Devils, New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fan. In her free time, she likes to drink craft beer, take midday naps, and hang out with her husband and their dog daughter, Layla. Follow her adventures on instagram @laurabarlowmoore