Dining

Top of the Evening to You

An ode to the pleasures of breakfast for dinner
Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table
Fried Eggs

Breakfast for dinner rules.

This is not up for debate. And I'm not talking about the BS "breakfast with dinner" recipes. Putting an egg on your grilled cheese to bridge the gap between breakfast and dinner? Screw that. I'm talking about eating breakfast for dinner. Crispy fried eggs and buttery toast. Pancakes stacked high and swimming in syrup. A freaking Denver omelet.

Eating breakfast for dinner feels both indulgent and transgressive. It's a middle finger to the rules of what is and is not appropriate to eat at certain times of the day. It's a way to assert your independence over these arbitrary regulations, to declare that you're an adult human who lives by your own rules and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Eating breakfast for dinner is punk.

As anyone who spent their adolescence killing time in a greasy spoon diner can attest, going out to eat breakfast for dinner in public is the ultimate F.U. to societal norms. "We couldn't find a time when people didn't want to order breakfast," says Donna Smith, general manager at Natachee's Supper 'n Punch, a Houston restaurant that serves platters of biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steaks with eggs (along with a regular dinner menu) until it closes. "So we just never took it off the menu."

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Smith brings up one possible explanation for the popularity of breakfast at all hours, which is that "people wake up at different times, and everyone wants to eat breakfast when they wake up." For the nurse working the graveyard shift, that might mean breakfast comes at 2 a.m.; for the club kids who party late and sleep in, it could be 2 p.m. I'd argue, though, that people want breakfast not just when they wake up, but whenever they want something guaranteed to satisfy. The act of eating breakfast for dinner may be rebellious, but most breakfast foods themselves are not.

That's why, after long days, I sometimes come home craving nothing more than a pile of scrambled eggs. When I've been overstimulated and overworked, I need a meal that will help me mentally reset, and that meal is breakfast, regardless of whether it's morning or night. Breakfast is like spackle: something to smooth over the cracks in my surface, which tend to show after a hard day—not before it begins.

Part of being a grown-up is learning to take care of yourself. Part of taking care of yourself is doing things that bring you pleasure. And if something as simple as eating eggs and bacon and toast for dinner sends that little thrill down your spine, by all means, get cracking.

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