The 12 Breakfast Chains With The Best Bacon, According To The Internet

breakfast plate with lots of bacon
breakfast plate with lots of bacon - Whitewish/Getty Images

Bacon, it's what's for breakfast. Or at least it should be if you happen to visit any of these bacon-loving breakfast chains. Americans have a significant love affair with the salty pork product: A 2020 report shows that Americans spend roughly $5 billion on bacon alone and that the average American will eat around 18 pounds of bacon every year. According to that same report from the Foundation for Economic Education, about 70% of bacon is eaten at breakfast.

That's no secret to popular breakfast chains nationwide, which dish up copious amounts of bacon alongside eggs and waffles each morning. And while eating 18 pounds of the stuff yearly implies that we're not always so picky about the quality of our bacon, there are certainly some breakfast chains that know the best ways to cook bacon. We scoured the internet to find recommendations for breakfast chains that know how to serve consistently delicious bacon. It should be crisp but not burnt, flavored with smoky notes, and often thick-cut to emphasize you're eating an actual meat product, not just flavored rice paper.

From small hyper-local chains to ones that span the continent, we've found 12 breakfast spots that have loyal bacon-loving fans. Some have specialized bacon recipes with a spicy kick, some feature regional twists on classic breakfast dishes, and others just know how to serve a really good plate of bacon and eggs, every time.

Read more: 22 Fast Food Breakfast Menus Ranked From Worst To Best

1. Sweet Maple

2 slices of thick-cut bacon
2 slices of thick-cut bacon - Instagram / Sweet Maple

If you search "bacon restaurant" on Yelp for the entire San Francisco area, Sweet Maple is the first result. This small brunch chain is located primarily in the Bay Area and serves a typical American-style breakfast with touches of Asian influence. The restaurant concept began in 2010, and restaurateur Hoyul Steven Choi told SFGate that its millionaire's bacon "put Sweet Maple on the map." Choi trademarked the menu name for the dish, which features free-range bacon baked with brown sugar, cayenne, and red and black pepper.

Given that it's in the Bay Area, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the bacon — which is featured in entrees but can also be ordered on its own — comes with a hefty price tag. Four slices, a side called Millionaire's Candy, is currently on the menu for $14. The sampler platter, which is four pieces with varying flavor profiles, will add $26 to your tab.

In the overwhelmingly positive reviews for Sweet Maple's San Francisco location on Yelp, almost 3,000 reviewers mention the bacon specifically. "This is the best bacon you will ever eat," one patron wrote. "I would change my life for this bacon. All other bacon is still bacon. I understand that. But all other bacon is not this bacon."

2. Egg Harbor Cafe

slices of bacon on plate
slices of bacon on plate - Instagram / Egg Harbor Cafe

This upscale brunch spot that began in the Midwest now has 22 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Georgia. Though loyal patrons rave about a variety of dishes, bacon is often in the conversation. On top of the standard bacon slices you can also choose from maple bourbon, Kickin' Bacon, and cherrywood varieties.

Pictures on Yelp are enough to make your mouth water. If you choose bacon as your side with a brunch entree, you'll get three long, thick-cut pieces that quickly become the centerpiece of your meal. Several reviewers suggest upgrading your normal bacon order to the cherrywood smoked version, with one person saying it tastes like salty ribs.

Reviewers say that while the prices are on the higher end of the brunch spectrum (at least in their regions), you'll leave with a full stomach. If you choose bacon as a standalone side, it'll be $5 for a regular plate of four slices. Upgrading to Kickin' Bacon or the cherrywood smoked will be an extra dollar, while the maple bourbon flavor costs an extra $2.30 per plate. The bacon is also featured in the restaurants' housemade bacon jam and dishes like the Bacamato Grill (bacon and tomato in a breakfast grilled cheese) and the Bacado omelet (bacon, avocado, eggs, and cheese).

3. Broken Yolk Cafe

eggs Benedict with bacon
eggs Benedict with bacon - X / Vegastechhead

This beloved breakfast chain got its start in San Diego, where many of its locations are based. However, the chain now has more than 30 spots around the country, including some in Texas, Florida, Nevada, and Idaho. Owner John Gelastopoulos started the line of cafes in 1993, and each location rakes in about $2 million annually, he told his local NBC affiliate. Not bad for some breakfast joints.

If you're with diners who aren't as passionate about bacon as you are, they're sure to find something to love on the menu. In fact, one reviewer on Tripadvisor for the Las Vegas location dubbed the Broken Yolk "the best breakfast in Las Vegas." Other diners for that location kept things bacon-focused, noting the bacon was perfectly crisp without getting too charred, which can be a challenge for lesser chefs.

Multiple reviewers for a San Diego location on Tripadvisor told future diners to order the Benedict with bacon. That's the Golden State Benedict, which puts a California spin on a classic eggs Benedict. If you order it, for $17.59 you'll get an English muffin topped with grilled tomato, avocado, and applewood-smoked bacon along with your poached eggs topped with hollandaise and sriracha.

4. Snooze, An A.M. Eatery

Bacon but different
Bacon but different - Facebook / Snooze

This Colorado-based breakfast chain put a lot of thought into not just cooking the bacon properly, but where it comes from. Snooze sources all of its bacon from Tender Belly, a Colorado-based Heritage pork supplier that focuses on how the animals are treated and fed. This aligns with Snooze's own ethics, the chain's procurement director Cindy Keys said in a 2021 Facebook video.

If you need something porkier than just bacon, Snooze offers habanero pork belly entrees and sides across its 59 U.S. locations. If you're looking for more straightforward bacon, thick-cut pieces of the chain's signature bacon are all over the menu. You can also order a side of what the chain calls "bacon, but different," which is its signature bacon rubbed with brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and chili flakes, with a house-made Sriracha maple syrup drizzled over the top. Three slices as a side will be $6.75 (prices may vary by location).

Snooze is the No. 13 restaurant in all of Denver, according to Tripadvisor, which is no small feat in a city known for its food culture. Reviewers for a Denver location on the platform raved about the black pepper bacon frequently and said a side of the famous stuff could be shared between two people (if you're willing). They mentioned that the chain's bloody Marys featuring bacon were also noteworthy.

5. Waffle House

Plate of bacon with waffle
Plate of bacon with waffle - Facebook / Waffle House

After featuring several regional chains that focus on higher-end brunch menus, Waffle House might feel a little out of place. But hear us out: If you're looking for a standard breakfast, bacon included, that's a no-frills good value, Waffle House might be your best bet. The chain has almost 2,000 locations across much of the eastern half of the United States, and it consistently beats out competitors like IHOP and Denny's when bacon enters the conversation.

One head-to-head comparison between Waffle House and IHOP from Business Insider showed Waffle House was the victor when it came to the bacon. A side of the salty breakfast staple featured three pieces of thick-cut, freshly fried strips that balanced out any sweet treats you might order (it is called Waffle House, after all). Other debates on Reddit between the three popular breakfast chains had Waffle House on top, too, with some going so far as to specifically include the bacon in their recommended orders on the message boards, saying it was savory perfection compared to the other competitors.

If it's value you're after, Waffle House delivers. The restaurant's classic All-Star breakfast runs you about $11 and includes a plate-sized waffle, eggs, toast, grits or hashbrowns, and yes, three slices of bacon. A Texas bacon, egg, and cheese melt (on Texas toast, hence the name) includes three slices of bacon and will cost you just $6.25.

6. First Watch

plate of seasoned bacon
plate of seasoned bacon - X / myvirtualvaca

This brunch chain has more than 520 locations across 29 states and is serving up delicious bacon every day. The restaurant changes its menu seasonally, but staples like its Million Dollar Bacon aren't going away anytime soon. Patrons who order a side of the luxury protein for $5.99 receive four slices of hardwood smoked bacon that's baked with brown sugar, black pepper, and cayenne, with a splash of maple syrup over top.

One reviewer of the signature dish on YouTube said "You can't get it anywhere, any better." He added it's the best bacon he's ever had, with a rating of 9.3 out of 10. Another reviewer from Just A Guy With An Appetite said the bacon side dish "perfectly combined fatty, salty and sweet flavors."

Reviewers on Yelp back up the individual claims about the bacon quality: Most say it was cooked to perfection, whether it was as a side to their breakfast entrees or if they ordered the Million Dollar version. One diner said his party ordered two plates of the specialty version, intending to take it home with them, but it never made it to a doggy bag. They couldn't stop eating it and polished off both plates despite ordering other entrees as well.

7. Perkins

plate of waffle, eggs, and bacon
plate of waffle, eggs, and bacon - Facebook / Perkins

Much like Waffle House, Perkins makes the list because of its popularity, nationwide presence, and mastery of all things breakfast — including the bacon. Perkins has almost 300 locations across the United States and Canada, most of which are located in the northern half of the continent (plus numerous locations in Florida). The restaurant has its roots in a bakery and started as a single pancake house, but it knows how to serve its applewood-smoked bacon the right way.

Reviewers from several locations said their bacon was perfectly crisp, a good value, and a highlight of the meal. One patron said a mix of sweet and savory is perfection when bacon is involved. "[My] wife had the bacon pancakes and she melted while eating them," they wrote on Tripadvisor.

Perkins serves breakfast all day, so you can get your fill of bacon whenever you need it. But the lunch and dinner menus also feature the ingredient heavily. In fact, Perkins hosts an annual Baconfest when it becomes a star ingredient across all three meals.

8. The Toasted Yolk

eggs Benedict with bacon
eggs Benedict with bacon - Instagram / moveaustintx

This up-and-coming Texas-based chain focuses on the boozy side of brunch, but still delivers on the basics (like bacon) extremely well. The brunch spot is positioning itself as a fresh take on the breakfast chains of yesteryear, with a bright color palette, focus on morning cocktails, and modern menu. It currently has 35 locations across Texas, with more than 20 locations in development across Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. With luck, you'll see this breakfast chain in your neighborhood soon.

The chain shares its name with its signature menu item, which is two slices of sourdough bread with an egg in the middle of each one, grilled until the egg yolk is toasted and served with a meat of choice. For many diners, that meat is the restaurant's thick-cut bacon. Reviewers on Yelp were impressed with the quality and the cook of the bacon, which was thick and perfectly crisp each time. "Their bacon is thick, crisp and tasty," one reviewer wrote. "Bacon in many places is sliced so thin you can read through it. Not at the TY, and I like it."

Bacon is alway a popular side, but in 2023 the chain offered an "Everything Bacon" menu for a limited time, which featured maple bacon donuts, bacon jam burgers, and a basket of sweet and spicy bacon strips. With luck, the chain will bring back the bacon-centric items for an encore.

9. Cracker Barrel

bacon with pancakes
bacon with pancakes - X / ryanajoseph

Cracker Barrel has its loyal fans and its ardent detractors: You typically either love it or hate it. Those who love it have many positive things to say about the chain's all-day breakfast offerings, including its bacon. Cracker Barrel boasts 687 locations in the United States across 45 states, with many of them in the Eastern portion of the U.S.

Bacon-loaded options abound at Cracker Barrel, including the loaded hashbrown casserole and the loaded hashbrown casserole tots, both of which are among Cracker Barrel's 10 best side dishes. A simple side of thick-sliced bacon (three slices for $3.79) is the fourth most popular side dish on the entire menu. That adds up to a significant volume of porky goodness: The company serves approximately 140 million slices of bacon each year.

According to AI-enhanced research of social media comments about restaurant chain bacon, Cracker Barrel is ranked the third most positively, according to QSR Magazine. One reviewer from Business Insider, who was a Cracker Barrel newbie, said the bacon was notably delicious and fresh. "The meal came with two thick, perfectly cooked slices that were crispy and chewy with just the right amount of char without being burnt or overdone," they wrote. "I didn't think they were overly greasy but they still had that just-out-of-the-frying-pan flavor." Reviewers on Tripadvisor echoed this sentiment, saying the bacon was often perfectly crisp and worth the wait.

10. The Flying Biscuit Cafe

eggs Benedict with bacon and pimento cheese
eggs Benedict with bacon and pimento cheese - X / SDosier

If you like your bacon with a side of biscuits, look no further than The Flying Biscuit Cafe, a regional chain in the Southeast that focuses big on its nitrate-free applewood bacon. The breakfast spot started outside of Atlanta and now has 34 locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Texas.

Patrons on Tripadvisor rave about the brunch spot's bacon, and some even order a plate of bacon for the table while they wait for the rest of their orders. Repeat customers say the brunch spot puts a unique spin on classics like eggs Benedict, and many of those Benedict variations add bacon for a punch of salty flavor (for example, the Southern style Benedict is a biscuit topped with pimento cheese, bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise, served with a side of grits for $12.99).

If you need a little hair of the dog to go with your brunch dishes, customers also praise the Super Bacon Mary, which mixes vodka with house-made bloody Mary mix, a bacon salt rim, and a full side of bacon and "fixins."

11. Black Bear Diner

thick-cut bacon under hollandaise
thick-cut bacon under hollandaise - X / twobigboysblog

While some diners on Quora were debating the merits of Denny's, IHOP, and Bob Evans, brunch aficionados from the West were raving about Black Bear Diner for its delicious food and generous portions. According to Restaurant Business, the chain of diners that got its start in California now has 153 locations and collectively earned more than $411 million in sales in 2022.

The customer fanbase has grown with the number of locations, and many of them praise the bacon in particular. "Best tasting bacon!" one reviewer titled their submission on Tripadvisor for the Las Vegas location. "I'll start by saying that the bacon here is some of the best I've EVER tasted," they added. "Hardly any fat and done perfectly."

Other Tripadvisor reviewers consistently say that Black Bear has the best breakfast around, no matter what you order, and that service is often impeccable. But reviews frequently come back to the bacon: They say it's perfectly cooked (most like it crispy), is truly thick-cut bacon, and has some of the best flavor they've ever tasted.

12. Wendy's

maple bacon chicken croissant
maple bacon chicken croissant - X / SavvySavingCoup

We know, we know. Comparing a fast food joint to a bespoke brunch hotspot might seem like apples to oranges. But there's a time and place for every bacon-filled breakfast, and sometimes grabbing something fast for the road is a priority. When that's the case, skip the other fast food restaurants and head to Wendy's.

According to the study of social media users discussing bacon published by QSR Magazine, Wendy's customers mention its bacon five and half times more often than the average of any other chain restaurant. Given the volume, it's not surprising that some of those reviews aren't always positive, although the study noted that a majority of negative bacon-centric reviews had to do with Wendy's customer service, not the flavor of the bacon.

The fast food chain knows what's up when it comes to its bacon. Wendy's line of Baconator offerings is synonymous with the brand these days, and it's the No. 1 seller of bacon cheeseburgers. Its breakfast offerings double down on the bacon it already perfected for dinner. In fact, Thrillist names Wendy's as the best fast food breakfast around. The publication points to the Breakfast Baconator as the key menu item: It's a burger with not one but two layers of bacon, cheese, a fried egg, and a hollandaise-Swiss sauce that will have you licking your fingers. It also calls the maple bacon chicken croissant an "absolute triumph."

How We Chose The Best Bacon-Forward Breakfast Chains

strips of bacon
strips of bacon - Vasko/Getty Images

We searched high and low to try to pinpoint the breakfast chains across the country that serve up the best bacon offerings each morning. We started by searching for general breakfast and bacon sentiments on forums like Reddit, Quora, and Yelp and zeroed in on the ones that mentioned bacon frequently.

To qualify for the list, restaurants needed to have at least five locations, although most on our list are substantially larger than that. From there, we looked at restaurant review sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp. Since chains are reviewed by location, we selected a few spots that were positively ranked (4 stars or higher) to ensure the overall quality of that franchise likely met the brand's standards. Then, we searched specifically within those locations to see what the patrons had to say about their bacon and bacon-forward dishes.

Restaurants received unofficial bonus points if their bacon received mentions in the news (as was the case with Sweet Maple's Millionaire's Bacon, for example).

Read the original article on Mashed