March into Breakfast

Polly’s Pancake Parlor, family-owned and opening for its 66th season in May, is a Sugar Hill institution in a circa 1830 building with million-dollar mountain views. Stone-ground on the premises, the pancakes are made from cornmeal, whole wheat and buckwheat batters, and can be combined with coconuts, blueberries or walnuts. Maple-minded patrons can choose from a spread, syrup and sugar for the delicate palate. Just make sure you have reservations on weekends.

Starting as a small sugarhouse, Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason has been in the family since the 1960s. You can get maple baby back ribs and eggs and thick French toast, and it’s always pancake time (breakfast is served all day). Aside from buttermilk, blueberry, buckwheat and pumpkin, there’s also the pancake of the month, based on the season. The sugarhouse operates in March and April, so watching the wood fire do its magic is something to do while waiting.

Though Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe are gone, their memories live on at the memorabilia-packed Mary Ann’s Diner on East Broadway in Derry. The Andreoli family owns the shining diner with the blue booths that’s been open since 1989.

Any time is breakfast time at downtown Manchester’s Red Arrow Diner, a 1922 piece of Americana. The 37-seat eatery’s popularity is in those omelets like the chili cheese and steak bomb and, of course, the shredded potato hash browns with a myriad of toppings. OK, the cream pies, too. What’s the key? “We’re consistent,” says general manager Helen Williams. No wonder they made USA Today’s top 10 list of the best diners in the country. Give Moe and Dinah a wink.

Owner and chef Jim Wilcox is the man behind the skillet breakfasts at Andy’s Place on Cypress Street in Manchester. The enormous breakfast menu covers everything from about 30 omelets — eggs benedict is the hot seller — to about a dozen waffle and pancake choices like chocolate chip and tropical fruit. Veggies, potatoes and meats topped with eggs make up the four skillet meals. Those wanting to pour maple syrup might try the stuffed French toast, two pieces loaded with seasonal fruits like blueberries and combined with a sweetened cream cheese.

The Friendly Toast is a fun and eclectic Congress Street diner in Portsmouth. Where else can you see “happy foot,” a $465 rubber smiling sock from a 1950s men’s store. The huevos rancheros get a thumbs-up, and there’s always the Guy scramble — eggs, cheddar, salsa, black beans and avocado — that keeps customers coming back. “It was created when my friend Guy stopped by when we first opened 10 years ago,” says owner Melissa Jasper. ”He’s been working here for years and hopefully enjoying whatever small modicum of fame it provides.”

A college project, put into action, led to the creation of Jack’s Coffee on Main Street in New London, run by husband and wife Jack and Jody Diemar. Plop down on a couch, surf the Net or stare into the fireplace in the restaurant which turns five in May. Try an omelet, wrap or sandwich with steaming coffee. In March, look for a new waffle egg sandwich with the maple syrup baked in.

Upstairs at Gunther’s on Main Street in North Conway is a wild experience. Though there are plenty of items like seven-grain French toast or toasted almond cakes to anoint with maple syrup, it’s the sausage that stands out at George Gunther’s place.

Venison, buffalo, pheasant and rabbit sausages are all on the menu, not to mention ostrich burgers. “It’s just different,” says Gunther. “You come up into the mountains and think wild and wilderness.” Gunther has owned the place for 12 years and he’s hoping to set sail after selling to new owners, who plan on keeping the menu intact. NH