Some of Houston’s best breakfast was on full display this morning — and now, it’s in the running for being No. 1 in America.
On Monday, June 26, the national morning TV show Good Morning America kicked off its country-wide “United States of Breakfast” competition in Houston, with Bellaire's all-day breakfast spot Dandelion Cafe and Midtown’s The Breakfast Klub facing off in a chicken and waffles challenge at Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
In the end, Dandelion Cafe, which is owned by husband-and-wife duo Sarah Lieberman and chef JC Ricks, came out on top, wowing celebrity judges, including former Houston Texans football player Owen Daniels, with their rendition of chicken and waffles — a surprising feat considering wings and waffles is one of The Breakfast Klub’s most iconic dishes.
“We beat them at their own game. We’re really surprised, but not surprised because it’s such a quality dish that JC came up with,” Lieberman said in an interview with Eater Houston. “We’re super excited. It was amazing. We just feel like we’re on top of the world right now.”
Dandelion will advance to the next, national round, sending chef Ricks and Lieberman to New York, where they’ll compete against three other cities on Friday, June 30, for a chance to win $10,000 and the title of the best breakfast in America. Lieberman said each city will prepare a different dish. Dandelion’s dish will once again be chicken and waffles.
“We’re beyond excited for the opportunity to showcase our unique, scratch-made breakfast,” Ricks said in a statement. “Whichever way it goes, we just can’t wait to show Houston and America what we’re made of and we’re proud to represent our city.”
But Lieberman adds, “it would be pretty amazing if we won. Ever since we got picked, we’ve been perfecting the recipe, making it for people, and trying to get it right.”
Lieberman says Ricks eventually decided on pairing a cornbread buttermilk waffle with boneless chicken thighs for even more of a Southern emphasis on the dish. The chicken thighs are marinated in homemade buttermilk and a blend of spices for 24 hours, then breaded in rice flour, fried, and served with compound butter, maple syrup, local honey, chili flakes, and hot sauce, with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Though the dish was specially made for the competition, Lieberman said Dandelion Cafe debuted the dish on its menu on Saturday — meaning residents can try the award-winning dish. “We can’t not have it on our menu after winning on Good Morning America,” Lieberman said.
The restaurant, which first opened in August 2016, is known for its breakfast — serving staples like its blueberry lemon focaccia French toast sticks, buttermilk pancakes, and breakfast tacos throughout the week — but has built a reputation for a wide-ranging menu that appeals to various diets, including gluten-free and vegetarian. Dandelion also offers various lunch offers, and drinks ranging from agua frescas and house-pressed juices to coffees, flavored lattes, and mimosas.
Good Morning America has been known to visit Houston for its cuisine. The Breakfast Klub also participated in a similar GMA breakfast challenge in 2010. The restaurant, which is known for its wings and waffles and “katfish” and grits, received more than 250 nominations for the national breakfast competition, according to a Culturemap report, but was ultimately beaten out by a Wisconsin restaurant that served cherry-stuffed French toast.
And in 2022, GMA hosted its “United States of Burgers” competition, in which Houston’s Trill Burgers, which recently opened a location in Montrose, faced off against burger-chan, before moving on and winning the national title for GMA’s best burger in America.