If you haven't been to this up-and-coming breakfast, brunch, and lunch joint yet, you're missing out on some fantastic, fresh, and flavorful eats. For the uninitiated, First Watch operates around 500 locations in 29 states and was voted America's highest-ranked restaurant chain in 2023—and for good reason. The wide variety of offerings ranges from seasonal favorites to classic egg dishes, sweet breakfasts, sandwiches, and drinks from the juice bar or coffee.
While most menu options appear nutrient-rich and healthy with their bright colors and fresh ingredients, there are some selections you may want to steer clear of if you're on a health journey this year. We asked dietitians what the best and worst choices are on the menu at First Watch so you can eat your next brunch while confidently staying on track with your health goals.
Juice bar & iced coffee
Best: Kale Tonic Fresh Juice
While drinking the kale tonic fresh juice by itself won't leave you full and satisfied, it's a great addition to a high-protein breakfast. Filled with kale, apples, cucumber, and lemon, you'll get plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and natural sweetness without added sugars.
Worst: Honey Caramel Crunch Iced Coffee
"The honey caramel crunch iced coffee is the worst choice from the juice bar and iced coffee selections," says Megan Huff, RD, LD, Atlanta-based registered dietitian. "With 370 calories and 64 grams of sugar, this coffee is a sugar bomb and will spike your blood sugar," Huff adds. With ingredients like Heath bar, salted caramel sauce, and sweet cream, it's no wonder a serving of this iced coffee has 128 percent of the recommended daily limit for added sugars.
Best: Steel Cut Oats
First Watch's steel-cut oats are an excellent base for a filling and satisfying breakfast. "For just 300 calories, you get a nice dose of soluble fiber to help lower cholesterol and manage blood sugar and appetite," says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD. Then choose your toppings from banana, strawberries, pecans, brown sugar, and low-fat milk for the nutrients provided above. Just be sure to skip the blueberry muffin that comes with it, as it will add another 460 calories and 33 grams of sugar.
Best: Avocado Toast
"Complete with whole grain artisan bread, fresh avocado, cage-free eggs, lemon, and herbs, the avocado toast is a great choice from the healthier side selections," says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES. "It is a balanced breakfast that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs to give your morning an energizing jumpstart," Berger adds.
Best: Smoked Salmon Benedict
The Smoked Salmon Benedict is a surprisingly lighter choice from the menu's Egg-sclusives section—poached eggs and hollandaise, complete with protein and omega-3-rich salmon and nutrient-rich tomatoes, onions, and greens (on the side), says Berger. The balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in this meal will leave you feeling full and satisfied for hours after you've eaten the last bite.
Best: Florentine Benedict
"The Florentine Benedict is a nutrient-rich, balanced breakfast that still feels special when going out for brunch," says Meggie Connelly MS, RD, LDN PCOS Dietitian & Culinary Nutritionist. "This dish will keep you full, satisfied, and energized with 21g protein, healthy fats from the avocado, lots of fiber from the veggies, and a moderate amount of carbs," says Connelly.
The Chichichanga has every breakfast food you'd want in one dish: eggs, chicken, chorizo, cheese, avocado, potatoes, and a warm tortilla. Unfortunately, it also comes with 145 percent of the daily value (DV) for sodium—about 1,000 milligrams more than you should have in an entire day!
Not only is it high in sodium, but it has a significant amount of fat, including 26 grams of saturated fat, or 130 percent DV.
Worst: Parma Hash
The parma hash could provide enough calories in one meal than some people eat in an entire day, as well as over 1,000 milligrams more sodium and 6 grams more saturated fat than is recommended. While it has fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients like crimini mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and eggs, the seasoned potatoes, Italian sausage, and three types of cheese make this dish one you may want to skip.
Omelets & fritattas
Best: Morning Market Veg Omelet
"The Morning Market Veg Omelet is a great breakfast selection to get in protein and vegetables," says Sarah Alsing, MS, RD of Delightfully Fueled. With vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, shallots, kale, and tomatoes, this dish provides fiber and a variety of micronutrients. "The eggs and goat cheese provide protein and fat to keep you satiated," says Alsing. This is one of the lower sodium options on the First Watch menu as well, with only 732 milligrams of sodium, as long as you skip the toast that comes with it.
Worst: Inspired Italian Omelet
The Inspired Italian Omelet is a high-protein option with eggs as well as Italian sausage, but the high amount of sodium should have you proceed with caution. With 84 percent DV of sodium in just the omelet alone, it will be difficult to stay on track for the rest of the day. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.89 million deaths each are associated with diets high in sodium. While a salty meal here or there isn't likely to cause harm in a healthy person, routinely eating high-sodium meals may have undesired health effects.
From the Griddle & Classic Favorites
Best: Belgian Waffle with Butter & Mixed Berry Compote
The Belgian Waffle is one of the healthiest griddle options that is still super satisfying. By skipping the syrup and slathering your waffle in mixed berry compote, you save 150 calories and 39 grams of sugar.
Worst: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
If you feel like eating dessert for breakfast, First Watch's lemon ricotta pancakes are precisely that. Two pancakes topped with whipped ricotta and loaded with berries, lemon curd, powdered sugar, and syrup add up to 92 grams of sugar, most of which is likely to be added sugars.
Not only does this breakfast go overboard on sweetness, but it will also add 1,630 milligrams of sodium to the first meal of the day, or 71 percent DV. While you may expect higher sodium in meals that include bacon or sausage, it sneaks into this excessively sweet breakfast.
Salads & Power Bowls
Best: Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl
"The Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl has 31 grams of protein from quinoa and lean chicken and is packed with veggies such as kale, tomatoes, and shredded carrots," says Lindsay Cohen, RDN, LDN, CDCES from ABC Nutrition Solutions. Not only does quinoa provide some of the protein and fiber of this dish, but it's also a good source of micronutrients like magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.
Worst: Sweet Honey Pecan Salad
It's hard to claim a salad loaded with greens, avocado, carrots, pecans, and tomatoes is the worst thing you could eat, but the Sweet Honey Pecan Salad is still the least healthy of the First Watch salad options. Leave off the honey dijon dressing, and you'll save yourself 41 grams of added sugar, making it a much healthier option. Get the dressing on the side and use half of it to get all the flavor while still having around 20 grams of added sugar!
Best: Market Veggie Sandwich
The Market Veggie Sandwich is a tasty way to get a serving or two of vegetables into your day, with plenty of roasted mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, and basil pesto sandwiched between two slices of whole grain bread. Even without meat, this sandwich packs an impressive 24 grams of protein to help you feel full and satisfied.
Worst: Roast Beef and Havarti
With roast beef, horseradish Havarti cheese, roasted onions, tomatoes, and arugula all pressed between two slices of parmesan-crusted sourdough, the Roast Beef and Havarti has too much sodium and saturated fat for us to recommend. Each sandwich has 125 percent DV sodium and 110 percent DV saturated fat. Diets high in saturated fat and sodium are associated with higher risks of heart disease and stroke, among other chronic health conditions.
Sides & Small Plates
Best: Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Fresh, seasonal fruit is a classic side option that can help you reach the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the number that studies have found related to a lower risk of early death. While this dish does have 16 grams of sugar, they're natural sugars found in fruit, not added sugars.
Best: Lemon Dressed Organic Mixed Greens
Choose this side dish for better brain power. A January 2018 study in Neurology found that eating one serving of leafy greens per day can help slow cognitive decline associated with aging. These greens have a flavorful lemon dressing and just 2 grams of sugar, making them a fresh and nourishing choice.
Worst: Million Dollar Bacon
In just four slices, the Million-Dollar Bacon has 20 grams of added sugar. "An excessive intake of sugar consumption leads to a higher risk of chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease," says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness. One serving also adds 17 percent DV of sodium and 20 percent DV of saturated fat.
Worst: Biscuits and Gravy
This side dish is too high in calories, fat, and sodium to fit in with an actual meal. With just this side alone, you're getting 58 percent DV of sodium and 60 percent DV of saturated fat.