The Freshest New Takes on Avocado Toast

While many cafes keep it simple, others are taking this instant classic to mischievous new levels of artistry. Here’s where to find the most-creative versions of avocado toast from coast to coast.

Photo By: Vincent Ventura

Photo By: Katie June Burton

Photo By: Fiamma Piacentini

Grilled Cheese Avocado Toast at Little Donkey, Cambridge, Massachusetts

At this hip Central Square all-day cafe, chef duo Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer pump out inventive, globally inspired small plates. Guests sip creative cocktails while noshing on dishes like black pepper popovers with steak tartare and spicy Thai street noodles. The grilled cheese avocado toast is a perfect mashup of the childhood sandwich and the adult brunch favorite. Comté, Gruyere and sauerkraut are sandwiched between thick-cut, grilled sourdough, then smothered with smashed avocado, pickled vegetables and cilantro. You could attempt to eat this thing with your hands, but chances are you’ll need a bib if you don’t want to resemble a toddler.

Tofu Toast at Dove's Luncheonette, Chicago

This Tex-Mex diner by the One Off Hospitality team (the folks behind Publican, Blackbird and other Chicago hotspots) serves a homey mix of Southern-inspired Mexican fare, ranging from blueberry quinoa pancakes to a country ham tamal. One of the most-popular picks is the seasonally changing avocado toast. Always set atop Publican Quality Bread (made from local and sustainably sourced flours), past avo toasts have included one with beet-cured trout with jicama and cilantro and another with strawberry, pumpkin seed oil, arugula, mint and crispy quinoa. The spring 2018 iteration offered a protein-packed punch with locally made, non-GMO tofu, fried tempura style, as well as arugula, jicama, onions, pepitas and a sweet and spicy habanero-citrus glaze. Even tofu haters can get on that train.

Farro Bread Toast at Slab Sandwiches and Pie, Seattle

Swapping out all-purpose flour for nutty, sweet farro, James Beard Award winner John Sundstrom gives his avocado toast an heirloom twist at this casual sandwich-and-pie shop. His Farro Bread Toast is topped with smashed avocado, sweet and spicy tomato ginger jam, frisee and the option of crispy chicken skin. Set right in the midst of Seattle’s Capitol Hill’s Pike-Pine corridor, this laid-back sibling to upscale Lark Restaurant has become a lunch go-to. The food here is so good that you’ll want to strategize: Go light with the avo-topped farro toast and save room for a rectangular slab of chocolate and smoked marshmallow pie. A light lunch will cancel out dessert, right?

Avocado Toast at Hinoki & the Bird, Los Angeles

"Growing up, my mother would feed me half an avocado with soy sauce poured in the middle, so I wanted to incorporate the flavor profile into the avocado toast," says Hinoki & the Bird chef Brandon Kida. It seems he pulled it off in his unique avocado toast with hijiki and pickled shallots. The hijiki, a seaweed that’s simmered in dashi and soy until tender, amplifies the flavor that Kida was trying to mimic, while the pickled shallots incorporate acid and texture. Those flavorful, crunchy toppings are sprinkled on avocado mashed with salt and lime juice, piled atop fresh buckwheat bread that’s made in-house by Hinoki’s talented baker.

Avocado Parfait at Jane Q, Los Angeles

Eat your avocado toast with a spoon at this sunny all-day Hollywood cafe. The creative folks behind this California-Mediterranean restaurant, set in the base of the Kimpton Everly Hotel, reimagined the classic open-face half sandwich with a fun avocado parfait. Chef Bryan Podgorski layers creamy avocado puree with Straus yogurt and cucumber in a rocks glass. Seeking the usual carbs? You'll be glad to know that this refreshing glass of summer comes with a side of housemade focaccia soldiers for dipping or spreading — or eating however your avocado-loving little heart desires.

This Is Not an Avocado at Teleferic Barcelona, Walnut Creek, California

The American outpost of the Spanish original, this high-end East Bay restaurant offers elevated tapas and pintxos inspired by Barcelona's modernist cuisine. With the chefs here following in the footsteps of their Basque Country predecessors, you'll find elaborate, mind-bending dishes that take familiar ingredients and dishes and turn them completely upside down and inside out. An ideal illustration is This Is Not an Avocado, which emulates an avocado with black bread dyed with denti (a natural coloring derived from eggplant skin) and shaped to look like the tropical fruit. That oblong toast is filled with avocado cream, Norwegian salmon tartare, lemon and radish skin. It's basically edible magic.

Smoked Avocado Toast, Coco & Cru, New York

Taking his cues from the land down under, downtown New York City restaurateur Adam Elzer (Sauce Restaurant and LES Pizza) opened this Australian-influenced all-day cafe back in 2016. The place is known for its lively selection of fresh eggs, sandwiches, grain bowls and more. Its smoked avocado toast evokes images of sitting around an outback campfire, due to the salty addition of smoked mozzarella cheese. This sultry toast combines that smoke-kissed cheese with pumpkin seeds, freshly dressed greens and cherry tomatoes laid atop fresh avocado on toasted sourdough bread and accompanied by a lime wedge.

Charred Hass Avocado Toast at Union Restaurant, Pasadena, California

Season 15 Top Chef contestant Bruce Kalman made a name for himself at Union with his seasonal Italian-meets-California fare. Kalman has since moved on, yet Angelenos will still brave the eastbound traffic — about the greatest form of praise one can get in Southern California — to Old Town Pasadena for a taste of Union's to-die-for porchetta. The upscale yet unpretentious restaurant is best known for that juicy pork and freshly made pastas, but being the good California place that it is, it also does an excellent avocado toast. Its version features charred fruit laid atop chewy fresh bread with red pepper romesco sauce, Egyptian dukkah seasoning, pine nuts and pickled Fresno chile. Talk about Mediterranean meets Golden State on a plate.

Everything Bagel Avocado Toast at Vital Root, Denver

Chef and restaurateur Justin Cucci, owner of Root Down, offers his vibrant style of farm-fresh New American cuisine at this all-day cafe in the Berkeley neighborhood. The place consistently ranks as one of Denver' s best picks for vegetarians and health-conscious diners. Both love the everything bagel avocado toast. A toasted slice of protein-enriched sunflower seed bread is covered with creamy avocado spread, layered with housemade everything bagel mix, crushed smoked almonds, fried chickpeas and fried egg (for those who do eat animal products), and topped with a drizzle of Electric Lime hot sauce and a sprinkling of watermelon radish and microgreens.

Avocado Toast at Red Herring, Los Angeles

Chef Dave Woodall realized he needed a light, vegetarian dish for his brunch service, so he decided to follow "the hipster’s manna," he says, with a flavorful avo toast served on ciabatta bread. An interpretation of the classic green canape, Red Herring’s dish focuses on contrasting flavors and textures. Heirloom tomatoes and pickled chiles provide a kick of acid and a touch of heat. Fried shallots offer some richness, crunch and nutty sweetness. Fresh herbs bring some brightness and a nice perfume, and smoked, cured egg yolk adds some umami notes with a texture somewhat like grated cheese. "I never planned to leave it on the menu," says Woodall of this creation. "But people like it, so it stays."

Avocado Toast Ice Cream Sandwich at Dominique Ansel Bakery, Los Angeles

When pastry virtuoso Dominique Ansel, creator of the now seemingly omnipresent doughnut-croissant hybrid the Cronut, opened up his shop in California, he knew he wanted to incorporate the official state fruit into some sort of sweet treat. The result of that dream is a highly Instagrammable avocado toast ice cream sandwich. Avocado-olive oil ice cream is fanned into a rosette atop a layer of ricotta-mascarpone ice cream, which is spread across a buttery shortbread biscuit base. The whole thing is finished with fresh dragon fruit, dried raspberries, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. It looks just like the original dish, but it’s definitely a sweet surprise when you bite into it.

Avocado Crostini at Biella Ristorante, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

Right near the shores of Sunny Isles, this elegant Italian restaurant blends upscale Mediterranean fare with a taste of lively South Florida. Its playful menu is home to housemade pastas, imported seafood and assorted caviars served with bomboline (Italian-style doughnuts). Following the whimsical "motherland meets U.S." theme, it serves an excellent avocado crostini, a fun Italian twist on avocado toast. This sophisticated appetizer combines creamy avocado with charred corn, goat cheese and dots of briny rainbow-trout caviar on top of toasted multigrain bread.

Quail Egg Avocado Toast at Fig & Olive, Multiple Locations

With six upscale locations of Fig & Olive spread across the U.S., in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Chicago, Houston, D.C. and New York, lovers of Mediterranean fare need not venture far to snag a bite of Chef Timothy Hughes’ olive oil-infused Mediterranean cuisine. (Bottles of that liquid gold are available for purchase on the way out the door.) His spin on avocado toast gets an elegant infusion of French Riviera flair with hard-boiled quail eggs, radish, spiced heirloom tomatoes, lemon zest and olive dust atop toasted whole-grain bread. While the dish certainly is primed for Instagram, it’s all about flavor. Those delicate quail eggs aren't just cute; they provide an extra dose of protein without overpowering the creamy avocado.

Stuffed Avocado at Vedge, Philadelphia

Topping the plant-based bucket list for vegans across the U.S., this Philadelphia restaurant has been hailed by critics for its meat-free cuisine. Husband-and-wife team Kate Jacoby and Richard Landau are known for spotlighting local produce and using progressive techniques that are most often seen in meat dishes, so it makes sense that they would have an impressive and innovative interpretation of America’s favorite meat-free dish. Their stuffed avocado is elegantly composed, with a nut- and red pepper-based romesco sauce layered with "fried rice" made from Vietnamese flat rice noodles fried into a puffy chip, half an avocado stuffed with pickled cauliflower, and a pinch of black salt.

Avocado Nigiri at Uchiba, Dallas

Sub out the bread for a pat of vinegared sushi rice and you have yourself a Japanese-infused riff on avocado toast. That’s what you’ll find at James Beard Award winner Tyson Cole’s Uchiba, the casual sister spot to his Dallas restaurant Uchi, one of the best sushi places in the entire Lone Star State. Carefully selected avocados, handpicked for the perfect texture, are thinly sliced with just as much precision as a fine bluefin tuna would be. The individual pieces are shingled over expertly prepared pillows of sushi rice, then the avocado is lightly brushed with aged tamari. The whole bundle is wrapped with a small nori belt and accented with homemade yuzu kosho, a paste made from citrus and Thai chile, bringing a bold pop of acid and spice.

Avocado Toast Cocktail at L Bar at the Seminole Hard Rock, Hollywood, Florida

Culinary cocktails have reached soaring new heights over the past few years. Who hasn’t seen videos of those Bloody Marys stacked with cheeseburgers, shrimp, even entire snow crab legs? L Bar at the Seminole Hard Rock has taken its culinary-inspired cocktails in a different direction. Rather than creating a meal in a drink, it features less literal food interpretations in adult beverages like the beloved Avocado Toast, which combines Don Julio Blanco tequila with Cointreau, fresh lemon and lime, sage, avocado and agave in a sweet and savory riff on the inescapable menu item.

Fried Avocado Tacos at Hello Betty Fish House, Oceanside, California

Avocado toast is a California staple. So are fish tacos. The two are mashed up into one deep-fried wonder at Oceanside’s Hello Betty Fish House. The restaurant’s fried avocado tacos could be considered either a vegetarian riff on the fish taco or a Mexican-inspired take on avocado toast. Whatever you want to call it, Chef Jared Hills' dish is fantastic. He batters ripe slices of avocado to fry until golden. The creamy, crisp hunks of fruit are wrapped in chewy corn tortillas and topped off with cabbage, crema, salsa and a side of limes.

Avo Toast Bowl at BeefSteak, Washington, D.C.

Chef José Andrés is internationally acclaimed for his high-end modern Spanish cuisine, humanitarian campaigns and activism regarding to food insecurity. His fast-casual concept at BeefSteak highlights farm-fresh produce in deeply satisfying dishes such as his Avo Toast Bowl. Mixing salad and sandwich together in a healthy combination, this dish features bite-sized chunks of toasted brioche mixed with avocado, pickled onions, sprouts and asparagus dressed with extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar accented with pimenton, black pepper and corn nuts. Though this plant-based dish is certainly filling on its own, an optional poached egg adds another layer of gooey deliciousness.

Burrata Dream at Avocaderia, New York

You know a food has made it big when it can support an entire restaurant. Well, avocado has officially arrived: Avocaderia is the world’s first avocado bar. The Shark Tank-backed concept serves only dishes boldly featuring the verdant fruit. It’s been so successful since debuting in Brooklyn last year that founder Alessandro Biggi has already opened a second location — and is planning to go nationwide ASAP. To celebrate the latest outpost at Terminal Stores, Chelsea, Avocaderia released the Burrata Dream: multigrain bread topped with an avocado rose, creamy burrata cheese, green peas, mint spread and pistachio dukkah spice blend with a sprinkling of olive oil and black pepper.

Uni Tostada at Cosme, New York

This extremely upscale Mexican take on avocado toast comes in the form of a seafood-crowned tortilla served at one of the "World’s 50 Best Restaurants." Cosme Chef de Cuisine Daniela Soto-Innes starts this dish with a tostada housemade with blue chalqueno corn. It’s fried, then topped with bone marrow salsa (an emulsion of caramelized onions and habanero chile finished a la minute with lime juice), cucumber, sliced avocado and, like the icing on the very pricey cake, uni. This decadent dish may be a long way off from your typical cafe avo toast — and it certainly costs a heck of a lot more — but it’s the gourmet dish of dreams for gourmands who love creamy avocado on a breadlike base.

Sweet Potato Avocado Toast at Seamore's, New York

Meatball Shop founder Michael Chernow’s breezy Hamptons-inspired restaurant is best known for its sustainable-seafood selections. But this quickly expanding restaurant with five locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn also does a mean — and nutritious — avocado toast. Chernow swaps out the bread for toasted sweet potato, topping the beta carotene-rich root with avocado smash, puffed teff, apple cider vinegar-pickled onions and everything bagel seasoning. Make sure to call ahead if you want a taste of this salubrious snack, which is regularly offered at multiple Seamore’s locations as a rotating special.

Avocatoast at SkinnyFATS, Las Vegas

Iced tea junkie Reed Allen Slobusky decided to take matters into his own hands when his favorite deli, right next to his office, shuttered its doors. He opened SkinnyFATS so that he could get his favorite beverage within walking distance. That wellness-focused concept has since become one of the hottest fast-casual restaurants in Vegas, offering a mix of indulgent "happy" dishes as well as "healthy" alternatives. The Avocatoast falls into the latter category. Set on nine-grain toast, this nutrient-rich dish gets its bold flavor from herbal pesto, briny feta, sweet roasted tomato and luxurious-feeling fried egg.

Barba-cado at LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, Austin, Texas

Known for overlooking Hill Country barbecue norms, this new-school barbecue truck is hailed by some and reviled by purists for its out-of-the-box selection of smoked meats. The menu features an array of cuts that you won't find at most Austin 'cue spots — things like beef cheeks, al pastor and mac-and-cheese-stuffed quail — as well as interesting sides like kale slaw and barbecue fried rice. One of the most-popular dishes on the menu is the Barba-cado, an avocado stuffed to the brim with barbacoa, queso fresco, cilantro, diced white onion and Mexican crema. Following in the footsteps of its toasty brethren, this hunk of meat-stuffed fruit comes with a Martin's potato roll.

Avocado Toast at Sweet Jon's Cafe by Revelator, Homewood, Alabama

This plant-forward all-day cafe in Birmingham’s charming and historic Homewood neighborhood was opened in February 2018 by the owners of hip roaster Revelator Coffee Company. Executive Chef Joshua Blackwell serves straightforward, healthy breakfasts (think rice bowls and acorn biscuits) followed by Southern-inspired lunch and dinner fare. His simple but super-flavorful rotating avocado toast highlights Blackwell’s seasonally influenced style. Housemade vegan "pain faux lait" bread is currently topped with sliced avocado and toasted pine nut and cranberry pesto, accented with a Greek yogurt herb sauce and a sunny-side-up farm egg. The toppings do change according to what’s available — and tasty — but this fun avo toast is always available in vegan form.

Seeded Toast at Boiler Nine Bar and Grill, Austin, Texas

This sprawling four-level industrial restaurant, rooftop bar and underground cocktail lounge gets its title from its locale: It’s set inside (and outside) boiler nine of Austin's old Seaham Power Plant. The place is known for its wood-fired fare and inventive cocktail menu; however, the Seeded Toast is definitely worth trying for brunch. This vegetarian and gluten-free take on the traditional avocado toast starts with the seeded bread made from crushed Marcona almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, chia seeds, psyllium husk powder and gluten-free oats. That salubrious base is topped with a creamy avocado spread, pickled red onions and feta locally sourced from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

The Avodada at Locali, Los Angeles

A tribute to the early 20th-century European art movement Dadaism, The Avodada toast gets its punny title from "the seemingly avant-garde, incongruous combination of ingredients that work together in a sublime way," says Locali co-founder Melissa Rose. The healthy dish infused with tropical flavor starts with a choice of artisan multigrain or gluten-free bread as the base, lathered with a layer of mango chutney. Spicy avocado mash is placed atop that sweet and earthy jam, and the whole thing is sprinkled with healthy hemp seeds. It's unlikely that those famed revolutionary artists were eating this toast with all these far-flung ingredients, but this experimental combination sure is inspiring for avo-toast fanatics.

Crab and Avocado Toast at TRACE, Austin, Texas

TRACE at W Austin boasts a minimalist concrete-and-steel dining room, comfortable sidewalk seating and a creative New American menu that highlights regionally sourced meats and produce. This sleek 2nd Street District restaurant also serves elegant yet innovative dishes throughout the day, like the excellent crab and avocado toast that’s featured during weekend brunch. Avocado, lump crab, tarragon, mint, grapefruit and shaved chiles are piled atop a semolina batard, creating a perfect dish to enjoy alfresco with some sort of bubbly adult beverage while nodding along to the tunes one of the local DJs is playing in the background.

Spicy Tuna Avocado Toast at Rosaline, West Hollywood, California

No one would be surprised to hear that one of LA’s hottest restaurants boasts an avocado toast, but you might raise an eyebrow if you heard that dish was represented through the lens of Peruvian Nikkei cuisine. Acclaimed chef Ricardo Zarate has been spreading the gospel of Nikkei, a fusion of traditional Peruvian and Japanese fare melded together by Japanese immigrants who moved to South America. At his buzzy West Hollywood restaurant Rosaliné, he blends the style even further with a bit of California thrown into the mix for his spicy tuna avocado toast, a combination of spicy tuna, avocado mousse and yuzu aioli layered atop crispy quinoa bread.

Avocado Bruschetta at Cork Wine Bar & Market, Washington, D.C.

A wine bar isn’t the first place that would come to mind while on the hunt for avo toast. Nevertheless, Cork Wine Bar & Market’s simple yet otherworldly rendition, served at brunch and dinner, has been hailed as one of D.C.’s best versions. Avocado is paired with pistachios, toasted pistachio oil and sea salt on warm grilled bread, creating a savory, slightly sweet and mildly nutty version of the classic. It’s soft and elegant, perfect for the day-to-night transition, and, unlike bolder, more citrusy representations, it's meant to be paired with wine. Cork has an impressive selection of wines by the glass, so you can find your best avocado match.

Avocado Toast at Sqirl, Los Angeles

Sqirl's Jessica Koslow is considered a breakfast genius. She is largely credited as the chef who turned breakfast bowls, daytime cafes and toasts into international trends. Nearly every food lover who visits LA makes the pilgrimage to her tiny Silver Lake cafe. Her avocado toast is visually stunning and packs a flavorful punch. Locally sourced JJ's Avocados are spread atop a green garlic creme fraiche on a piece of hearty toast, and adorned with hot pickled carrots, wood sorrel and house za'atar. Cheerful dishes like this one are the reason the line to get into this breakfast-and-lunch shop always stretches around the block.

Truffled Avocado Toast at Green Bar & Kitchen, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

South Florida’s premier plant-based lunch place has been spreading the joys of meat-free cuisine throughout the region for the past several years. The dishes on the menu contain absolutely no animal products, and many — even some pastries — are gluten-free, such as the umami-laden avocado toast. Gluten-free millet-and-flax toast is covered with a rich combination of avocado, cashew cream truffle dressing, sunflower sprouts and pink peppercorns. It’s pretty darn pretty, and it loads on the flavor, which is exactly the goal of founders Charles Grippo and Elena Pezzo, who have said, "We were letting people know that plant-based foods do not have to taste bland and boring." Mission accomplished.

Sweet Halloumi Avocado Toast at Bondi Harvest, Santa Monica, California

Straight from Sydney, Bondi Harvest brings a taste of Aussie surf life to Santa Monica with healthy dishes, fresh-pressed juices and a solid selection of coffees including a top-notch flat white. It should come as no surprise that Australia’s greatest export — avocado toast — is served in a couple of different forms. The one to get is the Sweet Halloumi Avocado Toast. Thick-cut toasted sourdough bread is coated with creamy smashed avocado, topped with slightly briny and sweetly caramelized halloumi cheese, drizzled with raw honey and finished with a dukkah spice blend and a dash of lemon. This recipe is such a hit for the restaurant that it's been featured on its Bondi Harvest TV show back in Australia and appears in its new cookbook, Balance.

Smoked Salmon Belly & Avocado Toast at BlueFin, Portland, Maine

Celebrating Maine’s long ties to the surrounding seas, BlueFin at the Portland Harbor Hotel bows down to the bounty of the North Atlantic. Executive Chef Tim Labonte, a native Mainer, uses that pristine local seafood in creative, unexpected ways. For an example, you need look no further than the Smoked Salmon Belly & Avocado Toast. Succulent salmon belly is smoked into bacon and stacked on a pile of fruity and spicy aji amarillo, whipped avocado and a layer of Parmesan-crusted multigrain toast. Available for lunch and dinner, this unique dish comes in two different presentations: a more casual lunch version and a fancier dinner spread.

Avocado Ale at Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles

Beer is made from grain; one could argue it's the liquid form of bread. So, while it' s not exactly a take on avocado toast, Angel City Brewery' s Avocado Ale basically fits the mold. This Kolsch-style ale has a German ale yeast as a base, to give it a bright flavor and to balance out the nutty richness of the avocado. This fruity brew gets a sweet dose of avocado honey during the first step of the brewing process, followed by a mix of cilantro puree, lime juice, garlic and onion powder and a whopping 70 pounds of avocado during the next round, cold conditioning. The end result is a light, crisp ale with a creamy and refreshing, guacamole-inspired finish. The first time this brew hit kegs, it got such an enthusiastic reception from local beer geeks that the brewery decided to give it its own dedicated Avocado Fest to celebrate its release every August.