Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
Best place to take a health nut to brunch
Easily the best healthy brunch option in town, Birchwood Cafe offers a locally sourced menu that includes vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free items. Meats and fish come from places like Red Table Meat Co. and Fischer Family Farms in the metro. Birchwood also changes their brunch offerings seasonally, so expect lots of root veggies in the winter and fresh fruits in the summer.
What to order: Gluten-free savory waffle (kale + quinoa waffle, lemon-rosemary butter, bacon lardons)
An unusual brunch menu with a Korean twist
The Payne-Phalen neighborhood has nothing quite like Cook, which may be a small enterprise, but one that infuses its dishes with major heart and creativity. Many of the dishes feature a Korean twist, a nod to the chef’s heritage. Things like gochu fruit (fruit with lime juice and Korean chili flakes) and K-Fries (with kimchi, cheese sauce, chiles, and sour cream) are menu items you won’t find anywhere else in town.
What to order: Chicken & a Cake (organic chicken wings tossed in gochu BBQ sauce on a pancake)
Literally serving Grandma’s comfort food classics
Named after the current owner’s grandmother, Hazel’s is a charming, no-fuss kitchen with big portions and old-fashioned service. Classic comfort food like hash, omelets, and egg sandwiches top the menu, along with the can’t-miss caramel pecan roll. Your own grandma would certainly approve.
What to order: Drunken Banana French Toast (rum-soaked raisins, pecans, homemade caramel sauce)
Colorful Latin spot brings the heat
This airy neighborhood cafe is known for its Venezuelan arepas (cornmeal sandwiches) filled with meat, cheese, and vegetables like Spanish sausage, queso fresco, and sweet plantains. If the bright aqua interior (inspired by the restaurant’s humble beginnings as a food truck) doesn’t wake you up, try the spicy Hola Bloody Mary.
What to order: Slow-roasted pork arepa (black beans, cotija cheese, special Hola sauce)
Bistro inspired by France's interwar period
This intimate French bistro tucked away in a small neighborhood does brunch with panache. Dishes manage to be elegant yet robust, like quiche with parsnip and butternut squash or tarts with caramelized onion and roasted mushroom. Breakfast cocktails with Champagne also shine, along with freshly made beignets and croissants.
What to order: Crepe (prosciutto, caramelized pear, gorgonzola, truffle emulsion)
All waffles, all the time
A longtime Como staple near the University of Minnesota, Black: Coffee and Waffle quietly opened a second location off Marshall Avenue two years ago and it’s been drawing UST and Macalester students ever since. If it’s coffee and carb-loading you’re looking for, they deliver with local Dogwood Coffee and malty waffles with your choice of toppings -- baked apples, berries, granola, and chocolate chips.
What to order: Fat Andrew (waffle with peanut butter, cinnamon, bananas)
Country cooking meets NoLo cool -- with whiskey
Best known as the new Western whiskey spot in town, Dalton & Wade also has a solid approach to brunch. Inside the space with giant cowboy murals and a light fixture made out of leather belts, you’ll find classics like honey fried chicken and cornbread, biscuits and gravy, and trout benedict.
What to order: Family-style brunch (cheesy scrambled eggs, smoked brisket, cherry-filled donut holes)
Made-from-scratch food in a space lined with Easy-Bake Ovens
The first thing you notice when walking into Lucky Oven is the highly Instagrammable wall of colorful vintage Easy-Bake Ovens. Despite this being the main draw for an initial visit, the carefully chosen menu served counter-style is equally irresistible -- think sourdough pancakes and a harissa hollandaise ham Benedict. The coffee program is run by local Kindly Coffee, which brews up some great stuff.
What to order: Brioche French toast (seasonal fruit compote, maple syrup)
Lakeside bistro and bakery
Bellecour (named after a town center in France) on Lake Minnetonka serves up bistro/bakery fare that’s worth the slight trek west. The bakery’s vanilla stuffed brioche is to-die-for, while the bistro’s croque madame and quiche Lorraine will almost make you believe you’re in Paris.
What to order: Fruits de der to share (oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster)
Chic carriage house features farm-to-stable cooking
Spoon and Stable is one of (if not THE) hardest table to score in town at dinner, but brunch is not to be overlooked either. Appropriately named after the horse stable the space once was, the morning menu is a farm-to-table adventure, featuring grilled vegetables, greens, and house-smoked bacon.
What to order: Red wine-poached eggs (wild mushrooms, seeded toast)
Neighborhood newcomer brings Argentinian eats
Recently taking over the space vacated by Upton 43, Martina is betting on making Argentinian brunch a thing. So far, it seems to be working. Favorites include a fried cod sandwich with spicy mayo and a crab Benedict with sea beans. You can also order chilled seafood for the table with shareable smoked salmon, oysters, and scallop ceviche. You never knew you wanted fish so badly at 10am.
What to order: Lobster toast (fried egg, tarragon, celery)
New coffee shop goes "Bold North" on brunch
Primarily a place to get your caffeine fix, the new Northern Coffeeworks also does an awesome brunch. The vibe is distinctly Minnesotan, with a Cabin Breakfast and Olive, MN Salad (get it?) on the menu. Recently, they paired with a DJ called “DJ Stepmom” to host live tunes at brunch, dubbed “Toast and Jams.” We think Northern is quickly navigating its way to brunch success.
What to order: Church Basement Ham (garlic confit butter, bread and butter pickles)
Restored diner car is a blast from the past
Hi-Lo delivers exactly what you’d expect from a classic diner at brunch: strong coffee, big portions, and an unmistakable nod to nostalgia.The car itself was painstakingly restored from its 1950s glory days and brought to serve hungry East Lake Street patrons, and attention to detail trickles down to Hi-Lo’s menu as well. They’ve pioneered something special called a “Hi-Top”- fried pastry dough topped with savory and sweet ingredients.
What to order: Gary Cooper Hi-Top (fried chicken, maple-bourbon syrup, gravy)
Saint Anthony Main
Restaurant Alma's cheaper, more casual sister site
Prix-fixe restaurant Alma is known for its delectable dinners, but Cafe Alma offers carefully chosen food as well -- at a lower price point. The bright space has an in-house bakery/coffee counter during the week and table service for weekend brunch. Expect great egg bakes, homemade granola mixes, and sandwiches on fresh brioche.
What to order: Spicy Turkey Burger (jack, hot sauce, pickled onion)
Community cooking space does brunch on the cheap
The Lynhall is part cafe, part event space, and part cooking studio, and it’s very likely you could catch a commercial shoot in the state-of-the-art test kitchen while on a cold brew run. But, sitting down to brunch is even better; while everything on the menu is good, the Brunch Bundle is the way to go. It includes a coffee, apple mimosa, pastry, and entree for just $25.
What to order: The Brunch Bundle, duh (see above)
For those who love reading and brunch bánh mì
Perusing Book Club’s brunch menu counts as reading, right? As you sit down, you’ll find that it's creatively divided into sections like "prologue," "in the margins," and "epilogue." Standouts include a bacon and egg bánh mì, vanilla custard French toast, and porchetta eggs Benedict. Take a moment to scour the vintage cookbooks around the room, or bring along a book of your own.
What to order: Bacon and egg bánh mì (Thai mayo, pickled carrot, daikon)
A quick, kid-friendly spot with our best bagels
With Downtown sorely lacking solid bagel shops, Rise’s opening was a big deal. Not only do they serve organic bagels and spreads, they also have sandwiches and open-faced options. The space is extremely kid-friendly while also catering to adults who don’t want to give up things like lox and lemon-blueberry cream cheese.
What to order: Pop Art (plain bagel, buttercream frosting, strawberry jam, sprinkles) for the kids, Artisan (organic egg, bacon, havarti, rosemary butter) for you
St. Paul landmark does legendary brunch
The Lexington (“Lex,” for those in the know,) has been a St. Paul staple since just after the end of Prohibition, but a recent renovation has it back on the map and better than ever. Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve been coming for (perhaps literally) ages, you’ll find a decadent brunch and a kind of hospitality that harkens back to a simpler time.
What to order: Hot Beef Commercial (wagyu beef, mashed potatoes, beef fat gravy)
Dayton brothers’ brightly lit NoLo nosh spot
When the popular Nordic Bachelor Farmer restaurant expanded next door to create an equally Snap-worthy cafe, there wasn’t an open seat to be scored. Similar to its older brother, TBF Cafe uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients that honor our state’s culture and heritage. While brunch bites are small and simple, they’re thoughtfully executed.
What to order: Open sandwich (cheese, salt-roasted beet, hazelnut, honey)
Skyway stop for delicious donuts
Sweeten your weekend with a stop at Cardigan for the most buzzed-about donuts in town. From classic crullers to premium donuts like the Blackeye (made with Blackeye coffee,) we believe any assortment of Cardigan's donuts is considered brunch if you believe in yourself.
What to order: Donut of the Week (upcoming: Banana Buttercrunch)