Feast Like Harry Potter at this Pop-Up Brunch
The Mile High City is packed with so many top-notch brunch-only concepts, the town exports its best stuff to other grateful cities (ask San Diego, Phoenix, and Austin how they like Snooze). Jelly's got a fun vibe all its own -- with old-school cereal boxes lining the walls and decadent donut bites putting it a mile high above the rest (see what we did there?!), and which come in a number of savory and sweet flavors. You're going to order the maple bacon flavor. No big deal, but they're basically the best donuts money can buy in the city. But because 12 donut bites and a cup of coffee don't exactly make a complete breakfast, mix and match a plate of these three adorably tiny breakfast sliders: mini-goat cheese frittata with bacon, a mini-sausage frittata and Swiss, and a mini-bacon and onion frittata with cheddar. And since this is in Denver, after all, you can always order hash. Like the red flannel hash, a hearty warm-you-up-from-the-inside dish with beets, bacon, and a whole lotta red and sweet potatoes. What'd you think we meant?
Brunch is only served on Sundays at Silo -- a modern American bistro nevertheless outfitted with tables and chairs by a Tennessee-based Amish craftsman -- for a mere four hours. And it's so damn good, those four hours are all it needs to crush the brunch competition. Just order the blistering hot chicken sliders: The poultry is brushed with a sauce spiked with both habanero and ghost peppers, an amped-up take on the Nashville-style brunch treat. And because not everything you eat in the morning should burn a hole in your stomach lining, pair it with the flaky house-made buttermilk biscuit beignets, a delightful mutant combination of Southern pastry treats. Oh, and they're just $5. For a place that's only serving brunch 208 hours a year, that's a lot of wonder to digest.
Coral Gables, Florida
The allure of the go-for-broke brunch buffet is a siren song for gluttons and zombified hangover victims alike, and while it often delivers on the quantity end of the bargain, it rarely is quality. If you're going to hit one in your life, for the love of God don't do it in Vegas. Surrender -- as many have over the place's 80-year reign -- to the Biltmore. The place's over-the-top opulence is a draw (why yes, you are eating brunch next to a gorgeous fountain), sure, but the fact that the food is also top-tier puts it in bucket list territory. Since there are so many dang options for you to choose from, there is only one correct way to eat and drink your way through this food maze. First step: Drink as many glasses of Champagne as you please. Second: Eat as many Alaskan king crab legs, cut-on-request lamb, and caviar as your stomach allows. Third: Dip fruit in its grand chocolate fondue fountain. Fourth: Bake in the sun poolside at one of the largest (and best!) pools in the entire USA. Fifth: Go back for a made-to-order omelet. Sixth: Drink more Champagne. And then repeat. Pro tip: Make sure that if you go for a swim, you wait at least a half-hour. Don't make us call your mom.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Jazz isn't just Will Smith's sidekick: It's also a form of music popularized in New Orleans! And Arnaud's is one of the more unique, old-school spots to enjoy said music while eating your first meal of the day. And we do mean old-school -- it opened in 1918 and has the stately white tablecloths and fancy chandeliers to prove it. Families have been going there for so long that they have dedicated waiters and regular tables. While the three-piece jazz band plays upbeat tunes over the course of the 4.5-hour brunch, the food is an essential part of the experience. You're locked into a four-course prix fixe menu, but you won't mind. If you know what's good for you, for the first course, it's the signature shrimp Arnaud, which is boiled shrimp with a tangy, delicious remoulade. Then you'll order a salad -- look, you're locked into this selection as part of the four courses, so just go with it! For the third course, ask for the eggs Sardou, which are poached eggs with artichoke and creamed baby spinach. And for the last course, ask for the crazy-decadent bananas Foster for two -- they prepare it tableside with a pan and a burner and everything, so you also get a free show! Don't forget to dress up before you show up -- this place is fancy (remember the chandeliers and white tablecloths from earlier?), so all dudes must wear a collared shirt, lest they get tossed out by Uncle Phil... er, asked to change.
Long before Logan Square evolved into the "it" dining neighborhood in Chicago, there was Lula Cafe, humbly pushing the whole fresh-ingredient, farm-to-table thing before they became overwrought, frequently misused buzzwords. Sixteen years later Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds' offspring remains the anchor of the neighborhood, and at no time is that standing more evident than weekend brunch, which remains perpetually buzzing even with a 2011 expansion into a vacated dry cleaner next door. But unlike some interminable brunch lines, the wait always feels like it's worth it, whether you're digging into the seasonally appointed breakfast sandwich (currently a sunny-side egg-laden pork loin with kale, 'nduja vinaigrette, and winter squash mostarda) or something on the sweeter end of the spectrum like pumpkin bread French toast with pear, candied walnuts, and orange-brandy pastry cream. Yep, the wait is definitely worth it. It always is.
San Francisco, California
In many ways, SF's Outer Sunset neighborhood is another town unto itself, a beach community featuring people wearing turquoise board shorts that looks and feels more like Southern California than any other part of San Francisco. But nestled in this relatively nondescript SoCal enclave sits a restaurant that makes the tech-nerdy food-obsessed rest of SF aggressively swoon and line up for hours on the weekends. Outerlands' brunch isn't quite as insane a scene as other SF favorite Zazie (as far as we know, Adele has never brunched in the Sunset) but the food from Yoni Levy and pastry chef Brooke Mosley is better: the savory-style Dutch pancake with bacon and house-made ricotta is a must-order, as is the pork pozole, eggs in jail, and literally any pastries that Mosley makes. We once had a glazed donut that was so good we tripped over a guy down the block waxing his surfboard, which -- now that we think about it -- is just about the most Outer Sunset thing to ever happen.
Housed between a bar and an organic grocery across the street from a record store (because you're in Portland), this tiny counter-service place feels like it could have landed in the Pacific NW after a tornado hit the heartland. The counter where you order after an inevitable line is stocked with Mason jars of pickles and display cases of pies, leading to an open kitchen where you'd half expect to see grannies running coffee. Only here, that fresh-baked heartland cookin' is served with a (slightly hippie) chef's touch and much better coffee… though it would sure be nice if they called you "hon" when they did refills. Think deeply satisfying corn cakes and fresh-baked rye to go along with the mellow smoked trout. Hell, even the granola's made in-house. Everything's fantastic, but do not -- ABSOLUTELY DO NOT -- skip the honey pie, a slice of sticky-sweet bliss on a flaky crust that has managed in a few short years to achieve a legendary status that most Southern grandmothers could only hope for.
Plopped in the middle of the quiet mid-Michigan town of Fenton -- between Ann Arbor and Flint (yes, they've heard your water jokes) -- The Laundry takes its Parisian influences very seriously. The sunny, checkerboard-floored cafe and its hedge-lined patio houses everyone from Fenton's resident old-guard seniors to the young families and out-of-towners hungry for some destination dining in the hamlet. They all find common ground in their appetite for decadent stacks of bacon & Brie pancakes, cheddar grit porridge with thick applewood-smoked ham steaks, and a bacon/cheddar/egg breakfast pizza that begs the question of why people would ever consider a cold slice for breakfast. Such is the reputation that the owners opened up a huge bakery, Crust, a few blocks away, but the original location -- which supplements that brunch with a 100-deep cocktail selection -- remains one of the best reasons to visit the city.
You should always trust a chef who's willing to serve you a bisected pig's head at an upscale restaurant, which is exactly what Jonathon Sawyer does at Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern, perhaps Downtown Cleveland's most adventurous restaurant. Which is to say, brunch is interesting. That pig head (well, half of it) is served roasted and ready to pick apart, piled with fried eggs at brunch. But maybe it's too early to have your meal looking back at you. In that case, hit a fat stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with lemon whipped cream and local maple syrup trees. Or house-smoked bacon (pig's kind of a big deal here) and a hot take on biscuits and gravy with a pile of house-made bucatini pasta, or Tabasco-spiked chicken & waffles that tempers the spice with ultra-sweet syrup and house-churned butter. Oh, hell, just plain old steak & eggs here gets elevated, with the Ohio-bred Angus paired with potato hash and a rich redeye ham gravy. That's right, even the beef has pork components. Just go with it.
A relative newcomer to brunch-crazy Austin, it took all of a year for chef Joe Anguiano's Spanish- and French-inflected take on "New American" to become an institution (that'll happen when you roll out squeezable hamachi pipettes). But brunch offers up a challenge in that you simply can't eat every single thing on the menu. We recommend the crab Benedict, a take on the classic that pairs butter-poached crab with a soft-boiled egg, hollandaise, prosciutto, and a popover. Or the decadent olive oil pancakes topped with fig & walnut butter and maple syrup (yes, you should get seared foie gras instead of bacon). Don't skimp on the Bloody, a classic served with a little shot of hot sauce and a Lone Star chaser, because dammit, you're in Texas. Portions, too, are Texas-sized, so if you want to try a bit of everything (and you should), definitely come with a group.
Chef Cedric Maupillier might be French, but when you're serving the best damned brunch in perhaps the world's biggest political hub, you don't stick to one country's cuisine. And so you can get a knicker-expanding English breakfast with plump grilled tomatoes, baked beans, seared ham, fried eggs, and toasties, as God and queen intended. Or down-home classics like shrimp & grits -- piled into a little pot full of ham and cheddar, served with a biscuit for dipping into the poached egg -- or crispy chicken & waffles covered in a thick sausage gravy that will forever render the diner classic obsolete in other joints. Or just a traditional chef's choice cheese plate. It's basically a chance to play the brunch version of Model UN.
If you're in Buffalo, Wyoming you're either lost or wandering off the interstates. Either way, you're hungry. Luckily, the little Rockwellian western town is home to the Busy Bee, a brick-walled, riverside, old-timey cafe tacked onto the side of the iconic Occidental Hotel. Since 1927, it's been slinging hearty takes on brunch (was brunch even a thing in the '20s?), but lest that put us into “we’re including this for nostalgia’s sake” territory, rest assured that BB could hold its own among big-city joints. Highlights of the comfort-driven menu include a Texas-sized chicken fried steak made with locally sourced meat (a huge benefit of cattle ranches being your neighbors) that's pounded flat and fried golden, but the real move is the Occidental French toast, a cinnamon roll the size of a prairie dog (you're in Wyoming, go with that comparison!) dipped in batter, fried, soaked in maple syrup, and perhaps designed to get you to stay in the hotel after you’re done.
It takes a special type of restaurant to make our Best New Restaurants in America rundown and only serve breakfast and lunch. But Chef Jonathan Brooks is doing just that in a former garage space in Indy, and it's because of the Dutch, baby. Sorry, it's because of the place's ever-changing take on the brunch dish known as the Dutch baby pancake -- right now it's served with local pears, honey almond yogurt, caramel corn, and puffed rice. Other times of the year it's served with berries and lemon curd. And for a new twist on a Southern staple, try the fermented quinoa grits and slow-poached egg -- the sweet pepper sauce and spiced chickpeas ensure the dish is rescued from the curse of bland grits. Don't forget to pair whatever you order with any of the more inventive brunch cocktails in the land. We'd recommend the eye-popping $30 Personal Reasons, which mixes a pricey mezcal, lemon, and egg. Granted, you could order beermosas for the table for $25, but you can't put a price on the experience of solo-drinking a killer mezcal cocktail at 9am.
You might not expect that a restaurant with a $4 breakfast item is run by a James Beard-award winning chef. But Spoon & Stable, run by hotshot chef Gavin Kaysen, is in fact one of the top new restaurants in the Twin Cities (oh right, and the entire dang US of A), and offers one of its most delicious and popular menu items for just four bucks. It's a slice of crepe cake, with seemingly endless layers of those super-thin pancakes piled high, then topped with seasonal berries. You can order the cake and other pastries to go, but you're going to want to get a table. After all, brunch should be about more than millions of crepes. Since you'll get your fair share of sweet stuff after raiding its pastry selection, balance your brunch order out with a wild mushroom tartine topped with that heavenly breakfast food of the gods called lardo, and the savory red wine-poached eggs plated atop grilled sourdough with wild mushrooms. Hope you like your grilled bread with covered in a beautiful egg yolk and red wine sauce. Hint: You will!
Chef John Gorham took the Portland culinary scene by the horns (ugh, sorry) with Spanish joint Toro Bravo (then Mediterranean Exploration, then Tasty n Alder... ). But the family-style daily brunch at Tasty n Sons -- an OG on Portland's booming Williams/Vancouver corridor -- might just be his masterpiece. Dude’s been making a merguez-stocked shakshuka since people said “gesundheit” when you said that word, but it’s the constantly changing focus on global comfort foods that keeps people coming back. Chilaquiles come loaded with roasted chicken, while the Tunisian lablabi stew is like hearty chickpea hummus. On the American side, the venison gravy-soaked fried chicken is among the city’s best, though you shouldn't discount the all-day cheeseburger with house-cured bacon (one of Portland's best) . Because sometimes, well, you’re hungover in a way that not even Burmese red pork stew can heal.
Los Angeles, California
It doesn’t get much more LA than this: sustainable, local, vegan-friendly, market-driven, small-batch, globally inspired, and hella good. Chef Jessica Koslow's Sqirl only serves breakfast and lunch but that’s apparently all that’s necessary to build a cult following; on weekends there are hordes of people -- some famous, all hungry -- angling for a table in the sparse, 800sqft cafe, with the shady sidewalk seats serving as prime real estate. The food is as delicious as it is photogenic (which is saying a lot in this Insta-heavy city) and occupies that sweet spot between healthy (“Kabbouleh” with crispy brown rice, kale, cauliflower, and sumac) and indulgent (Guittard chocolate and hazelnut butter on thick-cut brioche toast). While terms like “lacto-fermented” might have some rolling their eyes, the meals will simply have eyes closing in ecstasy. Take some jelly to go, too: This is, after all, a place that began life jarring preserves, and they taste as good on Wonder Bread as they do the house brioche.
New York City
From Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, the duo behind the culinary juggernaut Major Food, Santina is a buzzy date-night restaurant, but it’s worth keeping this charming spot in your pocket for the morning after. The tropical/Italian-coastal vibe -- with floor-to-ceiling windows, Murano glass chandeliers, and bartenders dressed in breezy island-style shirts -- is sure to delight your companion if things went well, or to cheer you up if they didn’t (the full-bottle Bellini service helps there too). Start by sharing the Tuscan chickpea pancakes -- aka cecinas -- served with beautifully wrought toppings like smoked salmon dabbed with mascarpone. The ginormous breakfast sandwich is a thing of beauty, stacking thick slices of Nueske's bacon, scrambled eggs, and tomato slices in between two fluffy, avocado-smeared buns studded with sesame seeds.There are also some with some kick-ass warm rice salads and an excellent fish sandwich with peppery onion slaw. Of course, maybe don't go with that breath-crusher if the date went really well, and you want it to continue.
Charleston, South Carolina
Inconspicuous? Nah. It’s the big red building with a mural that reads “grits are good for you” and a line of people waiting to get in. Even Lou Reed and Anthony Bourdain have stood in that line -- OK they probably skipped it, but still -- waiting to tuck into Chef Robert Stehling’s Lowcountry cooking. This is comfort food of the highest order, including the a Charleston Nasty Biscuit perched on a piece of fat, golden-brown fried chicken breast and smothered in a pool of sausage gravy, or the signature shrimp and grits: a luscious, creamy cereal topped with with sautéed mushrooms and bacon, as well as a sprinkling of sharp scallion. The space, like the food, is hassle-free and classic -- the 19th-century building used to be a barbershop, and still has the red and white-striped poles by the door, which is helpful for finding your way out in the midst of a butter-induced food coma.
The question here isn’t "what do you want for breakfast?" It’s "what do you want on your bread?" Coming up with an answer is tougher than you’d think with options like pastrami-and-hash duking it out with bologna, smoked cheddar, and onions of the crowd-pleasing Hickory Town. And that’s just the egg sandwiches! Although dough-savant Alex Bois recently parted ways with the bakery-restaurant, his legacy lives on in the house-made bagels and whole loaves for sale. It’s worth hitting this joint on the early side for a shot at the pastries, freshly baked, and waiting to be dunked in a Rival Bros coffee. Though if you're a late riser, fear not: dishes like the huge Italian Market Breakfast -- coppa, broccoli rabe, Lancaster bologna, and potatoes spiked with Old Bay -- are served until 3:30pm.
If it’s your first visit, you’re obviously having the cheeseburger, the off-menu item that was such a runaway hit that it spawned its own burger chain. On subsequent visits you’ll be free to really investigate this gastropub’s commitment to well-sourced ingredients and nose-to-tail eating, from marrow gratin to sweetbreads to (ahem) lamb’s testicles. Yep, this is a serious eater's brunch, where you get oysters in your omelet and foie gras with your bacon-marmalade and eggs. That’s about as far as the traditional breakfast dishes go, which makes this a solid place for curmudgeons who hate brunch, because you’re actually just having a really, really early dinner. Don’t miss the next-level charcuterie, made in-house along with almost everything else on your plate including the bread, condiments, and pickles.
Don’t bother coming here with a hangover. You’ll want all your faculties for a meal at Central Provisions, which was nominated last year for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. The concept here is small plates, so bring your squad. This is the kind of place whose brunch menu beautifully straddles the line between "br" and "unch," with an explosive breakfast burger topped with miso mayo, egg, and bacon holding court next to fontina-craped bone-marrow toast, and a cornbread skillet served like a sizzling, open-faced bacon, egg, and cheese. It's the kind of place where the menu is just a series of nouns (“foie gras parfait, custard, buddha’s hand gelee”) and the food looks like art and tastes the way it probably feels to be George Clooney. Just make sure you’ve got some funds in your account, those lobster fritters (welcome to Maine) don't come cheap, and you'll definitely want two orders.
OK fine, so this is not technically in Boston but Cambridge -- you know, that place that is also home to that one university where really, really smart people go. But that doesn't mean you have to have a diploma from Harvard to get a good brunch. Chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer, the duo behind Little Donkey, are best known for Toro, their highly revered Spanish tapas concept with locations in Boston and New York City. Little Donkey also falls into the tapas theme, but the food isn't limited to the country of Spain. Instead, the "global tapas" menu has everything from a Mexican-style shrimp cocktail to the Jersey Shore Sandwich, made with Taylor ham and an egg. The good thing about the global theme is that there is definitely something for everyone on the menu. Are eggs the only brunch food you will touch? You can get a quiche and a breakfast torta and short rib hash (topped with a green Sriracha aioli) here. Into lunch-y things more than brunch-y things? Order the farro kimchee fried rice. Want something sweet and savory? Pick the toad in a hole, made with miso banana bread, a sunny-side-up egg, and creamed spinach. And if none of those work for you, there is always the burger, which comes topped with onion soup mayo and some foie gras for good measure.