San Francisco is a haven for great midday weekend dining, but the appeal of Foreign Cinema in the Mission District can be summed up in three words: homemade Pop-Tarts. Their handcrafted take on the childhood favorite is made from organic fruit such as apple or pluot. The restaurant’s atmosphere is on par with the food. The independent movies screened in the outdoor courtyard and dining room fireplace make Foreign Cinema ideal for Sunday lingering.
Credit: Charlie Villyard Photography
9) The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis
President Barack Obama has been known to dine at The Bachelor Farmer and this acclaimed Minneapolis restaurant raises the bar on brunch as well. The Bachelor Farmer draws inspiration from Minnesota’s Nordic heritage, and the brunch menu carries on this tradition with Smørrebrød, or Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches with toppings such bacon confit or oyster mushrooms. Other dishes draw inspiration from fresh, local ingredients, and the cocktails are equally exceptional.
Credit: The Bachelor Farmer
8) The Good Fork, Brooklyn
The brunch menu at The Good Fork lures New Yorkers into the out-of-the-way Red Hook neighborhood to dine on favorites such as steak and eggs Korean style, chicken and waffles, or huevos rancheros with chilaquiles. The restaurant was closed recently after damages from Hurricane Sandy, but you can celebrate the reopening starting on New Year’s Eve.
7) Sprints Alehouse, Portland
One of the greatest food-related dilemmas in life is whether to go the sweet or savory route at brunch. Spints Alehouse in Portland, Ore., solves that problem by combining the sweet and the savory in their brunch dishes. This is much more than a side of bacon with your French toast. Options such as French toast with fried sweetbreads or pretzel peanut butter and jelly sandwiches mean that diners never have to miss out on the opposite side of the flavor spectrum.
Credit: Sprints Alehouse
6) Bar Mirabeau, Austin
The appeal of brunch is the laziness factor: it’s completely acceptable to eat breakfast at lunchtime and linger long into the afternoon over a plate of bacon and pancakes. Bar Mirabeau in Austin, Texas, fulfills every lazy brunch-goer’s fantasy by encouraging folks to show up in their pajamas: diners who wear their PJ’s to brunch receive 20 percent off their meal. Brunch entrées incorporate Southern favorites like biscuits and sausage gravy and chicken-fried steak.
Credit: Bar Mirabeau
5) Sitka & Spruce, Seattle
Seattle’s Sitka & Spruce specializes in creating dishes that elevate local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest region. Their brunch menu is no exception. Seasonal specialties include dishes such as yogurt with delicata squash, pumpkin seed, and honey, or juniper-cured steelhead trout. Most of the vegetables and eggs come from the restaurant’s own farm.
Credit: Sitka & Sprice
4) The Biltmore, Miami
For some, brunch is a meal best enjoyed with a hangover and a side of grease. For others, brunch is an occasion in itself. Those who prefer to do it up at brunch should head to The Biltmore in Miami. Their champagne brunch is a lavish spread of everything from prime rib to caviar, rounded out with live music in the courtyard.
3) Farmshop, Los Angeles
Eggs are never just eggs, at least not when cooked by chef Jeffrey Cerciello at Farmshop in Los Angeles. The Thomas Keller alum creates thoughtful brunch dishes such as shirred eggs with chorizo and sweet pepper stew or coddled eggs with smoked salmon and mushroom conserva. The country-style cooking expertly balances comforting simplicity with gourmet techniques.
Credit: Flickr/ One More Bite Blog
2) Jam, Chicago
For the adamant follower of the brunch ritual, Jam is Mecca. The Chicago restaurant doesn’t just give careful attention to brunch — they’ve focused their entire restaurant on this one meal. At Jam it’s not just brunch, it’s "the art of brunch." Their dedication shines through with unique dishes like their malted custard French toast or braised antelope with polenta cake.
1) Commander's Palace, New Orleans
New Orleanians do brunch best, and the jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace is legendary. Commander’s has been doing brunch almost as long as New Orleanians have been sipping mid-afternoon milk punch. Their jazz brunch includes live music and beloved classics such as turtle soup and Louisiana shrimp and grits. Though it’s a destination for tourists, the institution is still a must after all these years.
Credit: Commander's Palace
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For many restaurants, brunch is both an obligation and an afterthought. Eggs are half-heartedly poached, drowned in lukewarm hollandaise, and served with a side of apathy by a crew of hungover line cooks to swarms of equally hungover diners. Brunch isn't the moneymaker that dinner is, and so it's no surprise that it often doesn't receive the same culinary care and attention. Then there are the brunch haters, privileged elites whose criticism of this weekend ritual lies somewhere between snobbery and keen perception. Where does that leave the rest of us? Too often with a host of mediocre French toast and overcooked eggs, ever on the hunt for a decent meal to carry us through a soothing mimosa-infused transition from Saturday night's party into Monday.
Brunch deserves more respect, and why shouldn't it? When else is it acceptable to sleep until noon and still join the ranks of socially adjusted, mature adults? At what other occasion is it not only welcome, but encouraged to get drunk in the middle of the day? But aside from the beauty of a lazy weekend brunch, we're now in a glorious time where brunch means much more than eggs Benedict. Chefs across the country are exercising their creative talent on their brunch menus, and diners are finally better off for it.
To help you bypass all of the sub-par brunches out there, we've compiled a list of America's 10 Best Brunches. For our rankings, we looked for brunch menus that fit one or more of the following three criteria: Menus that go beyond the by-now trite stalwarts of pancakes and eggs Benedict; brunches that offer a unique and novel experience along with excellent food; and brunches where the quality of food is just as good as what the restaurant serves at dinner. Say goodbye to cold hash browns and yet another spin on the holy trinity of eggs-bread-hollandaise, and say hello to innovative dishes that showcase the best the restaurant has to offer. You wouldn't lower your standards for dinner — now you never have to settle again for brunch.