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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.