Life

Chefs Tell Us Where To Find The Best Brunch In The Country


I have lived in Portland, OR since 2003, which means that brunch is something I take very seriously. In many ways, Portlandia’s brunch village isn’t out of line; we will waste hours waiting for local berries to be thrown in some flapjacks. Sincerely, I can only manifest any interest in the gym if I tell my body we are just just going to gently walk and watch Bones reruns, but I will stand in the rain, sipping out of a rapidly cooling coffee mug, surrounded by irritating strangers for two hours just to walk into a restaurant on Sunday morning. Who can pass up the opportunity to do some socially sanctioned day drinking and to engage in the eternal dilemma of pancakes vs. eggs Florentine. Okay, generally the eggs win, and I know the eggs are going to win because hollandaise is the most delicious sauce ever (at the very least, it’s the hands down winner among the stupid the French haute cuisine mother sauce pack).

If this was an article about the best brunch spots in Portland, I could write that without any outside help (partially because it would give me an excuse to fact check by going to more brunches). Sadly, the man is keeping me down by refusing to finance a nationwide brunch tour. It may be because there is an outside risk of my getting too hopped up on coffee in line before attempting to level out with multiple red snappers (bloody Marys made with gin; get on my level). This stimulant/depressant game often leads to open weeping when I find out the restaurant is out of sourdough pancakes and management has decided this isn’t the look they want for Uproxx Life. Go figure.

Today, as an alternative to debauchery and poached eggs with Alia, you get a listing of the best brunch spots according to friendly, famous chefs. For some of them, brunch means an extravagant array of high end foodstuffs; for others, it’s a neighborhood joint with a good vibe and a short walk home. Read through the responses, check out the pictures of tomato juice and booze, and tell me in the comments about the best brunch you’ve ever had. Seriously, guys, let me live vicariously through your mid-morning meals. I am still socially isolated after that whole sandwich thing. I get lonely.

Local Three (Atlanta, GA)

Chef Ian Winslade — Chef, Murphy’s and Morningside Kitchen

Not only do I admire and respect the culinary talent of the chefs at Local Three, I like the vibe of the restaurant. Plus, the location is close to my house. It has an interesting cocktail list, a huge selection of spirits on its back bar, and just the right amount of Southern-with-a-twist on their menu to make this a rock star brunch spot.

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Epic Brunch Buffet!!! #brunch Happy Sunday!!!!!

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Red Cafe (San Francisco, CA)

Chef David Baron — Executive Chef, Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette

If you’re from the Mission District in San Francisco, you definitely would know about Red Cafe. Simple, no fuss brunch. They offer classic favorites from huevos rancheros to your basic all-American breakfast. My all-time favorite is their beans, eggs, platanos, casamiento, cheese and sour cream with flour tortillas and freshly squeezed orange juice. They don’t take reservations, but the wait goes by quick; mariachi bands often perform at the restaurant.

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Santa Fe Omelet (chorizo, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, and bell peppers) and Strawberry Banana French Toast from the Red Cafe in the Mission followed by a nice walk down Bartlett Street. Perfect lazy Sunday morning. If you've never been, the Red Cafe is a tiny whole in the wall Mexican joint but has a particularly amazing brunch menu! 😋🙌🏽👌🏽 No I didn't eat all of this myself, this was food for two 😉. On a side note, this meal doesn't perfectly hit your macro nutrients and shouldn't be eaten on a regular basis, but is a great example of how you can add some spice to your healthy diet without destroying all of your hard work. When you eat something like chorizo, hash browns, or French toast (something that your body doesn't encounter on a regular basis), if the rest of your meals are clean and nutritious, this meal will act as a catalyst, speeding your metabolism. The purpose of eating healthy, unprocessed, natural foods is to speed the metabolism. These foods are recognized and easily broken down by the body acting as optimal energy. As time passes and the metabolism accelerates, it will eventually hit a plateau. That's when the infamous cheat meal comes in to play. When a cheat meal is eaten, it is different and slightly more difficult for the body to process, forcing the digestive system into overdrive. Now when you switch back to your normal routine of chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes, your body will slice through that meal like a hot knife does a chocolate cake!😁😁😁. #fitfam #cheatmeal #physique #delicious #food #brunch #breakfast #yummy #lazysunday #missiondistrict #sanfrancisco #personaltrainer #nutrition #macros #diettips #diet #sixpack #deliciousandnutritious #fitness #healthy #menshealth #inspiration #weightloss #shred

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Down House (Houston, TX)

Chef Zachary Ladwig — Executive Chef, Campfire at The Stella

I always love going here. The cooking is always right up the middle, fresh and super clean. The menu rides the line of classic brunch items with Houstonian flair. The bar program is excellent, and they make an awesome Bloody Mary. I am a big fan of the crepes and the pork and grits. The restaurant has a cool vibe to it as well.

You have to make sure you have rezzies though, because it fills up fast, and there is always a wait.

The River Café Restaurant (New York, New York)

Chef David Burke — Executive Chef, Tavern62 by David Burke

Their pancakes with milk chocolate, hazelnuts and gold leaf are unbelievably delicious. These are pancakes dressed in black tie! Brunch service at The River Café is also great because the juices are fresh-squeezed, and the staff is as top-quality as the best hotels in Europe. And of course, you can’t beat the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge views.

City Limits Diner (White Plains, NY)

Chef Navjot Arora — Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Old Monk

They make the best omelets and have favorites that my whole family can enjoy. My kids love their French toast and pancakes with different toppings; my wife gets the veggie omelet; I enjoy the bacon, ham and sausage trio, along with the mushroom, spinach and ham omelets. Their omelets are so fluffy and never overcooked. They are still warm and gooey in the middle.

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood (Hollywood, CA)

Chef Alex Q. Becker — Executive Chef, Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

If I have time to sneak away for brunch, I like to visit Council Oak Steaks & Seafood. Brunch at Council Oak has a little something for everyone. My wife and I enjoy the different seafood and carving stations, particularly the pork belly and lamb chops. My oldest daughter Mia (2) is a huge fan of eggs, so we like to bring her to the omelet station to watch the chefs whip her up something special.

Compère Lapin (New Orleans, LA)

Chef Mike Pirolo — Chef and Owner, Macchialina

My favorite brunch of all time is Compère Lapin in New Orleans. I always start out with the Bloody Mary, which is quite possibly the best I’ve ever had, and it also helps cure some of the ills of the previous night in New Orleans. But that’s not why it’s my favorite brunch. The reason is that they have an Everything Doughnut served with scallion cream cheese, lightly cured and smoked hamachi, and trout roe. It’s one of those things you eat and keep on thinking about until the next time you have it. I can only think of one word to describe it, and that is “incredible.”

ABC Cocina (New York, NY)

Chef Sarah Schafer — Owner and Executive Chef, Irving Street Kitchen

Creative, fresh, sexy chill vibe. Perfect for an early morning after a late night out.

The Beast Restaurant (Toronto, Canada)

Chef Michael Gulotta — Chef and Co-owner, Maypop and MoPho

I started with fried potato gnocchi poutine and it knocked my socks off. Typically, I am not a fan of fried gnocchi but these had an addictive crunch-to-chew ratio that kept me going back for more. Apparently the gravy changes, but on this day they were topped with a spicy/tangy Bolognese sauce and melted cheese curd. I was dining alone and did not intend to eat the whole order, but I did. Next I had their Beastwich, a biscuit topped with fried chicken, pimento cheese spread, pork gravy and a sunny side up egg. The best part is that it is served with a selection of their house made hot sauces, one of them being a lime leaf chili vinegar, which completely set the dish off. The bright vinegar and citrus cut through the crunchy chicken and creamy gravy, plus the sharpness of the cheddar in the house made pimento spread. Typical brunch dishes just end heavy, but this dish stayed fun and balanced while still being very brunchy.

Lastly, they have donuts of the day, plus their signature maple bacon donuts. They also have a large variety of small production coffees, as well as bottled cold brew.

KYU (Miami, FL)

Chef Santiago Gomez — Executive Chef, Cantina La Veinte

I love everything about the brunch at KYU in Wynwood — the ambiance, the drinks and, of course, the food! The menu is very diverse — it offers everything from pancakes to wood-oven baby back ribs. One of my favorite dishes to order at brunch is the burrata, served with yuzu marmalade and artisanal bread.

Zuma in the Epic Hotel (Miami, FL)

Chef Nina Compton — Chef and Co-Owner, Compère Lapin

I love the brunch at Zuma. It’s a Japanese izakaya and has the most amazing selection of sushi, sashimi and Japanese brunch items. They have an incredible robata bar and sushi bar that you can visit as many times as you’d like — it’s really a special treat. You also get a signature brunch item and a huge dessert platter. My favorites are the Kurobuta pork belly skewer with yuzu mustard miso, poached egg with chilled soba noodles and all of their sushi. The food is so fresh, and they serve bottomless umami Marys (Bloody Mary with truffle dashi vodka); sake and lychee martinis. It’s a gorgeous space with a great vibe — a perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday.

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Of course Zuma… Bone Apple Tea

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Tasty n Sons (Portland, OR)

Chef Alan Maniscalco, Owner and Chef, Rally Pizza

The jokes about Portland being Brunch Village are not exaggerated. The last thing I want to do on my day off is wait in line for brunch. But when friends and family come to town, we always head to Tasty n Sons for brunch. John Gorham’s menu has some great sweet toothed offerings; French toast, Dutch babies, a freshly fried sweet potato doughnut. But it’s the savory dishes that keep us coming back: fried chicken, stews, rice bowls, all topped with perfectly cooked eggs. My go to is the steak and eggs: a cast iron cornmeal pancake topped with hanger steak, soft scrambled eggs and jalapeño butter.

Belmont Brewing Company (Long Beach, CA)

Chef Danny Allen — Executive Chef, Ways & Means Oyster House

I love our brunch, but if I want to get away, I’d head up to The Belmont Brewing Company. From sweet to savory, they offer a great selection of California cuisine.

Ramos House (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

Chef Craig Connole — Executive Chef, La Casa del Camino, K’ya Bistro Bar, The Rooftop Lounge

Ramos House has quite the reputation for all the right reasons. Everything here is homemade, quality, creative and very original. It’s inspiring to experience the cool, playful element they bring to it all. It sits in a great space down on Los Rios Street — right on the train line — which is so nostalgic for me.

Kitchen Notes (Nashville, TN)

Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive Chef, City Winery Nashville

One of the best places to get brunch, in my city and in any city, is Kitchen Notes, because they still do what brunch used to be and what brunch still should be. I don’t want an a la carte menu; I want an old school brunch with breakfast and a selection of hot entrée items. I want to be able to eat an omelet and a prime rib. Off a buffet. David Harker has done a great job of doing the traditional Southern brunch with a lot of great options. I wish more people did that.

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Brunch 🙌🏻🙌🏻😍#nashvilleonmymind #blessed

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Peabody Hotel (Memphis, TN)

Chef William Weisiger — Head Pitmaster, Ten50 BBQ

The Peabody Hotel has a fantastic brunch featuring freshly baked goods, eggs benedict, smoked salmon, Belgian waffles, Applewood smoked bacon, prime rib and champagne. Factor in the historic grandeur of the hotel and the world famous Peabody ducks, and you’re in for an awesome experience.

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#Breakfast Anyone? 📸: @tee_smyth

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Commander’s Palace (New Orleans, LA)

Chef Tony Street — Chef and Owner, Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse

The Commanders Palace in New Orleans is hands down the best place for brunch in the world.

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You say tomato 🍅 we say Bloody Mary 🍹

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Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe (Huntington Beach, CA)

Chef Hiro Uchida — Chef and Kitchen Manager, The Blind Rabbit, The Alchemists, The Iron Press

I recently dined at Ohana Cafe in Huntington Beach, and it’s safe to say that they immediately jumped to the top of my list of brunch spots to hit up. They have everything you could possibly want in a brunch from huge savory breakfast burritos to delicious and decadent french toast with coconut syrup ! Make sure to add fresh bananas and macadamia nuts to your French toast and with their hefty portions, you are sure to leave there with a full stomach and a full heart.

Seafood Cove (Westminster, CA)

Chef Hop Phan — Chef, Dos Chinos, Megadon, Red Envelope

The best brunch place in OC is dim sum! Seafood Cove across from Asian Garden Mall is where the masses go on Saturday and Sunday mornings to afternoon.

Waterline ( Newport Beach, CA)

Chef Vincent Lesage — Executive Chef, Angel Oak at Bacara Resort & Spa

One of my favorite brunches to go to when I’m in Newport Beach, CA would be Waterline at the Balboa Bay Resort, where my former colleague Chef Rachel Haggstrom has redesigned the menu to showcase her culinary talents and passion for quality excellence. Their menu celebrates fine wines and amazing coastal cuisine, all while viewing sights of the array of yachts docked in front of the restaurant. Waterline’s idyllic waterfront location provides the perfect atmosphere for sipping wine, savoring delicious entrees and having Chef Rachel’s crab eggs benedict, which blends a classic savory dish with a fresh water-to-table experience.

Commander’s Palace ( New Orleans, LA)

Chef Carl Schaubhut — Chef and Co-Owner, DTB (Down the Bayou)

The tradition of brunch as we know it was actually invented in New Orleans and originally called the “Butcher’s Breakfast.” The people who perfected it were the talented team at Commander’s Palace. I started going there in the late 80’s as a child (was lucky enough to work there as an adult) and continue to find it to be the best brunch I’ve ever experienced. Everything at Commander’s Brunch is top notch – from the service to the food to the way they serve their Bloody Mary with an ice block of vodka tableside. Brunch at Commander’s is a celebratory experience where you feel transported to another world, one in which fine dining meets a second line (traditional musical parade in New Orleans).

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You say tomato 🍅 we say Bloody Mary 🍹

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