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February 23, 2012

A Roundup Of The Best Places For Brunch In Philadelphia

Brunch is a crucial part of the weekend and happily Philadelphia nails it, boasting a wide variety of fantastic brunch options to fulfill every craving. (Photo credits: bottom right by R. Kennedy for GPTMC; all others by G. Widman for GPTMC)

Weekends are made for brunching — chatting with friends, digging into a stack of syrupy pancakes, lingering over a cup of a coffee and a few refills (or maybe a few Bloody Marys).

And, to be sure, it’s always sunny-side up in Philadelphia. Philly boasts a wide array of fantastic brunch options, whether you’re craving a five-star buffet with caviar, a Latin feast of plantains and agua fresca cocktails or fresh granola and locally grown blueberries.

So next time you’re looking for where to go for an awesome brunch in Philadelphia, you need only consult this list.

And as always, let us know your favorite neighborhood brunch spot in the comments below. Happy eating!

**Update: As of April 2013, we’ve published a brand new best brunch in Philadelphia guide, which you can check out right here.

New Additions

Bar Ferdinand: This popular Northern Liberties spot has brought back brunch just in time to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather in their plentiful outdoor seating. The new menu offers decadent Spanish dishes like huevos de cordoniz escalfados (poached quail eggs with jamón Serrano, saffron aioli and piquillo peppers) and banana-and-chocolate-stuffed empanadas. You can also try Bar Ferdinand’s signature sangria, and get bottomless drink deals starting at $14 a person.

Talula’s Garden: Speaking of killer outdoor dining, Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy’s Washington Square spot just gave us another reason to love their lush patio: the addition of Sunday brunch service. The restaurant is offering elegant plates starring local ingredients, like Seared Scallops and Farro Salad with Market Veggies and an omelet with local Kennett Square mushrooms. And for those who like their picturesque views with a splash of liquor, there are cocktails like The Haymaker, a muddled pear cooler with citrus clove and Smirnoff pear vodka.

The Trestle Inn: For those in a throwback mood, Callowhill’s new 60s-inspired Go-Go bar now serves up brunch every weekend, with kitsch to go around. Saturdays see old school cartoons (think Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner) projected onto the walls, while Sundays feature pop hits performed by the bar’s resident drag queen, Brittany Lynn. Both days feature an old-school food menu including biscuits and gravy and casseroles, and drinks like bacon Bloody Marys and classic whiskey sours, shaken with egg whites for extra froth.

Lemon Hill: The neighborhood favorite right by the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a delicious brunch with serious cocktails. Dishes like Dark and Stormy French Toast, with dark rum, fresh lime curd and ginger snaps, go perfectly with creative cocktails from The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. folks, like the gentile e onesta, made with Aperol, Clement Creole Shrub, cane syrup, muddled grapefruit and champagne.

Cantina Los Caballitos: This East Passyunk staple now offers brunch daily — the perfect excuse to play hooky. Their comprehensive Mexican menu offers all manner of empanadas, tostadas and tacos, plus a full suite of brunch beverages like tequila-laden Mexican favorites and Bloody Marys infused with garlic and basil.

Russet: Philly’s newest farm-to-table BYOB now serves brunch to hungry locavores every weekend. Mains include crepes with shrimp and scallops and an omelet loaded with ricotta cheese and fresh herbs. There are also classic European pastries to go along with the cafe’s many beverage options, including Counter Culture coffee, a carefully curated selection of tea, homemade seasonal sodas and fresh-squeezed juice.

Rex 1516: This new Southern-inspired eatery on South Street recently launched brunch to complement its dinner and drink offerings. Highlights include shrimp and grits and — get ready for this — a duck confit and chorizo omelet. Beverages are plentiful as well, with a menu of warm-weather classics like Mint Juleps and Lime Rickeys.

Kennett: This cozy, Queen Village restaurant and bar specializes in locally sourced fare and offers an awesome brunch on weekends. Try the Italian Breakfast, with house-made gnocchi that’s absolutely to die for and a variety of local veggies, or the butter beans, braised with tomato and ale and served on brioche toast. There are also plenty of local brews and a cocktail menu featuring drinks like an all-organic Bloody Mary. And don’t sleep on the wood-fired pizzas; especially the porchetta.

The Dandelion: Stephen Starr’s English-style pub is known for fish and chips, but the brunch menu is its hidden gem. Scotch Pancakes, with gooey, glazed apples and cinnamon-tinged cream, are the perfect start to a weekend day. But once you get one of the pub’s signature cocktails in hand — like the Beer Flip, with stout, marmalade and a whole egg — you may not want to do anything at all.

Mica: Chip Roman’s darling Chestnut Hill eatery, well known for being one of the most sophisticated in the area, features brunch dishes with upscale flair. “Steak and Eggs” substitutes short rib and adds white polenta to a sunny-side-upper and day boat scallops come with the unlikely comrades gooseberries and white chocolate. And unlike sister spot Blackfish (a BYOB), Mica offers a full array of beer, wine and spirits to start your Sunday right.

Varga Bar: Chef Evan Turney’s spot in Washington Square West offers creative, kicked-up American food by night, and equally compelling brunch dishes by weekend day. Cheese fries come topped with truffle oil and jumbo lump crab meat (but don’t call them “Crab Fries”); grilled cheese comes with the most velvety, decadent tomato soup imaginable; and with a knowledgeable bar staff to guide you through the 22 beers on tap, there’s no way you’ll go thirsty during a meal here.

Brunch Specialists

Café Lift: The Loft District’s sleek Café Lift specializes in European-style delicacies like a banana and chocolate hazelnut crespelle and a pesto and tomato frittata with thick home fries.

Carman’s Country Kitchen: A South Philly institution, the quirky, tiny Carman’s features an exotic and unpredictable brunch lineup that might easily include alligator tail or mincemeat waffles. Each day features a different menu of just four or five options but you cannot go wrong.

Jones: Stephen Starr’s take on the The Brady Bunch living room delivers on the brunch front in a way that would make Carol proud. You must order the shareable monkey bread, served gooey and hot, followed by any of the delicious egg dishes (spinach and feta omelette with tater tots, smoked salmon benedict). And don’t forget the great brunch cocktails.

Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat: A homey hipster hideaway in Northern Liberties, Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat charms with its fusion of Southern and Jewish fare. Think chicken-fried steak, fresh biscuits and giant crispy latkes. Get there early to avoid a long wait. P.S. A second location is opening in Graduate Hospital in the coming months.

Sabrina’s Café: At all three of its locations (in Bella Vista, Fairmount and University City), Sabrina’s redefines brunch with creative dazzlers like the blue cheese frittata, polenta fries and, of course, its famous thick slices of French toast stuffed with all manner of sweets.

We have a ton more below, including Kanella, Cochon, Amis, Garces Trading Co. and more.

Morning Glory Diner: The lines out the door never lie: Sam’s Morning Glory Diner is a favorite for its homemade ketchup and creative pancake specials served with a side of hot biscuits (MUST try the biscuits) and greasy-spoon attitude.

Market Street GrillThe first meal of the day is the mainstay at downtown West Chester’s Market Street Grill, which has developed a devoted following for its brown sugar-swirl French toast with caramelized bananas and Kennett Square mushroom omelet.

Café Estelle: Bottomless cups of coffee and a cheery, retro atmosphere set the stage for brunch at Café Estelle above Old City, where the well-crafted bounty includes homemade pastries, sweet potato pie French toast and breakfast salad with pork belly lardoons. Also, some pretty amazing housemade scrapple.

Marigold Kitchen” This spot is University City’s go-to destination for up-market cuisine served in a warmly lit townhouse. Morning offerings include Elvis-style French toast with peanut butter mousse, caramelized bananas and hickory smoked bacon; and duck confit panini with goat cheese and pickled red onions.

Cake: Set in the Robertson’s Flowers’ solarium, Cake offers a brunch that’s unrivaled for its sunny, family-friendly atmosphere, smoked salmon and potato pancake plates, breakfast pizza and to-die-for baked goods.

Supper: Never mind the name. Supper serves a superb brunch with chilaquiles navidad replete with homemade chorizo; red velvet waffles with cream cheese mousse; a cereal bar; and a roasted tomato and gruyère-topped burger with duck-fat fries (an egg can be added for extra brunch effect).

Green Eggs Café: Specializing in eco-conscious fare with local and sustainable ingredients, Green Eggs (in both South Philly and Northern Liberties) makes social responsibility delicious with Peanut Butter Crunchy French Toast with blackberry coulis; scrambled eggs over homemade biscuits with sausage gravy; and quinoa porridge with fresh berries.

Wedge + Fig: Come weekends, Old City’s adorable Wedge + Fig serves up memorable panini like the Bleu Figs (Fourme d’Ambert bleu cheese, fig preserves and prosciutto on pretzel bread), the Betty Draper (truffled egg salad, cucumber and lemon salt on whole wheat with candy cigarettes on the side) and Tamamend (brie, house-roasted turkey, walnut mustard aioli, mango and arugula on brioche).

Brunches From Around the Globe

Ants Pants Café: Australian-style coffees (flat white or long black, anyone?) accompany “brekkie platters” of eggs, bacon-stacked sandwiches and French toast with sour cream sauce at this South Street favorite in Graduate Hospital.

Cochon: French fare typically dominates the kitchen at Cochon, a cozy BYOB spot in Queen Village, but the brunch menu is a pan-national meat-lovers’ affair with Eggs Cochon (poached, over slow-roasted pork shoulder with a bacon cheddar biscuit) and deep-fried oysters served with fennel slaw and bacon mayonnaise.

Kanella: The flavors of Cyprus come alive at this Washington Square BYOB, where the brunch menu features flavorful goodies like crepes stuffed with manouri cheese and drizzled with carob syrup; eggs stewed in tomato and pepper with grilled bread; and ground lamb flatbreads with pine nuts.

Café con Chocolate: Brunch gets a Mexican twist at South Philly’s Café con Chocolate, which serves platters of eggs poached in salsa verde, chilaquiles and towers of tortillas, beans, ham and cheese, alongside steaming cups of its signature drink.

Khyber Pass Pub: The N’awlins-style kitchen at Khyber Pass Pub is the perfect place to indulge in Louisiana flavors like shrimp, tasso and grits smothered in Creole gravy; Bananas Foster French Toast; and bourbon milk punch. Also, don’t miss the Creole Bloody Mary.

Ida Mae’s Bruncherie: Diners of all backgrounds savor the city’s only traditional Irish breakfast with rashers, beans, pudding and potato bread, served in the sunny rooms of Ida Mae’s Bruncherie.

Mixto: Every day feels like Sunday at Mixto, a Cuban/Columbian hotspot on Pine Street’s Antique Row. The daily breakfast offerings include Argentinean steak and eggs, frittata Colombiana and huevos rancheros. Bonus: sunny outdoor seating in the warm months.

Amis: Brunch at Amis is a little under the radar, but that’s actually a good thing. The brunch menu transports you to Italy with perfect pastas and other fare: baked pecorino with almond honey, salumi misti, rotini with breakfast sausage and egg yolk, braised san marzano tomatoes with farm eggs and basil, and housemade polenta scrapple. Also, don’t sleep on the Cannonball.

Parc: Oui, monsieur, we will take another of those delicious bread baskets. Parc’s brunch menu just gets better after the bread, with a perfect quiche lorraine, chicken paillard, pommes frites and other French plates that pair perfectly with prime Rittenhouse Square people-watching.

Garces Trading Co.: If you haven’t tried Jose Garces’ GTC for brunch, you haven’t tried it at all. The Saturday and Sunday brunch menu is a bite right out of the Mediterranean with cheese, charcuterie, eggs, sandwiches and so much more. The $25/person menu option includes your choice of one main, one side, and one dessert plus unlimited Garces Trading Company Coffee. And did we mention it’s one of the best brunches in America? Done and done.

Fancy Pants Brunch

Fork: The seasonal New American menu at Old City’s Fork is always changing, with the exception of the house-baked scones and buns, house-cured salmon and fluffy omelets stuffed with local ingredients.

Jake’s & Cooper’s: Fine dining tastes even better in the daylight hours with Jake’s expansive brunch menu. A fan favorite, the eggs benedict features arguably the city’s best crab cake topped with brioche and leek cream. Other options include a lobster omelet, bananas foster pancakes and small plates like butter nut squash mac and cheese.

Moshulu: Sea lubbers hop aboard the Moshulu for a Sunday brunch on the water, featuring champagne, a three-course prix-fixe meal and dessert buffets. Diners can choose a nautical-themed meal like the Maine diver scallops over risotto or keep it traditional with the caramel apple brioche French toast.

Swann Lounge: The city’s most elegant place to brunch is the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia’s Swann Lounge. The sumptuous $73 buffet—stacked with caviar, smoked fish, lobster tartlets and endless desserts—includes plated entrees. In all, a relative bargain and an unforgettable experience.

Nineteen: The morning buffet at chic Nineteen (XIX) at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue begins with continental pastries, an extensive raw bar and pan-Asian dim sum; continues with egg and waffle entrees; and includes mimosas and Bloody Marys along the way.

Lacroix: Housed in the tony Rittenhouse Hotel, Lacroix serves a filling Sunday brunch prix- fixe menu ($59 per person) featuring appetizers, raw-bar specialties, a chef’s table hot buffet and wine pairings. This is a special occasion brunch that surely will not disappoint. A decadent dessert table and live music round out the offerings.

R2L: Brunch with one of the best views of the city? A done deal. Build your own Bloody Marys and Mimosas at the table, buffeted by La Colombe coffee, to wash down any of the dozens of plates offered by Chef Daniel Stern. There’s also a kids’ brunch menu for the younger set.

Hair-of-the-Dog Brunch

Valanni: Valanni has a new Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, and the offerings are unbeatable. Think chocolate chip and banana pancakes with vanilla-maple syrup, ricotta-walnut cream; and the “Valanni Hangover,” two eggs any style, pancakes, chorizo or bacon and home fries accompanied by a virgin Bloody Mary. And speaking of brunch cocktails, $25 gets you unlimited Blood Marys or Mimosas.

The Farmers’ Cabinet: The popular rustic American restaurant The Farmers’ Cabinet offers weekend brunch with live music and inventively spun dishes like Doughnuts and Coffee Yogurt Parfait; Key Lime-Apricot Bread Pudding; Cornbread Waffle with country ham and gruyere cheese; and Farmer’s Breakfast, with two eggs any style, baked beans, fried pork belly and a cheddar biscuit. Don’t miss the special brunch cocktails, including: Death in the Afternoon, absinthe and chilled champagne; and Morning Glory Fizz, bourbon with Cointreau, champagne and Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters.

National Mechanics: Bloody Mary fan? Go no further. This Old City spot has one of the most impressive Bloody Mary bars we have ever laid eyes on, a perfect quaff to match the veggie-friendly brunch offerings. There are 11 egg dishes, French baguette toast and both plain and blueberry pancakes on offer, all great.

Continental: Nighttime revelers keep the party going at The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar and its sibling The Continental Mid-town, with brioche French toast, tiramisu waffles or a turkey club with caramelized apple mayo, all of which can be accompanied by a champagne cocktail or an espresso martini.

Cuba Libre: Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar’s fresh juice mimosas, guava pastries and ropa vieja hash creates a tropical brunch paradise in Old City. An unlimited small plate menu is also available.

Standard Tap: The burgers, fried smelts and chalkboard omelet specials at Northern Liberties’ Standard Tap can chase any hangover away, though a pint of local microbrewed beer won’t hurt, either.

McKenzie Brew House: At the lively McKenzie Brew House in Chadds Ford, Devon and Malvern, brunchers wash down the brewer’s breakfast (steak and eggs) or the chicken and eggs burrito with refreshing pints and champagne cocktails.

Silk City: It may look like a typical diner on the outside, but Silk City serves up anything but standard brunch fare on the inside. And what better to go with smothered chicken and waffles, cider-braised pork belly hash or shrimp and grits than one of their specialty lunch cocktails (the options change weekly) or a beer from the 35+ option suds list?

What are your favorite spots for brunch? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. And you can follow our Philly’s Great Brunch Spots list on Foursquare and guide on Foodspotting.

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Daniela says:

We are always looking for new brunch places, this list is great!

Dennis says:

We just went to the Gypsy Saloon in Conshy for V-Day, and were pleasantly surprised. The food is pretty stinkin’ good. We’ll be going back.

Tartan69 says:

Cafe L’Aube at 17th and Wallace. Best crepes in the city.

JE says:

Sidecar in Graduate Hospital has one of the best brunches and AMAZING spicy bloody mary’s!!

Kim says:

The Urban Cafe, across from the Wissahickon train station, has a fabulous Sunday brunch. Includes some southern-inspired meals. Delicious, and never a wait – so far!

Laura says:

Wishing Well…$25 all-you-can drink mimosas/bloody mary bar + an entree.

Yoni Nimroad says:

One of the pics you posted for this brunch story is of La Copine brunch cart in nolibs but you didnt mentioned them in this story…

Keith says:

You listed them all, but my top 3 list is as follows: Sabrinas, Cafe Estelle, and Silk City Diner

Lisa says:

I agree with JF, Sidecar is fantastic! It is my father’s all time favorite brunch spot.

Patty says:

No mention of Green Eggs Cafe? Both the NoLibs and South Philly locations are excellent!

We’ve got it on there! It wouldn’t be a brunch roundup without Green Eggs.

Tami says:

This list is GOLD! Thanks…

jlk says:

a full plate cafe and Johnny Brenda’s are easily my favorite brunch spots.

Sarah says:

I second Cafe L’Aube! Best crepes, hands down. I thought Beau Monde was tasty until I ate here…wow.

Stephanie says:

I LOVE Kanella! I also just tried Meme and really like it.

bambi says:

The Continental Downtown, is there anywhere else?

sunny says:

Where is the party brunch?

JP says:

Brick American Eatery @ 17th/Lombard…bottomless mimosas/bloody mary and excellent prices

BG says:

fancy pants – Waterworks. Killer buffet!

Cooper says:

What about Hawthorne’s? Biscuits in gravy! Also I love how you can get a side of one special pancake.

Olly says:

Relish and Warmdaddy’s brunch are good!!!

Suburbia says:

Looking for a good spot that we can go with infant daughter?

Diamond says:

Relish is a great buffet weekend brunch spot. Southern cooking at its finest you should check it out