Dining

Best of the Brunch

From Creole bread pudding soufflé to fried bologna Benedict, here are the best brunch dishes in the country
America's Most Original Brunch Dishes
Tasty n Sons' Burmese Red Pork Stew | Photo: David L. Reamer

Brunch might be the only good reason to put on real pants on a weekend morning, but when's the last time you had your mind blown by any dish served with a side of bottomless mimosas? As the old adage goes, breakfast is as breakfast does, and veggie scrambles, while filling, are just about all this late-morning ritual has to offer. Right? Wrong.

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The country is full of original dishes that will have you craving brunch all week and turn even the most stubborn brunch hater into a Bloody Mary-sipping devotee. You might even have to swap those real pants for the stretchy kind to make room.

Here are America's most original—and delectable—brunch dishes.

Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé at Commander's Palace

New Orleans, LA

 

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It doesn't get much more NOLA than this airy love letter to Creole culture from the city's long-revered Commander's Palace. The restaurant's signature a.m. treat arrives warm—a luscious, vanilla- and nutmeg-scented dome, sprinkled with plump raisins and erupting out of the dainty ceramic cup as if greeting the morning sun. A small hole is then poked into its crest to allow for a lava flow of even warmer whiskey cream sauce to seep into its every downy crevice. It's no wonder they call this delicacy the "queen of Creole desserts."

Burmese Red Pork Stew & Chocolate Potato Doughnuts at Tasty n Sons

Portland, OR

 

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To call any breakfast spot an institution in a city as brunch obsessed as Portland is quite a claim, but Tasty n Sons, with lines that stretch around the block every day of the week, lives up to its grandiose reputation. The first dish of note—it's near impossible to pick just one—is the Burmese red pork stew, a simple yet rich blend of tender pork shoulder and belly swimming in their own braising liquid, short-grain rice and two eggs—one is pickled and stirred into the mix while the other, fried sunny, sits on top. The second standout, sugar-dusted chocolate potato doughnut balls served in a pool of crème anglaise, can serve as the ultimate pregame or post-feast palate cleanser (or both).

Fried Bologna Benedict at Scratch

Durham, NC

 

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Unless you've never set foot in the American South, there's nothing too surprising about deep-fried bologna (except that it's awesome, of course). But take a hunk of crusty bread; crown it with a hefty slice of fried bologna, homemade chowchow and two pillowy poached eggs; and then smother the whole thing in a tangy mustard hollandaise sauce, and now we're talking. Scratch's menu changes seasonally, so keep an eye out for this one, but rest assured: The rest of the menu is awesome, too.

Breakfast Ramen & Kung Pao Chicken Wings and Waffles at Talde

Brooklyn, NY

 

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Though almost every item listed on this Brooklyn hot spot's inimitable brunch menu could be considered original, we're giving out two gold medals here. First off, the kung pao chicken wings and waffles. There's something about sinking your teeth into a fiery fried drumstick, sticky with sauce and dotted with crunchy peanuts, you just can't replicate. Add a few perfectly crisped waffles and douse the whole thing in coconut brown butter syrup, and you've got yourself one memorable meal. Sharing the spotlight is the hangover-squashing breakfast ramen, in which an archipelago of honey-glazed bacon, noodles and a six-minute egg float in a soothing, buttered toast-infused broth. Give in to temptation and just order both.

Homemade Pop-Tarts at Foreign Cinema

San Francisco, CA

 

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Foreign Cinema brought upscale, chef-driven dining to the Mission almost a decade before the Silicon Valley set began pulling up in their BMW i8 Hybrids looking for white tablecloths and molecular gastronomy. That same pioneering spirit keeps this long-standing brunch haven in the running for world's best homemade Pop-Tart. Baked to a gorgeous golden brown, these flaky, buttery creations are simply massive, about the size of a Broadway playbill and twice as thick. What's more, they're bursting with fillings like apple pear, quince, Cara Cara orange, strawberry fig and huckleberry, showing off California's enviable access to top-quality produce no matter the season.

Zanahoria at La Condesa

Austin, TX

 

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It's not always easy to track down a refreshing vegetable dish in a town ruled by tacos, doughnuts and BBQ brisket. But after a few days of nonstop chorizo and beer, this bright tangle of roast carrots, house-made carrot-top chimichurri, pickled currants and toasted quinoa, dressed with an invigorating cardamom-white mountain yogurt, will literally give you life. We know, we know—salad? For brunch? But, hey, think about it this way: With all those healthy veggies in your system, you can definitely justify that second (OK, third) margarita. Note: This one's a permanent fixture on the lunch and dinner menus, but is sometimes offered as a special on the weekends (though we totally condone playing hooky on a Tuesday).

Dutch Baby Pancakes at Milktooth

Indianapolis, IN

 

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Unbeknownst to many coastal city slickers, Indy is actually one of the country's best-kept secrets when it comes to fantastic food towns, and Milktooth takes breakfast to an entirely new level. Case and point? The Dutch baby pancake. The sunny, flawlessly designed family-run joint puts out a new sweet or savory version of this photogenic flatbread whenever inspiration strikes, motivated by seasonal toppings like crabapple curd, fennel, peppery mustard greens, tart rhubarb, asparagus and just about anything else you can imagine. Whether you prefer yours loaded with melty Swiss cheese and salty ham or overflowing with peach amaro jam, dried blueberries and crème fraiche, this pancake can do no wrong.  

Qatayef at Tabard Inn

Washington, D.C.

 

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Brunch at Tabard Inn is something of a rite of passage in D.C. Sleepy-eyed folks from all over the country flock here each weekend just to say they've tasted the 95-year-old hotel and restaurant's legendary doughnuts and, of course, its most unique option: qatayef. This traditional Syrian-style breakfast dish consists of two melt-in-your-mouth pancakes, stuffed turnover-style with either velvety ricotta and orange zest or sweet honey and toasted walnuts, then covered in a fragrant layer of rosewater syrup.

Fried Rabbit & Waffles at River Roast

Chicago, IL

Never tasted rabbit? Well, if you happen to be brunching in Chicago, there's no time like the present to settle in with a piping-hot skillet full of succulent cottontail, cloaked in a superbly seasoned batter, fried crisp, laid upon a bed of Belgian waffles and drizzled with an artisanal maple syrup that strikes an impeccable balance between sweet and woodsy. Chicken, it's time for you to fly the coop.

The Forager Breakfast Sandwich with House-Made Chowchow at High Street on Market

Philadelphia, PA

Not all breakfast sandwiches are created equal. The culinary geniuses behind this Philly mainstay have managed to break the mold with the Forager, an over-the-top mound of braised kale, seared king oyster mushrooms, nutty Swiss cheese and a silky fried egg, painted with a thick slab of black trumpet mayo, all cradled inside a poppy seed-encrusted kaiser roll (baked in-house, of course). It comes with a side of house-fermented eggplant and okra chowchow, a Southern-style pickle relish with a pronounced spicy kick to balance out all that richness. Tearing through this masterpiece feels like tromping through a lush forest after a hard rain, your senses enveloped in a verdant bouquet of textures, flavors and aromas. Trust us.

Pimento Cheese Omelet at Sun in My Belly

Atlanta, GA

 

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Pimento cheese is basically a religion down south. And Sun in My Belly's pimento cheese omelet, a gooey mess of the tangy spread folded into a fluffy, canary-yellow egg cloud lined with honey-glazed bacon, is as close to God as any brunch-fearing soul can get. The sharply designed neighborhood café's second-most original award goes to the French toast (also pictured below): Thick slices of syrup-laden heaven served in the shape of a split-top hot dog bun and jammed full of either sweet (honeyed ricotta, seasonal fruit) or savory (spinach and Parm with a mushroom béchamel cream and a sunny egg) goodness. Consider us saved.

  • Next-Level Chicken and Waffles

    Talde, Brooklyn, NY
    Top Chef alum Dale Talde brings the heat with this fiery Asian-inspired twist on the ultimate brunchy crowd-pleaser, which shares its first-place title with fellow cult-favorite breakfast ramen.

    Photo: Anne Massoni

  • Not-Your-Average Breakfast Sandwich

    High Street on Market, Philadelphia, PA
    Meet the Forager, a mighty breakfast sandwich packed with more umami-driven oomph than you can shake a stick at. Not pictured: spicy eggplant and okra chowchow, our hero's trusty, house-fermented sidekick.

    Photo: Marcus Nielsson

  • Bread Pudding + Whiskey for Breakfast

    Commander's Palace, New Orleans, LA
    Pastry-loving pilgrims come from near and far just to crack their spoons into Commander's Palace's decadent bread pudding soufflé, a pillowy heap of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and raisins, finished with a lava-flow of whiskey cream sauce.

    Photo: Michael Palumbo

  • Breakfast Salad (Trust Us)

    La Condesa, Austin, TX
    A much-appreciated break from Austin's taco and BBQ-heavy lineup, La Condesa's bright, whimsical and refreshing carrot and quinoa salad has what it takes to combat even the most scorching Texas summer sun.

    Photo: Amira Jensen

  • Move Over, Chicken: It's Fried Rabbit & Waffles

    River Roast, Chicago, IL
    This unconventional spin on the Southern classic pairs crispy fried rabbit meat with airy Belgian waffle wedges for one very usual—yet very tasty—breakfast adventure.

    Photo: Galdones Photography

  • Chocolate. Potato. Doughnuts.

    Tasty n Sons, Portland, OR
    Tasty n Sons' velvety, sugar-coated morsels of fried chocolate finish in a dead heat with the restaurant's best-selling Burmese red pork stew, so we have to give both beauties their due props.

    Photo: David L. Reamer

  • Go Dutch

    Milktooth, Indianapolis, IN
    Going Dutch at Milktooth doesn't mean just splitting the bill. These hearty hotcakes come in both savory and sweet varieties, and, depending on the day, arrive laden with toppings ranging from locally sourced ham and Gruyère to crabapple curd, pickled peanuts and shaved celery.

    Photo: Courtesy of Milktooth

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