13 of our favourite brunch spots in Toronto right now
We're going way beyond eggs Benny, from breakfast pizzas to pork-belly French toast
75 Portland St., 416-599-2822, buca.ca/bar
Bar Buca is an all-day, Euro-style snack bar—the kind of place where you can grab a morning cappuccino, lunch or a post-work aperitivo. For weekend brunch, scrambled eggs are blended with gooey burrata and garnished with shaved black truffles. Executive chef Rob Gentile also makes traditional Tuscan pig’s blood crêpes, but instead of plain vanilla sugar as a garnish, he slathers them with a chocolate concerto sauce and crème anglaise.
1801 Gerrard St. E., 416-546-6261, @bodegahenriette
This jack-of-all-trades spot, tucked away on a residential stretch of Gerrard, is worth seeking out for a mid-morning meal. It’s homey, casual and practical, with a section devoted to pantry essentials: butter, milk, produce, baked goodies, coffee and gorgeous bread from Petite Thuet. Brunch dishes include some pleasantly porky plates, like savoury French toast (with pork belly), a barbecue peameal sandwich and ham hock croquettes.
1120 College St., 647-352-7322, pomegranaterestaurant.ca/tavoos
This Iranian brunch restaurant brings a touch of ceremony to the otherwise no-frills College and Dufferin strip. The room is loaded with murals, pottery and chandeliers, and diners can sit around a Persian rug. The shahrudi is a highlight: sunny-side-up eggs perched on top of crispy fried potatoes, dressed with creamy feta and olives coated in sweet walnut and pomegranate paste.
Emma’s Country Kitchen
810 St. Clair Ave. W, 416-652-3662, emmascountryskitchen.com
At St. Clair West brunch mainstay ECK, weekend diners line up well before the restaurant’s 9 a.m. opening time for their French toast fix. This is no-frills, morning-meal stuff—eggs, fluffy pancakes and bowls of wholesome baked oatmeal, catering largely to families with tiny tots in tow. A big slice of the daily quiche is served alongside red-skinned potatoes, salad or fruit; house-made biscuits are dense and buttery, served on their own or smothered in gravy, with a side of scrambled eggs. There are a couple of beers on tap, plus classic hair-of-the-dog brunch cocktails—including a pitcher of mimosas for the table. Don’t forget to grab a doughnut on your way out.
892 Queen St. E., 416-465-4888, lilbaci.com
Leftover pizza is a sometimes morning food, but at this Leslieville trattoria, the pizzaiolos are pulling legitimate brunch pies out of the oven. The Festa is topped with your standard breakfast combo—sunny-side- up eggs, sausage, bacon (okay, pancetta)—then smothered in mozzarella. Every third bite comes with a hit of rosemary.
226 Greenwood Ave., 416-462-2703, mahasbrunch.com
At this tiny east-end kitchen, owner Maha Barsoom and her family send out over-the-top-delicious Egyptian brunch. The falafel—flatter and darker than their Lebanese counterparts, and sesame seed–encrusted—are a contender for the city’s best, and the Pharaoh’s Shrimp Po’ Boy is clever and tasty; tender shrimp, fried in a crisp batter, is stuffed into a warm pita and liberally sauced with tomeya, an Egyptian garlic mayo. Who needs eggs Benny?
638 Queen St. W., 647-748-6822, fidelgastros.com
As founder of the Fidel Gastro food truck, Matt Basile built his reputation on delicious, decadent sandwiches. At his restaurant, Lisa Marie, he injects the same passion into brunch. His double-pancake pork burger is like the junk food love child of a Big Mac and a McGriddle. Two pork burgers topped with melted American cheese come sandwiched between a trio of hotcakes, then layered with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and a house-made Thousand Island dressing.
1627 Dupont St., 416-561-9114, farmhousehospitality.tumblr.com
Since opening, this Junction Triangle kitchen has been an ode to all things local, seasonal and—more often than not—gloriously, gluttonously meaty. To wit, the Mother and Child (a duck-themed scotch egg) and foie gras French toast. The Barnyard Burger—a beef patty with thick-cut bacon, goat cheese, a fried duck egg and Russian dressing—is still one of the best burgers in town.
328 Wellington St. W., 416-935-0400, luckeerestaurant.com
Susur Lee spent his entire career running from traditional Chinese food, determined to be worshipped as a master of invention. Then, in 2014, he turned around and opened Luckee, a restaurant devoted to dim sum—the ultimate hangover cure, what with all those savoury dumplings and hydrating pots of steaming tea, and everyone too busy grazing to keep up a serious conversation. No surprise, he makes some of the best char siu, har gow and pork bao around.
Uncle Betty’s Diner
2590 Yonge St., 416-483-2590, unclebettys.com
An uptown gem, this greasy spoon has all the hallmarks of a hipster hot spot (hirsute servers in Jays caps, chalkboard menu), but it’s also got a stack of high chairs, which makes it a perfect Sunday morning refuge for young families. They come for the eggs Benny on a house-made doughnut; the kids’ menu features classics like grilled cheese and French toast.
898 Queen St. E., 647-351-7645, ladymarmalade.ca
In Mexico, huevos migas means fridge purge—a mash-up of stale tortillas, last night’s tacos and almost-expired condiments. At this cheery Leslieville café, that kitchen sink breakfast is refined with cilantro-infused crema, pico de gallo and brown basmati rice, but it retains the dish’s rustic, waist-expanding soul.
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Ave., 416-588-5695, templekitchen.com
Mildred’s take on steak and eggs is a daunting open-faced sandwich called the Manhandler. The pièce de résistance is a six-ounce flatiron, grilled medium rare and served on a thick slice of toasted sourdough smeared with garlic butter. Two sunny-side-up eggs top it off.
1438 Dundas St. W., 647-352-9120, thefed.ca
Dundas West’s busy brunch spot caters to west-enders recuperating after a night of boozing—and astronauts weaning themselves off freeze-dried space grub. When Chris Hadfield visited, he ordered the most decadent dish on the menu: French toast topped with foie gras, bacon, medjool dates and almond butter.