For Brunch

A hardcore tradition of the modern North American city

Brunch in Toronto is largely driven by neighbourhood. The chances of you dragging your butt to Leslieville from the West End to stand in an hour-long line at 11:00 AM are pretty slim.  Let’s face it — you’re probably going to head down the street to the place you always go. Then again, if you ever find yourself on someone’s else’s turf, here’s a list of places you should give a try, even if it’s just for another take on Eggs Benny. A good brunch place should provide something interesting and fun, and not too overpriced. Bonus points if they can manage an efficient and generally stress-free line (or even better, reservations!). Average price between $20-30 a person.

Tried and True:

  1. Cafe Belong: Chef Brad Long is one of Toronto’s most intriguing, raw milk drinking chefs, and his airy, garden-to-table restaurant has a lot to offer in the category of local, sustainable, and flavourful dishes. Pair your visit to the restaurant with an Evergreen Brickworks market stroll and you’ve got yourself a perfect start to the weekend. 
    Potential drawback: It’s a little out of the way, but worth it.
  2. The White Lily Diner: This place provides the greasy spoon experience without most of the grease, and all of the spoon. The cozy, mustard-yellow booth seating is a perfect backdrop for their high quality, wholesome dishes such as biscuits and gravy, and homemade doughnuts.
    Potential drawback: The space is tiny, and the wait time is real.
  3. The Green Wood: This is the kind of place to take those out-of-town friends who want to experience a quality “typical Toronto” meal. Proudly using locally-sourced Ontario ingredients, their Toronto-style international breakfast dishes will leave you with that “just right” feeling you crave on a Sunday morning.
    Potential drawback: The stairs leading down to the restaurant may be a problem for some.
  4. Aloette: Oh, this is a great diner alright, and a stylish establishment that doesn’t miss a beat. You can add an egg onto the famous Alo Burger free of charge to make it a brunch item.
    Potential drawback: It’s hard to get a spot at this no-reservations place.
  5. Takht-e Tavoos: Imagine a small nook of a restaurant filled with handmade Persian textiles, tablecloths, lanterns, and tiles. Then, imagine eating sunnyside eggs encrusted with fruits and nuts, served alongside a beautifully-presented pot of Persian chai.
    Potential drawback: There are a lot of regulars, and the first visit may be a bit overwhelming if you’re not familiar with their system and style.
  6. Bar Buca: The Buca establishments are known for their decadent take on rustic Italian fare. Instead of your usual eggs, treat yourself to their strapazzate, composed of mixed pulled farm eggs, burrata and black truffles. Make sure to start with a few pastries and a signature espresso beverage too.
    Potential drawback: The King Street West crowd is better during the day than at night, but there’s still an over-the-top energy here that may be a bit of a turn-off for some.
  7. Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie: The most elegant space in the Distillery District that offers a Torontonian French take on classics like the Basque Benny with three eggs on avocado toast with avocado Hollandaise.
    Potential drawback: The servers don’t need you. You need them.
  8. Gusto 101: If you like their pizzas and pasta in the evenings, come back for their Uova in Camica (Italian eggs Benedict with olive oil hollandaise and focaccia). Reservations available and recommended. As an aside, their baby high chairs are also amazing.
    Potential drawback: The lower level is a bit too dark for brunch, but they usually try to fill the upstairs space first anyway.
  9. Souk Table: A sister restaurant to the wildly popular Tabülè, this casual Middle Eastern restaurant is the best thing in the Canary District right now.
    Potential drawback: It’s an order-at-the-counter operation, and you may have to share your table. 
  10. True True Diner: King Street East had been anxiously awaiting the re-open of the former hip pizza spot for months, and I’m pleased to say we now have our final product. This place is not only good, it’s got a cool story as well (see website to learn more).
    Potential drawback: There are still a few tweaks they’re workshopping.

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Emma’s Country Kitchen: This quaint, checkered-tablecloth, single-daisy-on-the-table restaurant is a St. Clair Ave. treasure. If the line is too long, pick up a half-dozen biscuits or doughnuts to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
    Potential drawback: For those who are on “New York City brunch time”, be advised that they close at 3:00 PM on the weekends (and sell out of doughnuts long before then).
  2. Aunties and Uncles: Everyone loves the simplicity and nostalgia of this student favourite and the breakfast burger is always on point.
    Potential drawback: The stairs leading up to the bathroom are a rickety death trap.
  3. Farmhouse Tavern: This barnyard-chic establishment is filled with dedicated patrons seeking a twist on familiar weekend items (check out their chalkboard for your options). Reservations available and recommended. 
    Potential drawback: The service seems to be positively correlated to how much of a regular you are.
  4. Fiorentina: A very cute spot on the Danforth featuring local fare like quiches and fried chicken with kohlrabi and herb salad, and lots of fresh pastries.
    Potential drawback: The service can be a bit slow, and strange.
  5. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen: An excellent Liberty Village choice, especially if you have a hankering for giant pancakes.
    Potential drawback: While it is a beautiful neighbourhood space with great food, the food lacks the fun, crispy bits, if you know what I mean. 
  6. Saving Grace: This unassuming brunch spot has been open since 2000, and every weekend continues to draw a crowd. The punchy flavours and mismatched plates make it feel like you’re eating breakfast at your best friend’s house. 
    Potential drawback: Their coffee is definitely not as good as their food.
  7. La Cubana: It’s not about the authenticity of the Cuban experience so much as it is about finding a cool place to enjoy a satisfying plate of fried plantains, rice and meat. The original teal-tiled Ossington restaurant has been a Toronto favourite for years, and now has several locations.
    Potential drawback: They serve food at brunch time, but their dishes are not classic brunch food.
  8. Saving Gigi: A fun, easy-going spot on Bloor that is more of a “cafe that happens to be making good food” than actual restaurant. Simple fare and excellent baking. The Shakshuka was a comforting bowl on a rainy day.
    Potential drawback: Getting to the bathroom involves basement stairs, fitting through a door that only opens about 30 degrees, and dealing with an extremely hot kitchen venting from upstairs.
  9. Insomnia: This place is a bit of a cult favourite for the Bloor St. Crowd. The best part is they offer brunch during weekdays as well. Try their coffee, and try their potatoes!
    Potential drawback: This is not a particularly glamorous spot.
  10. Smith: The patio here is one of the cutest little things you ever did see. There is always a crowd, but the restaurant can accommodate many more than they let on from the outside. 
    Potential drawback: This place used to be my favourite, but they have downsized their portions significantly, and have been cutting a few other corners to save on costs.

On My Radar:     

  1. Maha’s: “Food made 5000 years ago, served 5000 years later”. Can’t wait to visit this Egyptian brunch spot.
  2. Cafe Cancan: Chef Victor Barry’s interpretation of a French Bistro? Sounds good to me.
  3. Jack and Lil’s: A South African driven communal atmosphere with a lot of healthy options.
  4. Chadwick’s: I used to love Fanny Chadwick’s when I lived closer to the Dupont area, but have not been back since their revamp and have heard great things.
  5. White Brick Kitchen: I loved it when I first visited, but haven’t been back in five years. I intend on returning soon for chicken and waffles.
  6. The Good Fork: I hear good things about their pancakes.
  7. Eggstatic: I look forward to exploring this artisan experience.

Last Updated: October 2019