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, without being stupid. 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 underrated chefs, and his airy, understated restaurant has a lot to offer in terms 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, and you will need to drive (or take the free shuttle from Broadview Station).
  2. 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.
  3. The Green Wood: This is the kind of place to take those out-of-town friends who want to experience “typical Toronto”. 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. The White Lily Diner: This place provides the greasy spoon experience without any of the grease, and all of the spoon. The cozy, mustard-yellow booth seating is a perfect backdrop for their high quality, simple dishes. Potential drawback: the space is tiny, and the wait time is real.
  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 dishes.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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 quality of service is positively correlated to how much you show just how grateful you are to eat there. 
  9. 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 (their “baby highchars” 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.
  10. 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. 

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Lil Baci: This authentic Italian restaurant takes their brunch pizzas seriously, and their duck fat potatoes are pretty great as well. Potential drawback: Not many, but I guess their tables are a bit small.
  2. Aunties and Uncles: Everyone loves the simplicity of this place and the breakfast burger is always on point. Potential drawback: The stairs leading up to the bathroom are kind of a death trap.
  3. 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, there is a lingering corporate vibe that I can’t quite describe. 
  4. 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.
  5. Fiorentina: A very cute spot on the Danforth featuring local fare and lots of fresh pastries. Potential drawback: The service can be a bit slow (or strange).
  6. 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.
  7. The Stockyards: Good for chicken and waffles and anything Southern, this place used to draw an impossibly long line down St. Clair Ave. Potential drawback: Most of the seating is high-top bar stools. 
  8. Starving Artist: There are two locations, and the one on St. Clair Ave. is perfect for a relaxed morning with waffles. It’s a good place to bring your kids, or bring your laptop. Potential drawback: There are usually a lot of strollers and a lot of laptops.

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.

Note: Bareburger, The Saint Tavern, Lola’s and L’Ouvrier are all now closed! The Carbon Bar has also stopped offering brunch. So long, former favourite brunch spots.

Last Updated: January 2019