For Brunch

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 $20-40 a person.

Tried and True:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 for most people, but worth it.
  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. Parallel: This Middle Eastern brunch spot is just…very cool. The industrial vibes make you feel like you stepped into Brooklyn for a day. Make sure to pick up some of their fresh pita and tahini-based goods to go. Potential drawback: The location is in an industrial parking lot.
  5. Aloette: This is the casual arm of the Alo group and this stylish establishment 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.
  6. Bodega Henriette: Simple, no fuss, Contemporary Canadian brunch classics in a cozy space. Potential drawback: Small space in a very residential area.
  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 are usually swamped and do not have capacity to care too much.
  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. 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.
  10. Souk Tabule: 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. 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 have their regulars, and the first visit may be a bit overwhelming if you’re not familiar with their system and style.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Cafe Landwer: So here’s the thing – most people do not pick Cafe Landwer as their first choice in a vacuum, but it’s often the best choice when you’re picking a place in that awkward mid-Financial-ish District area or at Yonge and Bloor. I have been here more times than any other brunch spot on this list and never regret it. I highly recommend joining their waitlist online before showing up. Potential drawback: The coffee leaves much to be desired, and some of the pastries have way too much sugar.
  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 Liberty Village crowd will beat you to the line.
  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.

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. The Good Fork: I hear good things about their pancakes.
  6. Eggstatic: I look forward to exploring this artisan experience.
  7. O’Somae: Looks really lovely

Last Updated: July 2023