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12 Hottest Brunches Across America

By Kelly Dobkin
March 25, 2014

From trendy takes on dim sum to small plates Mediterranean, here are 12 of the hottest brunch destinations around the U.S. Put these in your back pocket when traveling around the country this spring.

  • Austin: laV  

    Why It’s Hot: The modern French restaurant just opened and is already impressing with its ornate but comfortable interior, stunning cuisine and all-star cast, including James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef Janina O’Leary, one of our Austin 30 Under 30 honorees.

    Must Order: Go traditional with scrambled eggs with smoked trout caviar on toasted brioche; over the top with a grass-fed lamb burger with harissa, watercress, pickled onion and french fries; or sweet with brioche donuts with berry jam and vanilla-bean pastry cream, and Nutella shortbread cookie sandwiches.

    Insider Tip: Make a reservation and don’t worry about the wait.

    Hit It Up: Sunday, 11 AM to 2:30 PM

  • Chicago: Fat Rice

    Why It's Hot: After more than a year of successful dinner service and six weeks of practice runs, the Cha Gordo, or Fat Tea, brunch menu launched earlier this month. A mix of Macanese- and Cantonese-style dumplings round out the dim-sum-style menu.

    Must Order: Ten karat dumplings

    Insider Tip: No reservations, but go on Friday to avoid a wait.

    Hit It Up: Friday, 11 AM to 2 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM to 3 PM; 2957 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-661-9170

  • Photo by: Old Major

    Denver: Old Major

    Why It's Hot: Also in LoHi, chef-owner Justin Brunson recently (regulars would say “finally”) began serving brunch at this beloved farm-to-fork-and-nose-to-tail destination. Compared to dinner, the menu is deceptively simple, its twists subtle.

    Must Order: Sriracha honey drizzled on chicken and waffles here, sous-vide eggs topping salmon-pastrami Benedict there. But the cocktail list is even sneakier, what with whipped-cream-garnished punch bowls and an herbed gin-and-tonic called the Tanqueray-and-chronic. (Before you beat down those doors, keep in mind that it’s just a joke.)

    Insider's Tip: Come late, linger a while, and you can ease right on into happy hour - the spring menu just launched with a kimchi pork burger and a pizza of the day, among other things.

    Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 9:30 AM-2 PM

  • Houston: Cook and Collins

    Why It's Hot: Though we were sad to see the blue margaritas of El Patio go, this new comfort-food spot in Midtown can see us through any post-drink recovery. Dishes like horchata oatmeal and fried chicken and biscuits take center stage, which is definitely not always the case in this nightlife-focused neighborhood.

    Must Order: Feeling more on the “unch” side of brunch? Try the BBQ Breakfast: pork belly, mac 'n' cheese and a blueberry muffin with cinnamon crumble.

    Insider Tip: Grab a table on the breezy upstairs balcony if you can.

    Hit It Up: Saturday, 10:30 AM-3 PM, Sunday, 9:30 AM-4 PM

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Los Angeles: LA Chapter

    Why It's Hot: The restaurant anchors the edgy and bold Ace Hotel, a new hipster epicenter on Broadway in Downtown LA. Brunch looks good on the sunny sidewalk patio and in the high-ceilinged space inside.

    Must Order: Steak and eggs: the classic breakfast staple gets a bold twist with a beautiful grilled Berkshire pork sirloin and soft scrambled eggs topped with cracklins; fluffy housemade ricotta with plump figs and honeycomb; sage scrambled egg panini with spicy tomato jam; and malted buckwheat waffles with bananas and berries. The Bloody Mary is spicy as it should be, and the Carnation, blood orange juice and sparkling rosé, goes down way too easy.

    Insider Tip: Wait for a table at the marble-topped bar or in the mezzanine, or grab a drink at Upstairs, the rooftop bar.

    Hit It Up: Monday-Friday, 7 AM-3:30 PM, and Saturday-Sunday, 8 AM-3:30 PM

  • Miami: Lorenzo

    Why It's Hot: Chicago’s Bar Toma pops up inside South Beach's Lorenzo during brunch for a limited time.

    Must Order: Pizza carbonara made with eggs, La Quercia guanciale, pecorino pepato, mozzarella and black pepper.

    Insider Tip: Free valet parking sweetens the deal.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays, 11 AM-4 PM

  • New York City: Estela

    Why It's Hot: The just-launched brunch program at this NYC hotspot is already drawing buzz for its trendy small-plates approach to brunch.

    Must Order: Mussels escabeche on toast; Avocado, pancetta and egg on Danish pastry (tebirke); Lamb ribs with charmoula and honey.

    Insider Tip: There's a great menu of sparkling wines to go perfectly with the brunch menu.

    Hit It Up: 11AM-2:30 PM Sat-Sun

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: High Street on Market

    Why It's Hot: Under the direction of super-hot chef Eli Kulp, this reimagining of the cafe next door to Fork is really coming into its own. Baker Alex Bois is putting out some of the best breads this side of the Atlantic, found in eclectic breakfast sandwiches and now, regular ol’ bagels, and pastry chef Sam Kincaid is also killing the baked-goods beat with her inventive pastries.

    Must Order: Beet-cured salmon on pretzel roll with celery cream cheese ($9), The Hickory Town (Lancaster bologna, farm egg, Amish horseradish cheddar, gherkin mayo, fried red onions; $8.50), Red Eye Danish (coffee gravy, Benton’s smoked ham, Gruyère; $3.50)

    Insider Tip: Rival Bros. coffee is always good, but here the beans get special treatment, whether you splurge on a latte or sip it straight. For a tipsier morning, ask about the selection of house-bottled cocktails or pickle-garnished Bloody Mary.

    Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 8 AM-3:30 PM

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    San Diego: Café 21

    Why It's Hot: This place is so popular, it's opening a third location to meet demands. Meanwhile, their existing Downtown location is moving to a bigger spot a few doors down the way.

    Must Order: Tiramisu pancakes (these cocoa-laced cakes layered with mascarpone cream) and the farmer's market board (pictured)

    Insider Tip: Reservations are accepted Monday through Friday. But on the weekend it’s first-come, first-served, which makes scoring a table trickier.

    Hit It Up: Every day, 8 AM-1 PM

  • Photo by: Tamara Palmer

    San FranciscoNamu Gaji

    Why It's Hot: The popular weekend brunch service was recently extended into the work week.

    Must Order: Egg sandwich with kimchi relish on sourdough brioche ($9), bourbon challah French toast ($12)

    Insider Tip: You can also order the egg sandwich and dishes such as loco moco with kimchi fried rice at the Namu Street Food stand on Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

    Hit It Up: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 4 PM

  • Photo by: Claire Nelson

    Seattle: Rock Creek

    Why It's Great: Massive Southern-inspired flavor is front and center in this lovely, light-drenched dining room where a rolling garage door is raised all the way up during the warm weather months. 

    Must Order: Oyster fans need to get on board with chef Eric Donnelly's genius Benedict that features those plump bivalves, breaded and fried and doused in one of the most brilliant hollandaise sauces in the city. This dynamite dish swaps out the tired English muffin for pillow-y soft brioche and showcases crispy Nueske's bacon instead of limp ham. Add a perfectly poached egg to this mix, and it's a flawless update of that beloved classic.

    Insider Tip: Eat dessert first. The apple-ricotta beignets are crazy good, and if you wait until after the meal, you might be too stuffed to eat them.

    Hit It Up: 9 AM-3 PM, Saturday and Sunday. 

  • Photo by: Scott Suchman

    Washington, DC: Republic

    Why It's Hot: Takoma Park has been positively desperate for more dining options for a long time now, and we're guessing the Republic fever will only heighten once the patio opens.

    Must Order: Duck confit Cubano with country ham, pickles and poblano chiles ($14); Republic burger with smoked bacon and mustard-ale cheese ($13); brioche French toast with pear compote and maple syrup ($11) 

    Insider Tip: This is the place to order a Bloody Mary, which is made with charred tomatoes and a house blend of spices. The standard Bloody Mary ($10) comes with Sobieski vodka; the Bloody Maria ($10) is spiked with Sauza Blanco tequila; and the Rena Maria arrives with Old Bay spiced shrimp ($12).

    Hit It Up: Saturday, 11 AM-2:30 PM; Sunday, 10:30 AM-2:30 PM

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