Above: Salmon eggs Benedict at Sidecar Bar & Grille - not really new, but definitely worth checking out
Brunch is a beloved American tradition, but what defines this weekend meal and makes it different from “lunch”? We say three main ingredients make the difference. First, the menu includes dishes that revolve around eggs. Second, you are allowed - encouraged - to eat dessert as your main course. Third, and possibly most important, drinks are an essential part of the picture.
Long waits are the only downside to brunch, but with so many contenders, there’s really no need to stand in line. Here are the 10 hottest new brunch options in Philadelphia, along with picks for what to order and tips for when to visit. Go forth and seize the weekend.
Why It's Hot: Chef Rebecca O’Brien of Two Birds Catering and Canning has snagged the Sunday morning spot at the rotating food truck inside this game room and bar at the foot of the Italian Market. Early reports have been overwhelmingly positive - one guest even quipped that the “S.O.S.” (aka creamed chipped beef) is so good, it doesn’t deserve the moniker. Low prices plus a huge craft can-beer selection make this the Cinderella pick of the new brunch crop.
Must Order: House-baked cinnamon swirl French toast ($5.50), S.O.S. dog (creamed chipped beef on a hot dog with bacon and side of potatoes O’Brien with cheese; $5.50), breakfast sandwich with veggie sausage ($5.50)
Insider Tip: Proprietor Jason Evenchik maintains a standing “BYO food” policy, so if you really want a salad or a cheesesteak to complement Becca’s food, by all means, bring it along.
Hit It Up: Sundays, 11 AM-4 PM; 1231 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-278-2429
Why It's Hot: Later this spring, chef-owner V Beuria will move her East Passyunk cafe to a new, larger location down the block, but it’s still worth squeezing into her cozy original for a morning meal for two main reasons: great coffee and a killer assortment of waffles.
Must Order: Stuffed French toast waffle (cream cheese and fresh berry filling, bourbon-maple syrup; $9), cornbread waffles with sausage gravy and fried egg ($9), huevos rancheros waffle (cornbread waffle, black beans, avocado, chorizo, salsa, fried egg, Hollandaise; $11)
Insider Tip: Since dessert for your meal is what brunch is all about, ask about the house-baked pie of the day - recent offerings include rhubarb, apple-raspberry and Key lime.
Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 8 AM-6 PM; 1823 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-465-1000
Why It's Hot: Point Breeze’s high-end coffee shop recently expanded and now has seating so you can enjoy the sandwiches and salads made with local and fair trade ingredients right away. Both vegan and carnivorous appetites are catered to, the latter with all un-cured meats and cheeses for the freshest flavors. NB: specials change often and sometimes sell out.
Must Order: The Porker (uncured bacon, ham, pork roll, sharp cheddar, farm egg, on a pretzel roll; $7.50), breakfast patty melt (grass-fed beef, spring onion mayo, cheddar, egg, on grilled honey wheat; $7), Buffalo seitan hoagie ($7.50)
Insider Tip: Nonalcoholic drinks here are as interesting as any boozy concoction. Choose from a selection of Reading Draft sodas (blueberry birch!), Mexican Coke and Sprite, coconut water and kombucha.
Hit It Up: Saturday, 9 AM-5 PM; Sunday, 9 AM-3:30 PM; 1200 Point Breeze Ave.; 267-858-4186
Why It's Hot: This Fitler Square bistro is the perfect place to watch the neighborhood come alive - once outdoor seating begins, sit on either side of the huge paned windows that enclose the corner space and take in spring. The reawakening is a perfect match for chef Rob Marzinsky’s food, which is refreshing with unique touches but also soulful and comforting.
Must Order: Smoked trout salad with Metropolitan bakery fennel pretzel ($8), braised pork shoulder with Castle Valley Mills grits and fried egg ($18), egg white omelet (because this one comes with peekytoe crab and trout roe; $12)
Insider Tip: If it suits your tastes, go totally unorthodox and get a cheese plate and oysters for your morning meal - both are specialties of the house, done exactly right.
Hit It Up: Sunday, 11 AM-3 PM; 2201 Spruce St.; 215-732-3331
Why It's Hot: Live sitar music plays at just the right volume level during brunch at this Midtown Village newcomer (the BYO version in Collingswood is a well-known favorite), creating a relaxing environment that’s equally conducive to samosas or omelets. Indian flavors mingle through the entire menu, but there are plenty of options for less-adventurous palates too.
Must Order: Challah mango French toast with cardamom-maple syrup ($11), masala omelet with tomato chutney and maple-soaked bacon ($10); crispy spinach chaat ($8)
Insider Tip: Though not a typical brunch meal, the best deal in the house is the “thali” tasting platters, which bring an assortment of chef’s choice dishes arranged in appetizing tins on a large round basket with plenty of naan and rice to scoop them up ($15-$17).
Hit It Up: Sunday, 11 AM-3 PM; 205 S. 13th St.; 215-545-4633
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; 308 Market St.; 215-625-0988
Why It's Hot: Jose Garces’ Wash West dining room has undergone lots of changes in the last year, trading out the gourmet deli counter for an expansive bar and adding a serious booze program. Now brunch has also gotten an upgrade.
Must Order: Baked eggs in spicy tomato stew with guanciale and black olive toast ($10), maple mascarpone polenta ($5), brunch steak frites (grilled flat iron, sunny-side-up eggs, roasted potatoes, truffled Bearnaise, for the table; $29 per person)
Insider Tip: Though there’s a good selection of à la carte sangrias, cocktails, punch, beer and wine, you can also BYO or pick up a bottle at the in-house Fine Wine & Good Spirits store (know there will be a $15 corkage fee).
Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 11 AM-3 PM; 1111 Locust St.; 215-574-1099
Why It's Hot: Now that live jazz makes the place really sing at night, this glitzy dining room below the Chestnut Hill Hotel (from the same team behind Heirloom) is ready to face weekend mornings. Chef Al Paris does a spot-on rendition of a French bistro menu, so you can make an easy, brief escape to the City of Lights.
Must Order: Croque madame ($14), sweet potato crêpe with frizzled shallots ($14), crab eggs Benedict ($17)
Insider Tip: Know anyone who’s a French citizen? Bring them along - they’ll get a free champagne cocktail as a welcome.
Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 11 AM-2:30 PM; 8229 Germantown Ave.; 215-242-6200
Why It's Hot: Miguel Martí Rossello is channeling his native Majorca at this Ninth Street tapas stop, housed in a space much larger than most others in the Italian Market. Head inside and sit at a large communal table or booths next to the open kitchen, and get your brunch via a small-plate parade or a large egg platter, preferably with a healthy pour of cava.
Must Order: Rotos a la Catalana (fried eggs, Catalan sausage, chickpeas, potatoes, tomato, spinach; $12), crepa de langostinos y setas (scrambled egg crêpe wrapped around shrimp, leeks, mushrooms and Manchego; $12)
Insider Tip: If you’re a late-riser, this is your best bet, since brunch is served all day long, even throughout the evening. Everything happens fashionably late in Spain anyway.
Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 1 PM-10 PM; 940 S. Ninth St.; 215-925-1010
Why It's Hot: South Philadelphians who lamented the loss of brunch haven Carmen’s Country Kitchen will find solace in Christine Liskowicz’s replacement. Both Portuguese and Polish flavors and ingredients are scattered over the low-priced, all-day brunch menu, and the bright interior is now relatively uncluttered and welcoming.
Must Order: Banana s’mores French toast with maple-pecan syrup ($5), Portuguese Black Dawg (poached eggs, linguica sausage, salt cod cakes, potato-olive hash, cilantro yogurt dressing; $11), Yo Cuz (fried chicken ’n’ waffle sandwich with jalapeño-maple yogurt glaze; $8)
Insider Tip: Spice fans are in luck, because there are several housemade hot sauces to choose from, each with its own special kick.
Hit It Up: Saturday-Sunday, 9 AM-5 PM; 1301 S. 11th St.; 267-928-3956