Brunch is sacred in Toronto. On days off, locals flock to their favourite spots for plates of eggs benedict, piles of bacon, or stacks of pancakes and waffles – with maple syrup, naturally. Brunch (often boozy) is a leisurely kick-off to the Toronto weekend, but if you don't have insider knowledge it's hard to know which to choose among dozens of top contenders. So we've done the hard work for you: here are 12 of the city's best.
As one of the long-standing local favourites for brunch in Toronto, Aunties & Uncles is a good place to start if you want to find the typical brunch experience. Pancakes, French toast, breakfast tacos – the works. Look out for the peameal bacon in various dishes across the menu; this is bacon Canada-style, where the pork is cured and rolled in cornmeal before being thickly sliced.
Eggs benedict (Shutterstock)
Located in Toronto's hip Leslieville neighbourhood, Lady Marmalade is best known for its creative Eggs Benedict. You'll find the usual hollandaise and bacon combo, but also pulled pork, cheddar and mango salsa, or cream cheese and pesto. Local produce is sourced where possible, so this is an ideal spot for ethical eaters.
If you're indecisive, don't go to Easy Restaurant. Their whopping menu – available at both the Little Italy and Parkdale locations – will have you umming-and-ahhing between smoked salmon and caviar on English muffins, various styles of Mexican eggs, and sweet treats like Brioche French Toast or Belgian Mini Waffles. Portions and drinks are super-sized, so come ravenous.
Deep fried chicken with waffle (Shutterstock)
As a smokehouse, The Stockyards is a little more popular for lunch or dinner, but on Sunday they fire up the grills for a smokey brunch session. Try the signature beef brisket or classic fried chicken and waffles for a typical Canadian feast. A small breakfast menu is available on weekdays, but it's worth going on Sunday for the full version.
Sweet brioche (Shutterstock)
This French bakery is a more refined, less greasy choice for brunch. Think omelettes, quiche, smoked salmon, and mounds of pastries. Bonjour Brioche is quaint and wholesome, but you can still find a strong mimosa cocktail here for a boozy addition to your meal.
Rose & Sons is where adventurous eaters should go for a completely different brunch experience in Toronto – cornmeal griddled trout and poached eggs in red chili pork are two highlights on the restaurant's unique menu. The chef's creative spin pulls in a decent haul of locals each weekend, no doubt helped by the fact that it's in The Annex, a neighbourhood popular with students.
Well if Anthony Bourdain likes it, it must be good – right? The foodie legend Beast his blessing when he passed through town, praising chef Scott Vivian for his ingenuity. Everything on the menu here is rich and flavourful, but the breakfast sandwiches in particular are worth paying attention to. Meat lovers will be very happy here, as quality cuts are top priority.
Waffle fanatics look no further: Starving Artist has you covered. Sweet and savoury waffles with all kinds of toppings pack the daily brunch menu, even BLTs and club sandwiches made with waffles instead of bread – yes, such things exist.
One of the best places in central downtown to catch brunch, Le Petit Déjeuner serves Belgian-Canadian comfort food to the busy weekend crowds. Highlights include Authentic Belgian Waffles and The Hungry Gal, their twist on a full breakfast complete with apple coleslaw.
Belgian waffles (Shutterstock)
Among the high-rises of Liberty Village, home to many young professionals, is straightforward good-food joint School. Weekday brunch is a simple menu of waffles, eggs, and pancakes, and weekend brunch gets creative with French toast rolled in cereal and orange maple marmalade, or a breakfast spin on poutine, Canada's famous fries-gravy-cheese dish. Expect to loosen your belts after this one.
To add a little Latin flavour to your brunch in Toronto, there are few better places than La Cubana. Chorizo, empanadas, chimichurri, and dulce de leche all grace the menu, and each main is served with rice and beans, tostones (fried plantain slices), and 'slaw. Save room for Key Lime Pie as dessert.
The Drake Hotel is a painfully hip addition to Toronto's Queen West area, reflected perfectly in their brunch menu. It's the kind of place where you find root vegetable hash instead of home fries, and sourdough toast as standard. Oh, and you can add Nova Scotia lobster to your frittata. The brunch here is well worth splashing out on and the scones are famous throughout town.
You may opt for a mimosa as your go-to boozy brunch drink, but in Canada they like to do things a little differently. Most Canadians will order a Caesar with their brunches, which is like a Bloody Mary but instead of tomato juice they use clamado – a blend of tomato and clam juice.
Mason jar caesars (Shutterstock)
Rim a glass with celery salt and mix with vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco, finished with a stick of celery – and you have a classic Caesar. The clam juice might not make it sound appetising, but this fiery kick creates a unique Canadian tipple that's adored by locals.
Order spicy if desired, and look out for wild variations – a lot of brunch places get creative and add all kinds of extras, from pickle juice or horseradish, to a lobster tail curled out of the top of the glass.
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