Brunch is a SPORT in Toronto of which I am an avidly passionate participant. If there were trophies awarded, I would be a heavily decorated and widely celebrated Olympic champion of brunch. I would be in the Hall of Fame of brunch, earning a hefty 7-figure salary in my prime and continue to rake in that athlete money upon retiring through lucrative endorsement deals, shilling packages of high-sodium bacon with my FACE on it.
Alas, brunch is not an actual sport. While my bank account doesn’t grow, my food baby does. What I don’t gain in endorsement deals, I gain in pounds. #worthit
Brunch is for breakfast lovers who are not morning people. Or hungover people. Those are essentially synonymous.
Anyways, if you were nodding along and muttering “PREACH” to everything I just said, then Toronto is the city to let your brunch flag fly. Not only is it socially acceptable to drink alcohol in orange juice (without lying about it) but you still have the rest of the day to laze around after.
It’s a Herculean feat for me to narrow down where my favourite brunch spots are as it depends on my mood and where is fresh in the ever-changing landscape of my distractible mind. BUT if I had to recommend 6 places (with some honourable mentions) then it would be as follows (in no particular order):
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
Who the hell wakes up at 8am on a Saturday?! People dedicated to getting a good seat at brunch, that’s who. Despite having been around for over 10 years, this Liberty Village locale is still a strong brunch contender in The 6ix. Even if you go for 9am open, you’re guaranteed at least a 15-minute wait before being ushered into the spacious, high-ceiling room, full of natural lighting. It’s worth noting that if you’re looking to booze it up with a mimosa, they start serving alcohol at 11am.
What to order? Getting the infamous Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes to share is non-negotiable. You’ll thank me later. For some protein, order The Manhandler (the name really resonated with me) – an open-faced flat iron steak sandwich topped with plump sunny-side up eggs. Veda’s Choice is for the eggs benny aficionado, replacing the English muffin with a flakey croissant
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen | 85 Hanna Ave #104
Formerly known as The Federal Reserve, this Dundas West establishment has nothing to do with banking and everything to do with hangover cures in the form of brunch necessities. Laid back vibes paired with exposed brick walls and small, wood tables is the perfect morning spot to revive yourself after a long night of drinking. Grab a stool at the window to drink in the natural light, the ideal accompaniment to your morning coffee.
What to order? I love me anything with mushrooms and Eggs Federal version of eggs benny comes smothered in a mushroom tarragon cream (restrain yourself from licking the plate clean), served with crispy potato latkes. For hair of the dog, get the House Caesar that comes with a nacho garnish.
The Federal | 1438 Dundas St W
This is an all-day Toronto brunch cult classic, so popular that it relocated from its original spot on Queen East to a 2-level, cedar clad exterior on Broadview. After the requisite wait, you’re ushered into a zen interior of light birch wood, the narrow room lined with lush hanging plants, as you peruse a menu of classic brunch dishes served with twist and made with quality local produce.
What to order? The ultimate Canadian breakfast, get the A.M. Poutine (miso gravy drizzled atop melty cheese curds, home fries and scallions) and opt to add poached eggs and bacon to your order (obviously). The Cochinita Pibil Eggs Benny with a Latin twist of Mexican-style slow roasted pulled pork will be one of the best you have in The 6ix.
Lady Marmalade | 265 Broadview Ave
This unassuming brunch favourite at Dundas and Bathurst is packed even on a Thursday at 2pm (doesn’t anyone work anymore?!) so don’t come hangry. Full of natural light and divided into 2 sections (one slightly elevated) choose from their signature dishes or consult the chalkboard menu for daily offerings that feature fresh, seasonal produce.
What to order? They’re known for serving up the best French toast in the city, made with thickly cut day-old baguette. For the health conscious, their daily salads are loaded with goodness like pomegranate seeds, couscous, avocado, bitter arugula, sliced almond with bacon and poached eggs for extra protein.
Saving Grace | 907 Dundas St W
Maha’s Fine Egyptian Foods
I generally crave breakfast classics – eggs, bacon, pancakes – but after finally trekking to Greenwood (north of Gerrard), I understand why Torontonians are clamouring for Egyptian cuisine as early as 8am(!). Maha’s is a modest 25-seat spot, cozy and eclectic, with a menu that will send your tastebuds abroad. Did I wait an hour for a seat for two? Yes, but let me tell you – it was WORTH it.
What to order? The sweet and savoury Date Grilled Cheese (bread was pressed and so buttery it was like brioche), Egyptian Falafel (soft-boiled eggs enrobed by the crisp exterior of a falafel, served with cumin home fries), Cairo Classic (a traditional breakfast mixture of fava, tomatoes and onions with slices of hardboiled egg fanned on top), Honey Cardamom Latte with almond milk.
Maha’s | 226 Greenwood Ave
This is one of my favourite watering holes no matter what time of day it is. Honestly, if you follow me on IG, Otto’s is featured in my stories so frequently – specifically the lighting installations in the washrooms – you’d be fair to pose the question “When are you NOT there?” With plants hanging from every inch of the ceiling, Otto’s long tables are perfect to accommodate large parties and share generous trays of their German feasts.
What to Order? Eggs Benedict (pork rillette and avocado on sour dough), a side order of wursts (you must!) with their spicy horseradish mustard, and grapefruit mimosas (plural). If you’re in a crew of 3 or more, take advantage of their hearty feast platters, brimming with delights like schnitzel, poached eggs, seared pork belly, fruit salad and potatoes with caramelized onion.
Otto’s Bierhalle | 1087 Queen St W
Honorary Brunch Mentions:
+ The Cornbread Pancakes with bourbon maple syrup at Bootleg Smokehouse are CRACK in brunch form.
+ The Meatball and Egg crepe at the Art Square Café for some morning Turkish flair.
+ Chadwick’s has a super cute patio for summer brunch sessions and a respectable eggs benny.
+ Beast is for hardcore carnivores. You’ll definitely need a nap post-brunch.
+ I love a satisfying Full English Breakfast – complete with sautéed mushrooms, baked beans and black pudding! – at The Queen and Beaver in the winter. Get a side of buttermilk pancakes with heaps of maple butter. DROOL!
+ Old School serves all-day breakfast and their Blueberry Hill is impressively stacked pancakes, lavishly drowned in syrup and adorned with crispy bacon and blueberry compote.