You’ve read about Toronto’s age-old brunch spots of culinary lore. Yes, they are must-attends, but there’s a slew of newcomers quickly ascending to legendary status among brunch connoisseurs. From inspired Mediterranean mezze-style breakfast, to your good ol’ Canadiana café, here are Toronto’s new essential brunches. [Image credit: iStock.com/Rouzes]
Splashed in robin egg blue and red, hand-painted signage, La Cubana will allow you to take a very aesthetic step into the past next time you’re peckish for brunch. Stop into the Roncesvalles location and enjoy Cuban breakfast fare like you've never imagined: Pineapple-glazed pork belly and a fried egg sit atop rice and beans and purple slaw, and chorizo empanadas are paired with smashed plantains. Beverage must-try: the sweet and creamy Cuban coffee.
Boasting locations on both ends of Queen Street, this resto-bar is about three things: bourbon, brunch and some fine country hospitality. With locations on Queen West and in Riverside, the County General is a go-to at all times of day (think late-night grilled cheese and a cocktail, or a fried chicken sandwich and a pint in the afternoon). But with a Caesar to rival most in the city and breakfast fare like bennies with corn bread and smoked hollandaise, it’s decidedly one of Toronto’s best for brunch, too.
It’s become a must-try for Israeli fare and Jewish comfort food – not to mention dinner parties garnished with ever-changing mezze platters and crisp rosés. But this Dupont Street darling also hosts brunch Wednesday to Sunday at their cozy, retro-chic spot. Rendering perhaps the most authentic shakshouka in Toronto, Fat Pasha rethinks other brunch classics with an inspired menu that includes the Sloppy Solomon dish (Syrian chilli and fried eggs) and beet-cured gravlax and toast.
When we’re talking about re-inventing brunch classics in Toronto, we’re talking about The Federal. Running the roster of Bests in Toronto (from best breakfast to best burger), this 7-days-a-week brunch spot was even spotted on Monocle’s list of best restaurants in the world. The menu ranges from trout and scones plates to sweet-savoury French toast and foie gras to an eggs benny that’s topped with mushroom tarragon cream and bacon (or kale). Best not to overlook the dazzling cocktail list, designed for day-drinking: sip on a classic Caesar, an herbal Aperol spritz or a watermelon-rhubarb mimosa.
If you’re seeking something other than your run-of-the-mill scramble or breakfast sandwich, visit this charming Dufferin Grove breakfast restaurant (named for a famous Persian throne that is most worthy of a Google search). Eggs are served sunny side over fresh halloumi cheese, olives, smoked salmon and buttery garlic. The Dizi Sangi – a lamb stew with flatbread – is a two-course meal that every Torontonian trying to make it through winter should probably put on their must-sample list.
It’s the definition of rustic at the Farmhouse Tavern, the Junction’s culinary ode to Canadiana. Exposed brick, layers of wood, and eclectic, mis-matched furniture create the country kitchen vibes, while a blackboard menu of nose-to-tail minded dishes rotate often and ensure neighbourhood locals some new choices every time they come in. The charcuterie-board-like Ploughman’s Platter (accented by a poached egg) is a crowd favourite, while the seriously brunch-minded ogle such selections as the deep-fried Scotch eggs (put this dish on your bucket list this instant), buttermilk pancakes with caramelized apples, and of course, a few spins on the classic Benedict.
You’ve probably heard endless stories of Sunday breakfast at this Queen West legacy, but restaurateur Anthony Rose has made sure that this definition-of-a-haunt diner has been redefined for 2016’s generation of brunchers. When the Parkdale greasy spoon closed in 2015, Rose took over the lease, breathing new life into the menu, and changing little about the name and décor (your standard warm-and-cozy vibes, a mid century modern bar setup, complete with glowing orb lights and retro stools). The fare revolves often, and has included everything from breakfast burritos to griddled tongue and grits served with poached eggs and sage pesto.
Bloordale Village is a short stretch of Bloor between Dufferin and Lansdowne, and little did you know, but it hosts what can definitively be designated as Toronto’s top Scandinavian smokehouse. The compact spot is both warm and modern, with wood panelling, fresh flowers on the table, and a display case of gorgeous Scandinavian cakes and cookies. As for the brunch menu, smoked fish and poached eggs, cheesy tortes, and grated potato pancakes are just a few of the inspired dishes on offer – but seriously, everything that comes out of the kitchen is to die for.
The Union has been one of Ossington Ave’s most revered restos since opening on the pre-gentrified strip in 2009. The dinner menu changes daily – ingredients are sourced from local farmers – and weekend brunch is every bit as gourmet. Think: Lardon salad (with fresh seasonal veggies), French-inspired spins on the classic eggs benny, and crispy polenta with poached eggs. You may not know exactly what will be on the menu, but you can be sure it’ll be delicious. Patio? Check.
"5000 year old food, made 5000 years later." With a tagline like that, it's no wonder Torontonians flock to this east end gem making a name for Eyptian-style brunch. Tucked just north of Greenwood and Gerrard, Maha's is likely to host a line on the weekends, but once inside, delicacies like shakshuka (served with charred balady bread) and the Cairo-style po' boy make the wait well worth it. We suggest the Cairo Classic, a smorgasbord of falafel and soft boiled eggs that's garnished with tomato feta.
This bright Italian eatery is a source of great pride for Leslievillians, known as one of the city’s top spots for fresh, modern pasta dishes and amaros that hail all the way from the Italian-Austrian border to the southern tip of Sicily. Oh, and they’ve also deliciously re-thought Canadian brunch, too. Tuck in for some roasted lamb meatballs with mascarpone, pesto and poached eggs, or get ‘em roasted in a creamy cremini mushrooms, goat cheese and spinach bake. Caesar on the mind? Lil Baci’s comes with 2 oz. of vodka and a splash of Laphroaig scotch.
If you’re in hot pursuit of authentic biscuits and gravy, Saturday Dinette does one of the best versions in town. Perched at the corner of Gerrard Street East and Logan Avenue, Saturday Dinette is one of the east end’s hottest new brunch spots. The mushrooms on toast dish is a particular hit among vegetarian and carnivorous crowds alike, while the buckwheat pancakes pique the interest of sweet-minded crowds. If you’re all about the #avocadotoast, the avocado, mint and arugula salad with fresh bread and a poached egg is a must-try.
It’s actually the second time around for this Toronto gem. You might remember the original Annex-dwelling Dooney’s, famed as one of the top spots for Toronto’s literary-minded to grab a bite. The new location at Bloor and Dovercourt has all the charm and solid vibes of the original, hosting a wraparound breakfast bar by the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front (perfect for notebook scribblings or a little light reading) and larger tables built for groups and families in the back. Italian-Canadian fare like porchetta sandwiches mingle with classic eggs benny and a locally notorious chicken club sandwich (it’s delicious).