Localvore, ethnic, sophisticated or festive: the Baltimore area has brunch ready for you

Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman
By Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Because the Baltimore metro area is blessed with such a bounty of gorgeous produce, fresh seafood, a long history of welcoming different cultures and was traditionally a Southern state, we excel at the fine feasts that have become the American brunch scene.

Are you in the mood to try all kinds of things, a little bit (or a lot!) at a time? Restaurants like Donna's have well-curated buffets, mixing traditional bagels and fixings with some of their unique menu offerings.

Perhaps you're gathering with friends for brunch. Sampling some of the authentic ethnic food in the region can be extra fun in a big group, with each person getting a taste of something different! True Chinese dim sum served on carts rolled past diners is a weekend favorite at Ellicott City's Asian Court. Elegantly classic – but farm to fork – French cuisine in a beautiful setting makes for a special brunch at Tersiguel's.

For a brunch that's tasty and rowdy fun, Fell's Point's Slainte is the place to watch soccer and rugby with an Irish twist.

10. Alexandra's at Turf Valley
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

With beautiful vistas of Turf Valley, the ability in good weather to head right out to one of two golf courses and a family-friendly brunch buffet, every Sunday feels like a special occasion here. That's why so many birthday parties, weddings and other gatherings make Alexandra's a part of their celebration. The room is open and airy, with triple high ceilings and a cute retro 60's Mod vibe.

Alexandra's at Turf Valley bills itself as "American fusion"; along with traditional favorites like excellent quality smoked salmon and classic garnishes, you'll also see Louisiana-style chocolate bread pudding. There are carving stations and omelettes made to order.

9. Bonjour Bakery
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

The little purple house on Falls Road has seating inside and out, for the authentic French cafe experience. Start your morning shopping with a hazelnut coffee with extra buzz. If you come early enough in the morning, you'll have a chance to snag their popular French bread, such as brioche, baguettes and French dinner rolls. If not, they have a sizable selection of freshly baked cookies to munch on.

Savory quiches, croissants and pissaladierres are good for brunch or take them home for a light dinner. Delicate, artistic pastries and custom cakes are some of the more elegant dessert options. Or, get your coffee and casual sweet treat, then head to their adjacent garage, which houses Haute Dog hot dog stand.

8. Neopol Savory Smokery
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

The now very popular Belvedere Square Market – it's like a party in there day and night, all year long! – is home to Neopol Savory Smokery. The market has a limited number of tables and chairs in the market or just have everything packed up to go. After all, there are a number of parks and trails in the immediate area, and this type of food is perfect for a picnic!

You'll find many smoked cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar, fish such as salmon and its cousin gravlax, rainbow trout and whitefish, as well as egg salad, hummus and tofu . . . something for even vegetarian and vegan diners!

There's also a special Sunday brunch menu, available from 9:30-2 pm. Think smoked pork loin omelettes, smoked salmon crepe tumeric crepe stuffed with mashed potatoes, garlic spinach and their hot smoked salmon, topped with aioli du jour.

7. Donna's - Cross Keys
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Donna's feels like a restaurant you'd actually see in Italy. It's not frozen in time, but has evolved to incorporate neighboring Mediterranean countries' recipes, as well.

Thus, you'll see ingredients like lamb, feta, hummus and other outside the boot fare. Their lamb steaks are outstanding, when available.

One of Donna's best-kept secrets is their terrific brunch buffet on Sundays, including carved meats, Italian salads and roasted veggies. They have a full menu now, too.

Donna's at Cross Keys has become a favorite meeting place of locals. Most of the outdoor dining porch becomes screened-in during inclement weather and during nice weather, they add some cushy sofas for a lounge feeling.

They became famous for their myriad of coffee drinks and Italian sodas, which are still very good . . . but will they ever bring back their beloved and much missed tomato tapenade?

6. Petit Louis Bistro
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Brunch at Petit Louis opens with fresh croissants, fruit preserves, unsalted French butter with sea salt served on the side in a little dish. For a change from Mimosas, try their house cocktail with sparkling wine and elderflower or go with French press coffee as an eye opener.

You can go with classic French breakfast offerings: pain perdu, Oeufs Poches (their French twist on Eggs Benedict), house cured gravlax, scrambled eggs with ham and cheese or even duck eggs on special.

But you can also dive into much savorier fare – even at the earlier hour – including Croque Monsieurs, escargot, steak frites, salads and lamb steak.

5. Cardinal Tavern
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

From the outside, Cardinal Tavern looks like what would have been dozens of little corner bars that dotted the once-working class neighborhood of Canton, catering to the shift workers of the canning companies.

Step inside and the atmosphere is warm, with exposed brick walls and low wood ceiling beams. There's another dining area upstairs, too.

Recently, Cardinal Tavern began serving food and they quickly out did many other places in town. The cuisine is Louisiana/Southern roots fare done deliciously. Even the Bloody Marys have their own special touch, with house-fried chicken and okra for garnish!

Savory African peanut soup has shredded chicken and a savory flavor: not the milky peanut taste so often experienced at restaurants "recreating" historic Southern foods.

4. Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant
Photo courtesy of SinglePlatform

Some in your party may be craving creamy and mild, while other seek savory and sophisticated for brunch. Tersiguel's prepares a wide range of French (and even French-Canadian!) delights.

For an impressive dish not likely to be tasted elsewhere in the region, try the presentation of Brittany fish soup poured table-side: fish puree' over the saffron aioli and Swiss cheese. The soup has a deep shellfish flavor. Normally, you don't think of fish with cheese, but this works! The soup also has bits of raw garlic, fresh parsley and croutons.

For something more breakfast-y, they do a wonderful Pain Perdu: house made country bread French toast, served with seasonal berries, maple syrup, and whipped cream.

3. Asian Court
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Dim Sum is an ancient Cantonese-Southern Chinese style of morning/early afternoon eating. A collection of small plates designed to be paired with tea drinking first originated in the tea houses hosting weary travelers along the Silk Road.

Dim Sum is sold as a variety of dishes being pushed around on carts by various servers. Just point to what you'd like and they add to the running tally on a slip left at your table.

Most of the items at Asian Court are just a few dollars, but there are sometimes "specials" that are a bit more. These can include veggies that are perfectly cooked and generously portioned, but not necessarily the most exotic ingredients.

The exotic authenticity comes across in delicious dishes like braised chicken feet, beef tripe, jellyfish, frogs legs and whole fried salt and pepper shrimp with their heads on.

2. Slainte Irish Pub & Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

This is where you can always find an international sports fan-filled atmosphere, every day, starting at 7 am! And the party keeps rolling on, until noon on weekdays and 3 pm on weekends. Get things started with $13 bottomless Mimosas, Screwdrivers and Bloody Marys, with purchase of a breakfast entree.

If you're passionate about soccer, rugby and hockey you'll find many like-minded patrons – including ex-pats cheering on their home teams from around the world.

Sure, there are other Irish pubs in town, but the quality and flavor here – made from the bounty of local growers, bakers, butchers, and seafood purveyors – is tops. They aren't frozen in faux-nostalgic amber, either: along with traditional Irish breakfast platters, they have well-thought fusion dishes to appeal to their global clientele.

1. Miss Shirley's
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Miss Shirley's has three locations: the Inner Harbor, Annapolis, and Alonzoville – a neighborhood of Baltimore. Though fans have been begging them to serve dinner for years, perhaps they excel at brunch because they concentrate on daytime offerings.

Start out with one of their fun brunch cocktails, like their take on the Bloody Mary: "Spicy Shirley". It's garnished with practically a salad bar of Southern delicacies and you can get a crab claw in there, too.

Portions here are huge and the recipes are rich, though they do have specially marked items that are more figure-friendly.

Food Network's "50 States, 50 Breakfasts" picked Shirley's Affair with Oscar: 5 oz. beef tenderloin center cut filet, topped with asparagus, jumbo lump crab meat and Hollandaise on fried green tomatoes and stone ground grits with diced bacon, dusted with Old Bay seasoning as best in the land here.