It's Brunch O'Clock Somewhere at These Top Toronto Restaurants

These days, we seem to define ourselves more by what we don't eat than what we do eat. We cut out the things that tempt us with aggressive force. The cakes that beckon us with ganaches and the coffees that beg to caffeinate us. We won't be swayed. We have the power to say no.

Until brunch comes rolling around. 

Brunch is our one exception to the rule of healthy eating. We forgive ourselves for drenching our pancakes in bacon and eating an omelette that is more cheese than eggs. Doughnuts and pastry that we previously snubbed on weekdays suddenly seem right when they are presented with a side of bottomless coffee and with a day that stretches endlessly in front of you.

Get excited for the weekend. If you aren't too committed to your Smartphone, they give you the chance to bear the fruits of your labour (and the maple syrups of your labour as well). These ten brunch spots do their best to ruin you for the rest of the week. Whether it is pastry at Bonjour Brioche or the blueberriest of pancakes at School, brunch is all play and no work. We're sorry, you're welcome...just grab the paper and a person who knows what it means to truly relax. That person could even be you.


High Park/Roncesvalles

Do you ever go out for brunch and feel vaguely disappointed? As in, I could have done that, and I could have done it better? The Westerly is the kind of restaurant you go to when you want to be absolutely certain that there is no way you could do any better. You are paying for their creativity and their expertise. Creme brulee French Toast has both fruit compote and brulee fresh cream to beckon you into brunch heaven. Lemon ricotta fritters are delightfully light and Montreal smoked breakfast hash uses brisket, poached eggs and hollandaise. There is nothing on the menu that isn't a labour of love.

East Toronto

For those who didn't excel in high school French, Le Petit Dejeuner means, quite simply, breakfast. This Belgian-Canadian style eatery has been busy cracking eggs since 2003 with hefty portions of everything that you are craving or ever will crave. The Hungry Gal has two eggs, toast, potato rosti, apple coleslaw and bacon. Crepes and waffles come sweet or savoury. The waffles are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There are also the Croques: Monsieur, Madame and Bolognese. Within walking distance to the St. Lawrence Market, this is is a good place to fuel up prior to a long day of sampling.

When Farmhouse Tavern started to gain some traction, they opened up shop directly across the street with The Daughter. It didn't take long before both locations were filled to the brim with loyal customers and for good reason. The brunch items at The Daughter come with inventive additions, like Frogs Legs that are southern-fried and served over buckwheat waffles. A soft boiled egg comes with a dollop of pesto over buttery brioche. Bacon is made from lamb, for a buttery sweet variation. Croque madame comes with prosciutto and aged cheddar. There are even homemade Twinkies for dessert. Definitely wear some stretchy pants.

East Toronto

You are either a Marmalade person or you are not. However, everyone is a Lady Marmalade person. The daily breakfast is as conscious as it can be, with free range eggs and meats, organic bread and local produce whenever possible. The vibe inside slides towards the hipster while the food is top notch. Get down and dirty with some AM poutine smothered in miso gravy or hollandaise, poached eggs or veggie pulled pork or just some classic bacon. For the more virtuously inclined, there is a fresh fruit crepe made of organic buckwheat, with tangy lemon yogurt and house-made cranberry almond granola.

High Park/Roncesvalles
Mitzi's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Courtney Sunday

Mitzi's Cafe is the type of place you go when you have time to linger. Tucked into an offshoot of Roncesvalles, if you are pretty sure you are lost in the middle of a residential area, you are in the right spot. On weekends, you will see hipsters congregating outside the doors in eager anticipation for an unrushed experience of mismatched mugs and phenomenal food. Space is limited but a small patio does open in the summer. Menu items change daily so you can't go in with any expectations, except to have some of the fluffiest of pancakes and most inventive egg dishes of your Torontonian life. Consider the seasonal oatmeal pancake with eggnog cream cheese drizzle & gingerbread cookie crumble. It is rare to see a crumb left on a plate.

Little Italy

Open 9am to 3pm every day, Aunties & Uncles takes the guesswork out of breakfast. It also takes out the boredom. People will stand in blizzards on weekends for the hope of French toast. Banana oatmeal pancakes rouse similar cries of happiness, as sandwiched between the pancakes are thickly sliced bananas and savoury oatmeal. Aunties & Uncles does remind you of the kitchen of your funky aunt and there is limited seating. In the summer, a patio opens up to give more people the opportunity to gorge on cheesy eggs. There is amazing house-made ketchup that you might find yourself licking off your fingers. Order conservatively, as the massive portions and thickly sliced challah toast will fill most bellies the first time around.

On a small corner in Leslieville, the little Bonjour Brioche Bakery Cafe brings the taste of a true French patisserie to life. Known mostly for its brunch menu options, Bonjour Brioche is a great choice whether you crave a piece of quiche or the sandwich du jour. Try something decadent like the Croque Madam sandwich with toasted brioche, ham, gruyere cheese and a fried egg. Or, consider a lighter dish like scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and horseradish cream. With quiche du jour, omelette du jour (and a lot more du jour) you could come back often and never get bored. End your meal with sweet decadence in the form of one of the pastries made in house. From the service to the setting, everything here is simple and relaxed.

If school were always this fun, there would never be dropouts. School has giant clocks to remind you of the time, but by the throngs of businessmen and women ignoring it, you know that it is more for decor than function. Weekdays never looked so sumptuous, with pancakes stacked one on top of each other, like books used to be in your first version of school. The black and blue blueberry sauce tumbles over the top, drowned in brown sugar butter. Super cheesy bacon French toast doesn't shy away from gooey cheddar cheese (thank goodness, with the word "Super" in its title). On the weekends, they add more options, but they also get more patrons. Your call.

Rose & Sons doesn't follow the rules. It is hard to pin down what kind of food they specialize in, as their menu has as diverse ingredients as bagel and pastrami lox and fried rice with pork belly. It is no matter, as Torontonians love their fusion food and they also love places who serve gluttonous brunch options. Their take on the Caesar has kabanosy sausage and sour pickle. They have milkshakes and declare, "Brunch without a milkshake is like Hall without's just not right." The PLB special melt has bacon, sausage, pickle, fried onions and cherry jam. Somehow it works. It all works. Pass the fried chicken and pancakes.

If you aren't hungry at all, take a look at Mildred's Temple Kitchen Facebook stream. From blueberries that ooze off a mountain of pancakes to perfectly fried eggs that blanket crisp waffles, it will be hard to keep your stomach from rumbling. A picture is worth a thousand words, but we don't have that kind of word count, so we will distil it to one: delicious. There are no reservations accepted for brunch and it is first come first serve. Pancakes are cooked low and slow to keep both their fluff and their flavour. Steak and sunny-side up eggs are served on garlic sourdough with a side of MP sauce. The cured in-house rosemary bacon is a must.


Meet Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned...  More About Courtney