There’s nothing quite like greeting your Sunday morning hangover with bottomless Bloody Mary’s, syrup-laden pancakes, and all kinds of high-cholesterol, egg-y breakfast foods. If there’s anything I’ve learned in college so far, it’s that brunch is so much more than just picking up a “Hangover Special” from Bui’s Lunch Truck (as good as that is) or throwing up in your toilet. Brunch is the definition of waking up happy. Brunch is gossiping about all the hookups from the night before. Brunch is that one meal that somehow stays classy, even though it’s really all about stuffing your face (and not feeling bad about it). Brunch, in short, is a ritual of sorts.
This summer, I basically out-brunched everyone I know by thoroughly exploring the Philly brunch scene (sometimes twice in one day…oops). I’ve eaten at some really top-notch places, a few so-so ones, and even a couple that were so bad that it’s painful to even think about. I’d say I’m a bit of a brunch connoisseur/fanatic. And to help out all of you looking to get your brunch grind on, I’ve rounded up my top five brunch restaurants in Philly (in no particular order) so give them a shot if you’ve got the chance —you won’t regret it.
LaCroix at the Rittenhouse
I’ve never really gasped audibly when entering a restaurant except at LaCroix, which is actually the best place ever. Everything, from the lighting and ambiance, to the little things like utensils and perfectly folded napkins, is absolutely flawless. Right as you walk in, the hostess takes your jacket and addresses you in beyond pretty-sounding French. The service at LaCroix makes you feel like royalty, except it’s not pretentious at all. And there’s even live music! For about $60 a person, you can explore everything on the huge, innovative brunch menu. Raw bar specialties include peppery smoked trout, melt-in-your-mouth assorted caviar, deliciously salty smoked salmon, and even a selection of sushi. There’s also prosciutto and ricotta croissants, foie gras milkshakes, Asian-inspired macarons (my favorite), and a huge assortment of truffled salads. If you’re more into hot foods, don’t fret – LaCroix serves up some of the best brunch delicacies I’ve ever tasted, like escargot ragout, creamy smoked white chocolate grits, and homemade pork breakfast sausage with wild mushrooms. LaCroix is definitely a splurge, but it’s worth it.
Don’t let the name fool you; Supper is definitely one of the best spots in town for a chill, relaxing brunch. Supper is cozy and hipster, and serves up goodies like red velvet waffles and banana cream pie French toast. They don’t skimp on the portions here, and you’ll most likely end up with enough food for two meals; it makes the slightly higher price worth it. Don’t miss Supper’s signature deviled eggs; they’re surprisingly better than you’d expect. Though Supper is a bit out of the way for Penn kids, it’s worth the ever-so-sketchy SEPTA ride down to 9th Street.
If you’re into classy, chic brunches, Café Lift is definitely for you. This brunch hotspot carries all of the classics, like huevos rancheros and buttermilk pancakes, but it also offers so much more. Bottomless La Colombe coffee. Lemon ricotta pancakes. Crespelles (sweet and salty Italian-style crepes…yum). And they even have cannoli french toast, which, according to their menu, is a creation “dredged in a cinnamon vanilla custard, baked, then finished with bananas, chipped chocolate, pistachios and homemade ricotta cannoli filling.” If that doesn’t reel you in, I’m sure the prices will. Everything on the brunch menu is under $10. The service can be a bit slow at times, but that just means you’ll have more time to relax, because hey, brunch is supposed to be a lazy activity.
Green Eggs Café
Green Eggs Café is a Philly brunch star, with three locations around the city. The restaurant serves the best vegan and vegetarian-friendly brunch I’ve had thus far. Everything on the menu is marked vegan or vegetarian, and they have a ton of meat and dairy substitutes for those who aren’t into the vedge side of life. An example is their amazing vegan sausage and spicy tofu scramble. The quinoa porridge is also one of the standouts at Green Eggs; it’s like a super-charged version of oatmeal, with creamy, protein-rich quinoa, raisins, cardamom, and fresh berries. Be warned, though, the portions here are gigantic (especially the pancakes), so bring a friend or two and share. They’re also cash only, so make sure to stop by an ATM before you go.
And then of course there’s Honey’s, the classic Philly brunch spot. Honey’s has been around Philly for ages and there’s always a huge line, even on weekdays. Trust me when I say it’s worth the wait. Everything at Honey’s is locally grown and farm-to-table fresh, so you know you’re really getting the best Pennsylvania has to offer, from Pequea Valley yogurt to Lancaster County bacon. Honey’s offers some pretty normal breakfast things, like eggs benedict and omelets, but they’re also famous for their ever-popular “Toad in a Hole,” which is basically a thick slice of hollandaise-soaked challah bread topped with a poached egg, melted habanero jack cheese, and a drizzle of truffle oil. Make sure to get a glass of the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice while you’re at it – it’s a surprisingly good hangover cure.