February 15, 2018

Philadelphia's Fabulous Brunch Scene, Neighborhood By Neighborhood

Philly’s Many Great Brunch Spots Offer Classic-To-Global Meals

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The menu at Honey's Sit N' Eat features home-style comfort food made with fresh ingredients sourced from local farms. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Bud & Marilyn's focuses on simple, delicious American food including Nashville hot buns (fried chicken biscuits), burgers, cheese curds and chop suey. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Dinner most nights and Sunday brunch at Talula's Garden offer seasonal menus that star an extensive cheese selection. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Philadelphia’s brunch scene has always been strong, thanks to beloved line-out-the-door spots such as Sam’s Morning Glory Diner, Sabrina’s and Honey’s Sit ’N Eat. But more and more, Philly’s brunch options have gone truly global. On the a.m. rise right now: sweet bao and kimchi Bloody Mary’s (Bing Bing Dim Sum), bologna eggs Benedict and Dutch baby pancakes (The Dutch), huevos rancheros and scrapple-stuffed tortas (Mission Taqueria), lobster frittatas (Fork) and vegan Monte Cristos (The Tasty). Here’s a look at some of the region’s best brunch options:

Center City East, Old City & Washington Square West:

  • Bank & Bourbon, on the ground floor of the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, satisfies all types of brunch fanatic with a varied buffet of applewood-smoked bacon, shrimp cocktail, brioche French toast, cage-free scrambled eggs and artisan cheese and charcuterie spreads. There are also DIY mimosas with orange, grapefruit or cranberry juices. 1200 Market Street, (215) 231-7300, bankandbourbon.com
  • Bud & Marilyn’s recognizes the need for old-fashioned American indulgence with items like almond-coconut-chocolate French toast, shareable pecan cinnamon rolls and Nashville hot chicken biscuit sandwiches. The cocktails (grapefruit mimosa with St-Germain; smoked Bloody’s) more than hold up their end of the deal. 13th & Locust Streets, (215) 546-2220, budandmarilyns.com
  • The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar and The Continental Mid-town help revelers keep the party going the day after with huevos rancheros and turkey clubs with caramelized apple mayo, and bacon Bloody Mary’s and espresso martinis. 138 Market Street, (215) 923-6069, continentalmartinibar.com; 1801 Chestnut Street, (215) 567-1800; continentalmidtown.com
  • Dutch Eating Place in the Reading Terminal Market is a quintessential stop for a real-deal Pennsylvania scratch-made pancakes, French toast and egg platters—best accompanied by a side of crispy scrapple. 51 N. 12th Street, (215) 922-0425, readingterminalmarket.org
  • Fork’s seasonal New American Sunday brunch features poached eggs and polenta with delicata squash and roasted mushrooms; house-baked pastries and breads and local burgers and Birchrun Hills cheese and all. 306 Market Street, (215) 625-9425, forkrestaurant.com
  • High Street on Market has become Old City’s daily go-to for seasonal and inspired quick-service meals. Early eaters are treated to egg, kale and mushroom sandwiches; ginger yogurt with pistachio and cardamom honey; smoked whitefish or cured salmon atop flavor-packed house-baked breads. 308 Market Street, (215) 625-0988, highstreetonmarket.com
  • The Little Lion (temporarily closed after a fire) adds Southern-inspired comfort food to the Old City brunch scene with fried green tomatoes, stone-ground grits, country-fried chicken and cornbread hoecakes. Guests should also pay attention to the killer cocktail list, featuring raspberry sangria and the Peddler Buzz, made with cold-brew coffee, Irish whiskey, milk and vanilla syrup. 243 Chestnut Street, (267) 273-0688, thelittlelionphilly.com
  • Mixto turns every Sunday into a celebration. The hopping Cuban/Colombian hotspot on Pine Street’s Antique Row cooks up authentic versions of Argentinean steak and eggs, frittata Colombiana and tostadas rancheras (Mexican breakfast). 1141 Pine Street, (215) 592-0363, mixtorestaurante.com
  • The Moshulu lets landlubbers hop aboard the ship for a smashing buffet Sunday brunch on the water. The menu includes dishes like a shrimp and crab Bloody Mary cocktail, chocolate babka French toast and a veggie Benedict with chive hollandaise. 401 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 923-2500, moshulu.com
  • Talula’s Daily stocks its pantry shelves with the makings of a quickly served but carefully crafted morning meal: just-baked breads, pastries and granola, expertly pulled espresso shots, organic juices and more. There’s also a great little grocery there too. 208 W. Washington Square, (215) 592-6555, talulasdaily.com
  • The Victoria Freehouse looks to its British motherland for culinary inspiration. Come brunch time, that can mean everything from Indian influences (curried eggs, kedgeree) to a proper Full English breakfast, complete with Heinz beans and in Pimm’s Cups, to round out and wash down the meal. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com 

Rittenhouse:

  • Lacroix, in the tony Rittenhouse Hotel, serves a filling Sunday brunch prix-fixe menu ($75 per person) featuring hors d’oeuvres (fried sunchokes with Cubanelle jam; Vietnamese beef broth with quail egg; heirloom tomato panzanella), raw-bar specialties, signature entrees (grilled Rhode Island squid with sweet corn, lima bean and green chili), salads, charcuterie, a carving station and wine pairings. A decadent dessert table rounds out the offerings. 210 Rittenhouse Square, (215) 546-9000, lacroixrestaurant.com
  • The Love, from the dynamic duo of Aimee Olexy and Stephen Starr, delivers Olexy’s signature style to the Rittenhouse brunch crowd. Playful plates like the bananas Foster waffle with “boozy” rum sauce and the “Posh Brunch” (truffled scrambled eggs, crispy potatoes, spinach) introduce a little homespun elegance to Saturday and Sunday mornings. 130 S. 18th Street, (215) 433-1555, theloverestaurant.com
  • Mission Taqueria keeps brunch breezy and casual. The contemporary Mexican offerings—a torta with maple-glazed chorizo and pickled jalapeno, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles and shareable snacks like plantain empanadas—can be paired with green-juice margaritas, hibiscus agua fresca or horchata. 1516 Sansom Street (second floor), (215) 383-1200, missiontaqueria.com
  • Nineteen (XIX)’s morning buffet atop the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue begins with continental pastries, fruit and smoked meats and fish, continues with egg and waffle entrees and concludes with an array of miniature desserts. The whole meal costs $38 per person.
    Broad & Walnut Streets, 19th floor, (215) 790-1919, hyatt.com/gallery/nineteen
  • Pub & Kitchen serves what is easily a contender for one of the city’s best Bloody Mary variants, but the spicy Wrangler is only one reason to visit. The menu of modern brunch fare (eggs in purgatory, house-smoked salmon tartine, smothered fried chicken and biscuits) is tempting enough on its own. 1946 Lombard Street, (215) 545-0350, thepubandkitchen.com
  • Russet serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday to please its loyal locavore following. The ever-changing hyper-seasonal menu might include dishes like house-cured coppa with heirloom apple mostarda, a local mushroom and ricotta omelet and a local yogurt parfait with cherry hazelnut granola. 1521 Spruce Street, (215) 546-1521, russetphilly.com
  • Southgate’s mashup of Korean and American traditions nets excellent results on Sundays. Plates small (kimchi deviled eggs; matcha tea-flavored waffles) and large (bibimbap omelets, a panko-breaded bulgogi burger with smoked chili aioli) pair with soju, pear and prosecco cocktails. 1801 Lombard Street, (215) 560-8443, southgatephilly.com
  • SuGa demonstrates chef-owner Susanna Foo’s inimitable approach to Chinese cookery. The Sunday menu starts with lobster spring rolls and Kennett Square mushroom dumplings with truffle emulsion and ends with bacon fried rice and house-cured ginger salmon atop latkes made from taro. 1720 Sansom Street, (215) 717-8968, sugabyfoo.com

Callowhill:

  • Café Lift does brunch all day, every day. The sleek Callowhill spot specializes in decadent delicacies like a “Nutty Monky” crespelle with bananas and chocolate hazelnut spread; a “Polish Benedict,” served with local Czerw’s kielbasa and mustard hollandaise sauce; and an Italian sausage and roasted Brussels sprouts frittata. Lift will debut a second location in Narberth in spring 2018. 428 N. 13th Street, (215) 922-3031, cafelift.com

Fairmount & Logan:

  • Tela’s Market and Kitchen in the Art Museum area opens daily for breakfast. On the menu are Irish oatmeal with dried fruit, buttermilk pancakes and a breakfast burrito with potato chorizo hash and salsa roja. 1833 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 235-0170, telasmarket.com
  • Urban Farmer, in the Logan Hotel, keeps the focus on sustainable yet satisfying cooking during brunch hours. Among the choices: blue crab omelet with béarnaise, shaved ham Benedict, duck hash with sunnyside up duck egg and white cheddar burger. 1850 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 963-2788, urbanfarmerphiladelphia.com

Graduate Hospital & Point Breeze:

  • Ants Pants Café pours Australian-style coffees (have the flat white) to accompany “brekkie platters” of eggs, Brie-stuffed apricot French toast and vegetarian sweet potato hash. They’ve got two locations, holding down opposite sides of South Street. 2212 South Street, (215) 875-8002; 526 S. 4th Street, (215) 309-2877, antspantscafe.com
  • Café Ynez, in Southwest Philly, serves modern Mexican brunches of breakfast nachos, chicken or veggie enchiladas with fried egg, huevos con chorizo and a daily brioche French toast with seasonal toppings. 2025 Washington Avenue, (215) 278-7579, cafeynez.com
  • On Point threads the needle between refined and casual in Point Breeze. The spread at this sunny corner BYOB includes a Philly cheesesteak omelet, breakfast nachos, berry-topped buttermilk pancakes and a falafel burger with mixed greens. 1200 Point Breeze Avenue, (267) 639-3318, onpointbistro.com
  • Rex 1516 is a down-home brunch affair, thanks to generous plates of creamed chipped brisket over sourdough, shrimp and grits with crispy pork belly and chicken and waffles Benedict that celebrate the spirit of the South. 1516 South Street, (267) 319-1366, rex1516.com

Northern Liberties & Fishtown:

  • Honey’s Sit ’N Eat has two homey, quirky brunch-time hideaways—one in Northern Liberties and another in Graduate Hospital. The charm here is the fusion of Southern and Jewish fare: country fried steak, and gravy-soaked biscuits join challah French toast and giant crispy latkes. 800 N. 4th Street, (215) 925-1150; 2101 South Street, (215) 732-5130, honeyssitneat.com
  • Tierce is a breakfast/lunch/brunch-focused Fishtown cafe from the owners of the popular Helm BYOBs. The kitchen here presents a tight menu of classics with chef-y twists, like the bagel egg sandwich with ramp cream cheese and brisket, and creamed chipped prosciutto over pumpernickel bread. 2218 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-4367, @tiercephilly
  • Cafe La Maude stands out from the usual brunch pack by focusing on bold Lebanese and Middle Eastern dishes, served all day. This Northern Liberties spot is known for green shakshouka, “gypsy eggs” and open-faced Mediterranean burritos served atop grilled pita. 816 N. 4th Street, (267) 318-7869, cafelamaude.com
  • Jerry’s Bar saves the morning after with a round of Buffalo Bloody Mary’s and live jazz music in Northern Liberties. The convivial corner spot tempts with mountains of scrapple and sausage, warm cinnamon cream cheese sticky buns and a fried chicken sandwich with hot honey and charred scallion aioli. 129 W. Laurel Street, (267) 273-1632, jerrysbarphilly.com
  • Sancho Pistola’s not only accommodates mid-day eaters with a fantastic beer selection, but the Fishtown hang also offers some stellar hair of the dog solutions. Entrées like chilaquiles verdes and smoked salmon Reuben can be washed down with margaritas, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s. 19 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 324-3530, sanchopistolas.com
  • Silk City may look like a typical diner on the outside, but it serves up anything but the standard breakfast-brunch items daily from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. And what’s better with smothered chicken and waffles, cider-braised pork belly hash cheese-stuffed corn muffins than one of their specialty brunch cocktails, or a beer from the 30-plus-option bottle and can list? 435 Spring Garden Street, (215) 592-8838, silkcityphilly.com
  • Suraya, a hopping, handsome Fishtown collaboration between the owners of Northern Liberties’ Cafe La Maude and nearby Root Wine Bar has rapidly risen to the top of the hot-ticket brunch list thanks to its selections of intoxicating, egg-topped man’oushe (pizza-like Lebanese flatbreads) and stunningly delicious house-baked French pastries. 1528 Frankford Avenue, (215) 302-1900, surayaphilly.com
  • Mulherin’s Sons redefines Italian cooking on a daily basis, including weekend mornings. The doughnut egg sandwich with ham and fontina, eggs on volcano (spicy tomato sauce, polenta, guanciale, long hots) and mushroom truffle pizza with Burrata befit the beautifully appointed midcentury modern decor and expertly crafted cocktails. 1355 N. Front Street, (215) 291-1355, wmmulherinssons.com

Brunch, Wm. Mulherin's Sons in Fishtown style.   — Photo courtesy of Wm. Mulherin's Sons

South Philly:

  • Barcelona, already beloved for its authentic Spanish tapas, has gotten into the bustling brunch game on East Passyunk Avenue. Classic small plates like albóndigas and Tortilla Española share menu space with brunch-only picks, like Serrano ham eggs Benedict or pan con huevos with Manchego cheese. 1709 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 515-7900, barcelonawinebar.com
  • Bing Bing Dim Sum has become synonymous with good times, so naturally the South Philly eatery now serves brunch. In addition to the regular à la carte menu of whimsically reimagined noodles, dumplings and buns, the kitchen offers specials like fried sweet bao, turnip matzo cake and kimchi Bloody Mary’s. 1648 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 279-7702, bingbingdimsum.com
  • Café y Chocolate, in deep South Philly, pairs its hearty, vegetarian-friendly Mexican breakfast/brunch menu (high recommend for the chilaquiles) with hard-to-find coffees and hot drinks, such cinnamon-tinged chocolate Oaxaca and cajetuccino, a cappuccino laden with cajeta, Mexican goat’s milk caramel. 2100 S. Norwood Street, (267) 639-4506
  • The Dutch, a joint venture between chefs Joncarl Lachman (Noord) and Lee Styer (Fond), draws on Pennsylvania German and Northern European flavors for a singular approach to daytime chow. The menu covers ring bologna eggs Benedict, Dutch baby pancakes that are both sweet and savory and a house-smoked fish platter. 1527 S. 4th Street, (215) 755-5600, thedutchphilly.com
  • Ela, helmed by chef Jason Cichonski, always delivers inventive cookery, and its brunch is one of the most creative around. Breakfast gnocchi with coddled egg and crispy potato skins, fried chicken and waffles with smoked syrup and smoked rye Bloody Mary’s are some of the menu highlights here. 627 S. 3rd Street, (267) 687-8512, elaphilly.com
  • The Fitzwater Cafe has been a beloved Bella Vista brunch pit stop for years, thanks to its simple, soulful approach to daytime grub. The stuffed breakfast burrito, Italian egg plate (with roasted peppers, tomato and spinach) and andouille sausage hash are all big hits, but best might be the “good ole,” a potato-and-egg hoagie, served with American cheese on a crusty Sarcone’s roll. 728 S. 7th Street, (215) 629-0428, @fitzwatercafe
  • Green Eggs Cafe specializes in eco-conscious eats with local and sustainable ingredients. On the menu across its three Philly locations: quinoa porridge with fresh berries, Creole shrimp and grits, crème brûlée French toast and the hearty “Kitchen Sink” skillet, topped with a homemade biscuit and sausage gravy. 1306 Dickinson Street, (215) 226-3447; 719 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-3447; 1301 Locust Street, (267) 861-0314, greeneggscafe.net
  • Hungry Pigeon welcomes eaters any time of day with comforting food and a relaxing atmosphere. The Saturday and Sunday early service, featuring organic brown rice breakfast porridge with poached eggs, breakfast sandwiches on homemade English muffins and heirloom apple Dutch baby pancakes, makes a convivial start or end to a weekend jaunt. 743 S. 4th Street, (215) 278-2736, hungrypigeon.com
  • Noord’s bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) brunch might be the city’s only place to find the Scandinavian specialty smorrebrod (buttered dark rye with a variety of fish, spreads and toppings). Omelets come stuffed with spiced crabmeat or Dutch-style vinegar-braised beef; the French toast is deep fried and topped with fresh fruit; and the Bloody Mary’s can come garnished with pickled herring. 1046 Tasker Street, (267) 909-9704, noordphilly.com
  • Sabrina’s Café, with four Philly-area outposts (in Bella Vista, Fairmount, Powelton Village, and Wynnewood), has redefined brunch locally with creative signatures like spiced tofu scrambles and thick-cut challah French toast stuffed with all manner of sweet stuff. Of course, there’s the always-outrageous lineup of specials, always cleverly tuned to the hungry zeitgeist. 910 Christian Street, (215) 574-1599; 1804 Callowhill Street, (215) 636-9061; 227 N. 34th Street, (215) 222-1022, 50 E. Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, (484) 412-8790, sabrinascafe.com
  • Sam’s Morning Glory Diner offers proof that a patient line out the door rarely, if ever, lies. This is a beloved bruncherie thanks to its focaccia-fried egg sandwiches, can’t-beat “Glory Cakes” with real maple syrup and the ever-revolving specials, all served with sides of hot biscuits and smirking greasy-spoon attitude. 735 S. 10th Street, (215) 413-3999, themorningglorydiner.com
  • Sate Kampar shares a Malaysian approach to morning eating on weekends, with nasi lamak bungkus (coconut rice packet with eggs, peanuts and anchovy), vermicelli with omelet strips and a tempting variety of milk teas and coffees. 1837 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 324-3860, @satekampar
  • The Tasty reimagines the old-school, corner American diner as a vegan destination. The simple, hearty food here is built around planet-based alternatives to classic ingredients, like “egg” sandwiches on English muffins, waffles (with or without chik’n) and even ham-free Monte Cristos. 1401 S. 12th Street, (267) 457-5670, thetastyphilly.com

West Philadelphia:

  • Danlu, a new addition to University City, puts a clever Taiwanese-style spin on American Sunday brunch. What to have here: soy-marinated soft-boiled egg with grilled pork belly, snf the house-special “coffin bread,” a crusty potpie of sorts, filled with shrimp, chicken and vegetables. 3601 Market Street, (215) 310-9828, tastedanlu.com
  • The Farmacy in West Philly lives up to its punny-but-accurate name, feeding West Philly comfort-food plates made with sustainably sourced ingredients. Meat lovers should go for the grass-fed burger, crowned with house-made bacon or the country skillet, scrambled with local eggs; there’s also a build-you-own eggs Benedict section (pick your own bread, meat, sauce and toppings). 4443 Spruce Street, (215) 387-3276, thefarmacyrx.com
  • Walnut Street Cafe, overseen by the New York City crew that ran the Michelin-starred Rebelle, is a high-style addition to the Philly dining scene. For weekend brunch, they offer a mix of straight-up classics (two sunny eggs, potatoes, breakfast meat, toast) with some delightfully unexpected options (hammy, cheesy, egg-y Georgian khachapuri bread). 2929 Walnut Street, (215) 867-8067, walnutstreetcafe.com

Beyond Philadelphia:

  • Cake, in Chestnut Hill, offers an unrivaled family-friendly atmosphere, set inside a stunning solarium adjacent to Robertson’s Flowers. Menu items include brioche French toast lavished with honey butter and spiced pecans, a playful cheesesteak Marsala sandwich and a variety of homemade quiches. 8501 Germantown Avenue, (215) 247-6887, cakeofchestnuthill.com
  • Market Street Grill attracts a following for the first meal of the day. This downtown West Chester mainstay is known for Kennett Square mushroom omelets and brown sugar-cinnamon swirl French toast stuffed with cream cheese and a selection of fruits. 6 W. Market Street, (610) 429-5328, marketstgrillwc.com
  • Spring Mill Café specializes in classic French cuisine, served in a rustic-chic setting. Elegant yet satisfying, the menu includes an apple-walnut-blue cheese endive salad, brioche with jam and locally sourced farm-egg omelets with crème fraîche and caviar. 164 Barren Hill Road, Conshohocken, (610) 828-2550, springmill.com

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