March 26, 2021

36 Essential Cleveland Brunches Worth Getting Out of Bed For

In a few short years, brunch has steadily progressed from the exception to the rule. What has long been sneered at by management as a culinary P.I.T.A. has blossomed into one of the most sought after and enjoyable meals of the week. These days, it seems, if the restaurant has a kitchen, it's serving brunch. Given the embarrassment of riches when it comes to brunch, we thought it was time to survey the landscape and round up a few of our favorite places.

If you haven't noticed, brunch is a damn near essential slot in the weekly calendar in Cleveland (during normal times, which are returning again).

It's time for our annual look at the best and brightest on the brunch landscape, because Cleveland really enjoys an embarrassment of riches and options you should be exploring the rest of the year.

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Barroco Grill
Multiple Locations
What began as a diminutive Latin-themed cafe dispensing crisp, corny arepas has developed into an ambitious, wide-ranging and spirited restaurant on both sides of town. Given the eatery's propensity to broaden our culinary horizons, it's no surprise that weekend brunches come with a side of discovery. On weekends here you'll get to know — and love — cachapas, Venezuelan-style sweet corn pancakes stuffed with cheese, braised beef or bacon and eggs. The brunch menu also offers build-your-own egg plates with Colombian sides like rice and beans, crunchy tostones, or soft, sweet plantains.
Photo via Douglas Trattner

Barroco Grill

Multiple Locations

What began as a diminutive Latin-themed cafe dispensing crisp, corny arepas has developed into an ambitious, wide-ranging and spirited restaurant on both sides of town. Given the eatery's propensity to broaden our culinary horizons, it's no surprise that weekend brunches come with a side of discovery. On weekends here you'll get to know — and love — cachapas, Venezuelan-style sweet corn pancakes stuffed with cheese, braised beef or bacon and eggs. The brunch menu also offers build-your-own egg plates with Colombian sides like rice and beans, crunchy tostones, or soft, sweet plantains.
Brewnuts
6501 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Brewnuts might not technically "serve brunch," but they do sell donuts and coffee, which is about as close to the ideal breakfast as one can get. This Detroit Shoreway donut bar serves up delicious drip and espresso-based coffees from local legend Phoenix Coffee. You can also tuck into a hot cocoa or a soothing hot toddy to pair with your mocha-glazed fry cake, salted caramel donut with pecans, or rum-soaked pina colada confection. Ah, who are we kidding? Skip the java and knock back a few pints of a local IPA and call it a morning.

Brewnuts

6501 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Brewnuts might not technically "serve brunch," but they do sell donuts and coffee, which is about as close to the ideal breakfast as one can get. This Detroit Shoreway donut bar serves up delicious drip and espresso-based coffees from local legend Phoenix Coffee. You can also tuck into a hot cocoa or a soothing hot toddy to pair with your mocha-glazed fry cake, salted caramel donut with pecans, or rum-soaked pina colada confection. Ah, who are we kidding? Skip the java and knock back a few pints of a local IPA and call it a morning.
Cleveland Vegan
17112 Detroit Ave., Lakewood 
Vegans love brunch too, we assume. Good thing for them there's Cleveland Vegan, a pioneer in the meat-free dining scene. Saying "no" to bacon, sausage, ham, Scrapple ... (sorry, we got carried away) has never been easier thanks to this Lakewood eatery, where guests enjoy a savory three-course breakfast for around $20. Start with a bagel and a schmear before moving on to avocado toast or cheesy mashed potato cakes. Cap it all off with housemade biscuits with pepper gravy or a creative shitake Benedict. To drink, there's coffee, tea and fresh fruit smoothies.

Cleveland Vegan

17112 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

Vegans love brunch too, we assume. Good thing for them there's Cleveland Vegan, a pioneer in the meat-free dining scene. Saying "no" to bacon, sausage, ham, Scrapple ... (sorry, we got carried away) has never been easier thanks to this Lakewood eatery, where guests enjoy a savory three-course breakfast for around $20. Start with a bagel and a schmear before moving on to avocado toast or cheesy mashed potato cakes. Cap it all off with housemade biscuits with pepper gravy or a creative shitake Benedict. To drink, there's coffee, tea and fresh fruit smoothies.
Lucky's Café
777 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland
Perennial Best of Cleveland "Best Brunch" winner, Lucky's Cafe cleans up annually thanks in large part to chef Heather Haviland's heavenly cheddar-scallion biscuits with scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, a category killer if ever there was one. Bleary-eyed diners also flock to this Tremont coffee house for honey-coated granola, gingerbread waffles topped with maple-roasted apples, breakfast burritos stuffed with scrambled eggs, and the ever-famous Shipwreck, a dizzying mish-mosh of eggs, hash browns, bacon and cheddar. Hit up Lucky's during the week for the same great food; there's no rule that says brunch can only happen on weekends.

Lucky's Café

777 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland

Perennial Best of Cleveland "Best Brunch" winner, Lucky's Cafe cleans up annually thanks in large part to chef Heather Haviland's heavenly cheddar-scallion biscuits with scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, a category killer if ever there was one. Bleary-eyed diners also flock to this Tremont coffee house for honey-coated granola, gingerbread waffles topped with maple-roasted apples, breakfast burritos stuffed with scrambled eggs, and the ever-famous Shipwreck, a dizzying mish-mosh of eggs, hash browns, bacon and cheddar. Hit up Lucky's during the week for the same great food; there's no rule that says brunch can only happen on weekends.
Le Petit Triangle Cafe
1881 Fulton Rd., Cleveland
This little French-inspired spot is an Ohio City jewel, a hidden lair with a locals-only vibe that truly is "easy like Sunday morning." Kickstart your day with a frothy cappuccino — or a glass of champagne — and peruse the European influenced menu. Crepes, like the ham and d'Affinois, are always a great idea, but so too are fluffy omelets, sunny quiches and tangy lemon curd French toast. If you're feeling more "unch" than "br," dig into a salad Nicoise with salmon, egg, potato and olives or the roast chicken sandwich, an airy croissant layered with meat, goat cheese and mango chutney.
Scene Archives

Le Petit Triangle Cafe

1881 Fulton Rd., Cleveland

This little French-inspired spot is an Ohio City jewel, a hidden lair with a locals-only vibe that truly is "easy like Sunday morning." Kickstart your day with a frothy cappuccino — or a glass of champagne — and peruse the European influenced menu. Crepes, like the ham and d'Affinois, are always a great idea, but so too are fluffy omelets, sunny quiches and tangy lemon curd French toast. If you're feeling more "unch" than "br," dig into a salad Nicoise with salmon, egg, potato and olives or the roast chicken sandwich, an airy croissant layered with meat, goat cheese and mango chutney.
Big Al's Diner
12600 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland
Big Al's doesn't do brunch. It does breakfast all day. No booze. No flowers. No frippery. But whatever you call it, the results are the same: heart-warming plates of diner-style fare that are guaranteed to set you right. Folks go gaga over the satellite dish-size pancakes but we can't seem to pry ourselves away from the biscuits and gravy, a pair of multilayered dough cakes drowning in sausage-studded gravy, gilded with a pair of over-easy eggs, and sided by a mountain of onion-laced hash browns. Our No. 2 is the corned beef hash, with sauteed potatoes and peppers also topped with a pair of huevos. A makeover has given this classic Larchmere spot a fresh new look.
Scene Archives Photo

Big Al's Diner

12600 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland

Big Al's doesn't do brunch. It does breakfast all day. No booze. No flowers. No frippery. But whatever you call it, the results are the same: heart-warming plates of diner-style fare that are guaranteed to set you right. Folks go gaga over the satellite dish-size pancakes but we can't seem to pry ourselves away from the biscuits and gravy, a pair of multilayered dough cakes drowning in sausage-studded gravy, gilded with a pair of over-easy eggs, and sided by a mountain of onion-laced hash browns. Our No. 2 is the corned beef hash, with sauteed potatoes and peppers also topped with a pair of huevos. A makeover has given this classic Larchmere spot a fresh new look.

Scene Archives Photo
The South Side
2207 West 11th St., Cleveland
Wait, that clock can't be right. You mean to tell me that we've been rolling clear through till sunrise? Birds don't lie, bro. Birds don't lie. If you can somehow manage to make it to 10:30 a.m., you're golden, because that's when the South Side in Tremont starts pouring its legendary Bloody Marys (including the overstuffed Mother Mary, a one-stop drink/meal stuffed and skewered with everything but the kitchen sink) and dishing out its heavenly chicken and waffles. Of course, when it comes to mopping up last night's mess, nothing does the job better than fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits buried beneath creamy sausage gravy. Also on tap: bennies, enchiladas, frittatas and more.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

The South Side

2207 West 11th St., Cleveland

Wait, that clock can't be right. You mean to tell me that we've been rolling clear through till sunrise? Birds don't lie, bro. Birds don't lie. If you can somehow manage to make it to 10:30 a.m., you're golden, because that's when the South Side in Tremont starts pouring its legendary Bloody Marys (including the overstuffed Mother Mary, a one-stop drink/meal stuffed and skewered with everything but the kitchen sink) and dishing out its heavenly chicken and waffles. Of course, when it comes to mopping up last night's mess, nothing does the job better than fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits buried beneath creamy sausage gravy. Also on tap: bennies, enchiladas, frittatas and more.
West Side Market Cafe
1979 West 25th St., Cleveland
Most folks breeze right by this cafe en route to the main event — shoppng at the West Side Market ­—but that's foolish. For starters, there are Bloody Marys inside waiting for you. And second, the food is always reliable, consistent and affordable. One thin Lincoln nets a diner a square breakfast of two eggs any style, home fries and toast. For a couple bucks more a shopper can grab the eggs Benedict or huevos rancheros, a Latin stack of tortillas, refried beans, fried eggs, queso fresco and ranchero sauce. If you're in a hurry to head next door, order the fried egg sandwich to go, a soft roll stuffed with a fried egg, spicy bacon and cheese. The doors open bright and early for those in search of the worm.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

West Side Market Cafe

1979 West 25th St., Cleveland

Most folks breeze right by this cafe en route to the main event — shoppng at the West Side Market ­—but that's foolish. For starters, there are Bloody Marys inside waiting for you. And second, the food is always reliable, consistent and affordable. One thin Lincoln nets a diner a square breakfast of two eggs any style, home fries and toast. For a couple bucks more a shopper can grab the eggs Benedict or huevos rancheros, a Latin stack of tortillas, refried beans, fried eggs, queso fresco and ranchero sauce. If you're in a hurry to head next door, order the fried egg sandwich to go, a soft roll stuffed with a fried egg, spicy bacon and cheese. The doors open bright and early for those in search of the worm.
Beachland Ballroom and Tavern
15711 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland
You know and love this east-side concert club for its unbridled devotion to hosting the world's best musicians, but did you know that they also make a mean chilaquile? The come-as-you-are vibe and the live DJ combine to make this "rockin' brunch" one of the illest, chillest in town. Start with a kicky chapula cocktail, a south-of-the-border eye-opener of tequila, orange juice and sour cherry, a fired-up coffee drink, or any one of six different takes on the Bloody Mary. Those chilaquiles consist of crunchy tortilla chips topped with chicken (or beans), over-easy eggs and queso fresco. A 180-degree departure from those are the potato latkes with lox and applesauce. People rightly adore the fried chicken and waffles, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, and the sturdy corned beef hash and eggs.
Scene Archives

Beachland Ballroom and Tavern

15711 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland

You know and love this east-side concert club for its unbridled devotion to hosting the world's best musicians, but did you know that they also make a mean chilaquile? The come-as-you-are vibe and the live DJ combine to make this "rockin' brunch" one of the illest, chillest in town. Start with a kicky chapula cocktail, a south-of-the-border eye-opener of tequila, orange juice and sour cherry, a fired-up coffee drink, or any one of six different takes on the Bloody Mary. Those chilaquiles consist of crunchy tortilla chips topped with chicken (or beans), over-easy eggs and queso fresco. A 180-degree departure from those are the potato latkes with lox and applesauce. People rightly adore the fried chicken and waffles, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, and the sturdy corned beef hash and eggs.
Tommy's
1824 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights
Since 1972, hippies with the munchies have been beating feet to Tommy's for wholesome fare that runs the gamut from Middle Eastern falafel to Middle American tuna salad. In the a.m. it's all about the pancakes, waffles, French toast, omelets and "breakfast creations" that range from humdrum to downright wacky. The Crudley, por exemplo, consists of scrambled eggs, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and cheese, while the Elsie is a triple-decker sandwich saddled with two fried eggs, bacon, cheese, peanut butter (what?!) and mayo. Be sure to tack on an order of hash browns and an old-fashioned milkshake, the breakfast beverage of winners.
Scene Archives

Tommy's

1824 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights

Since 1972, hippies with the munchies have been beating feet to Tommy's for wholesome fare that runs the gamut from Middle Eastern falafel to Middle American tuna salad. In the a.m. it's all about the pancakes, waffles, French toast, omelets and "breakfast creations" that range from humdrum to downright wacky. The Crudley, por exemplo, consists of scrambled eggs, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and cheese, while the Elsie is a triple-decker sandwich saddled with two fried eggs, bacon, cheese, peanut butter (what?!) and mayo. Be sure to tack on an order of hash browns and an old-fashioned milkshake, the breakfast beverage of winners.