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.
Barroco GrillMultiple locations, barrocoarepabar.com
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.
Brewnuts6501 Detroit Ave., 216-600-9579, brewnutscleveland.com
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 Vegan17112 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-221-0201, clevelandvegan.com
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.
Brim Kitchen + Brewery3941 Erie St., Willoughby, 440-306-8183, brimbrewery.com
Since opening its doors one year ago, Brim has really endeared itself to the local community, maturing into a popular stop on the eats and drinks landscape. On weekends, they open their arms wide to hungry folks in search of hearty breakfast and brunch fare with a well-crafted menu of updated classics. Dig into a stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with whipped butter, strawberries and maple syrup, or a plentiful plate of steak and eggs sided by roasted potatoes, guacamole and pico de gallo. There's also a smoked brisket Benedict, fried chicken and waffles, and a scrambled egg sandwich with Monterey Jack cheese and avocado. Tack on a side of cheddar and chive biscuits, home fries or Holiday Sausage, whatever the heck that is. To drink, there's fresh-brewed beer, of course, but also watermelon mojitos, champagne Margaritas and trusty-old Bloody Marys.
Lucky's Café777 Starkweather Ave., 216-622-7773, luckyscafe.com
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.
Dante Next Door2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1201, danteboccuzzi.com
Dante Next Door was pretty much designed from the wood floors up to be a brunch destination, an elegant foil to the dinner-only Dante, well, next door. Naturally, chef Boccuzzi nails both the covers and the originals, turning out stylish versions of lemon-ricotta pancakes, bananas Foster French toast, and cinnamon waffles with caramelized apples and bourbon syrup. Half the room, it appears, comes specifically for the crab cakes Benedict, which is exactly like it sounds only 100 times better. We're suckers for the breakfast pizzas, baked like all the pies in a wood-fired oven. The Everything Bagel and Lox version is dotted with house-cured salmon, hard-boiled egg, capers, red onions, cream cheese and dill. Split an order of the ridiculous duck-fat potatoes and wash it all down with sparkling peach Bellinis.
Le Petit Triangle Cafe1881 Fulton Rd., 216-281-1881, lepetittriangle.com
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 Diner12600 Larchmere Blvd., 216-791-8550
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.
West Side Market Cafe1979 West 25th St., 216-579-6800, westsidemarketcafe.com
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.
Southern Cafe11817 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-801-4535, southerncafeohio.com
Southern food lends itself beautifully to brunch, with the easygoing comfort foods melding seamlessly with the unhurried pace of the day. This soul food joint puts on no airs when it comes to treating its adoring customers, who come on weekends to enjoy home-style dishes like scratch-made drop biscuits smothered in sausage gravy, topped with two eggs and paired with Cajun potatoes. Buttermilk fried chicken is paired with red velvet waffles, Low Country grits and maple syrup. The Soulful breakfast is a buffet on a plate with crispy fried catfish, Texas toast, fried green tomatoes and creamy grits. Hit the ATM before you land because only green is gold here.
Beachland Ballroom and Tavern15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com
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.
Urban Farmer777 St. Clair Ave., 216-771-7707, urbanfarmercleveland.com
They could just as easily call this place Urbane Farmer, a cosmopolitan setting inside the recently revamped Westin Downtown that happens to be a lovely place to spend a few hours on the weekend. Slightly high-end to be sure, this farm-to-table concept nails everything from pricey steak dinners to satisfying egg breakfasts — which is why the steak and eggs makes perfect sense. This version pairs farm-fresh eggs with grilled flat-iron steak, sausage gravy and breakfast potatoes for an over-the-top feast. The eggs Benedict features local heritage-breed ham, house-baked English muffins and (why doesn't everybody do this?) swaps the hollandaise sauce for bearnaise.
Tommy's1824 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-321-7757, tommyscoventry.com
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.
Luna Bakery & Cafe2482 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216-231-8585, lunabakerycafe.com
How could you not just snuggle into a dish called Nest Egg? This loveable item features a sunny-side-up egg nestled into a double slice of semolina toast fused together with cheddar cheese and sided by pico de gallo. Also available at this elegant bakery/cafe are healthy starts like steel-cut oatmeal with honey and fresh fruit, homemade granola with berries and Greek yogurt, and avocado toast sprinkled with sea salt and pink peppercorns. More robust appetites likely will gravitate to the breakfast burrito rolled around scrambled eggs, cheddar, black beans and silky avocado cream or the always delightful Black Forest ham, egg and Swiss crepe. On your way out, pick up some French macarons, tarts, brownies and cupcakes to go.
Fire Food & Drink3220 Shaker Square, 216-921-3473, firefoodanddrink.com
You can't mention brunch in this town without bringing up Fire, an ageless American bistro on Shaker Square. The stylish yet industrial dining room with views onto the square is a charming place to ease into the day, aided by warm service and pitch-perfect food. The sticky buns here are the bomb, appearing on almost every table. Chef Katz might have single-handedly launched the local shakshuka craze, with farm-fresh eggs poached in a harissa-scented tomato sauce. Fire's eggs Benny is textbook, its shrimp and grits a revelation, and don't get us started on those weightless lemon souffle pancakes.
Astoria Cafe and Market5417 Detroit Ave., 216-266-0834, astoriacafemarket.com
Sunday brunch at Astoria is every bit as pleasant as lunch on Tuesday and dinner on Thursday. Given the cafe and marketplace's Mediterranean bent, it's no surprise to see the menu populated with items like Tortilla Espanola, the frittata-like pie fortified with potato and onion. Here, it's capped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce because why not? I've been absolutely obsessed with the gyro omelet ever since typing those two words, and I'm pretty certain that the duck confit hash and eggs is in my immediate future. If you haven't yet popped into this sunny spot, we recommend you remedy that forthwith.
Pier W12700 Lake Ave., Lakewood, 216-228-2250, pierw.com
If you don't think of Pier W when you think of brunch, you're doing it wrong. Despite being precariously perched on a precipice overlooking Lake Erie, this Lakewood landmark has survived for more than 50 years thanks to spotless seafood, professional service and those dramatic views. Sunday's grand brunch buffet is old school meets new, with sparkling raw bar selections like shrimp and oysters joining poached Atlantic salmon and smoked salmon with all the accoutrements. A carving station turns out thin-sliced roast sirloin — with horseradish cream and au jus, of course — and staples like eggs Benedict, breakfast meats, and green and fresh-fruit salads are on hand and plentiful.
El Carnicero16918 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-3415, elcarnicerolakewood.com
Desayuno, as they in Mexico, is the most important meal of the day. As one might expect, the folks at El C give brunch a Latin flair, which is the most delicious flair of all if you ask us. Taking its name from the cryptozoological wonder that is the "goat sucker," the Chupacabra cocktail is a blood-red lid lifter made with bacon-infused vodka, spicy tomato juice and a rim dusting of chile-lime salt. You can't go wrong with the huevos rancheros, but consider taking the blue corn breakfast enchiladas for a spin. Inside the blue corn tortillas is tender ancho chile-braised beef brisket, scrambled eggs, black beans and Chihuahua cheese. Savory, corny griddle cakes are paired with Mexican Coke-glazed bacon, while Las Gachas is a comforting porridge of cheesy grits topped with shredded mole-braised lamb and sunny-side-up eggs. Don't forget the churros!
Collision Bend Brewery1250 Old River Rd., 216-273-7879, collisionbendbrewery.com
Have brunch on the river courtesy of Collison Bend, the year-old brewery from Zack Bruell and company. In addition to the regular lengthy menu, diners have a choice of a half-dozen breakfast-themed items to enjoy alongside those watery views. Eggs in Purgatory — eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce — is showered with feta and accompanied by grilled flatbread for soaking up all that angry gravy. The tantalizing French Toast Bake consists of brioche layers intermingled with sweet cream cheese, berries, Nutella, egg custard and vanilla maple bourbon syrup. A knife-and-fork-style Breakfast Pizza is weighed down with house-cured bacon, caramelized onions, tomato, mozzarella, cheddar and a sunny egg. A list of boilermakers pairs house brews with compatible shots of booze.
Flour34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-3700, flourrestaurant.com
Flour's star of the Sunday brunch — the eggs Benedict — nearly ruins diners for all other versions. Maybe it's the crisp-edged English muffin, or the thick but supple slice of mortadella; not to be overlooked are the perfectly poached eggs and the creamy, decadent hollandaise. This attractive suburban bistro always manages to fluff our sails, even after a long, rough night. Diners can go simple with a fluffy veggie frittata or whole hog with a sausage pizza. We prefer the breakfast pie, thin, crisp and dotted with spinach, feta, sunny-side-up eggs and sweet and sour peperonata.
Lemon Falls95 North Main St., Chagrin Falls, 440-247-8000, lemonfalls.com
Cute as a button — and not much larger, to be honest — Lemon Falls is a cheery ray of sunshine in the heart of the Village. From quick-serve pastries like muffins, scones and Russian tea biscuits to full breakfasts, this New England-style gourmet market is as convenient as it is on trend. Pop in on a Saturday morning and enjoy a mug of cappuccino or chai latte and a plate of poached eggs with prosciutto and Parmesan. A fried egg sandwich consists of two eggs, bacon, tomato and gruyere on an airy brioche bun. Before you leave, grab some housemade granola for later in the week.
Blue Door Cafe and Bakery1970 State Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-926-9774, bluedoorcafebakery.com
Given that bread and breakfast are closely intertwined, it's always wise to brunch at a bakery. And when that bakery is the Blue Door Cafe, all the better. Whenever we have plans that take us south of the turnpike, we begin our travels early enough to stop here for an exceptional meal. Decanters of French-press coffee give way to summery mimosas. Any item that includes house-made English muffins or fresh-baked croissants is a win, as is the Croque Madame, a sandwich-like meal with rosemary-scented ham, gruyere and eggs dripping with lush bechamel. Chicken and waffles gets an upgrade thanks to pepper-brined fried chicken, jalapeno-and-cheddar waffles, bourbon butter and housemade hot sauce.