The best brunch in Toronto is not always what you'd expect. Some people are only looking for the best pastries, Bennies or huevos rancheros, and they're willing to stand in line for however long it takes to get them. Others want nothing more than a steaming bowl of noodle soup or dim-sum on Sunday mornings, or they're allergic to crowds.
There is hardly an objective way to judge the best brunch restaurants in Toronto, when factoring in taste, neighbourhoods and exactly how hungover one is, so we thought we'd pose the question to the editors in our newsroom for their hands-down favourite picks.
Still, the whole concept of brunch is pretty divisive — even at our office — and some would say it's overhyped and overpriced. Why pay for breakfast or brunch when you can just go to the grocery store, quipped our curmudgeonly news editor, who abstained from our friendly survey.
In defense of the traditional and, yes, lazy two-in-one meal, the following 20 brunch restaurants (in no particular order) ARE worth the expense.
According to a well-fed cross-section of the Huffington Post Canada team, these go-to restaurants serve up brunch that is either so delicious and cheap, that there's no way you could match these meals on your own...or else just so special that you've just gotta let yourself live a little and splurge sometimes.
What's your personal favourite brunch spot in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below.
Recommended By: Rebecca Zamon, Living Editor
Standout Dish: The Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes — as far as weekend treats go, buttermilk pancakes are right up there, and these ones are particularly worth it.
The Draw: For a more indulgent (read: pricey) brunch, there's nowhere better in the city. Between the floor-to-ceiling windows, "home cooking" that is better than anything you could dream of whipping up in your kitchen and an owner with a pretty fantastic sense of humour, this place has everything going for it.
Also Try: The scones. The server will mention the flavour of the day, you'll hem and haw because you don't really need them, and then you'll order them and enjoy every blissful, flaky second.
The Draw: Elegant farmhouse atmosphere, no long line-ups (at least for now), fewer hipsters, and a tightly edited brunch and cocktail menu.
Standout Dish: Farmer's Breakfast —Their take on an Scottish style ploughman's lunch plate featuring a perfectly cooked Scotch egg, country cheeses, pate, baguette and green salad
Also Try: Whatever the seasonal scrambled egg special is. Velvety soft scrambled eggs, taken off the stove at exactly the right moment every time.
Recommended By: Emma Prestwich, Summer Intern
The Draw: I'm a vegetarian (most of the time), so the concept of vegetarian greasy breakfast is wonderful to me. A lot of traditional breakfast dishes done veggie, and some vegan. The decor is cutesy and vintage, with old toys and '70s Formica tables.
Standout Dish: The buckwheat pancakes — which can be customized as blueberry, apple cinnamon, chocolate or banana — are pretty wonderful.
Also Try: Huevos rancheros — lots of gooey cheese and hot salsa, as well as the vegan doughnuts.
Recommended By: Chloe Tejada, Style Editor
The Draw: Modern-day English breakfast with the best thick french fries you've ever tasted. It will definitely help with your Sunday hangover.
Standout Dish: The eggs benedict — Poached eggs with thick slabs of bacon and crumpets with their signature sauce. It's delightful.
Also Try: The Breakfast Pie: A hard-boiled egg wrapped in a sausage wrapped in a pastry. It's an egg and meat lovers heaven.
The Draw: Fresh, mostly local and healthy-ish Mexican inspired takes on traditional breakfast fare, a bright and sunny space with a peekaboo kitchen and quick and friendly service. Bring a latte and expect a long wait at this Leslieville brunch institution, where eager diners can wait up to an hour, but then again, it's worth it. Warning: It's cash only.
Standout Dish: Brie, avocado and bacon eggs Benny. Speaks for itself, doesn't it? Comes with home fries or greens, but if you ask they'll sub delicious fresh tomatoes.
Also Try: A.M. Poutine — hashbrowns with aged white cheddar, topped with miso gravy or Hollandaise. Also the Mexican dishes-hearty, healthy portions of huevos rancheritos or huevos migas.
Recommended By:Emma Prestwich, Summer Intern
The Draw: Freshly-made classic breakfast for less than $10. Just greasy enough. The restaurant is tiny and decorated with vintage signs and posters. If you get there before it opens at 8 a.m., you can sit by the window and just drink in the smell of bacon.
Standout Dish: Scrambled eggs with thick toast and spicy fries, served with poached pears that melt in your mouth.
Also Try: Whichever omelet is on special that day. They know the omelet you need. It's impossible to lose here.
The Draw: Fresh baked French pastries that taste as close to Paris as you can find in the city. A lengthy menu of other French inspired brunch delights like killer quiche and Croque Madame. Quaint and charming Parisian cafe-like vibe. Expect a lengthy line on weekends, especially when the patio isn't open. Warning: they only take cash.
Standout Dish: Flaky, melt-in-your-mouth croissants and an ever-changing menu of French toast paired with fresh ingredients.
Also Try: Tart of the day. Eggs Benny. Bring home a bottle of their housemade one-of-a-kind herbed vinaigrette.
The Draw: All-day breakfasts, any day of the week, that go beyond the usual eggs and bacon fare. A great casual spot to take anyone from the parents to the this-could-turn-into-something-more new friend from the night before, its second location on College also boasts a patio (and a bit more space in general).
Standout Dish: Huevos divorciados, their take on huevos rancheros, with an ancho jam not to be missed.
Also Try: Toast Soldiers. Because while soft-boiled eggs and bread triangles alone may not take you back to your childhood, the literal soldiers on your plate surely will.
The Draw: Waffles! This small hip cafe serves up waffle everything, they even waffle their bacon. Waffle sammies, waffle Bennies, waffle desserts... This place isn't just great for brunch but waffles any time of day, served up from a tiny kitchen in the middle of the seating area. Tucked away on Lansdowne, Starving Artist rarely has a line and provides board games and a lounge-as-long-as -you -like vibe. Great value too.
Standout Dish: Breakfast Benny made with buttery mashed potato waffles and topped with poached eggs and caramelized bacon. Served with some great sides including fruit, potato salad or baked beans.
Also Try: Tex-Mex chicken sandwich (served between waffles) and caramel pecan dessert waffles.
The Draw: Solid, cheap dim sum for those willing to travel. The food will bring you here, but the gaudy Russian banquet hall decor and waitresses dressed in French maid costumes will make you want to come back. Great place to check out if you're in a downtown dim sum rut.
Standout Dish: Rice-noodle-wrapped spring rolls and baked eel puff pastry.
Also Try: Durian puff pastry.
Recommended By:Ron Nurwisah, Community Manager
The Draw: The Drake can sometimes be too cool for school. But in the mornings, the Queen West hotspot is actually a pretty great spot for brunch.
Standout: Fried chicken and waffles. I've gotten weird looks from people about this...but really, what's not to like.
Also Try: They've got a pretty good drinks list if hair of the dog is what you need on Sunday morning.
The Draw: It's like having brunch in Nonna's modern downtown pad and the Richmond Street East location is still a hidden gem, which means exceptionally friendly service, amazing value and no line-ups. Eek, maybe I shouldn't have said anything.
Standout Dish: Without a doubt, the Calabrese: three eggs over easy on Italian bread covered in tomato sauce, mozzarella and (with or without) spicy sausage. Kind of like Israeli shakshuka but even better.
Also Try: The brunch menu is small but also includes a Piccolo traditional breakfast plate, eggy wrap and vegetarian omelette. If you're super starved or hungover, you can also order any of the homemade pastas, pizzas and sandwiches from the regular menu.
Recommended By:Lisa Yeung, Managing Editor, Lifestyle
The Draw: Tasty, hot and cheap Chinese food done well and served fast in a bright, clean resto that's always packed with diners.
Standout Dish: You're coming for the congee, right? OK, it'll never be as good as your mom's, but Congee Queen's version of the savoury rice porridge (also known as 'jook') is a tasty runner-up. The shredded pork, preserved egg and salted egg is a classic, or veggies can try the assorted fungus and six-grains congee.
Also Try: The dough fritter rice noodle roll — the doughnut on its own is a traditional congee accompaniment and also worth ordering. But wrap the doughnut in a rice noodle roll and dip it in hoisin and peanut sauce and you've got a whole other taste sensation. It's addictive.
The Draw: Authentic Israeli food that reminds you there's much more to Toronto Jewish cuisine than brisket, latkes and Gryfe's mini pizzas.
Standout Dish: Shakshuka special if you want to start the day off winning by reaching into a hot skillet of eggs poached in a rich, tomatoey base with fresh laffa bread. Meat eaters: add a spicy merguez sausage.
Also Try: Sabich sandwich to satisfy your end-of-brunch-almost-dinner hunger pangs.
The Draw: This Vietnamese restaurant at College and Dufferin is as authentic as it gets but inexplicably underhyped compared to other popular pho joints in the city.
Standout Dish: The rare beef pho is a must, and then you can start getting more adventurous with spicier broths and more unusual cuts of meat. (They also just added a tofu pho!) It's all about quality here. The portions are huge, the ingredients are wonderfully fresh and the soups have very little oil compared to some of the greasier competition.
Also Try: The deep-fried spring rolls are a guilty pleasure, but the fresh rolls are perfect any day of the week. Another favourite is the banh cuon, slippery steamed rice rolls filled with ground pork, minced shallots and other goodness. It tastes way better than it looks. If you still have room for a shake, try the strawberry or passionfruit juice. They'll even make it without sugar for you.
Recommended By: Marni Soupcoff, Managing Editor for Blogs
The Draw: The Poutine: No fuss. No fancy pulled pork add ons. No jaded hipster behind the counter. Just amazing fries with gravy and cheese curds. And they smile when my kids run around the place wreaking havoc.
Also Try: In our family, the homeburger is also a staple I'm always pleasantly surprised by how fresh the Greek salad is.
Recommended By:Ron Nurwisah, Community Manager
The Draw: Sometimes you want NOTHING more than a giant bowl of noodles after a night out. King's Noodle serves up one of the best bowls in Chinatown.
Standout Dish: I'm partial to the barbecue duck and barbecue pork in noodle soup. Mostly, it's because I can't decide and want both. The fatty duck and the sweet barbecue pork just work with the chewy egg noodles.
Also Try: They have a small dim sum menu too. Get an order of the Singapore-style turnip cakes: Cubes of turnip cake, pan-fried in curry sauce with crispy bits of pork, garlic and chilies.
Recommended By:Emma Prestwich, Summer Intern
The Draw: Casual atmosphere, brunch standards like eggs benedict and waffles turned Tex-Mex, Mimosas and Caesars after 11 a.m. Also, BREAKFAST POUTINE.
Standout: I have a sweet tooth, so the smoked apple waffles are my favourite. Soft, doughy and not too sweet.
Also Try: The Dawg's Breakfast: poached eggs, baked beans and home fries with a jalapeno-cheddar corn muffin. You can sub fruit.
The Draw: Tasty pulled pork. Plus the smokey BBQ scent my clothes absorb makes me smell amazing three hours after my meal. Bonus.
Standout Dish: Pulled pork eggs Benedict. Smokey pulled pork Benny topped with homemade hollandaise and hash browns were nicely balanced with the light side salad.
Also Try: Whatever their special is because it probably involves BBQ.
Recommended By: Mohamed Omar, Intern
The Draw: The two Greek ladies who run this place are the nicest people in the world. Perfect atmosphere for hangover recovery.
Standout Dish: Breakfast Bagel. Eggs, cheese, bacon, bagel. It's awesome.
Also Try: Chocolate chip waffles. Like Eggo Waffles, but not!