20 time-tested brunch spots worth rolling out of bed for – whether you're craving benedicts, waffles, mimosas or something else entirely
Food trends come and go in the blink of an eye in this town, but one thing never seems to change: Toronto’s appetite for brunch is as bottomless as the mimosas we quaff by the pitcher. Restaurants of all cuisines and price levels have learned to capitalize on our love of eggs (though many a local restaurateur has developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with the madness of Sunday service).
The good thing about the city’s brunch culture? Like the rest of the food scene, it’s varied, globally oriented and sometimes gleefully experimental. Here, we’ve hand-picked 20 of the city’s best time-tested breakfast joints.
READ MORE: Toronto’s best new brunch 2020
The small, family-run Egyptian joint packs in diners day in, day out (double the number on weekends) thanks to a homestyle slate of classics – beautiful foole platters, a hearty scramble with basturma – and a few nouveau-style dishes like the Pharaoh’s shrimp po’boy and a delightful date grilled cheese. Little wonder they had to turn the space next door into a second dining room.
226 Greenwood, 416-462-2703, mahasbrunch.com
Sure, it’s intimate and flirty at night – but the all-pastel-everything splendor of Victor Barry’s French spot really sparkles in daylight. Served all week, the brunch menu runs the gamut from Gallic classics like croque madames and rolled, herbed omelettes to shaved-ham benedicts and brown-butter pancakes. What could make it better? The tiny back patio (weather permitting).
89 Harbord, 647-341-3100, cafecancan.com
A fantastically laid-back spot on the eastern reaches of the Danforth, City Betty’s vibe is serene and family-friendly, with an omnivorous assortment of dishes that put farm-to-table ingredients front and centre. Highlights from the small (but heavy-hitting) brunch menu include the Benny and the Jets with house-cured bacon, Yukon Gold latkes with house-cured trout, and one hell of a spicy Caesar (complete with oyster).
1352 Danforth, 647-271-3949, citybetty.com
What’s a hotel restaurant without a killer breakfast? Craig Harding’s sprawling spot on the first floor of the Anndore House goes all-in with a Mediterranean-influenced morning menu that runs from big, beautiful lemon ricotta pancakes (a recent NOW Magazine cover star) to a lamb burger with harissa aioli and nduja-topped breakfast pizza. No benedicts? No problem!
15 Charles East, 647-475-4436, constantineto.com
White Lily Diner
Not many things can inspire tears of satisfaction like White Lily Diner’s buttery griddle cakes – but its giant pastrami sandwich, six-ounce patty melt and daily selection of fresh donuts do come close. The diner bakes all of its own bread, and smokes and brines just about everything in-house. With a row of phone-book-yellow booths, the space seats about 30, lending it the rare kind of exclusivity that still manages to ooze “well-kept secret.”
678 Queen East, 416-901-7800, whitelilydiner.ca
BBs serves as a living, loving-yet-irreverent tribute to classic Filipino cuisine. Grab a diner-style booth (or a pink-painted picnic table) and dig into silog platters with garlic fried rice, longanisa and milkfish vegetarians can avail themselves of a coconut-dulce de leche French toast or a fantastic smoky eggplant dish. If none of that tickles your fancy, they’re constantly announcing new specials on their Instagram (which, incidentally, is hilarious).
76 Lippincott, instagram.com/bbsdiner
Pow Wow Cafe
The Indian taco is the base on which this intimate cafe in Kensington is built, but Anishinaabe chef Shawn Adler pulls from all over the culinary spectrum, dressing up frybread rounds with red lentil coconut curry and chicken shawarma. Any of his tacos can be brunchified, but there are also morning-specific dishes like venison meatloaf topped with eggs and sautéed mushrooms or wild rice oatmeal with maple yogurt.
213 Augusta, 416-551-7717, instagram.com/powwowcafeTO
This breakfast spot is Alireza Fakhrashrafi and Danielle Schrage’s third Persian restaurant dotting College – and it just might be their best. Elevated standards define the menu, from the paneer boroshteh (two sunny-side up eggs over halloumi cheese and smoked salmon) to the haleem (lamb porridge mixed with a blend of seven spices). Servings are large and won’t break the bank.
1120 College, 647-352-7322, pomegranaterestaurant.ca/tavoos
If the thought of cochinita pibil eggs benedict and cheddar-spinach waffles with bacon and chipotle crema doesn’t tempt you, consider that this recent revamp of a Leslieville brunch stalwart, nestled inside a two-floor Victorian on a quiet stretch of Broadview, is also one of the most beautiful restaurants in Toronto. (Omar Gandhi’s design won the 2020 Best Restaurant prize from Designlines.)
265 Broadview, 647-351-7645, ladymarmalade.ca
Step into Saving Grace and you’ll feel as if you’ve walked into your mom’s living room – its homey space exudes a comfortable charm. The all-week brunch also adds to the cozy, with classics (French toast with caramelized bananas) and signatures (Rajasthani scrambled eggs with chickpea masala and spicy paratha). After two decades on Dundas West, even the weekday brunch lineups are now running out the door.
907 Dundas West, 416-703-7368, instagram.com/savinggraceto
The great thing about this little sister to the Tabule franchise: The brunch menu is all-day, so you can get your shakshuka fix at 9 am or 9 pm. But then again, saying that’s the only great thing would discount the piping-hot saj pita they make throughout the day, fantastic lineup of dips and mezes and drinks like cinnamon-honey lattes and harissa Caesars.
494 Front East, 416-583-5914, souktabule.com
The Federal has long had brunch down, particularly when it comes to the classics (cobb salad, eggs Federal with mushroom tarragon cream, the Cubano sandwich). But bring your sweet tooth: buttermilk Belgian waffles, fruit scones and house-made pop – including ginger ale and root beer – are some of the most beloved items on the menu. They also happen to serve the kind of coffee that truly hits.
1438 Dundas West, 647-352-9120, thefed.ca
The humble breakfast sandwich gets its due at this tiny Kensington sandwich shop. There are a number of crave-worthy, hangover-curing options, all built on perfectly domed mini brioches. My fave: the Seaside Bae, with citrus-cured salmon, herbed mayo, scrambled eggs and – brilliantly – kettle chips.
189 Augusta, 647-243-1571, eggbae.ca
Farmhouse’s smoked oyster-topped Caesar is reason enough to drop by for brunch in the Junction Triangle. The aesthetic is pub-meets-tavern, with personality oozing throughout the spot, from the furniture and the wooden slab serving plates to the menu. The Mother & Child Reunion is a standout, from the name itself to the dish: panko-crusted duck eggs with prosciutto-cured bird.
1627 Dupont, 416-561-9114, farmhousehospitality.tumblr.com
Queen & Beaver
Calling all anglophiles. If it’s a more sophisticated, upscale brunch that you’re after – and you don’t mind navigating a tourist-heavy crowd on Dundas – opt for the marvelous buttermilk pancakes or a filling Q&B Breakfast (aka full English). Or, perhaps you fancy a smoked haddock kedgeree or Welsh rarebit? With two patios and a TV tuned to the football match of the day, it’s a bustling spot at any hour.
35 Elm, 647-347-2712, queenandbeaverpub.ca
It doesn’t get busier than the uber-popular Bonjour Brioche, a French bakery that has had some of the most beloved baguettes and croissants in the city for two decades. Henri and Lori Feasson’s all-day breakfast joint in Leslieville also offers a range of fluffy omelettes, tarts and quiche. The space is small, but with a little over-spill patio for especially adorable summer brunches, you won’t sweat the crowd.
812 Queen East, 416-406-1250, bonjourbrioche.com
One of the best Middle Eastern brunches in the city (with a herb garden located upstairs), the crux of Parallel’s menu is its unparalleled sesame butter, present in everything from a signature latte to the halva to the array of hummus bowls and salads. Tahini, labneh and falafel are givens, while the Black Sabbath (organic poached eggs on walnut rye with truffle oil and avocado cream) and the merguez shakshuka are loaded with the flavour you came for.
217 Geary, 416-516-7765, parallelbrothers.com
Le Petit Déjeuner
The prospect of two-hour weekend brunch lineups have not dulled Le Petit Déjeuner’s popularity, and that’s largely in part due to its ever-reliable waffles, available in seven variations. The Belgian brainchild of Johan Maes and partner Tonya Reid, the King East café brings an authenticity to the fluffy, square-shaped (not circular!) breakfast staple. A St. Lawrence Market standard, Petit Déjeuner’s chalet-style aesthetic will have you in weekend mode quick.
191 King East, 416-703-1560, petitdejeuner.ca
@nataliamanzocco | @_sadafahsan