Top five brunches of 2011

The best of the Toronto brunch spots

No one covers brunch as thoroughly as NOW. For proof, look no further than our annual Brunch Guide. Here’s our fave five of the year!

1.NACO GALLERY CAFE, 1665 Dundas W, at Margueretta

The Hoof Café wasn’t the only terrific brunch spot that prematurely closed last year. Julian Calleros’ low-key coffeehouse might not have been much to look at but it’s dirt-cheap Sunday brunch blew us away, especially ex-La Palette and Atlantic chef Nathan Gawalko’s skyscrapin’ Latin American torta of gorgeously fatty pork belly, crunchy crackling, creamy avocado, zingy coleslaw and a fried egg on a Brazillian bun. Our loss Gawalko’s gone back to school to finish his degree in prosthetics. Read NOW’s full review here.

2.LAB, 651 College, at Grace, 416-551-5025,

Forget all that molecular gastronomy malarkey. Howard Dubrovsky’s smart west-side room is best when at its most conventional. But with a twist, of course. Whimsically named dishes like Green Eggs and Ham – Seussian scrambled free-range eggs laced with pureed arugula sided with artisanal pancetta, chlorophyll be damned. Read NOW’s full review here.

3. COWBELL, 1564 Queen W, at Sorauren, 416-849-1095,

We weren’t fans of Mark Cutrara’s attempts at brunch the first time round. An homage to the Friendly Giant of plain ol’ bacon ‘n’ eggs served on a TV tray no matter how kitsch, we think not. But chef gets back on the meat track with deep-fried duck-egg Eggs Benny in textbook Hollandaise dressed with southern US barbecue-style pulled pork, a whack of down-home collard greens on the side.

4. PARTS & LABOUR, 1566 Queen W, at Fuller, 416-588-7750,

Next door to Cowbell, Matty Matheson is just as mad for meat, in the tattooed down-east chef’s case a pair of over-easy eggs piled with obscenely fatty seared pork belly in a trotter-infused sauce spiked with back-woods maple syrup.

5. THREE SPEED, 1163 Bloor W, at Pauline, 647-430-3834

What’s not to love about the Communist Daughter’s bigger sister? Ex-Swan chef Jane Ferriss in the kitchen, Eggs Benny over cornbread finished with beer-braised brisket and the Velvet Underground’s Loaded lp in permanent rotation on one of the west-side’s loveliest patios. Don’t tell anyone. Read NOW’s full review here.

Still hungry? See our Top five lunches of 2011 here, and then check out our Top 10 restaurants of the year here.

Plus, check out the best brunch spots open on New Year’s Day.

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