It’s incredible how far this city has advanced on the brunch front in just a few short years. The lazy weekend mid-morning to mid-afternoon meal used to be pretty much the exclusive reserve of greasy spoon joints. And the draw wasn’t so much a well executed menu of established standards as it was the thrill of finding an open door and someone willing to cook on a Sunday. We frequent over a dozen spots on a regular basis and do our best to try every one that’s new to the game. Here are our current favourites for your ranking consideration (poll at bottom)…
This cozy, no nonsense neighbourhood joint on the city’s East Side is the most basic and casual spot on this list. It nails the hearty side of the milieu with pulled pork pancakes, thick Reuben sandwiches, and smoked salmon scrambles. The queue can be a bit of a hassle, but rest assured, it moves surprisingly fast.
One of the better omelettes in the city can be had at this West Side gem (currently lemon ricotta and mushroom), and it’s best enjoyed on their little sliver of a sidewalk patio with a refreshing iced coffee milkshake enlivened with amaro and spice rum.
With its big open floor plan, high ceilings, and flood of natural light, Chambar is a stylish pleasure to lounge in – definitely the best looking of the brunch bunch. The food is superb and often highly original. Aim for the saffron tomato stew lit up by merguez sausage and cooled with raita. So much flavour! Also imperative: waffles with bacon caramel.
The brunch menu is pretty trim, but the few items that Bells and Whistles offers its weekend sports fans are hugely impactful. Case in point: the massive breakfast sandwich (previously featured in our STACKED column here). Also appealing: Steak spice rimmed Caesar cocktails.
It’s not often you come across a fried green tomato eggs benedict, but they rep them well here. It’s the same story with smoked brisket hash and short rib stuffed Croque Madame sandwiches. Bonus: cheddar grits and proper cocktails.
We were pretty excited when this award-winner kicked off their brunch service. It follows the same sophisticated, French-accented lines as dinner, with lots of attention to detail in every aspect of the operation. Great scones, fantastic quiche, wonderful tartine and decadent boudin noir are the highlights. Best seats are in the light-soaked back room.
This bright, beautifully designed looker fires on all cylinders at brunch; the service is arguably the best of the brunch lot. They do a shockingly good Eggs Benedict, but aren’t afraid to get deliciously, if confidently, weird. Witness the fried nutella and banana Monte Cristo sandwich. Better yet, eat it! Bonus: excellent coffee.
Cafe Medina helped lift Vancouver from its brunch doldrums with its fluffy Belgian waffles and inventive departures from the norm. Case in point: the all-in-one braised short rib fricassee with applewood smoked cheddar, apples, roasted potatoes, and fried eggs. If you encounter a line-up, pass word to the host/hostess that a seat at the bar will suffice.
One of our favourite dinner restaurants also kicks serious ass at brunch. The “Beest Brunch” is our go-to for sharing, as it comes loaded with flat-iron steak, maple breakfast sausage, rosemary bacon, peppercorn sauce, three fried eggs, triple-cooked potatoes, and sourdough toast. Also of note: Pastrami Benedict.
It took a Scout poll to convince this focused Mexican restaurant to open for brunch, and they’ve been killing it ever since. Do the chiliaquiles: housemade tortilla chips covered with either green tomatillo or serrano-laced tomato sauce and topped with queso fresco, onion, beans, and crema (pictured above). To drink? Micheladas!
Almost in a class entirely of its own in the brunch department, the mighty Acorn – arguably Canada’s best vegetarian/vegan restaurant – is more relaxed during brunch service, but no less inventive. Aim for the southern fried artichokes with waffles, bourbon maple syrup and mushroom red eye gravy.
Burdock & Co. tables one of our favourite brunch menus on account of its mix of newfangled deliciousness and old standards done sublimely well. We’ve long loved their excellent fried chicken (dusted in dill powder) but we’re also partial to the traditional French pancakes served with seasonal fruit, maple syrup and cream. Bonus: good gluten-free scones.
As with all the menus at Farmer’s Apprentice, the brunch card is always subject to change. That unpredictability being said, diners are always guaranteed something new and interesting like, for example (at the time of writing) smoked Coho salmon served hot with creme fraiche, honey mustard, sourdough toast and poached eggs. Order this if they have it: Berkshire Tamworth bacon drizzled with maple syrup.
We’re suckers for the milkshakes here anytime but during brunch hours the heavenly things come across like a meal in and of themselves, especially when there’s a hangover involved. Load up further with some roast duck pancakes with kimchi or a more traditional French Toast with Nutella mousse.
Don’t be off-put by the line-up! They’ve mastered the art of quick service and fast table turnovers here, and the wait is worth it for traditional eggs benedict (done in a few different ways — we’re partial to arugula and double smoked bacon) and those highly addictive lemon-truffle roast potatoes.
Going the traditional route of crispy fried chicken with waffles is certainly attractive, as if the notion of biscuit sandwiches (pork sausage, egg, cheese, hashbrown), but really the thing to do here for brunch is the chicken fried steak which comes with sausage gravy and pair of fried eggs.
Did we miss your favourite brunch spot? Let us know via @scoutmagazine