If you're a diehard bruncher, you've likely got your regular haunts: Psycho Suzi's for its bloody Mary bar and expansive, almost guaranteed-no-wait dining room; Haute Dish for inspired twists on brunch classics; Grand Cafe for an award-winning, hangover-buster with panache. But what are you, married to one ball-and-chain brunch routine weekend after weekend? Could you, starting now, bust out of your mealtime monogamy and flirt with something new? "Yes!" you cry aloud. "You're damn right!" you affirm, slamming your fist on the table, frightening all the sheeple around you at the coffee shop.
Okay then, free spirit. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your brunching life.
Editor's note: Corner Table's brunch would have easily made this list, had it not been discontinued last month. R.I.P. crispy rabbit and waffles. We hardly knew ye.
5. Sonora Grill, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sonora Grill rolled out its brunch menu in early June, nearly six months after the Midtown Global Market star made its brick-and-mortar debut in Longfellow. The newcomer to the local brunch roster was an especially welcome addition for fans of Latin American-influenced breakfast, often a tough find in these Twin Cities (Victor's, Maria's, and a handful of taquerias aside). So if you fall into that camp, let your excitement build as you read over the following in your best Spanish accent: chilaquiles... molletes... caramelos. Si, we're available for brunch this weekend.
4. The Third Bird, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The newest brunch on the list, the Third Bird's crack at weekend morning fare is as successful as one would expect from a Kim Bartmann venture. Playful but accessible, familiar but fresh, the menu offers a sophisticated array of refined brunch standards: a grilled leek and oyster mushroom omelet, a bison steak sweet potato hash with soft scrambled eggs and roasted pepper Bearssoise (Hollandaise with a touch of fresh lime), and pork belly with two perfect poached eggs and a smoked maple Hollandaise. If you're on a budget, coffee cake for $3, buttermilk cheddar biscuits with apple butter (also for $3), and steel cut oats with banana and peanut butter and maple syrup ($6) should tide you over. Or, if you're so far gone with the brown bag fever that only a plate of french fries will do, try the classic version with a harissa aoili or go HAM on the buffalo variety, dusted with house-made buffalo seasoning and sprinkled with tangy blue cheese.
3. Libertine, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
When Libertine took over the Cafeteria space in Uptown, brunch fans howled at the possibility of losing a favorite bloody Mary purveyor. But given a sip of the Tomacco, a smoky, Tabasco-spiked, marrow-infused Mary, everyone piped down. No wonder: With the guidance of local barman Johnny Michaels and with the James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee behind the burners, Libertine has proven a more-than-worthy replacement for this Calhoun Square restaurant space. The brunch menu carries out the updated Midwestern steakhouse theme with thick and chewy house-cured bacon, feather steak and eggs, and a bourbon-glazed ham steak. But it also sweetens the deal with a few frills: freshly baked banana bread French toast, caramel pecan rolls, crepes with lemon curd, blueberry compote, and mascarpone, and the lemony popover-meets-crepe Dutch Baby, pictured above.
2. Heyday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Heyday swaggered into LynLake with the culinary chops of Jim Christiansen and the front-of-house know-how of Lorin Zinter. But it wasn't until several months later that they rolled out their brunch menu, a well curated collection of nine entrees (all under $12) ranging from the sweet and simple yogurt panna cotta to the Huevos Rancheros Nuevo, a chile-spiked carnitas and eggs dish that checks all the savory brunch boxes. In between you'll find some of our favorites, including the smoked butter biscuits and gravy (pictured above), made with enough smokiness and heat to balance the rich gravy and the crumbly, buttery biscuit; as well as the Pannenkoeken, thin, lightly sweet Dutch-style pancakes with cherries and pecans. Wash it down with a sour beer or a Don't Be Salty, a bubbly tequila-based brunch cocktail, or go all out with the face-sized caramel roll. (It's sized to cushion your mug when you fall face forward into its delicious caramel swirl.)
1. Tongue in Cheek, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you haven't been to Payne-Phalen lately, or you don't even know where Payne-Phalen is (hint: St. Paul's east side), it's time to hop in your whip, crack open a map, and get to brunching. Tongue in Cheek opened earlier this summer with W.A. Frost alums at the helm, and quickly assumed its rightful place in the neighborhood's fine dining revival. With an eclectic and playful menu reminiscent of but not ripped off from Travail and the Rookery, Tongue in Cheek executes brunch standards -- like potato hashes and Benedicts -- with an effortless charm, and adds in some curious twists too, as in the wildly successful French toast with ham, eggs, cherry compote, and coffee butter. But we're particularly smitten with the Rookery-esque "teasers" -- one to two-bite micro plates that make us wonder why there aren't more places that serve a brunch time amuse bouche. These wee tastelets range from the savory -- the Goldi-lox teaser (pictured above), a dilly, Nordic bagel-and-lox in a bite -- to the sweet -- the Mi-Whoa-Sa, a tiny glass of bubbly with a tiny, floating mango bubble that pops in your mouth for a burst of tangy sweetness.
Got a new brunch spot you're crushing on? Drop us a line.
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