38 Staff-Selected Places to Eat Brunch in Cincinnati

CityBeat dining writers list their favorite places to eat on the weekends — and why

click to enlarge Nada's Huevos Rancheros - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Nada's Huevos Rancheros

These days, the phrase “Let’s get brunch” is basically a euphemism for “Let’s get drunk before noon.” People be lovin' brunch, amiright? It’s a Bacchanalian breakfast celebration that doubles as an excuse to mainline mimosas and stuff bacon into foods where it does not belong.

The brunch zeitgeist of the new millennium is real. There are mood boards dedicated to what to wear to brunch, restaurants with strictly brunch menus, brunch-only Instagram feeds (@bitcheswhobrunch, @brunchboys) and we have an entire event devoted to it (Brunched: June 23 @ the American Sign Museum).

Why do Americans love a meal that doubles as breakfast and lunch and basically turns into an ongoing commitment to day drinking? Is it part of the self-care indulgence movement? A genius marketing campaign by egg companies or the avocado illuminati? Whatever the reason, our country is literally obsessed with brunch, so CityBeat dining writers made a list of their favorite places to drink and dine on the weekends for all types of moods. Whether you want to get sloppy drunk in your atheleisurewear, have a fancy family outing or dip into some dim sum, we’ve got you covered.

The Anchor-OTR

Brunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday

Saturday is the only day for brunch at The Anchor-OTR and that’s just fine with us, because after a Friday night of tying one on, the Anchor’s bloody mary is the “hair of the dog” we would welcome any day of the week. Yes, we here at CityBeat did name it 2015’s “Best Multi-Tasking Cocktail,” and with good reason. Where else will they stuff a glass full of vodka, bloody mix, housemade pickles, a giant lobster claw, an oyster and shrimp? It’s a meal and an adult beverage all in one drink. But the food at The Anchor is also perfect for that day-after kind of eating — with a bonus view of Washington Park. Tuck into creamy Weisenberger grits with shrimp and a sunny side egg or a smoked salmon omelet if you’re feeling breakfast-ey. Or go straight for the lunch with a cheeseburger and fries or a trout BLT. Must Try: Any one of chef Steven Shockley’s specials. He recently debuted a spring dessert menu featuring seasonal choices like a rhubarb tart with chantilly cream and strawberry sugar, perfect for enjoying on the Anchor patio: one of our favorite places to see and be seen. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, theanchor-otr.com. — ILENE ROSS

Aster

Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Aster’s brunch vibe is an elevated version of its more well-known restaurant sibling the Sleepy Bee. The social sippery sunlights as a brunch spot for the first half of Sunday, serving a small but tasty menu of sweet and savory dishes. Avocado toast, the dish that launched a million think-pieces about Millennials, gets a fresh twist here — ember oil toast is topped with a poached egg, slices of avocado and dukkah — as does the classic yogurt and fruit combo, updated with tahini, apricot purée and hemp granola. Savory dishes are served with a simple side salad and fingerling potatoes, and there’s also a variety of breakfast cocktails with cute names and intriguing ingredients, like Scottish coffee with, you guessed it, Scotch. Don’t get your heart too set on any one item, though. The menu rotates frequently, in accordance with the season and the chefs’ moods. That kind of unpredictability is exactly why I so enjoy brunch here. Must Try: The Marksbury sausage stratta, which is kind of like a quiche but more bread-y and not quite as egg-y but still plenty cheese-y and delicious. (This one is a menu staple, so get as attached as you want.) 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown, asteronfourth.com. — LEYLA SHOKOOHE

Commonwealth Bistro

Brunch: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Commonwealth Bistro brings the principled sensibilities of farm-to-table dining to the treat-yo-self spirit that so often accompanies brunch. This quaint spot on Main Street in Covington puts their own spin on each and every brunch classic, whether it’s the arugula salad with berries, ricotta and spiced pecans, or a Scotch egg wrapped in Flattop Farms goetta. They put a twist on their day drinks as well: the Pink Mimosa is made with orange-Campari sorbet and the bloody mary features “garden” vodka and pickled vegetables. Here, menu choices are indulgent yet approachable, much like the atmosphere itself. The main dining room is lined with windows, with a clear shot to the open kitchen, and when weather permits, the second story rooftop allows for brunching al fresco. Must Try: The Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Waffle, served with a scoop of buttermilk ice cream, is a non-negotiable and worth the trip itself. So is the goetta sandwich with pimento cheese and a fried egg — for that true Southern splurge. 621 Main St., Covington, commonwealthbistro.com. — KATIE HOLOCHER

Coppin’s at Hotel Covington

Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m Saturday and Sunday

With a new chef at the helm, Coppin’s and its associated eateries are getting a bit of an update. Chef Mitch Arens, most recently of New Orleans’ Cochon Butcher, is upping the already present Louisiana/Southern flair. Think ingredient additions like Gulf shrimp and andouille with grits, or pimentadew cheese with egg and chorizo. Must Try: Oreilles de Cochon. French for “pig’s ears,” these New Orleans-inspired fried pastries are almost as classic as a Café du Monde beignet. Crunchy, sweet fritters are folded into an ear shape and topped with cane syrup and pecans. 638 Madison Ave., Covington, hotelcovington.com. — MAIJA ZUMMO

CWC The Restaurant

Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

From chef Caitlin Steininger of Cooking with Caitlin and her family, CWC The Restaurant is the next evolution of Steininger’s popular catering business. She and her sister, Kelly Trush, are in charge, but everyone from mom, dad and Trush’s teenage daughter pitch in. Located in a charmingly renovated former carwash in Wyoming, dinner is only served Friday and Saturday with brunch on Sundays. The brunch menu is small but mighty with an eclectic selection of eats including ricotta-filled blintzes topped with blueberry sauce, a kimchi and avocado omelet, homemade yeast donuts served with blackberry, vanilla and peanut-butter honey cream and a couple of bloodies and mimosas. Must Try: The Breakfast Nachos. People freak out about them because they are nachos, for breakfast. The novel dish tops chips with charred tomato-chipotle salsa, homemade queso, crumbled goetta, fried egg and a dash of cilantro. 1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming, cwctherestaurant.com. — MZ

Django Western Taco

Brunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

It’s BYOB at Django, so you can make your own mimosa if you want to, or instead nurse your hangover with a Mexican Coke or cup o’ coffee. This Northside Tex-Mex joint serves up some of the most unique and flavorful brunch plates in the Queen City. Each is layered with moments of familiarity, but the overall concepts are fresh. Take the Barbacoa Benedict: warm buttermilk biscuits are combined with poached eggs, shredded beef and spinach. Queso fresco adds a layer of warmth and salsa verde tinges the dish with sourness. Not a carnivore? Ask your waiter to swap the meat for their vegan protein, seitan. Must Try: Chiliquiles: two sunny-side up eggs ooze into crispy tortillas that pack a crunch. Underneath, a layer of black beans and spicy salsa rojo coexist in perfect, heated harmony. Cilantro, radish and cotija are scattered throughout, creating textures that differ with each bite — and keep you coming back for more. Wash it down with one cup (or two, or three) of fresh coffee, which may or may not keep you from collapsing into a food coma. 4172 Hamilton Ave., Northside, djangonorthside.com. — MACKENZIE MANLEY

Grand Oriental Restaurant

Dim Sum: Saturday and Sunday

During the week, Grand Oriental serves delicious, classic Hong Kong-ese fare for lunch and dinner, but on weekend mornings, the real magic begins. Dim sum is a Chinese meal served with tea and comprised of savory and sweet dishes, including a variety of steamed and fried buns, dumplings and rolls. The term "dim sum" translates to “touch the heart.” Grand Oriental’s dim sum experience is done in a traditional setting with diners choosing dishes off of carts that parade through the restaurant, sort of like appetizers on wheels. Each cart carries an array of bamboo or metal steamer baskets or platters filled with fragrant goodies, and diners order by pointing to the ones they want. Each table gets a check that’s updated every time a dish is ordered, and you pay when you leave. Favorites include shrimp dumplings, stuffed eggplant, egg custard tartlets, steamed pork dumplings and soy-braised chicken. Must Try: Congee. This traditional, super-simple rice porridge is the Chinese answer to soul food, and if you’re feeling the least bit under-the-weather, it’s guaranteed to make you feel all warm and cozy inside. 4800 Fields Ertel Road, Sharonville, grandorientalonline.com. — IR

click to enlarge Lil's Bagel's Windough - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Lil's Bagel's Windough

Lil’s Bagels Windough

Brunch: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Lil’s Bagels opened a walk-up window this past winter cleverly called The Windough, located in the alleyway of the old Piccolo Casa/Greenup Café space. Co-founder Julia Keister makes some of the best bagels and spreads in the city from scratch. Order any combo of carbs and schmear — we like the za’atar and the cranberry cardamom bagels — or get the bagels in sandwich form (our recommendation). Favorites include the Gawd Father with pastrami bacon, pimento cheese, house-pickled green tomato and bibb lettuce, and the Notorious RBE, with super tasty egg salad, pickled beets, lettuce and wasabi roe cream cheese. Besides the Jewish/NYC-style bagels, the Windough also sells goods from local purveyors Teeny Pies (literally tiny pies) and Smooth Nitro Coffee. If you want hot coffee, go next door to Roebling Point Books & Coffee. Must Try: The Good Judy. This is a vegetarian’s dream: two kinds of spreads — Judy Garden (beet, roasted veggies and goat cheese) and Tahini Bikini (tahini, cucumber, mint and labne) — on a za’atar wheat bagel, piled with spicy greens, turmeric pickled jicama and radish. The pickled veggies add a crunch, and even those who dislike beets will appreciate the subtle, earthy flavor. 308 Greenup St., Covington, lilsbagels.com. — GARIN PIRNIA

The Littlefield

Brunch: 11 a.m-3 p.m. Sunday

Northside is lucky to have The Littlefield. The restaurant has claimed its place in the neighborhood as a solid destination for both date night and brunch. One of the benefits to the restaurant’s location is its immediate proximity to Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition, which is the perfect holdover zone for diners waiting on available tables. The kitchen consistently delivers exemplary dishes, while the bar offers a very good variety of quality drinks to suit all palates. The most instagrammable drink is likely their Fleur de Bee, which contains a hibiscus flower everyone loves to photograph themselves munching. Must Try: VGLT. The Vegan Goetta Lettuce and Tomato sandwich will win over the Ron Swanson in your life who would never dream of substituting something else for their bacon, much less something vegan. The texture and flavor are superior in some ways to traditional goetta, and the fact it contains no meat is a pretty great selling point to a whole lot of people. If you’re a carnivore who cannot be swayed, definitely give the biscuits and gravy a chance, extra points if you have bacon on the side. 3934 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, littlefieldns.com. — SEAN M. PETERS

click to enlarge Nada's Huevos Rancheros - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Nada's Huevos Rancheros

Nada

Brunch: 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

While a taco joint might appear to be a wild-card option for traditional brunchgoers, it is definitely a perfect pre-siesta pit stop. While all the Nada classics are on the menu — the chips and salsa trio, the O.G. guacamole — there are also Mexican brunch offerings: poutine with barbacoa, fried egg and charred tomato salsa, and huevos rancheros with frijoles charros, ancho salsa and diablo sauce. Or, if you head in thinking when in Nada, get a taco, but try one like the fried avocado with chipotle bean purée, or the always-tasty al pastor with pickled pineapple. And then, because everyone loves a boozy brunch, there are sparkling blood orange mimosas, made with rosé cava, and drunken coffees with both Kahlua and tequila. Ay dios mio! Must Try: Eggs Goettadicto, because what is a brunch in Cincinnati without something goetta-fied? And a Tequila Sunrise cocktail because now is as good a time as any for a nap. 600 Walnut St., Downtown, eatdrinknada.com.— KH

click to enlarge Northside Yacht Club's Breakfast Poutine — Kennebec fries, goetta gravy, Wisconsin cheese curds, scallions and a fried cage-free egg. - Photo: Sean Peters
Photo: Sean Peters
Northside Yacht Club's Breakfast Poutine — Kennebec fries, goetta gravy, Wisconsin cheese curds, scallions and a fried cage-free egg.

Northside Yacht Club

Brunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

It’s never too early for Punk Rock brunch at Northside Yacht Club — as long as it’s after 11 a.m. Known to many patrons as a spot to catch cool touring bands late at night, NSYC has continually proven itself to have a quality kitchen staff that provides excellent food no matter what time the clock says. It’s not unusual to hear The Buzzcocks on the speaker while you study the massive beer cooler for your order. If you decide on their bloody mary, know it contains enough food to count as an entrée to some appetites, including a pulled pork sandwich, bacon, a chicken wing and — oh, yeah — celery. Have you checked out their rad new patio tables? Good for groups. Must Try: Breakfast Poutine. Anything served with Kennebec french fries should ideally be washed down with a pilsner or dry sparkling wine, especially if goetta gravy is involved. This incredible brunch poutine comes complete with rich cheese curds that contrast nicely with the crispy potatoes and fried egg. It’s smooth sailing for Yacht Club’s gravy boat. 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com. — SMP

Otto’s

Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Serving American home cooking with a flair of haute couture, Otto’s is a strong brunch spot in Covington. The restaurant fills up quickly — even though the interior maximizes its seating capacity in such a way that Tetris gamers would approve of — so it would behoove you to make a reservation. Really, it’s worth the extra effort. The décor alludes to a passion for circus performers and includes a collection of antique seltzer bottles associated with clowns' water shenanigans, but Otto’s isn’t kidding around in the kitchen. By taking a simple Southern treat like fried green tomatoes and introducing them to a BLT croissant sandwich, Otto’s made the B.L.F.G.T. — though an “E” should be added to the acronym because there’s also an egg in there. Must Try: Benedict Otto’s — the poached egg is a litmus test for many brunchers and Otto’s passes with flying colors. However, the main attraction is actually what is served beneath the egg: a fried grit cake with a crisp outer layer and decadent inside, exponentially enhanced by the egg’s pierced yolk. Enjoy with a local Skinny Pig Kombucha if you’re looking for something softer than the common brunch cocktail, though their bloody mary includes Swiss cheese, an olive, thinly sliced cucumber and citrus. 521 Main St., Covington, ottosonmain.com. — SMP

Red Feather

Brunch: 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Sunday

Red Feather is the brunchiest of brunch brunches, offering a Sunday-only special that beckons for an RSVP and dressed-up outfit — a treat where ladies don lipstick and men a sport coat. The offerings are artfully executed and upscale, with a croque monsier with ham, bechemel and gruyere; quiches of the day served with either dressed field greens or fruit; and an array of benedicts, the most notable being the lobster, served with local Sheltowee Farm mushrooms and truffle hollandaise. There are also poutines, omelets and pancakes a plenty. Scratch biscuits and jams are delivered fresh to the table, and to add to the occasion is the build-your-own bloody mary bar, stocked fully with heat-adding sauces, salty veggie accoutrements and crispy slices of bacon. Must Try: The buttermilk pancake: this is a really ridiculously good-looking pancake. Or the Red Feather Omelet,with goetta, boursin and cheddar, because omelets are always a yes. 3200 Madison Road, Oakley, redfeatherkitchen.com. — KH

Salazar

Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Chef Jose Salazar, the James Beard Award semi-finalist, drew more attention this year when he announced weekend brunch at his namesake restaurant — and also when he named chef Erin Wilshire as his chef de cuisine. The brunch menu features some of the same items from Salazar’s lunch and dinner menus — little fried oyster sandwiches, a farm greens salad and a burger — but brunch also offers granola and Greek yogurt, challah French toast, a frittata and a mimosa with an edible flower floating in it. There’s also Deeper Roots coffee and the restaurant’s full dinnertime cocktail menu. Must Try: Falafel. A lot of restaurants serve falafel, but Salazar takes it up a notch by using seasonal ingredients like winter squash or English peas to compose the fried balls. The warmth from the housemade sesame pita complements tangy feta cheese and lemon yogurt. And no brunch meal here is complete without ordering a side of patatas bravas-esque home fries. 1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, salazarcincinnati.com. — GP

click to enlarge Taste of Belgium's strawberries and cream waffle - Photo: Brittany Thornton
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Taste of Belgium's strawberries and cream waffle

Taste of Belgium

Brunch: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Taste of Belgium has been expanding its operations since its first waffle was pulled from a cast iron waffle-press at Findlay Market in 2007, opening four brick-and-mortar bistros and an additional market location. Along with its locally famous sweet, sturdy and caramelized Belgian waffles, the brunch offerings have piloted the restaurant’s rapid ascent. Under the “Brunch Like a Belgian” menu category, there is a fresh berry parfait with chia seeds; a McWaffle with egg, bacon, gruyere and maple syrup; and a messy goetta hash, with Eckerlin Meats’ goetta and two eggs. This is in addition to staples like a strawberries-and-cream-topped waffle or a savory buckwheat galette. Try the crepe-like galette filled with turkey, bacon and housemade ranch dressing or Speculoos biscuits and cookie butter. Must Try: The Brunch Burger. This indulgent dish consists of havarti cheese, bacon and egg stashed between two waffles instead of buns. Multiple locations including 1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, authenticwaffle.com.— AUSTIN GAYLE

click to enlarge Wunderbar's Landjunge Fruhstuck — two over-easy eggs, bacon, housemade sausage, goetta, potatoes and a biscuit. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Wunderbar's Landjunge Fruhstuck — two over-easy eggs, bacon, housemade sausage, goetta, potatoes and a biscuit.

Wunderbar

Brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

This Bavarian bar provides a dimly lit haven for Sunday morning hangover-sufferers — and some live music. The small brunch menu, written on a chalkboard, changes often but offers options like corned beef hash and eggs, biscuits and gravy or hard-shell breakfast tacos. Order at the bar and tack on a $3 mimosa or $4 bloody mary. Must Try: Landjunge fruhstuck, a German-style countryman’s breakfast with two poached eggs, bacon, housemade sausage, goetta, corned-beef hash and a biscuit. It’s basically all the meat. 1132 Lee St., Covington, facebook.com/wunderbar.covington.3. — MZ

BUFFETS

click to enlarge The Grill at Palm Court Sunday buffet has a 20-foot dessert display - Photo: Mesa Serikali
Photo: Mesa Serikali
The Grill at Palm Court Sunday buffet has a 20-foot dessert display


The Grille at Palm Court

Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sundays

If you’re feeling fancy (and like you can eat $39.95-worth of crab legs), head to the Hilton Netherland Plaza for Sunday brunch at Palm Court. The giant display takes over the stunning Art Deco bar and grill space in the hotel with carved roasted meats, made-to-order omelets, salads, seafood, some version of eggs benedict, potatoes, breakfast meats, pastries, fancy cheeses, plenty of shrimp and crab claws and a 20-foot dessert spread. The offerings change weekly, but it’s always seasonally inspired, super fresh and real classy. Must Try: You don’t have to pick just one thing here — it’s literally a room-sized buffet — but recent reports suggest the appearance of delicious fried fish cakes. If you see one of those, grab it. And a serving of warm bread pudding (you pour the creme anglaise on top yourself). 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, hilton.com. — MZ

Grand Finale

Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday

This iconic Glendale eatery serves up tons of nostalgia — and nostalgic dishes — any time of day. Open for more than four decades, the people-pleasing menu is locally famous for both its homemade dessert options, which range from a creamy key lime pie in a hazelnut crust to bananas foster and cherries jubilee, and broad brunch buffet. The buffet highlights restaurant hits with a sampling of crepes, crunchy fried chicken livers, eggs, breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy, hot cinnamon apples, chicken a la king and a spread of Grand Finale desserts. Must Try: The Bubbling Ruby breakfast cocktail with grapefruit juice, sloe gin and sparkling rosé. Effervescent and fresh, it’s a fun upgrade from a typical mimosa — especially for fans of both pink grapefruit and pink wine. 3 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, grandfinale.info. — MZ

click to enlarge Greyhound Tavern's Breakfast Hotbrown — biscuits topped with sausage gravy and sausage links, scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and tomato. - Photo: Zachary Petit
Photo: Zachary Petit
Greyhound Tavern's Breakfast Hotbrown — biscuits topped with sausage gravy and sausage links, scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and tomato.

Greyhound Tavern

Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; Buffet 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

The Greyhound Tavern has offered down-home comfort food to Northern Kentuckians since the 1920s. The atmosphere is pleasantly country-fied, with wood paneling, vinyl tablecloths and multiple fireplaces, and so is the menu. The tavern is known for its herbed secret-recipe fried chicken, available daily with family-style specials on Mondays and Tuesdays and a starring role on the Sunday brunch buffet, which also features a carving station, casseroles, goetta, biscuits, mashed potatoes and other hearty fare. The Greyhound’s Saturday non-buffet brunch menu is more streamlined, with a focus on house favorites (chicken livers, fried green tomatoes), breakfast items, salads and sandwiches, plus a nice menu of cocktails: a Kentucky sunrise with Bulleit bourbon and orange juice, a pitcher of mimosas or bellinis, spiked coffee and a bloody mary with garnishes like pickled asparagus and bacon. Must Try: The Breakfast Hotbrown. This morning take on a Southern staple features a base of biscuits topped with sausage gravy and sausage links, scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and a tomato. It’s served in a skillet with a side of grits or delicious, crispy potato wedges. 2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, greyhoundtavern.com. — MZ

Parkside Café

Brunch: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; Buffet 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Parkside Café is like the BMV of brunch spots, and I mean that in the best way possible. The assortment of folks seated in the low booths of this repurposed Frisch’s ranges widely, from a group of large-hatted church ladies to a cop eating a steak on his lunch break to an older couple patiently trekking toward the outrageously inexpensive weekend breakfast buffet ($7.99) to the Cheers-reminiscent gang of best married friends. The menu ranges widely, too. You want pancakes? Walnut Hills Pancake Stack, coming right up. Steak and eggs? Check. Delightfully varied omelets? Southern-style biscuits and gravy? Parkside has you covered (for lunch, too, but I always get breakfast). The service and the restaurant are uber-chill, sometimes to the point of negligence, but the overall lack of pretension, quirky charm (it has a drive-thru!) and inexpensive nature of this little eatery is enough to cut through almost anything. Must Try: Parkside Breakfast: two eggs; bacon, sausage, goetta or ham; toast; and your choice of Parkside potatoes or tater tots for FIVE DOLLARS. Are you kidding me? And, trust me, the tots should be your potato of choice. 1024 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, parksidecafe.info. — LS

DRINKING DESTINATIONS

BrewRiver GastroPub

Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

If there’s a group of Americans who has a real laid-back laissez faire attitude toward the weekend, it’s our Creole cousins down South in New Orleans. And BrewRiver’s brunch menu (and the restaurant’s entire vibe, actually) is a nod to NOLA, with dishes like bacon-infused cake donuts (think porky and powder-sugared beignets), barbecue Gulf shrimp and Weisenberger grits and creole poutine, with house-smoked chicken-and-sausage gumbo and local cheese curds over fries, topped with two eggs. Chef Michael Shields trained under Emeril Lagasse, so he’s not afraid to kick it up notch, especially with $20 bottomless mimosas and strong cocktails like a Hurraine and Sazerac. Live music adds to the Bourbon Street vibe on Sundays. Must Try: Eggs Sardou. This Creole dish is a kind of modified eggs benedict, with poached eggs, artichoke hearts, creamed spinach and sourdough toast points covered in a bernaise sauce laced with beer. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com. — MZ

The Comet

Brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

We’re sticking this under "drinking destinations" because The Comet is generally considered a bar first  — one with big-ass burritos, yes, but a bar nonetheless. Though its Sunday brunch menu changes weekly, it has some of the hippest dishes in the city — like shakshuka with poached eggs and feta in a Moroccan-style tomato and pepper stew; eggs Florentine; and a crepe cake with orange crepes, pastry cream, toffee sauce and berries. There’s even a ruby red grapefruit brûlée with toasted pistachio for dessert. A full bar and one of the city’s best beer selections are available to accompany anything you pick. Must Try: Whatever’s new that week. Could be anything from a spicy buttermilk fried catfish po’boy to a Monte Cristo sandwich or shrimp and mango ceviche. Surprise yourself! 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, cometbar.com. — MZ

Cozy’s Café

Brunch: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

We’ve got three words for you: bloody mary bar. This locally focused café’s build-your-own bloody mary bar features two tomato bases — mild and spicy — to which you can add accoutrement such as olives, pickled red peppers, bacon, citrus and more than a dozen hot sauces. Complement your cocktail with Southern eggs benedict with grilled bologna and fried green tomato or an Allen Brothers beef burger topped with cheddar, bourbon-bacon jam and an egg. Must Try: The Grilled Bologna sandwich. Bologna is a thing here, and on this sandwich, a German version of the lunch meat is grilled with aged cheddar cheese, fried egg, tobacco onion and moustarde aioli on a Sixteen Bricks brioche bun. It’s like middle-school lunch, but a whole lot better. 6440 Cin-Day Road, Liberty Township, cozyscafeandpub.com. — MZ

click to enlarge Keystone Bar & Grill's Go-Goetta Skillet - Photo: Kellie Coleman
Photo: Kellie Coleman
Keystone Bar & Grill's Go-Goetta Skillet

Keystone Bar & Grill

Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

At any given time on a weekend morning (or afternoon), Keystone is likely packed. Friends pile in as groups, some nursing headaches, some ready to start their day. Nonetheless, it’s a Covington staple. Aside from mac and cheese fame (yes, there’s a “morning mac” with goetta and an over-easy egg), their brunch is a hot commodity, too. The selection is wide: potato crisps, frittatas, “wake-up calls” and platters. Order a classic biscuits and gravy combo or opt for something a little funkier like Keystone’s huevos rancheros or their goetta skillet. Must Try: Keystone serves up some fresh takes on bloody mary’s and mimosas. Add a twist to a classic mimosa by making it with guava, strawberry, peach or mango. For bloody fans, Keystone has you covered: select a classic take, make it “angry” (infused with Tabasco and garnished with a jalapeño) or channel your inner Irish with a splash of stout beer. Since it’s on ol’ Kentucky’s side of the Ohio River, try a “Bourbon Breakfast,” which combines Bulleit bourbon with Ale 8, lemon and orange juice. Multiple locations including 313 Greenup St., Covington, keystonebar.com. — MM

Ladder 19

Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Whether you’re in college or just want to feel like it again, Ladder 19’s boozy Sunday brunch has all the alcohol and indulgent dining options to make that dream come true. For $19, you can have one menu item and bottomless bloody marys or mimosas; if you just want the booze and not the food, it’s only $15. Lay down a base layer before drinking with half-pound burgers (veggie options, too); a Captains Skillet with goetta, bacon and sour cream; and a Fireman’s BELT, with bacon, two eggs, lettuce and tomato. Must Try: Pancake Dippers. Ladder 19 somehow stuffed crisp bacon inside of buttermilk pancakes, and topped off the creation with raspberry liquor and powdered sugar.  2701 Vine St., Corryville, ladder19.com. — MZ

click to enlarge Nation's Breakfast Tots — tater tots, cheddar cheese, sausage gravy and a fried egg. - Photo: Brittany Thornton
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Nation's Breakfast Tots — tater tots, cheddar cheese, sausage gravy and a fried egg.

Nation Kitchen & Bar

Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

If you go to Nation during peak brunch hours, it can feel like an extension of the night before — the restaurant is packed to the brim and music blares at a decibel higher than your typical breakfast/lunch stop. Their Boozy Brunch deal ($30) lets you choose one food item from the brunch menu along with bottomless mimosas, screwdrivers or “bloody carries” until 2 p.m. on the weekend. And if cocktails aren’t up your alley, they also have an extensive selection of craft beers. It’s a high-spirited atmosphere coupled with inventive takes on brunch classics, making it the ideal destination for nursing away the night before or starting your day delightfully buzzed. Must Try: The Brunch Wrap Supreme. This pressed-tortilla dish is filled with smoked sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, queso, tater tots and jalapeño relish. If your life is an ode to carbs like mine, opt for loaded tater tots on the side. 1200 Broadway St., Pendleton, nationkitchenandbar.com. — LAUREN MORETTO

Revolution Rotisserie

Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Revolution’s recently opened second location in Pleasant Ridge has the same focus on rotisserie chicken and playful pita sandwiches, but the brunch menu includes options like French toast, tater tot poutine and deviled eggs. Sunday also signals the start of Mimosa Madness: Buy a wine glass full of mimosa for $15 and get each refill for just $1. They also have three different bloodies, a mule-mosa with ginger beer and a Super Cereal Cocktail with Cinnamon Toast Cruch-infused almond milk, Bulleit bourbon and Ancho Reyes, garnished with a toasted marshmallow. Must Try: The Rotisserie Chicken & Waffles. Get anywhere from a quarter to half of a bird — white or dark meat — topped with spicy syrup and served with two buttermilk waffles. 6063 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, revolutionrotisserie.com. — MZ

EVERY DAY

Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey

Brunch: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

It’s biscuit time any time at this frontier-themed eatery. The star of the show — and menu — are baked golden nuggets of goodness. These buttery, soft discs with a close crumb and a browned, lightly bubbled top are present in everything from sandwiches and bowls to sweets. The Yukon sandwich comes squished with fried chicken, sawmill gravy, smoked cheddar and bacon (add an egg for $2); the Gold Shoes has two biscuits with a flight of gravies; and the Fool’s Gold combines two biscuits, local ham, bacon and sawmill gravy with an up-charged egg. Basically, anything you can top with an egg for an additional $2, do it. Must Try: The Campfire Greens. Listed under “Sundries,” these green ain’t a biscuit but they are peppery, savory and pack a punch. 1202 Broadway St., Pendleton, boomtownbiscuitsandwhiskey.com. — MCKENZIE GRAHAM

click to enlarge The Echo's Flying Pig Sandwich — Ham, bacon and Swiss cheese between two slices of French toast, topped with powdered sugar and syrup. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Echo's Flying Pig Sandwich — Ham, bacon and Swiss cheese between two slices of French toast, topped with powdered sugar and syrup.

The Echo

Brunch: 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

The line leading out of The Echo on weekend mornings doesn’t discriminate. It’s a sampler platter of Cincinnati demographics: Hung-over college kids, grandparents with family members and business executives all congregate waiting to get into the longstanding diner. The Echo’s all-day offerings balance sweet and savory with unicorn-like skill. There are seasonal features, breakfast classics, healthy items (denoted by a leaf illustration), sandwiches, pan-friend chicken on the weekends and $6 brunch cocktails. Or just throw in for a mimosa pitcher. Plus, if the line seems too tedious for a lazy Sunday, you can always get take out. Must Try: The Flying Pig Sandwich. When you can’t decide between pancakes or a cheesy omelet, you get the Flying Pig — a sandwich with French toast for bread, stuffed with ham, bacon and Swiss cheese and topped with powdered sugar and syrup. It’s listed under “hangover helpers” for a reason. 3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, echo-hydepark.com. — MG

French Crust Café & Bistro

Brunch: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Findlay Market is home to Jean-Robert de Cavel’s French Crust Café & Bistro, where chef de cuisine Carla Heiert delights diners with a touch of Paris in Over-the-Rhine. For classic French fare, try one of the traditional quiches — savory egg tarts filled with luxurious combinations such as the Duo of Salmon with asparagus and mushroom, or the traditional Loraine, with ham, gruyere and leeks. Heartier lunch-seekers will enjoy a choice from Les Casseroles “Le Creuset,” hot dishes like the incredibly rich Medley of Seafood Crepes with béchamel, or the totally-for-grown-ups mac-and-cheese medley with mushroom, leek and celery. Those in search of a more local breakfast will not be disappointed — the menu does include a few American favorites such as buttermilk pancakes and Cincinnati’s own meaty regional staple, goetta, served in a puff pastry with a poached egg, hollandaise and piperade. Must Try: Do not leave French Crust without trying at least one of executive pastry chef and chocolatier Jean-Philippe Solnom’s creations — especially the croissants. Flaky and full of butter, don’t stop to count the calories. We highly recommend heading to the pastry case and selecting something before you order your meal. They go fast on the weekends. 1801 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, frenchcrust.com. — IR

Hang Over Easy

Brunch: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Hang Over Easy is in a perpetual state of brunch, offering breakfast and lunch options alongside a full bar every day of the week. Filling a breakfast void in Corryville, it now plays host to many young University of Cincinnati students experiencing their first ever hangover (they grow up so fast!). The menu doesn’t take any radical risks, plating up dependable diner fare found on most American breakfast and lunch tables. Bloody marys and mimosas are nothing fancy here, but are priced to fit collegiate budgets and expectations. This spot is not for the old at heart, as your server will likely be just old enough to rent a car, but Hang Over boasts a pretty decent beer menu for a restaurant that closes before dinnertime. Must Try: Frog Eyes. These fluffy homemade biscuits are smothered in sausage gravy and topped with two eggs. If you get the yolks over easy, it kind of looks like the bulging eyes of a bullfrog, especially if you’ve taken advantage of the Jameson Irish whiskey on tap. We also recommend their classic grade-school cafeteria tater tots. 13 W. Charlton St., Corryville, hangovereasycincinnati.com. — SMP

click to enlarge Maplewood Kitchen and Bar's avocado toast and eggs and bistro steak and eggs - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Maplewood Kitchen and Bar's avocado toast and eggs and bistro steak and eggs

Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

Brunch: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Do not be dismayed if the line is out the door when you arrive at Maplewood. For one thing, it’s worth the wait, but just as importantly, they have a super-efficient operation that moves you along quickly. While you wait, you can ponder your many excellent choices, and even start with a brunch cocktail thanks to the drink stand they’ve set up just inside the front door. I’ve tried some of the toasts — such as avocado with chopped pistachios and honey, or roasted mushrooms with caramelized onions and whipped goat cheese — and an egg dish or two. But wait, there’s more. How about something with a little kick, such as Chicken Tinga (chipotle chicken provides the spice)? Or you can go lunch-like with a salad or sandwich. The cocktails include good versions of a bloody mary, margarita and mimosa, but I prefer the cucumber sangria, made with Sauvignon Blanc, dry vermouth, juices and prosecco. Must Try:  The dish that haunts my dreams is the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, with seasonal fruit, berry compote and local syrup. Go ahead and add a side of Daisy Field Farms bacon if you’re in an indulgent frame of mind. 525 Race St., Downtown, maplewoodkitchenandbar.com. — PAMA MITCHELL

National Exemplar

Brunch: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily

National Exemplar is good any time of year but may be at its best in either spring or fall. With wood paneling and old-world vibes, the inside is cozy, like a Harry Potter movie marathon, making weekend mornings in fall a great time to visit this Tudor-style Mariemont mainstay. However, if you draw the lucky card and pick the right spring morning to visit, you get the patio experience of the season, with overhead sun, pretty trees and just enough foot traffic from the quiet neighborhood for quality people watching. With lots of egg dishes, pancake variations, a “Good for You” breakfast menu and a variety of hashes, this brunch spot covers all the bases. Must Try: Strawberry Mascarpone Toast. Thrilling Millennials everywhere since the introduction of their “crafted toast” menu section, this worthy avocado toast companion boasts a slab of thick-cut raisin challah bread topped with creamy, swirly mascarpone, local honey, sweetened strawberries, mint, balsamic glaze, black pepper and toasted almonds. Whew! The only appropriate addition to this kind of perfection is your pick from the restaurant’s Juice Bar menu, including options like the Kale Tonic and Beet & Blueberry. 6800 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, nationalexemplar.com. — MG

Pleasantry

Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

Pleasantry’s staff has perfected brunch with their hospitality, natural wine and locally sourced food that’s prepared and presented with next-level talent. Chef Evan Hartman elevates a simple staple like breakfast potatoes with the addition of house fermented jalapeño and cured egg yolk, shaved over the top like blessings from brunch heaven. With patio season underway, Pleasantry is an ideal location for classy day drinking accompanied by top-notch cuisine. It would be quite easy to stay until dinnertime when the menu changes into its evening attire (just be sure to tip out your server if you stay past shift-change). Not into traditional brunch drinks? Pleasantry has the best curated wine menu in the city, offering an array of red, white, orange, sparkling and rosé, along with a formidable cocktail and beer selection. Also a fine spot to enjoy a well-made espresso, as the staff are trained by 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab’s head barista on all things coffee. Must Try: The Michelada. There’s no finer bloody mary mix in the city than Pleasantry’s house concoction, which needs no distractions or gimmicks to be enjoyed. Wonderful in a traditional cocktail or with Miller High Life for a Michelada, pair it with jowl bacon and their cornmeal pancakes and prepare to feel mighty pleasant. 118 W. 15th St., Over-the-Rhine, pleasantryotr.com. — SMP

click to enlarge Sacred Beast's omelet - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Sacred Beast's omelet

Sacred Beast

Brunch: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Sunday

This new breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner/late-night destination in OTR has a solid menu of both diner-inspired dishes and Francophile favorites, like matzah ball soup, a double-burger with American cheese and steak tartare and frites. Strong, classic cocktails — an Old Fashioned, Hemingway daiquiri and violet-hued Aviation are all $10 or less — round out the menu, but it ain’t all fancy. The late-night Happier Meal gets you a cheeseburger, shot of Evan Williams and a Hamms beer for $15. The restaurant says they’ll be introducing an official brunch menu soon. Must Try: The omelet. As someone who’s been a vegetarian most of my life, I have a somewhat contentious relationship with eggs. On the one hand, they’re gross; it’s a bird ovum with a gooey center. One the other, they’re a super versatile protein. Scramble them. Make a frittata. Torch them in a crème brûlée. One of the most classic preparations is the omelet, specifically a French-style omelet. Eggs are cooked slow and on a low heat to make them impossibly fluffy and delicious. The omelet at Sacred Beast is honestly one of the best I’ve had in my life — with a slightly wiggly center, an airy, soft texture and no burnt brown skin. The yellow bit o’ heaven comes filled with a ton of goat cheese and bright piquillo peppers, served with a lightly dressed bibb salad. It’s a little slice of Saint-Germain on Vine that epitomizes the excellence of chef Jeremy Lieb’s motto: Simple food. Taken seriously. 1437 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, sacredbeastdiner.com. — MZ

click to enlarge Sleepy Bee Cafe's Broakley — An over-easy egg, avocado, white cheddar, onion, tomato, sprouts and your choice of bacon or sausage on a brioche bun. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Sleepy Bee Cafe's Broakley — An over-easy egg, avocado, white cheddar, onion, tomato, sprouts and your choice of bacon or sausage on a brioche bun.

Sleepy Bee Café

Brunch: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

If you’re trying to schedule a group brunch with your vegan cousin, your neatnik aunt and your meat-and-potatoes husband, casually suggest Sleepy Bee in Oakley and become the family favorite overnight. With a focus on local non-GMO foods and bee-friendly practices, this bright, cozy space has all the classics, like omelets, pancakes and bacon (seriously, try their bacon), and it also has some dressed-up options if you want to step outside the box: a tofu scramble, vegan sausages and the most social-media-friendly ROYGBIV fruit plate in the city. Don’t forget that Sleepy Bee is on the Nowait app, so you can put your name in ahead of time, skip the wait list and get right to the coffee. With additional locations in Blue Ash and downtown, you’re bound to find seating at one of them. Must Try: The Queen City Bee. Don’t eat this one on a first date. With a messy broken egg yolk for sauce, this sandwich on ciabatta has goetta, apple, arugula and “nectar” sauce. Roasted sweet potatoes make the perfect side with a hint of sweetness, served with an apple butter dip that perfectly complements the sandwich. 3098 Madison Road, Oakley, sleepybeecafe.com. — MG

Sugar n’ Spice

Brunch: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily

For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. And little has changed since Mort Walker founded Sugar n’ Spice in 1941. Wait time is often long for the popular spot, but Steven Frankel, fifth owner of the landmark restaurant and self-proclaimed “caretaker of an historic icon,” soothes hangry patrons by passing out nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese as well as gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, Frankel rewards younger diners with rubber duckies in addition to their meals. Must Try: Football-size fluffy omelets, the most popular menu item besides the pancakes. When Frankel purchased the restaurant in 2010, fresh vegetables like spinach and mushrooms replaced frozen and canned versions, so they’re better than ever. 4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com. — IR

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