The Brunch Issue: 36 Staff-Selected Places to Eat a Mid-Morning Meal in Cincinnati

Whether you want to get cocktails in your fashion sweatpants, have a cozy family outing or dip into some dim sum, we’ve got you covered

click to enlarge Cornmeal buttermilk pancakes at Crown Republic Gastropub - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Cornmeal buttermilk pancakes at Crown Republic Gastropub

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

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 movement? A genius marketing campaign by egg companies or the avocado illuminati? A ploy to get people to repeatedly use the word “benedict?” 

Whatever the reason, our country is literally obsessed with brunch (CityBeat even has an entire event devoted to it: Brunched, June 22 at The Phoenix). And in this issue CityBeat dining writers have made a list of their favorite places to drink and dine on the weekends for all types of moods. Whether you want to get cocktails in your fashion sweatpants, have a cozy family outing or dip into some dim sum, we’ve got you covered.

*Common sense note: Please check brunch times with the restaurant before you go; menu items are subject to change.

The Arepa Place

click to enlarge Arepa De Huevo at The Arepa Place - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Arepa De Huevo at The Arepa Place

Never had an arepa? This is the place to learn why the rest of the world is catching on to these Latin American delights in a hurry. Originally launched as a Findlay Market pop-up tent by native Colombian Isis Arrieta-Dennis, The Arepa Place now has a brick-and-mortar market spot from which to serve its traditional corn flour street food specialty. Each arepa is grilled then sliced and stuffed with fillings ranging from mozzarella cheese and chorizo to fried plantains and black beans. The space might prove unassuming for a brunch spot due to its relatively small dining area, but the eatery offers top-notch breakfast food, with alcohol, which makes this a quirky off-the-radar (until now) brunch destination. Must Try: The arepa de huevo — a deep-fried cornmeal sandwich stuffed with egg and ground beef — along with a beer; Presidente, a Dominican pilsner, is worth a try. They also serve aguapanela, which is sugarcane water with lemon. Each dish comes with one salsa, but extra sides of the condiment are only $1 if you want to try a variety. Breakfast/Brunch: 9 a.m.-noon Saturday; 10 a.m.-noon Sunday. 131 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, arepaplace.com. — SEAN M. PETERS

Anchor Grill

While we typically seem to eat brunch after 11 a.m., the Anchor Grill is open 24/7, so you can chow down literally any time at this Covington greasy spoon, which has been serving up diner fare for decades. It’s a throwback dive with wood paneling, retro fixtures and black leather booths. As an added bonus, a tiny animatronic Big Band orchestra — led by a swingin’ Barbie doll — plays and moves along to jukebox selections in a vintage Chicago Coin’s Band-Box by the ceiling. The Anchor doesn't serve booze, so opt for diner-style coffee and a slice of their famous chocolate-covered peanut butter pie. It’s cash only, so come prepared. Must Try: Located only about a block away from the headquarters of Glier's Goetta, you'd be stupid not to order a slab of this sausage-and-oat breakfast meat. Go for the goetta omelet with a side of onion rings, because brunch is really just chaos thinly disguised as late breakfast. Breakfast/Brunch: 24/7. 438 W. Pike St., Covington, 859-431-9498. — SMP

The Birch

Located in Terrace Park and owned and operated by a Terrace Park family, The Birch is smartly charming and sweetly nice in its style and menu. But to assume that the restaurant is just for those in the surrounding ’burbs would be selling both it and yourself short. Their newly introduced Sunday brunch is a prime (and tasty) example of what they set out to do — serve quality dishes in a sharp yet inviting environment, one that is fit for both young and old alike. Brunch offerings include steel-cut oats with apples, cinnamon and brown sugar; baked French toast with orange butter; and even steak and eggs with grilled ciabatta and mixed greens or roasted breakfast potatoes. Everything about the menu is inviting and familiar, indulgent and worthwhile, making the visit feel as fresh and fun as The Birch’s bright green front door. Must Try: The crab cake benedict. This dish comes with two pan-seared crab cakes topped with avocado relish, poached egg and chipotle hollandaise. There is an option to just order half, but don’t. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday. 702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park, thebirchtp.com. — KATIE HOLOCHER

The Comet

This vintage-styled neon-lit Northside Garage Rock bar has a daily menu of big-ass burritos, strong booze, live music and coffee, so you never have to leave. And more than a few loyal customers come to The Comet’s Sunday brunch to feast off the hangover they earned in the same bar on Saturday night. Bring an appetite along with some quarters for the jukebox, which is legendary in the city. The brunch menu is streamlined, with less than a dozen options, but check their Facebook page each week for updates; recent specials have included a shrimp and mango ceviche, spicy buttermilk fried chicken with blueberry cornbread waffles and a monte cristo. Must Try: The menu-staple Hot Mess is an aptly named plate of food comprised of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potato, melted jack cheese and sour cream spiced up with Sriracha. Get a tall lager to wash that monstrous entree down before you embark on the grapefruit brûlée, a halved fruit topped with sugar, brûléed to glassy perfection and garnished with pistachio. Brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. >4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, cometbar.com. — SMP

Coppin’s at Hotel Covington

A Tri-State native, chef Mitch Arens worked at New Orleans’ Cochon Butcher before returning home last year to take the helm of Northern Kentucky eatery Coppin’s and brought with him that former restaurant’s focus on local and low-impact food — along with some Cajun and Creole flair, which is readily available on the hotel’s brunch menu. Find breakfast basics like buttermilk pancakes and avocado toast or kick things up a notch with NOLA-styled bites like Oreilles De Cochon fritters with goetta, pie dough and powdered sugar or shrimp and grits done right, with Midway, Kentucky’s Weisenberger Mill grits, Gulf shrimp, andouille sausage, tasso Louisiana-style pork and Cajun gravy. Must Try: People love the very photogenic Roebling Benedict, a rich and hearty serving of Glier’s goetta on a housemade English muffin, topped with wilted spinach and hollandaise with Crystal hot sauce. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 638 Madison Ave., Covington, hotelcovington.com. — MAIJA ZUMMO

The Baker's Table

click to enlarge The Ricotta Donuts at The Baker's Table - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Ricotta Donuts at The Baker's Table

Walking into the living-room-like waiting area of The Baker’s Table feels like visiting your friend who has an impeccable design sense but who is also constantly trying to get you to eat another homemade orange-glazed cinnamon roll. Even during a bustling brunch, the well-designed space feels calm and relaxed. The dishes are rustic, homey and made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients, from the cheddar scallion biscuit breakfast sandwich to the cornmeal pancakes with Chantilly cream. The staff sticks with the mantra “Serve People With Love” and given that every piece of sourdough, brioche and biscuit is made in-house, you can always order some to go. Must Try: The lemon ricotta donuts are little balls of fluffy, creamy joy with a thinly fried exterior and a generous sugar dusting. They come with a seasonal fruit butter — mine was pear ginger — and are a perfect appetizer before your eggs or pancakes arrive. The last time I was there, I also heard multiple people comment that the single-origin coffee they served was “the best cup they’d ever had.” >Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1004 Monmouth St., Newport, bakerstablenewport.com. — LAURA LEAVITT

Court Street Lobster Bar

Get a taste of the East Coast on Court Street. The Court Street Lobster Bar’s brunch menu switches things up by offering seafood specialties with a breakfast-y twist, like lobster gouda biscuits, blackened shrimp toast and a crab, egg and cheese sandwich. The sustainably fished finds at this eatery also just won Best Seafood in CityBeat’s most recent Best Of Cincinnati issue. Must Try: Order a bottomless mimosa ($25) to accompany your French toast BLT roll and it’s like taking a mini seaside Saturday staycation. Brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. 28 W. Court St., Downtown, courtstreetlobsterbar.com. — MZ

Cozy’s Cafe & Pub 

Anyone who has wandered up to Liberty Township to this adorable little house of a bistro knows that the decor alone is worth it, but the food is also magical. You’d be set with just the bacon-filled apple cinnamon roll, but why stop there? Chow down on a short rib skillet full of crispy potatoes, onions and peppers, or munch on the acaТ Nutella bowl, a celebration of fruit, granola and chocolate-hazelnut spread. Even the accompaniments are served with care: the option of tasty Cozy Tots (loaded with chives and bacon) and a tall glass of nitro cold brew coffee will have your mouth watering. Settle in and stay a while — their back patio has lawn games and occasionally hosts live music, so there’s no need to leave. Must Try: Go big with the crab cake benedict, with hollandaise sauce, poached eggs and Canadian bacon layered on tasty housemade crab cakes. No matter how stuffed you feel, a side of buttermilk biscuits with whipped butter and jelly are worth it. Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 6440 Cincinnati Dayton Road, Liberty Township, cozyscafeandpub.com. — LL

The Echo

The Echo has been serving the hungover, the sleepy and the hungry since 1945 when founder Louise Schwartz opened up shop in Hyde Park. Now owned by Stephanie Surgeon, the laid-back diner is still a neighborhood fixture. For brunch, anything is fair game. Too tired to branch out? Their menu is loaded with classics — eggs the way you like ’em, toast, a side of home fries and meat; omelets; hotcakes, waffles or French toast; oatmeal or grits; and combos of everything above. Hungover? They’ve squared off a whole section of their menu to sop up last night’s alcohol. They’ve even got rise-and-shine cocktails, including mimosas, bloody marys, screwdrivers and Irish coffee. Want lunch? They’re known for the sandwiches, soups and salads, too. Feeling adventurous? The Echo also has a rotating seasonal menu that usually features more trendy brunch takes. Must Try: You can add goetta to almost anything here, be it on the side or nestled inside an egg sammie. Personally, I’m a fan of their Florentine eggs benedict — two poached eggs atop a crisped English muffin and spinach, all covered in creamy hollandaise sauce with a side of your choice (I go for their grits or home fries). Wash it down with a mimosa or sea breeze (a cranberry and orange juice concoction spiked with vodka). >Breakfast/Brunch: 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. 3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, echo-hydepark.com. — MACKENZIE MANLEY

Blue Jay Restaurant

click to enlarge Blue Jay Breakfast at Blue Jay Restaurant - Photo: Paige Deglow
Photo: Paige Deglow
Blue Jay Breakfast at Blue Jay Restaurant

Since the Blue Jay first opened in Northside in 1967 not much has changed. And that’s a good thing. The nostalgic diner is known for their soups; Cincinnati-style chili in bowls and atop coneys and 3-ways; all-day breakfast; double-decker sandwiches; and homemade pie. They’re closed on Sunday, but walk in on any given Saturday morning (or weekday!) and there’s hardly a seat to spare. From old folks to college kids to punks to business professionals and families — anyone and everyone seemingly flocks to this homey hot spot. Must Try: I always opt for their classic breakfast: two eggs, buttered toast and your choice of meat (or, if you’re a vegetarian, no meat). The grub is very well-priced, so go ahead and add a side of home fries. They never disappoint. Also, their coffee may be no-frills but it is fresh and hot. What more do you need? Breakfast/Brunch: 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 4154 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-0847 and searchable on Facebook. — MM

The Grille at Palm Court

For sheer elegance, this is the place to spend a few wonderful hours on Sunday morning. The surroundings — in the classic Art Deco Hilton Netherland Plaza — dazzle the eye and soothe the soul, and the array of food stations cater to any whim you might have. The eats are buffet-style but you’ll still get the full Orchids/Palm Court service experience for your bloody mary or mimosa, not to mention should you order a glass of exceptional champagne or a signature old fashioned from the beautiful bar. Must Try: Food items vary from week to week, but you can count on carved prime rib, eggs benedict and a savory stuffed pasta of some sort. On my last visit, the desserts didn’t wow me, but that might have been because I stuffed myself before ever getting to the sweets. Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday. 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, orchidsatpalmcourt.com. — PAMA MITCHELL

The Gruff 

Nestled almost under the Roebling Bridge, The Gruff specializes in pizza (plus deli sandwiches and salads). But on Sundays they’re dedicated to a boozy brunch by offering $20 mimosa pitchers. If a pitcher seems like too much — it’s like four to five drinks — then get a mimosa or bloody mary by the glass ($5). And while you could just sit on their dog-friendly patio and sip mimosas, you could also try one of their Southern-inspired brunch dishes, like the burger topped with pickled green tomatoes, a sunny side up egg and bacon; chicken sausage gumbo with jalapeЦo rice; or banana bread French toast. Must Try: Something open-faced like the fried chicken sandwich on a biscuit with white gravy, bacon and egg or the housemade sausage with two eggs and cilantro-lime sauce on Sixteen Bricks sourdough bread smeared with cream cheese. After brunch, purchase a bottle of wine or six-pack from their market and take a stroll to the riverfront a block away.Brunch: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sunday. 129 E. Second St., Covington, atthegruff.com. — GARIN PIRNIA

Half Day Cafe

A great spot to take the whole family, Half Day Cafe has been a breakfast and lunch destination (only open half the day, get it?) for Wyoming locals looking for simple, elevated diner staples. Must Try: Prepare to meet the challenge of their Bowl O’ Goodness, made with carnitas and a savory red-eye gravy flowing over cheesy grits, topped with two sunny side up eggs. Complete the meal with a mango smoothie and draft that email explaining why you can’t come into work Monday because of a well-earned food coma. Get a few refills on your coffee if going into a vegetative state for the rest of the day isn’t an option. Brunch: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. 1 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, halfdaycafe.org. — SMP

Branch

click to enlarge Top to Bottom: Challah French toast, shrimp and grits, harissa frittata at Branch - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Top to Bottom: Challah French toast, shrimp and grits, harissa frittata at Branch

This new restaurant at DeSales Corner has a beautiful interior and the brunch plates are just as pleasing to the eye. Located in a former Art Deco-style bank, the Littlefield Restaurant Group rehabbed this historic building over a two-year period and opened the restaurant, Branch, and adjacent downstairs bar called Night Drop in December. Helmed by chef Shoshannah Anderson, brunch portions are more than generous; I went with seven friends to celebrate birthdays and nobody sent back an empty dish. Eye-opener cocktails go beyond — but include — the basics. There’s the standard bloody mary for $8 or a Bloody Sunday for $10, with vodka, gin, tequila, bourbon, lemon, Dr. Pepper syrup and housemade bloody mary mix. Must Try: The whole-milk yogurt on housemade granola with fresh berries sounds too simple but sometimes simple can be magnificent. If you’re looking for a lighter option, I say order this. I loved the bits of candied ginger in the mix. Heartier appetites should consider the shrimp and grits, a classic preparation featuring Weisenberger Mill grits, Gulf shrimp and mushrooms spiced up with smoked green tomato marmalade.Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1535 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, eatatbranch.com. — PAMA MITCHELL

Harvest Market

Welcome to my favorite weekend tradition: Enjoy yourself to the point of almost excess the night before, wake up, bundle up the family and take a walk to Milford’s Harvest Market (like a mini mom-and-pop Whole Foods) for their weekend-only breakfast burritos. Once there, we’ll ask how many burritos are left, generally grabbing some of the last few, with two lattes to go, digging in before we even make it out the door. But the burritos — and the market — are that good. Everything about it, from the staff to the grocery selection to the local craft beer, makes it such a good staple. Must Try: Obviously the breakfast burritos. They vary in their fillings, but there will always be egg and cheese, and then either sausage or bacon, sweet potato or plain and spinach or some other vegetable to round it all out. I never ask what the daily bake is because I never care; I’ll take whatever they’re making. And you should, too. But also get anything off their coffee menu, or opt for a smoothie or grab yourself a loaf of Blue Oven Bakery bread from the shelf by the door on your way out. Brunch (aka burrito hours): 8-11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. 308 Main St., Milford, facebook.com/harvestmarketmilford. — KH

Libby’s Southern Comfort

Libby’s owner Brad Wainscott knows his way around a kitchen — his father owns longstanding Kentucky mainstays The Greyhound Tavern and Tousey House Tavern — and he describes his menu as “casual Southern cuisine with a touch of Charleston.” The brunch and dinner menus share dishes like oysters on the half shell, fried green tomatoes and a shrimp roll, but the morning menu gets eggy with options like a Kentucky breakfast brown — an English muffin topped with goetta, bacon, scrambled eggs, grilled tomato and cheddar cheese, covered in sausage gravy — and the bourbon pecan French toast. Must Try: Libby’s has come up with an ingenious new and delicious way to serve goetta: in goetta hush puppies, which are basically deep-fried cornmeal balls infused with goetta and served with a side of remoulade and citrus honey cream. I’d also opt for a Cheerwine bourbon slush, garnished with a Bada Bing cherry and topped with a bourbon floater for an extra dollar. Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.35 W. Eighth St., Covington, libbyssoutherncomfort.com. — MZ

Commonwealth Bistro

click to enlarge Breakfast ramen from Commonwealth Bistro - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Breakfast ramen from Commonwealth Bistro

This Southern-inspired MainStrasse bistro generally offers a taste of familiar and farmy homestyle cooking at dinner with a touch of culinary flair — think Kentucky fried rabbit with a Somali-inspired biz baz sauce, roasted heirloom carrots with blue rice grits and a Commonwealth Highball cocktail with bourbon, Ale-8-One and housemade bitters. But things go much more eclectic on the brunch menu, with a global grab bag of flavors ranging from German schnecken to shakshuka naan and chilaquiles verde. It’s a fun and odd mix that makes brunch a bit of an adventure if you’re willing to push your taste buds beyond biscuits and gravy — although they have that, too. Must Try: Breakfast ramen upends the morning eggs-and-bacon combo and tosses it in a bowl of broth; it sounds weird, but honestly all ramen is breakfast ramen if you eat it before noon. A poached egg is nestled atop a bed of noodles, bacon-brined pork cheek, kimchi carrots, mushrooms and the menu-described “fermented brassicas” for a satisfying and attractive bowl of brunch soup. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. 621 Main St., Covington, commonwealthbistro.com. — MZ

Mazunte Taqueria

On a recent Sunday trip to Mazunte Taqueria, the line trickled nearly out the door. But that was to be expected. Inspired by Mexican street food — specifically from the state of Oaxaca — this Madisonville joint is always packed. But don’t let that dissuade you; the hype is as real as the grub is fresh. Warm, vibrant and, honestly, just full of really good food, don’t sleep on their Sunday brunch menu. For this visit, I ordered huevos divorciados, a cup of horchata and chips for the table. My friend went for a classic: breakfast tacos. In mine, crispy fried eggs laid atop corn tortillas; salsa verde and salsa guajillo collided, each evoking different notes of flavor. Like most of their dishes, the huevos divorciados is served with a side of fluffy rice and beans. Other brunch fare includes chilaquiles and enfrijoladas. Drink-wise, specialties include coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice and Mexico’s take on the bloody mary, a michelada, with tomato juice, beer, lime and a bit of spice. Must Try: The huevos rancheros are my go-to — the same premise of the “divorciados” but with one salsa instead of two — but I’d also recommend just adding an order of eggs to their veggie tacos. Either way, get a horchata — and not just because of that Vampire Weekend song. Brunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.5207 Madison Road, Madisonville, mazuntetacos.com. — MM

Mokka and the Sunset Bar & Grill

Mokka is a Northern Kentucky favorite at any time of the day or night, popular with families and bar-hopping singles alike. Mokka serves casual American fare like burgers — there are 13 gourmet versions on the menu — salads and wraps. Full bar service includes cold beer on tap and a cocktail menu, including brunch bloody marys or mimosas. Mokka has been in business for more than 10 years and, in the early days, specialized in breakfast and lunch, so you know their brunch game is strong. They also take strides to go local whenever possible: Mokka’s website reminds patrons that their eggs and veggies come from Breezy Acres Farm in Morning View, Kentucky. Must Try: Get your sweet tooth ready: the signature Mokka French Toast is made with oversized Texas toast and a battered coating of Frosted Flakes, delivered with crème brûlée pastry cream and fresh bananas on top. If you’re looking for a sweet wake-up call, their specialty brunch drink is the Mokkacino — half coffee, half French vanilla cappuccino, with a heaping mound of whipped cream on top. Brunch: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday and Monday. 500 Monmouth St., Newport, mokkasunset.com. — BILL FURBEE

Nation Kitchen & Bar

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 jalapeЦo relish. Opt for extra loaded tater tots on the side. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1200 Broadway St., Pendleton, nationkitchenandbar.com. — LAUREN MORETTO

Crown Republic Gastropub 

click to enlarge Belly Buster from Crown Republic Gastropub - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Belly Buster from Crown Republic Gastropub

The bottomless mimosas deal ($15) at Crown Republic Gastropub is pretty much like bottle service accompanied by eggs and pancakes. They give you two glasses, a jug of orange juice and an entire bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. Diners can concoct their own drink, whether that means a few healthy glugs of OJ on top of their bubbly, or just a splash. The waitstaff won’t rush you out the door either, so you can get through a few bottles while enjoying the industrial-meets-farmhouse decor. Their menu features classics like omelets and breakfast sandwiches, but with distinguished, well-thought-out ingredients (their French toast comes with vanilla gelato). And with most dishes in the $9-$12 range, you’ll feel less guilty about abandoning your goal of dining out less. Must Try: The beet toast. For those of you who don’t grimace at the thought of beets, this dish is delicious. Two hefty slices of ciabatta bread are topped with roasted beets, a walnut tapenade, arugula and honey goat cheese. While messy to eat, the combination of carbs and fresh veggies will leave you feeling energized.Brunch: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.720 Sycamore St., Downtown, crgcincy.com. — LM

Otto’s

I love sitting in the window of this MainStrasse gem, looking out on the ever-changing street and digging into my favorite Southern-tinged brunch. The service is heartfelt and sweet even during the busiest of brunch rushes, and the tasty custom cocktail menu always eases you into a comfortable place at the table. Otto’s offers carefully crafted sandwiches, like their chicken salad and club, alongside a more unusual turkey sandwich with cranberry and smoked gouda on top — Thanksgiving in a mouthful. These are perfect when you are past pancakes-o’-clock. There are eggs benedicts with a tasty cake of bacon and grits instead of the customary English muffin, as well as casseroles and quiches to suit the season. If you have a sweet tooth, they’ll abundantly satisfy it with lemon-blueberry pancakes and a classic brioche French toast. The patio seating makes for a particularly beautiful day out in the front. Must Try: B.L.F.G.T. may be a mouthful when ordering, but it is a tasty mouthful when it arrives: crisp bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted croissant with the most delectable fried green tomato you’ll find in the Tri-State. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 521 Main St., Covington, ottosonmain.com. — LL

Pepper Pod

The Pepper Pod is one of the area’s most renowned greasy spoons. Centrally located on Newport’s Monmouth Street, the Barton family has overseen the restaurant’s daily operations since it opened in 1970. When it comes to menu trends that other establishments might embrace, the Pepper Pod, thankfully, keeps it simple. If comfort food is on your mind, classic breakfast and brunch options are served around the clock here, along with standard American fare like burgers, melts and pork chops. There’s no official website, and Pepper Pod’s Facebook page is updated about once a year with direct and to-the-point messages. A “recent” post from 2015 simply reminds, “You might die soon, so eat at Pepper Pod.” Another says “Please stop stealing our coffee cups. Thank you.” The Pepper Pod is so old-school that it does still allow smoking, so keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to second-hand smoke. But for most, the throwback charm of this neighborhood joint more than makes up for it. In fact, after visiting a couple years back before his show at the Southgate House Revival, legendary English songwriter Billy Bragg made note of the vintage jukeboxes installed at each table. “Small details like this made Newport the most American place that we’ve been to,” he told fans online. Must Try: This is the spot for omelets, biscuits and gravy and hash browns, but feel free to order from handwritten menu updates on colorful posterboard tacked to the wall including great stuff like deep-fried pickles served with ranch. If you’re leaning toward the lunch side of brunch, order the signature Big Eddie deluxe burger with two patties on a double-decker bun.Breakfast/Brunch: 24/7. 703 Monmouth St., Newport, 859-431-7455. — BF

Pleasantry

Pleasantry has one of the best patios for brunch. Whether you choose to eat outside or in their chic and streamlined dining room, the restaurant is sunny and welcoming — and that’s before we even get to what’s on the menu. Chef Evan Hartman has a knack for taking simple ingredients and finding a new way to express their natural flavors. Must Try: Their ham and buttermilk biscuit (made in house), served with ramp butter and fermented Thai chili honey, a transcendental Southern staple like you’ve never had. Follow it up with the housemade ricotta on toast, drizzled with honey, sea salt and bee pollen (it’s good for you!). Thirsty? Their housemade bloody mary mix reaches exciting flavor depths, or pop a bottle off their diverse and incredibly well curated natural wine list.Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. 118 W. 15th St., Over-the-Rhine, pleasantryotr.com. — SMP

The Littlefield

click to enlarge The VGLT at The Littlefield - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The VGLT at The Littlefield

When considering brunch spots in Northside, Littlefield is an obvious choice for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are that the kitchen puts out incredibly creative and delicious plates of food and the bar concocts mature, balanced cocktails named after different streets in the neighborhood (Mad Anthony and The Chase are especially tasty bourbon-based recipes, the bar’s specialty spirit). Must Try: Their VGLT, the vegan goetta, lettuce and tomato sandwich. While they do offer a meaty option, the vegan goetta achieves an even crispier texture and the spice profile is more alluring. To drink, try their Fleur de Bee, made with prosecco, creme de violette and elderflower liqueur and garnished with a beautiful, edible hibiscus flower. The whole menu is worth a try, so bring a few hungry friends who like to share.Brunch: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. 3934 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, littlefieldns.com. — SMP

Red Feather

The first time I brunched at Red Feather, I went right back the following weekend. And since that back-to-back visit, I have been more times than I can count. Red Feather’s brunch is my absolute gold-standard, constant first choice and the place I go when looking for a treat or to celebrate. Why? Because it is just so nice. For one, the space and atmosphere are excellent. It’s comfortably cozy and tastefully bright. And for two, the food is just killer. Everything is done right. Must Try: The one thing I order every time, no matter what, is the pancake. It is the kind of pancake that isn’t really sweet or sugary or dessert-ish; there is something almost savory about it, something that makes it noticeably artisan, showing off real skill in its scratch-ness. I don’t care what else looks good on the menu (and there’s a lot, including the lobster benedict and breakfast croissant), you’ve got to get the pancake.Brunch: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 3200 Madison Road, Oakley, redfeatherkitchen.com. — KH

Rich’s Proper Food and Drink

If Rich’s whiskey Mondays and $1 oyster Wednesdays weren’t enough, they also have a “Proper” Sunday brunch. The Kentucky-meets-New Orleans menu features some items from their daily offerings — deviled eggs, banana pudding, the Turnpike burger and mac and cheese eggrolls — but you’re here for “Proper” surf and turf (fried oysters and country ham), Old Sober (a vegetarian-friendly dish comprised of a bowl of spaghetti, hard-boiled egg, veggie broth and hominy; add cured salmon or ham), shrimp and grits and spoon bread topped with andouille or mushroom gravy. Get a mimosa for $4 and a bloody for $5 (pair it with a Little Kings draft) or choose from a list of cocktails. Must Try: Continue Sunday Funday by hitting up moonshine bar Sugar Whiskey Sis’s, Braxton Brewing, The Hannaford and/or Hotel Covington — all are within a quick walk.Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. 701 Madison Ave., Covington, richsproper.com. — GP

Salazar

One of the city’s hippest fine dining spots, chef Jose Salazar’s eponymous eatery’s brunch reinforces its popularity. Try the Little Fried Oyster Sandwich, a cute amuse bouche slider containing a crispy breaded oyster slathered with garlic mayo and garnished with kimchi and radish sprouts. You’ll want to inhale a few of these flavorful bite-size appetizers. Must Try: Once your appetite is whetted, hit it home with a grilled sirloin steak and two fried eggs, topped with their incredibly satisfying chimichurri sauce. Wash it down with a tequila-based bloody maria.Brunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, salazarcincinnati.com. — SMP

Northside Yacht Club

click to enlarge Yacht Club Bloody from the Northside Yacht Club - Photo: Catie Viox
Photo: Catie Viox
Yacht Club Bloody from the Northside Yacht Club

Aside from offering live music and evening bar revelry, the Northside Yacht Club is known for one of the most creative brunch (and dinner) menus in the area. The kitchen is open all week, crafting traditional and curious gastro fare like smoked wings, veggie burgers, “boneless” cauliflower wings, smoked brisket, lentil chili fries and pop-up specialty ramen and hot chicken nights. Local music scene vets Stuart MacKenzie and Jon Weiner launched the Northside Yacht Club about four years ago, with nautically themed drinks and food specialties as a nod to a 1937 flood. Before they took over, it was already an established neighborhood spot for music and drinks as Mayday and, before that, Gypsy Hut. Wandering toward the jukebox from the dining tables, patrons will note vintage images of folks back in 1937 paddling past the future NSYC. Local breweries and tiki classics are at the core of their bar service, with brunch exclusives that are hard to compare. Must Try: Signature brunch dishes include Breakfast Poutine, Hawt Mess, Killer Tofu and Freedom Toast; wash it all down with specialty adult drinks like Capri Sun of Anarchy, the NSYC mimosa or the must-have Yacht Club Bloody — it’s practically a meal in itself, made with Weiner’s secret housemade mix and garnished with a Boston butt pulled-pork slider, American hickory bacon and a house-smoked Amish jumbo wing. There’s a monthly brunch special, too.Brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com. — BF

Sitwell’s Act II

Next door to the Esquire Theatre, Clifton’s longtime BoHo cafО got a welcome reboot this past year when a young couple freshened up both the menu and the ambiance. The pair — Florencia Garayoa and Alex Barden — hung works by local artists, placed Rock & Roll memorabilia on shelves and walls and worked with a former Hyde Park chef to create a simple but delicious vegetarian and vegan menu. Garayoa’s Argentinian birthplace influences the cooking, and the mismatched furniture and atmospheric lighting add a decidedly Clifton feel to the room. Must Try: If your early-day cravings tend toward sweet tastes, go for the bananas foster French toast: brioche toast layered with hazelnut fudge and topped with banana rum caramel and whipped cream. But the dish that I can’t get past is called Tuscan eggs — poached eggs on creamy polenta with eggplant and squash ratatouille and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.324 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, sitwellsact2.com. — PM

Sleepy Bee 

At Sleepy Bee, everything from their sammies to their scrambles are top-notch and delightfully tasty even when you yourself are a bit of a sleepy weekend bruncher. The options for vegan and vegetarian breakfast are delicious, from veggie sausages to the best brunch potatoes and sweet potatoes, and I always feel confident that they are getting as much local food as they can, prioritizing pesticide-free and non-GMO options. Much of the menu has substitutions available so you can compile all your favorites without frustration at limited options. Standouts include the specialty pancakes, like the blue cakes full of blueberries with a maple-blueberry sauce, as well as the light and lovely Bumblebee’s breakfast, a yogurt granola bowl with tasty apricot coulis and tahini. Must Try: Bee Cakes. These gluten-free beauties marry almond milk, buckwheat and quinoa to make a tasty and healthy pancake on which to layer your favorite toppings. They’re packed with protein, so you won’t immediately be hungry again. Feeling good about pancakes is always a feeling I can get behind.Brunch: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, sleepybeecafe.com. — LL

Station Family + BBQ

The team behind Wyoming’s CWC the Restaurant — chef Caitlin Steininger, her sister and front of house Kelly Trush and their business partner Karen Klaus — expanded their empire with a second neighborhood eatery: Station Family + BBQ. It’s a family-friendly spot with a barbecue-forward menu created by Steininger that features proteins smoked on-site, plus seasonal sides, desserts and rotating cocktails. Housed in the former Sturkey’s space, the casual eatery features everything from table service to fast-casual communal eating and a games room and patio. The brunch menu is streamlined with four categories: Simple, Sweet, Savory and Sides. Get chicken and waffles, eggs and toast with homemade Cincinnati sausage or applesauce and bourbon butter pancakes, then wash it down with La Terza coffee or a Girl Crush cocktail — Kahlua, vodka and cereal milk. Must Try: Every Saturday, the restaurant hosts a special hour-long yoga class before brunch. Head to the restaurant’s upstairs space for an instructor-led 8:30 a.m. class ($10), followed by brunch at 10 a.m. Brunch: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. 400 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, cincystation.com. — MZ

Sugar n' Spice

click to enlarge The Mexican omelet at Sugar n' Spice - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Mexican omelet at Sugar n' Spice

As the name implies, this restaurant has everything nice. The campy, colorful decor is a good indicator that Sugar n’ Spice likes to turn on its nostalgic charm both in and out of the kitchen. While it’s likely you can find about anything you like to typically order at American diners, you should give their Wispy Thin pancakes a try, bonus points if you go for blueberry. Pair that with a ham steak, two eggs over easy and a big glass of chocolate milk and you’re sure to feel like a kid again, so go ahead and blow some bubbles in your milk. Must Try: One of their jumbo-sized fluffy omelets. Not sure how many eggs they use to make these monstrous breakfast creations, but they’re big enough to share — if you’re feeling generous. The Mexican omelet comes stuffed with chorizo, cheddar cheese, sour cream and homemade sauce and takes up almost the entire plate, with just enough space left over for a toasted English muffin.Breakfast/Brunch: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. 4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com. — SMP

Uncle Yip’s

Uncle Yip’s is strip-mall Chinese food at its finest, with authentic (yes, that word gets tossed around a lot, but this is the real deal) Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan cuisine. At dinner, the clientele is made up of families and friends gathered around tables sharing dishes like ginger and green onion lobster, rock salt squid and Peking duck. It’s like being transported to Hong Kong’s Temple Street Night Market in the Cincy suburbs. Must Try: The weekend dim sum service, complete with rolling carts featuring baskets full of different little steamed or fried delights. These bite-sized creations are $3.95 each — except for special options like the pork congee or baked cassava cake, which are $5.95 — and feature tasty treats like mochi with peanuts, baked mini egg custard pies, pineapple buns, chicken sui mai and sweet crispy sesame balls with red bean filling. Brunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.10736 Reading Road, Evendale, uncleyips.com. — MZ

Wild Eggs

From the outside, the downtown location of the Wild Eggs breakfast and brunch chain doesn’t seem like anything special (aside from a Plexiglas wall stuffed with colorful eggs by the hostess station, it gives off sort of an uninspired IHOP vibe). But this unassuming restaurant is home to satisfying eats — standard fare like biscuits and gravy and Tex-Mex creations like breakfast nachos are crafted from fresh, wholesome ingredients. Even better, they have a gluten-free menu. Wash it all down with a glass of their fresh-squeezed orange juice or a cup of house-blend coffee. Must Try: Breakfast burrito. The carbs are plentiful in this generously portioned meal: black beans and skillet potatoes on the side, and a flour tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, chorizo, cheddar cheese, poblano peppers and onion. Pico de gallo, avocado and onion add much needed freshness as toppings. Prepare to bring home leftovers or leave with your pants unbuttoned. Breakfast/Brunch: 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Multiple locations including 301 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 3240 Vandercar Way, Oakley; 7677 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, wildeggs.com. — LM

Wunderbar!

click to enlarge The Landjunge Fruhstuck at Wunderbar! - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Landjunge Fruhstuck at Wunderbar!

Serving up “Wunderful Food & Beer,” Covington’s Wunderbar is a quaint, simple and usually-packed corner spot with a great beer selection, frequent free performances by many of our region’s best Folk outfits and a menu of handcrafted German staples which attracts a following of its own. Afternoon and evening patrons endlessly debate which selections go best with a cold beer — you’ve got to try their pretzels as big as your head, served with beer cheese. A number of housemade sausages (flavors include garlic pepper and curry) and sandwiches (including doner kabob and pork schnitzel) listed on a chalkboard behind the bar can accompany sides like braised cabbage, sauerkraut, bacon slaw and beet salad. Most swear by the Brussels sprouts. Must Try: Landjunge Fruhstuck is Wunderbar’s signature brunch dish of bacon, sausage, goetta, two eggs, biscuit with gravy and home fries. Other breakfast favorites include the goetta feta and French toast. A classic bloody mary is recommended for the brunch cocktail crowd. Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1132 Lee St., Covington, facebook.com/wunderbar.covington.3. — BF

Plus the Best of Cincinnati Top 10 (as selected by CityBeat Readers)

Best Brunch

1. Taste of Belgium

2. First Watch

3. Sleepy Bee Café

4. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

5. Orchids at Palm Court

6. Grand Finale

7. The Greyhound Tavern

8. Hang Over Easy

9. Cozy’s Café & Pub

10. Nation Kitchen and Bar

Best Breakfast

1. Sleepy Bee Café

2. First Watch

3. Taste of Belgium

4. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

5. Sugar n’ Spice Restaurant 

6. Hang Over Easy

7. The Echo Restaurant

8. The Main Cup

9. The Original Pancake House

10. Wild Eggs

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