Gourmet Live & BlogHer Road Trip: Brunch Spots

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Unbeatable brunches
As part of our monthly collaboration with Gourmet Live, we're finding the best brunch spots across the country.


Image: Conde Nast Archive
Bloggers' Favorite Places for Brunch
Berkeley, CA: La Note
Stepping into La Note, you can't help but feel that you must have fallen asleep and somehow been magically transported to southern France. The restaurant is nothing if not quaint, but don't be fooled by its charm; there's an energy to the place that grabs you. People are bustling around you, the smell of roasting tomatoes wafts your way and bowls of steaming coffee float by on trays. You may have to wait to be seated, but you want to stay; you want a coffee bowl of your own, and a plate of softly scrambled eggs with goat cheese or a stack of crème fraiche pancakes -- or maybe even both.

-- Katy, Dining with Dostoevsky

Oahu, HI: Cinnamon's
When I was researching my trip to Oahu, I read an awful lot of rave reviews about Cinnamon's in Kailua, and my daughter has sung its praises in numerous phone calls with me since moving to the island -- I was pretty sure it wouldn't live up to the hype. I was totally wrong. I'm pretty jaded about cinnamon rolls; so many breakfast restaurants claim to have great ones, and they can all seem pretty much the same after a while. Cinnamon's cinnamon roll is one of the best: fluffy and sweet, not dense and overwhelming. Pretty much perfect. The blueberry corn pancakes with coconut milk syrup are also amazing, and the red velvet pancakes are a must for anyone who loves red velvet. One word of warning -- the restaurant is super popular, so be prepared for a long wait for a table.

-- Denise, Flamingo House Happenings

San Diego, CA: Poseidon Del Mar
You may know of Poseidon as the god of the sea, but I would like to introduce you to my version, the Poseidon Del Mar, perched on a sandy beach. While it can be difficult to find an elegant restaurant with vegan brunch options, Poseidon tastefully delivers with its Thai veggie wrap and pear-walnut salad. My non-veg friends highly recommend the macadamia-coconut French toast and Dungeness crab omelet. Check out the Del Mar beach cam for a glimpse of the Poseidon experience.

-- Amanda, Sunny Vegan

Orlando, FL: Dexter's
Unassumingly hip, artsy and delicious, This Thornton Park brunch spot is the place to see and be seen on Sunday mornings. Grab a table on the patio and toast the day with fresh, fruity mimosas or Dexter’s infamous loaded bloody Marys. The menu is full of brunch staples, as well as ever-changing seasonal specials. Indulge in filet and eggs or tuck into a malted Belgian waffle, served with plenty of whipped cream and peanut butter. The corned beef hash with thousand island drizzle is truly what brunch-time dreams are made of, and is not to be missed!

-- Jaclyn, food + words

Beverly Hills, CA: Scarpetta
Sunday brunch at Chef Scott Conant's Scarpetta is a sumptuous, all-you-can-eat affair with something for everyone. The space, which is awash in natural light, has idyllic views overlooking the Beverly Canon Gardens. Try to snag a seat on the cusp of the dining room, which offers plenty of fresh air and a cool breeze. The buffet has a crudo and shellfish station, cured meats, a pasta station, an egg station, waffles and pancakes from the griddle, a carving station, and a fruit station, not to mention cheeses and sweets -- it’s best to stroll through the open kitchen to survey what's cookin' before piling your plate high.

-- Cathy, gas•tron•o•my

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Oakland, CA: Brown Sugar Kitchen
Housed in a woodframe building in Oakland's port and warehouse district, Brown Sugar Kitchen offers a modern twist on Southern-style, down-home soul food. Don't miss the chicken and waffles: The waffle is the crispiest, lightest buttermilk-cornmeal waffle I've ever tasted, paired with an herbaceous fried chicken so good it might ruin you for all others. Looking for a side of utterly delicious carbs? Try bacon-cheddar-scallion biscuits, or the powdered-sugar-dusted beignets, which come with a side of housemade jam. Keep an eye out for chef-owner Tanya Holland, who, when not behind the counter in the open kitchen, can be seen dining with her family at the long counter. It's a small place that doesn't take reservations, so expect a wait on weekends, but after your first spoonful of Brown Sugar Kitchen's delightful grits or spicy pork hash, you'll see why so many locals keep coming back and standing in line.

-- Genie, The Inadvertent Gardener

Chicago, IL: Prairie Grass Café
Locavores in the Chicagoland area should not overlook Northbrook's Prairie Grass Café for brunch possibilities. Chefs Sarah Stagner and George Bumbaris do a fabulous job with locally grown produce, grass-fed beef, and desserts to die for. The contemporary restaurant feels fancy without feeling warm and unfriendly -- families are welcome! We've never ordered anything we didn't love here. The menus change often, but look for the crowd favorites: sirloin burger with blue cheese or ancho-marinated skirt steak (and of course the brunch staples, like creative benedicts). Do not skip dessert -- seasonal pies will be winners, and the Muk-Muk cake is incredible.

-- Denise, Flamingo House Happenings

Julie Ross Godar
San Francisco, CA: Bar Agricole
On a sunny May day, there's nothing better than brunch at this sleek, eco-chic spot in San Francisco's SoMa district. Agricole is famous for its cocktails, and perusing the special brunch drink menu is a treat. This is not your usual bloody-mary vs. mimosa decision: Try the brandy-ginger-and-bubbly Sleepyhead, or a Demerara milk punch. Entrees, while a bit pricey, are all local and intensely flavored. Savory brunchers like me drool over the corned beef brisket with potato hash, poached egg and mustard hollandaise; sweeter eaters love the stacked crepe cake and buckwheat beignets.

-- Julie, BlogHer Executive Editor

See all the blogger-recommended places on the Gourmet Live and BlogHer Road Trip so far. And for 10 more exclusive favorite brunch restaurants and recipes, download the free Gourmet Live app -- now for the iPhone! -- or visit the road trip on on Gourmet.com and on the Gourmet Live blog now.

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