Breakfast in Milan used to be mostly comprised of off-the-counter espressos and a cornetto (croissant). As the city became more and more international, cafés gradually started serving continental breakfasts and American-style brunches featuring ham, eggs, sausages and baked goods. Join us as we take a trip through the best breakfast and brunch spots in Italy’s cosmopolitan city.
Ostello Bello is a fun and easy-going place | Courtesy of Ostello Bello / Hostelworld
Ostello Bello is Milan’s premier hostel, the city’s number one hotspot for international backpackers. The venue often organises events such as concerts and parties loved by tourists and locals alike. Brunch is open to the public and includes a buffet table with a selection of fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, juices and coffee. Diners also get to pick an entree. Try the pancakes topped with maple syrup and chocolate, or go for the Turbo burger, a special recipe that includes crispy bacon and cheddar cheese.
BhangraBar is a local institution, open day and night and loved both for its food and its cocktails. Sunday brunch is served from 12am until 3pm: a successful combination of Italian, Indian and English styles are sure to satisfy any palate. Eggs are prepared in whichever way the guest wishes, and the buffet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and cheeses. The outdoor seating area is well-protected from the hustle and bustle, while the interior decor features warm colours and a relaxing atmosphere.
Bar, Bistro, Cafe, Northern European, Italian, $$$
Upcycle prides itself on its sustainability credentials - its stylish decor is made of recycled materials | Courtesy of Upcycle Bike Café
Billing itself as an urban bike café with a northern European spin, Upcycle is dedicated to all things cycling. The café is also passionate about sustainability – look no further than the space itself, which used to be an abandoned garage set in an inner courtyard. Try the bacon quiche or the beetroot burger, and the fresh juice blend of carrots, ginger, apples and oranges. The decor is ultra-modern, mostly made out of recycled materials. The venue’s large wooden tables and hushed setting is also perfect for working – you can sit for hours and get inspired by the creative, laid-back atmosphere.
Les Pommes is located in the heart of the trendy Isola neighbourhood. The interior decor is ultra modern and sophisticated, and the place – not exactly cheap – mostly attracts a crowd of moneyed hipsters. The food is always tasty and beautifully presented, ranging from fresh fish to traditional Italian pasta dishes. Les Pommes prides itself on being an international venue for globetrotters. Breakfast and brunch options include English breakfast, eggs benedict, pancakes, bagels, steak tartar and veggie burgers. British-style afternoon tea is also served.
Bakery, Restaurant, American, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, Pastries, Dessert, $$$
With multiple locations scattered throughout Milan, each one with its distinct neighbourhood vibe, California Bakery is known both for its superbly decadent pastries and its American-style food prepared with the highest quality Italian products. The brunch menu is seemingly endless, with an exceptionally wide variety of dishes to choose from. The Italian bagel is an example of the marriage of the two countries: it comes with prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, cream cheese, lettuce and tomato.
Filippo Lecardane opened the first Pandenus on Via Tadino, one of the few quiet streets among the bustle that is typical in Milan. Today Pandenus counts four locations in the central and posh areas of Milan – such as Brera and the newly built Piazza Gae Aulenti – a bistro and a B&B. All of them offer fresh products, a variety of dishes and excellent cocktails. Brunch includes burgers, smoked salmon, eggs and vegetarian options served with homemade bread.
God Save the Food (GSTF) has four different locations in the central part of the city, but the most well-known one is in Via Tortona, Milan’s creative hub. Set in a former workshop, GSTF Tortona serves fresh food in a minimalist, informal and bright setting. Brunch is served throughout the day and it includes vegetarian and vegan options, accompanied by fresh fruit and vegetable juice blends. During Design Week and Fashion Week, the venue becomes a place to see and be seen, packed full of journalists, editors, models and stylists.
The restaurant oTTo in Chinatown serves Instagrammable food in a co-working space
Venture to Via Paolo Sarpi, in the heart of Milan’s Chinatown, and join the hipster crowd of Otto for the self-proclaimed “most Instagrammed brunch of Milan”. oTTo is an airy all-day café and co-working space with a minimalist northern European-style decor, offering international food presented in a cool, social media-friendly way. Brunch is served only during the weekends, between 12.30pm and 3pm.
The brand Moleskine became popular thanks to its signature black hardcover notebooks, used by the likes of Bruce Chatwin and Ernest Hemingway throughout the ages. Today Moleskine sells a wide range of customised stationery and it has also opened some cafés around the globe, best defined as modern interpretation of the café littéraire (literary café). Milan’s first Moleskine Café opened in Corso Garibaldi, serving specialty coffee in addition to offering a range of the latest Moleskine products. The neutral tones and minimalist decors match the food options, which are mostly simple and traditional dishes served in Moleskine-branded china plates.
Deus Café was launched less than a decade ago by the Australian motorbike brand Deus Ex Machina, specialising in bike and surf equipment. The café occupies a prime location of Milan’s Isola district inside a romantic courtyard surrounded by Liberty-style buildings and vintage shops. In the evening, the café turns into a proper club with door selection, bouncers and DJ sets, but during the day it’s rather family-friendly. Brunch is served during the weekends and it ranges from eggs and bacon to matcha bowls and smoothies.
NoLoSo is first and foremost a gay bar set in Milan’s most up-and-coming neighbourhood, NoLo. On Sundays though, the owner of the bar, Gianni Macario, takes care of his customers’ hangovers by serving one of the best and most satisfying brunches in town: meatballs, lasagne, thick stews, vegetarian dishes and delicious cakes. Do book in advance since the place is rather small and the brunch is extremely popular.
A new entry in Milan’s dining scene, Fuorimano OTBP is located in a spacious loft and set with vintage furniture and wooden tables. Fuorimano means ‘out of reach’, and OTBP stands for off the beaten path, and indeed the place is well out of the central area in a rather secluded and definitely non-touristy part of the city. The place offers fresh food in a friendly and informal atmosphere, and it’s perfect for an authentic ‘live like a local’ experience. Brunch is served between 11.30am and 3pm, with a choice between traditional continental breakfast, American-style bacon and beans, pancakes, a vegetarian menu, a kids menu and gluten-free options.