In Toronto, you’ll find that brunch isn’t just a meal – it’s an art, a ritual and a local institution. It takes many different forms, and is often colored with flavorful flourishes reflecting the different cultures of the people who live here. From places specializing in Persian haleem to those serving up Danish smørrebrød, here are Toronto’s best breakfast and brunch spots.
Toronto is made up of small neighborhoods, each with their own distinct culture – and brand of breakfast joint. While the standard bacon and eggs can still be found on the menu, they’re often accompanied by things like breakfast poutines or other unique twists. Here are the top places in Toronto to kick off your day on the right note.
FARMHOUSE Tavern for farm-to-table grub
Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
Sometimes, a breakfast burger is the only thing that will satisfy the morning-after hangover. At FARMHOUSE Tavern in Junction Triangle, its renowned breakfast burger can be had at 5am to keep the hangover headaches at bay, or at 10pm to line your stomach for the night ahead. Whatever time you go, this rustic restaurant is loved by Torontonians for its farmstead decor and locally sourced ingredients, but perhaps most importantly, its knowledgeable staff who can offer advice on the best Ontario craft beer or artisanal wine pairing.
Housed in a post-industrial warehouse, the Drake Commissary offers tongue-in-cheek decor with funky furniture that feels like a retro 1960s basement. With a photo booth from Berlin and a large production baker, the venue oozes cool and makes you feel more fashionable just by virtue of being in it. Trade in basic avocado toast for smørrebrød, a Danish delicacy that is near impossible to find in Canada. This buttery rye bread is topped with delicacies like steak tartare with horseradish and chanterelle mushrooms – and makes for a one-of-a-kind breakfast.
Takht-e Tavoos for Persian haleem and bergamot tea
Restaurant, Middle Eastern, $$$
While once an area known for offering little in the restaurant department, this quaint area of College West has been booming lately. The takht rug seating areas at this Persian restaurant are inviting and the signature dish, haleem – a porridge topped with lamb, sugar and seven spices – will guarantee repeat visits. The guisavah eggs set over chopped dates and walnuts marinated in butter should also be part of your brunch order. Decked out in multi-colored tapestries and rugs, Takht-e Tavoos is the perfect place to while away the hours, sipping on bergamot tea.
Buca’s Yorkville location provides top-notch rustic Italian fare. Labeled as the best Italian food in the city, its menu is filled with irresistible options. Some of the best dishes include: the crudo misto, a selection of raw seafood served with olive oil, sea salt and lemon; the bigoli, a duck egg pasta with duck ragù, Venetian spices, mascarpone and basil; and the duck and black truffle pizza. It is definitely worth the visit if you’re planning a special celebration.
This pink palace is the kind of spot made for an extravagant birthday breakfast. The starting menu is pricey, but worth it, replete with drip coffee, pain au chocolat, choice of brunch entrée (the truffled French omelets are divine) and a birthday eclair. As for drinks, there is an endless supply of bubbly and champagne, including Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut. The interior, designed by Tiffany Pratt, is chock-full of pastels and florals that are pleasing to the eye – and look great on the café’s Instagram feed.
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for home-made buttermilk pancakes
Restaurant, American, $$$
Head to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for blueberry buttermilk pancakes | Courtesy of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
This city classic knows how to outshine even the most extravagant breakfast spots, with chef-owner Donna Dooher’s thick but airy buttermilk pancakes, served up with blueberry compote, pulling in diners for over 30 years. Today, the duo behind the restaurant continues to send out creative and innovative dishes, like the Huevos Monty, a tortilla filled with black bean refritos and topped with cheddar and eggs. Grab a booth and settle down for good conservation over first-class food.
Emma’s Country Kitchen for home-made biscuits and meals to go
Restaurant, Cafe, European, $$$
Emma’s Country Kitchen serves up the best of the classics at a reasonable price. The restaurant is decked out in casual wooden furniture and exudes a family-friendly atmosphere. The head chef is Rachel Pellett, and the Emma in the restaurant’s name is her late grandmother. Touches of Emma are represented in the menu, as most of the sweet treats, like the Lazy Daisy cakes and various biscuits, are made from her super-secret recipes.The restaurant also sells frozen and to-go meals, so you can eat your ready-cooked brunch from the comfort of your home or hotel.
Bar, Restaurant, Canadian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Fast Food, $$$
Starving Artist strives to support local artists | Courtesy of Starving Artist
Starving Artist might be the ultimate midtown brunch spot. Made famous by its strips of bacon baked into waffles, the restaurant has developed a cult-like following, sparking the waffle bacon T-shirt movement (Google it; it’s a thing). The restaurant itself features the artwork of young artists, giving the space a community vibe and a good reason to eat bacon waffles, as if you needed to be convinced.
Arguably one of the best brunch spots in Toronto, School has topped just about every listicle on Toronto brunch spots – and it deserves its place. The space reflects an elevated classroom, with a clock collage gracing one wall and a floating chandelier made out of old homework brightening the room. Keeping with the theme, episodes of ’90s TV show Saved by the Bell play in the background, and an apple can be found on every table. The restaurant serves a menu of pancakes, french toast and the Canadian staple – breakfast poutine.
Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen makes skipping the typical bacon and eggs worth it. The chicken and pineapple waffles are the highlight here, exuding flavors that are as bright and vibrant as the decor. Decorated with flower motifs and rattan furnishings, this restaurant is a slice of the Caribbean in the middle of Toronto.
The blue-and-gold facade of Boom Breakfast is unmistakable on the St Clair West strip. This kitschy diner is decorated with vintage tiles and plushy booths that beg guests to stay longer. Those recovering from Toronto’s raving nightlife scene will love Boom’s free coffee refills and massive portion sizes. If you’re stuck on what to order, get the banana granola pancakes with a side of sausage. It’s a neighborhood favorite!
Colette Grand Café for high-end French fare in Yorkdale
Bistro, Diner, Canadian, $$$
Colette Grand Café specializes in French cuisine | Courtesy of Colette Grand Café
This French-influenced restaurant is perfect for a pampered girls’ day out. Housed in the Holt Renfrew Yorkdale department store, the expansive chic restaurant looks like Paris during the Belle Époque. The high tea is extremely popular with Colette’s afternoon brunchers who, for the most part, are well dressed and slightly older. If you try one thing here, make it the seafood omelet.
Be transported to the south of France at Maman, a recent addition to the Downtown Toronto restaurant scene. Located atop First Canadian Place’s food terrace, Maman’s decor is inviting and eclectic. The coffee here comes from Brooklyn-based Partners Coffee, but for something different, try the lavender hot chocolate or green tea latte.
Fran’s Restaurant and Bar for brunch in a historic diner
Diner, Restaurant, North American, $$$
Fran’s is a local institution | Courtesy of Fran's Restaurant and Bar
Fran’s Restaurant and Bar has been a local hotspot for more than 70 years for a very good reason – it’s perfect for those who want something cheap on the fly. The 24/7 diner was once the haunt of legendary pianist Glenn Gould. Today, college kids flock here for the homestyle fare and the retro dining booths. With massive portion sizes and a wide selection of boozy drinks, this celebrated breakfast joint isn’t blending in with the masses anytime soon.
Oretta is anything but basic. This Art Deco brunch spot oozes Italian flair, donning jewel tones and dozens of pin rollers. Sweeping archways frame the space and offer a beautiful setting in which to enjoy sophisticated plates of food. The thin-crust pizzas are the highlight here. Goodies are also available for takeout, with assorted pastries served up at the restaurant’s mini café.