Elevate your regular brunch routine at these delicious culinary hot spots
Cafe MedinaFor Vancouverites, brunch just might be the ideal meal. You still have time to sleep in or sneak in an early morning run, and you can order a tipsy beverage before noon, along with the essential eggs. We’re still fans of the greasy spoons and all-day breakfasts in town, but brunch menus are more inventive, even playful at times. Eggs are elevated, proteins are pushed in exciting directions, bread is artisanal and cocktails range from classic to downright crafty.
So the next time you’re tempted to grab your hoodie and head to the diner, consider going to one our 10 favourite brunch spots, where carefully crafted cuisine, from Railtown to Yaletown, is worth getting dressed (up) for.
1. Au Comptoir, 2278 West 4th Ave.
Facebook/Au ComptoirAu Comptoir has all the style and substance you'd expect from a bustling French bistro, without the attitude. The French staff is gallant, seating is leisurely – servers won’t stare you down in order to turn tables – and Le Brunch menu is both classic and creative. Safe bets include poached eggs on duck confit hash and cheese and charcuterie plates. More adventurous types will opt for raw oysters served with a cucumber mignonette or our choice – if you dare – veal sweetbreads. Channel a bit of Paris when brunching at Au Comptoir; it’s for the soigné set, so nix the yoga attire.
Atmosphere: Parisian-style cafe, dominated by a grand bar (imported from France, no less) and exceptional service in a chic, yet relaxed setting.
Eat this: Flétan Sur Brioche (lightly smoked halibut, leeks, poached eggs, brioche, dill hollandaise), $16
Drink this: Mimosa au Comptoir cocktail, $9
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2. Campagnolo Roma, 2297 East Hastings St.
Facebook/Campagnolo RomaThe menu at Campagnolo Roma reads like a Roman chef had a layover on the West Coast: classic recipes are created using ingredients from B.C.’s best farmers and purveyors. Here, white chanterelles turn up on toast, and you can add a shaving of Italian truffles to any dish for $10. Pizza crusts are thin and crispy, pasta is housemade and eggs are organic. But don’t be fooled: the seemingly simple cuisine is sublime, thanks to the top-notch ingredients.
Eat this: Pizza Carbonara (two baked eggs, pancetta, red onion, black pepper), $16
Drink this: Peroni beer, $7
Atmosphere: The narrow room is a hive of conversation and a go-to spot in the heart of one of Vancouver’s most multicultural ’hoods, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait a little while to get seated.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
3. Wildebeest, 120 West Hastings St.
Facebook/WildebeestIn some ways, brunch feels like a solo affair, compared to dinner, where people are more inclined to sample off one another’s plates. After all, who’s willing to part with a bite of bacon or forkful of fried egg? But Wildebeest might be changing that notion with its enticing little menu of “for the table” items. Foodies won’t be able to resist the Yarrow Meadow duck rillettes paired with homemade pickles. And the decadent mini donuts with salted caramel are just begging to be shared. True, the menu focuses on beast bits (bone marrow with scrambled eggs, “pig face” Benedict), but vegetarians are well taken care of too. Indulgences include “Dutch Baby” pancakes with ricotta and bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, a frittata filled with oyster mushrooms, and much more.
Eat this: Back Bacon Benedict (jalapeno and cheddar biscuit, hollaindaise, triple-cooked potatoes), 16
Drink this: Versailles Royal (vermouth, cucumber, elder flower, sparkling wine), $12
Atmosphere: The space is oozing with character thanks to red brick walls, vintage furniture, bare lightbulbs and liberal use of wood. An open kitchen adds to the gastronomic vibe.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
4. Bella Gelateria, 1089 Marinaside Cres.
flickr/Geoff Peters Bella Gelateria burst onto the scene with award-winning gelato at its Coal Harbour locale, but its Yaletown restaurant deserves equal hype, with its glam marble-wrapped space and irresistible dishes. Here, bruschetta and pizzas are topped with soft-poached or scrambled eggs, bringing the best of breakfast to such savoury staples. Sweet tooths are satisfied with Bella’s Italian Toast, a decadent choice made with brioche and crowned with mascarpone. When the sun is out, stake out a seat on the large patio facing the water and watch the action on the street and Seawall.
Eat this: Il Tricolore Brunch Pizza (roasted peppers and eggplant, scrambled egg and fior di latte), $10
Drink this: Bella Mimosa (Prosecco with house-made Creamsicle sorbetto), $9
Atmosphere: Modern, and Italian chic inside with scores of marble and rich woods, but the morning clientele is quite casual so you can amble in after walking the dog.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
5. Forage, 1300 Robson St.
Forage"Local" might be an overused buzzword to describe Vancouver’s food scene, but Forage restaurant has amply earned the distinction. Chef Whittaker’s passion for B.C.’s bounty of fresh and sustainable ingredients runs deep, and that makes brunch here especially exciting for neighbourhood denizens and visitors alike. Where else can you find sumptuous selections such as brioche french toast that comes with to-die-for candied bacon and a cinnamon and squash puree? Or a locavore’s answer to “Nutella,” made with Agassiz hazelnuts and salt from Vancouver Island – calling it transformational toast is definitely an understatement. The brunch menu is long and varied, but whatever you order, be sure to share the much-lauded chicken liver pate, served as a side dish with toast.
Neighbourhood: West End
Eat this: Corned Bison Hash (sunny-side up eggs, kale, house-made sauerkraut, IPA mustard hollandaise), $19
Drink this: The Brutus (Long Table Distillery vodka, house-made clamato juice, smoked chicharron, crackling and fennel salt), $9/12 (single/double)
Atmosphere: The light-filled room has a West Coast feel with plenty of warm woods and a hint of Asian style. It’s a relaxed atmosphere that strikes a balance between rustic and refined.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
6. Medina Cafe, 780 Richards St.
Medina CafeYou’ve seen the lineups snaking down the block, so act accordingly: arrive early. (And remember, you won’t be seated until your whole party shows up.) Medina’s new environs brings it smack in the middle of downtown in an open space (made to look vintage), where its Mediterranean-inspired menu, now helmed by executive chef Jonathan Chovancek, is still drawing crowds. Big flavours abound here. Wild salmon is cured with Bittered Sling’s Lem-Marrakech bitters, mushrooms are roasted with sherry and Merguez and chorizo sausage are some of the spicy proteins on the plate. On the sweet side, you can’t forget what helped launch Medina’s cult following: waffles. Choose from a laundry list of inventive toppings such as blueberry sumac juniper preserve or white chocolate pistachio rosewater.
Eat this: Les Boulettes (poached eggs, Moroccan lamb meatballs in a roasted pepper and tomato stew, with raita and grilled focaccia), $17
Drink this: Jamaiquita Lemonade (hibiscus flower, eucalyptus, fresh lemon juice, grapefruit bitters, soda), $6; add vodka for $4
Atmosphere: The grand space is open and airy, so there’s ample opportunity to see and be seen. French-style metal chairs are married with lots of old-world wood, including the massive bar, which gives the room a lived-in appeal.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
7. Edible Canada, 1596 Johnson St.
Facebook/Edible CanadaIn our minds, the Edible Canada bistro is Granville Island’s undisputed brunch champ, even though there’s no ocean view or glimpses of the North Shore mountains from inside the bustling bistro or outside on its expansive patio. As its name suggests, the focus is firmly on Canada’s finest foods. Wild mushrooms and spinach add earthiness to a Benny and the signature bacon-and-egg breakfast also comes with sausage from Vancouver Island’s Sloping Hill Farm. Decoding the menu’s icons illustrates the care that’s put into satisfying all sensibilities: items are marked as OceanWise and gluten free, some entrees support social enterprise Mealshare, and items available in Edible Canada’s on-site retail store are also earmarked.
Neighbourhood: Granville Island
Eat this: West Coast Fish Bahn Mi (crispy fried fish, pickled carrots, jalapenos, fresh cilantro, crispy onions, ginger aioli, organic salad), $17
Drink this: Maple Bacon Caesar, $8
Atmosphere: Modern-meets-rustic here. Ultra-modern chairs are lined up at long wooden tables, which invites conversation among guests.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
8. Farmer’s Apprentice, 1535 West 6th Ave.
Farmer's ApprenticeThe shining star in Vancouver’s dining scene is well-sung hero, Farmer’s Apprentice. Stroll by the West 6th Avenue eatery and you might spy some boxes of parsnips and other farm-fresh produce on the sidewalk, waiting to be prepped in the kitchen before before being put on the plate. The modern menu includes delectable, yet guilt-free dishes, such as pulled chicken served with poached eggs on a buttermilk biscuit with tomato and kale, or omelette with swiss chard and parmesan cheese. Although Farmer’s Apprentice isn’t vegetarian, meat (mostly organic) is used with restraint, which lets the vegetables and grains get the attention they deserve.
Neighbourhood: South Granville
Eat this: Confit chicken hash, fall vegetables, potato, poached eggs, $15
Drink this: Spice & Dagger (anejo tequila, bird’s eye chili, cynar, peated scotch), $12
Atmosphere: The long room is outfitted with unfussy decor, which gives it a homespun feel despite its chic South Granville environs. The massive pitchfork affixed to the wall scream volumes about its farm-focused ethos.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 11:30 to 2 p.m.
Pictured: Red kuri squash, granola, fresh cheese, poached eggs, watercress
9. Greenhorn Espresso Bar, 994 Nicola St.
Facebook/Greenhorn CafeThe Greenhorn Espresso Bar is a reminder of what the West End used to be like decades ago (we imagine), when houses still dominated its narrow tree-lined streets and people ventured into the core to meet friends for coffee and conversation. Such a renaissance has begun, thanks to this cafe that cranks out plenty of tasty and sometimes unconventional dishes, such as coconut black rice pudding. The brunch menu is always changing, but some regular players include quiches (add bacon or chorizo) and warm croissants served with Brie and rhubarb compote. Greenhorn isn’t licensed, so you won’t be able to order a mimosa with your eggs, but there are many well-crafted coffee drinks to choose from.
Neighbourhood: West End
Eat this: Tortilla Española (salsa fresca, cilantro, feta, baguette), $8.50
Drink this: Cortado en vaso (double shot of espresso with steamed milk), $3.5
Atmosphere: Greenhorn is tucked into an old house and it maintains some of its rustic charm, along with artful touches such as the massive red chandelier that hangs over the communal high-top table and the motorcycle situated on the second level.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
10. The Belgard Kitchen, 55 Dunlevy Ave.
The Belgard KitchenThe Belgard Kitchen, located in the historic Settlement building, is the perfect match for its boozy neighbours: Vancouver Urban Winery and Postmark Brewing. It’s a fully functional combo: sample some wine, refill your growler and stop in for brunch. Food here is both hearty and elegantly prepared, with menu selections such as stick-to-your-ribs coconut quinoa porridge and the equally earthy venison sausage skillet accompanied by poached eggs smothered in caramelized onion-and-parmesan cream. Not too hungry? Tuck into the yummy smashed avocado on sourdough.
Eat this: Belgard Bacon (maple bourbon pork belly, maple caramel), $10
Drink this: Postmark Brewing Dry Irish Stout, $6.50
Atmosphere: Considering its neighbours, the room has a casual vibe that feels equal parts wine cellar, dining room and brewery. A handful of low tables and tufted leather banquettes encourage guests to settle in and stay awhile, as does the massive fireplace.
Brunch hours: Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.