Sometimes when you want brunch you want diner classics. To slide into a vinyl booth and peruse the laminated menu, or watch from your counter perch as nearly bursting over-easy eggs sizzle next to piles of potatoes and strips of greasy bacon.
But sometimes you don’t want that at all! And thanks to a growing number of Twin Cities restaurants, your choices these days extend far beyond flapjacks and other assorted griddle fodder. Savory stews and seafood boils, choripán and charred avocado—you’ll find all that and a whole lot more at these area eateries.
Kado no Mise
We didn’t call Kado no Mise’s brunch the best of 2019 for nothin’. The serene North Loop sushi spot serves a nontraditional Japanese iteration with a selection of rice bowls (ribeye, pork belly, or tofu), savory pancakes (vegetarian or savory wagyu), and sandos (the fried chicken is so, so good). Even the medamayaki—fried egg—gets special treatment, with fluffy Japanese white bread and the option to go for braised pork belly instead of your standard bacon. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 33 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; 612-338-1515, kadonomise.com
Trip to NOLA not in the cards? The next best thing is a trip to Grand Catch, where during brunch hours the neon-pink “What’s Crackin?” sign refers to crab shells and egg shells. After you plow through Viet-Cajun-leaning eats from king crab benedict to lobster avocado toast (“the hipster kind”), polish off a basket of beignets, which come coated in so much powdered sugar you’ll need a Wet-Nap wipe-down even if you didn’t get the seafood boil. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-348-8541, grandcatchmn.com
Over the last year and a half, Hola Arepa’s colorful Northeast kid sister has stepped right out of its lauded sib’s shadow. That’s in no small part due to its original, flavorful, texturally delightful brunch: biscuits and gravy with bright cabbage slaw, hulking platters of Thai fried chicken, an omelette banh mi unlike any other omelette or banh mi in town. Don’t believe us? Maybe you’ll believe the James Beard Foundation, which named chef Christina Nguyen a 2019 Best Chef: Midwest finalist. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 2121 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-223-8640, haihaimpls.com
Cook St. Paul
From 7 until 2 daily (and 3 on Saturdays and Sundays), Cook St. Paul dishes out Americana classics (buttermilk pancakes, steak and eggs) alongside Korean favorites (spicy ground-bean pancakes, burgers with daikon jelly slaw). If you feel like sticking to standards, you can choose from a number of omelettes... but don’t you kind of want to try the peanut butter and kimchi sandwich teasingly named “Trust Me”? Stop by on Tuesdays if you can, when you’ll find a rotating brunch pop-up—right now, that’s coming to you courtesy of Unitea. 1124 Payne Ave., St. Paul; 651-756-1787, cookstp.com
Is there a classier way to start brunch than with chilled seafood for the table? Is there a more satisfying way to end it than with a $9 basket of potato churros? Is there a more delicious way to eat through the interim than with choripán and fried eggs, charred avocado bruschetta with pickled shrimp, and onion and leek empanadas from the mastermind behind Boludo? The answer, to all of the above, is no. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 4312 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-922-9913, martinarestaurant.com
Should Arby’s ever move away from the whole “we have the meats” thing, Apoy could handily swoop in and adopt the mantle. Hearty offerings include adobo chicken and potatoes and nilaga: a savory-sweet stew of brisket, cabbage, potato, plantains, bok choi, and onion. Plus, nothing says “we take brunch seriously” like an eggplant and veggie omelette served piping-hot in a cast iron skillet. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 4301 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612-824-4719, apoympls.com
Elsewhere in serious skillets, there’s In Bloom—Keg and Case’s smoky, wood-fired wonderland—where part of the brunch menu is dedicated to Dutch baby pancakes. Other unexpected options include venison (served with chilaquiles or on a mortadella sandwich) and grilled trout, and if you really feel like going for it, you can get a $90, two-pound prime porterhouse steak. Mull over the options while munching on a platter of “roasted things.” 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; 928 Seventh St. W., St. Paul; 651-237-9630, inbloomstp.com
They call it a proper lunch, but if you’ve got more than three bloodies on the menu? That’s brunch, baby! Pair Octo’s kimchi Mary with their exceptional lobster roll or one of the menu’s smokier offerings, like the pork tacos or pimento wood-smoked chicken wings. If you’d rather have something sweet, brown butter pancakes drizzled in bourbon-y maple syrup should do the trick. And razor clams are never a bad idea. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 289 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; 651-202-3409, octostp.com
Moscow on the Hill
At Moscow on the Hill, you’re also looking at a “lunch”—but one where there’s a bottomless bloody Mary bar on weekends (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) with five different vodkas to choose from: hot pepper, horseradish, garlic and dill, cilantro, and unflavored. Multiple drinks’ll call for multiple courses from this self-proclaimed “upper-midwest meets post-Perestroika Russia” menu. Why not start with caviar blini and Moscow fries from the zakuski (“appetizer”) section, move on to a bagel with smoked salmon, and see where the afternoon takes you? 371 Selby Ave. St. Paul; 651-291-1236, moscowonthehill.com