Back in 1895, English writer Guy Beringer penned an essay called “Brunch: A Plea.” In it, he argued that a late-morning gathering of friends and food was the most splendid cure for a hangover, and even advocated for a cheeky hair-of-the-dog-style cocktail alongside that plate of eggs. He’s not wrong, of course, but the real beauty of brunch is that the rules are fairly fluid. Savoury or sweet, cocktails or coffee, 10 a.m. or 1 p.m.—the choice is yours. Anything goes when it comes to this beloved portmanteau (including the inevitable line-up or two), and here are 10 Vancouver restaurants doing it very right.
Find it: 1266 West Broadway, @fufupancakecafe
The lowdown: Owners Sienna Gan and Vicki Chen opened up shop in September to long lineups ravenous for one thing: their light-as-air Japanese soufflé pancakes, which are hand-whisked with heaps of cloudy egg white and griddled in the open kitchen.
Must-order: It’s all about the jiggle if you order a classic stack of three pancakes with a side of salty butter and pure maple syrup—shake that plate for a tasty Instagram boomerang of the cakes in motion.
But also: If you crave savoury over sweet, visit on a weekend because that’s when the eggs benedict and smoked salmon and avocado plate (yes, both served atop pancakes) are added to the menu.
Price range: $12–$16
The lowdown: Comfort food is the specialty of the house at southern-inspired Jam Cafe, an all-day breakfast joint that originated in Victoria, B.C. Its Vancouver counterparts—one downtown, and one in Kitsilano—draw some of the longest lineups in the city, but that doesn’t dissuade regulars from coming back for more.
Must-order: The eggs benny selection: Go for a fried pork belly benny, served with bacon jam and house-made BBQ sauce, or the buffalo blue fried chicken version, which is buttermilk-fried and blue-cheese-covered.
But also: Amplify the decadence of any order by adding one of 24 side dish options, like the house sugar-cured bacon or a biscuit ’n gravy.
Average price per dish: $15–$18
The lowdown: With its whitewashed walls and airy tall ceilings, South Granville’s favourite vegetarian restaurant feels more like an Instagrammable L.A. hot-spot than the revamped Vancouver heritage building that it is.
Must-order: The buttermilk pancakes with date butter, bourbon apple compote and coconut whipped cream are decadent (and vegan); the mushroom benedict oozes with two poached eggs (or tofu, if you prefer), goat cheese, oyster and king mushrooms.
But also: Everywhere serves kale salad these days, but Heirloom’s kale Caesar—laden with dense cornbread croutons, cashew parmesan and beet chips—is arguably the best.
Average price per dish: $16–$21
Burdock & Co.
The lowdown: Fiercely local and inventive, chef Andrea Carlson’s Mount Pleasant restaurant is a farm-to-table-loving foodie favourite with a small but mighty brunch menu.
Must-order: Refuel with a bowl of rice congee with mushroom XO sauce, salted almond and smoked shoyu; or dive into the tomato baked eggs with soft Macedonian feta and spicy beef chorizo.
But also: For a lighter bite, the vegan avocado smash spices things up with chili fried broccoli, roasted mushroom and a smattering of cashew curd.
Price range: $15–$18
The lowdown: Baker and pastry chef Claire Livia Lassam opened her East Vancouver bakery-café to much anticipation in spring 2019, and the cozy-chic interior has been packed ever since.
Must-order: Anything on their organic sourdough bread is a winner, such as their grown-up eggs and soldiers with beets and crème fraiche. Creamy polenta dressed with a runny-yolk egg and sautéed local mushrooms will have you salivating until the next visit.
But also: The breakfast sammy with mortadella and fresh arugula—it flies off the menu.
Price range: $8–$20
Caffè La Tana
The lowdown: From the same owners of city favourites Savio Volpe and Pepino’s Spaghetti House, grocer-restaurant Caffè La Tana feels like a fresh slice of Florence on The Drive. Watch the chef handshape fresh pasta while you eat, then pick some up for dinner on your way out.
Must-order: The Contadino Plate (the farmer’s breakfast) transports you to Tuscany with chunks of ripe avocado, grilled tomato, toasted almonds, DOP Castelmagno cheese and local Two Rivers Meats Tuscan salami nestled around a soft-poached egg, and sided by fresh bread and fruit.
But also: An energy packed small-plate asparagus Milanese drapes prosciutto over a poached egg and butter-glazed asparagus with a hint of fresh lemon—drool.
Price range: $9–$17
The lowdown: Kitsilano’s classic French café feels much like Paris, as the servers chat in brusque French while the scents of frying butter and freshly-pulled espressos emanate.
Must-order: The Assiette au Comptoir with a baked egg cocotte and house-made sausage is delicious, but the star of the plate is its unassuming accompaniment, a duck fat-fried thyme potato rösti, which is so gluttonously good you may want to ask for two.
But also: Order a mimosa and a half-dozen oysters to start because—why not?—life’s short.
Price range: $15–$18
Find it: 1087 Granville St., thetempleton.ca
The lowdown: Fifties-style booths lined with mini jukeboxes and vintage memorabilia greet all who enter The Templeton, the most nostalgic dining experience on Vancouver’s Granville strip. It may have started as a diner in 1934, but today’s menu has kept up with the times, serving organic burgers, veggie bacon and—gasp—avocado toast.
Must-order: Go traditional with a Big Ass Breakfast of eggs, bacon, french toast and buttermilk pancakes, or freshen it up with the Hakai Omelette filled with wild smoked salmon, cream cheese and red onions.
But also: Excellent poutine.
Price range: $11–$14
Ask for Luigi
The lowdown: Perched on a Railtown corner, this busy little Italian hub serves up handmade pasta for every meal of the day. They have an ongoing Instagram contest of best brunch photos, so just search their hashtag (#LuigiBrunch) to start salivating.
Must-order: Creamy tagliolini alla carbonara with a poached egg, or pappardelle alla bolognese with a fried egg. It’s all about that carb-plus-protein plate here.
But also: Start with a sweet basket of house-made banana bread and cinnamon ricotta.
Price range: $14-$19
The Red Wagon
The lowdown: An East Van fixture, Red Wagon is a neighbourhood diner with no frills and a damn good all-day breakfast. Guy Fieri’s a fan, and you will be too.
Must-order: The famous pulled pork pancakes are like two meals in one, consisting of a triple stack layered with pulled pork and drizzled with Jack Daniel’s maple syrup.
But also: The breakfast banh mi tucks eggs, pickled vegetables, jalapeño and pork belly into a fresh baguette laced with mayo and cilantro.
Price range: $11–$16