SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
Brunch is one of the holiest meals in Philadelphia. Whether you're up early and looking for healthy fuel for the day or rolling out of bed after noon and craving something deep-fried and cheesy, our top brunch spots are sure to have you covered.
Manayunk’s Main street has been home to Winnie’s Le Bus since 1980 serving eclectic American food that is homemade with locally sourced ingredients by Chef John O’Brien runs the kitchen here and next door at Winnie’s sister restaurant, Smokin’ Johns.
Whether you’re looking for vegetarian, vegan, or locally sourced it all can be found at Winnie’s. Walking into the restaurant you’ll surely feel the comforting vibes of this neighborhood spot. Customers can always be found enjoying a bite at the outside tables or grabbing a drink at the inside circular bar under a rowing skull that hangs from the ceiling paying homage to the numerous athletes in the area that dine here. Rowers, bikers, and runners can all attest to the health and quality of the food at Winnie’s. Beautiful paintings by local artist Tony LaSalle hang in the dining room on exposed brick walls beneath the original restored wood beams.
No one is surprised to find that the masses pack this spot for brunch enjoying rounds of the Mighty Mary made with bacon-infused vodka and homemade Bloody Mary mix. We recommend you try a Manmosa made with champagne, brandy, and wheat beer. They don’t take reservations for brunch, but luckily breakfast is served everyday so you don’t have to wait for brunch on the weekends! Keep an eye out for their weekly French Toast or Eggs Benedict special. The High Protein 6-Grain Pancakes with oats, wheat, corn, barley, buckwheat and sesame will fuel your body after a long workout and the Winnola with house made granola topped with bananas, strawberries and vanilla yogurt offers a sweeter healthy option.
We love Winnie’s Breakfast Sandwich made with farm fresh eggs topped with Asiago cheese, fresh asparagus, roasted red peppers and baby spinach served on a toasted brioche bun and a side of home fries.
The menu also changes to reflect the best flavors of the season. If you lean toward the lunch side of brunch we’d suggest arguably the most famous dish on the menu here, the Thai Turkey Noodle Salad, which has been on the menu since Winnie’s opened. It has homemade roasted turkey, multigrain pasta, scallions, zucchini, celery, carrots, sesame seeds, bell peppers, spinach and walnuts tossed in our house Thai dressing.
Our favorite and also very popular, is the Blue Colorado Salad with char-grilled ancho glazed chicken over mixed greens, grape tomatoes, fresh asparagus, grilled corn, maytag blue cheese, tossed in red wine vinaigrette. The name Colorado refers to the color of the red dried ancho chilis that are made into a marinade for the chicken. This Colorado Chicken is also offered as a sandwich. Health nuts also love the Brown Rice Nut Salad with brown rice tossed with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, onions, sunflower seeds, almonds, raisins, walnuts and tahini dressing served with hummus, feta, Mediterranean olives and multi-grain flatbread.
If you save room for dessert you can enjoy a local ice cream sandwich from Weckerly’s or wash it all down with an ice cold beer from Yards, Sly Fox, Victory, as well as other craft beer options rotating seasonally. Winnie’s has 6 beers on tap, but you can also head next door to Smokin’ Johns where they have a selection of 25-30 beers on tap.
When we’re looking for good beer AND good food, we stop by Saint Benjamin’s Brewery for brunch. Stop by this hidden gem to avoid all the insane weekend brunch crowds at other spots. Brunch is available on Saturdays 11 am-4 pm and all-day Sunday until 1 am!
Saint Benjamin Brewing Company is a craft brewery and taproom operating in Kensington, Philadelphia. The brewery is located in the historic carriage house and stables of the defunct Theo Finkenauer Brewery. At Saint Benjamin they interpret classic styles and design new creations such as the India Cream Ale and Junto (their coffee kolsch). The name “Saint Benjamin” is a reference to founding father Benjamin Franklin. The idea for this brewery was devised in founder Tim Patton’s 190 year old home and former firehouse in Philadelphia. The founder of the city’s fire companies, Franklin was also an avid home brewer.
The taproom at 1710 North 5th Street features 12 taps and a beer engine, with 50 seats at the bar and at tables. Exposed brick and original plaster set a reclaimed-chic scene, while the walnut bar and wood flooring add to the warm ambiance. A glass viewing wall, directly against a drink rail, offers sweeping views into the brewery, while shelves of old books and games invite drinkers to linger and vintage photos of the brewery and the building anchor St. Ben’s as a piece of its history. Saint Benjamin’s Taproom is open Tuesday-Friday from 4 pm- 2 am and Saturday-Sunday 11 am- 2 am.
This summer Saint Benjamin Brewing Company expanded their offerings to include a full cocktail menu, comprised only of locally distilled spirits, plus a list of meads and local wines. The new drinks complement the taproom’s selection of St. Ben beers, and will be available until 2 am six days a week, alongside a tempting menu of pairing-friendly fare; and St. Ben offers free brewery tours every Saturday from 12 noon until 4 pm!
Featured specialty cocktails include:
• Ms. Read’s Tonic, with Liberty Gin from Manayunk’s Palmer Distilling Co., elderberry-lemon shrub and violet syrup
• The Nectar of Forgetfulness, Ben Franklin’s orange shrub recipe, made using Faber Rum from Quakertown’s Midnight Madness Distilling, with falernum and fresh lime
• The Plain Truth, with Rowhouse Spirits Distillery’s Poitin (96 proof white whiskey) standing in for whiskey, plus honey-grapefruit-pink peppercorn syrup, cardamom bitters and fresh rosemary Smoked Watermelon Old Fashioned, featuring Kinsey 7 Year Old Whiskey from New Liberty Distillery, made with smoked malt and watermelon reduction, with watermelon bacon
Guests can also expect a selection of vodkas, including popular flavors such as citrus, orange and vanilla, and a specialty Vodka Cocktail made with Philadelphia’s own Stateside Urbancraft Vodka. St. Ben also features a wide selection of local rums, whiskeys and gins, alongside cordials and liqueurs such as coffee and amaretto, many made in-house. Drinks vary seasonally and are based on the availability of these hyper-local ingredients, including a selection of tempting beer cocktails, as well.
Many breweries focus so much on the beverages that you don’t expect much from the food. St. Ben is not that kind of brewery, they’ve got a chef in the kitchen from Rouge and they’re serving up some food that totally blew away our expectations. The food menu is available during all business hours and it includes both snacks and heartier plates.
We like to start off our brunch with small plates as we sample from the wide variety of craft brews with a beer flight.
Ploughman’s Lunch is a wonderful variety of cheeses and charcuterie ideal for snacking while enjoying your favorite beverage.
The French Onion Soup is also perfect as the winter rolls in lower temperatures and you’re looking for something to warm you up. And do not overlook the French Fries here, something simple but done so well- they’re a mix of potatoes and perfectly crispy and salty.
For your main brunch course there are plenty of delicious options, our top pick was the Kiss My Grits with grilled chorizo, jalapeno grits and two eggs any style. These are some of the best grits we’ve ever had, creamy and a little bit spicy, plus this dish is gluten free! We also tried the Caramelized Apple Pancakes which where thick and fluffy. Next time we’ll surely be back for the Texas Cut French Toast with candied pecans and grilled peaches. And for all you picky eaters they’ve got “Any Way You Want It”, a combo platter of two eggs any style, a choice of house-made sausage or house-cured pastrami bacon, and a choice of white, whole wheat or rye toast.
What could be more refreshing than a boozy brunch with light and deliciously fruity drinks? We love to stop by The Twisted Tail in Headhouse Square for brunch.
They’re serving up some of the best brunch cocktails like their Champagne Popsicle drinks and Punch Bowls. Pair these drinks with a variety of small plates and you’re got the recipe for success.
Brunch is served Saturday 11 am- 4 pm and Sundays 10 am- 4 pm. Reservations can easily be made via Opentable. Stop by any Saturday and receive $10 off your punch bowl!
We love the Strawberry Mint and Gin Punch Bowl and it’s got plenty to go around, the small serves 4-6 people. Of course we’d also highly recommend the Champagne Popsicle drinks. Let the homemade fruit puree popsicle dissolve into your glass of champagne infusing it with delicious fruit flavor. We’ve tried the pineapple and lemon popsicles, but they also offer other fruit flavors like strawberry.
If you don’t want a boozy brunch, La Columbe coffee is also served here.
If you’re looking for a little indulgence we always recommend the Crawfish Mac & Cheese with aged cheddar, and toasted breadcrumbs.
But what really blew us away were the Beer-Battered Cheese Curds with a side of Thousand Island, and spicy tomato jam these balls of cheesy melty gooey deliciousness are not to be missed.
There are 6 to an order and were quickly devoured. Dare we say this might be the best fried cheese curds we’ve had in the city. Lightly battered, crispy on the outside and oozing with cheese inside they are simply perfection.
For the more traditional brunch goers- the Smoked Salmon Pumpernickel Toast is an ideal starter with cream cheese, chives, and capers. It’s easy to see why this is one of the more popular menu items.
A twist on some of your breakfast favorites can also be found like the Fried Chicken & Sweet Potato Waffle, where the chicken is bourbon battered. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth you’ll enjoy the Praline French Toast with brioche, pecans, and bourbon soaked pineapple. Carnivores enjoy the Brisket Omelet with cheddar, caramelized onions, and spicy tomato jam.
Since we love seafood we order the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake served on a plate with mustard, turnip, and bell pepper this dish looked like a work of art! And of course you couldn’t even go wrong ordering The Twisted Burger with bacon, blue cheese, and bourbon BBQ sauce.
In Philadelphia there are a few his renowned BYOB brunch spots, one of our top picks is Cafe Lift. They serve brunch all-day, everyday! The restaurant was actually the very first venture for Michael and Jeniphur Pasquauarello who opened in 2003 inside a refurbished factory along 13th street. The neighborhood had nothing to offer residents looking to eat out.
Cafe Lift is actually named after the giant lift in the entrance of the restaurant, the owners wanted to embrace the industrial style of the building and neighborhood when designing the restaurant.
Now crowds flock to this spot for BYOB brunch all day, Tuesday to Sunday. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait on the weekends, but if you are feeling ravenous don’t worry there is brunch served at Prohibition Taproom next door and Bufad‘s pizza is really great for any meal.
Cafe Lift features a seasonal menu with ingredients sourced from local growers like Greensgrow Farms in Fishtown. Coffee is provided by Rival Bros. Some menu items are inspired by the Pasquarello family, like the Lemon Ricotta pancakes made from a family recipe.
The special Hudson Cakes are named after the owner’s daughter, they are 3 savory cakes layered with scrambled eggs, spinach, and fontina cheese. If you like spice, then you’ve got to try the homemade Carter’s Fiery Hot Sauce, named after the owner’s son, bottled and available to purchase for $10.
Amongst the seasonal items, the Avocado Toast have been huge hits with customers. Avocado Toast has been taking over the brunch scene lately and is being served here on top of grilled Sourdough bread topped with house made ramp butter, avocado, two over easy eggs, arugula and Piment d’Espelette. We’d definitely recommend it.
Savory brunch goers will enjoy the Breakfast Burrito with scrambled eggs, roasted peppers, mushrooms, sweet onions and Chihuahua cheese rolled in a flour tortilla. Topped with pico de gallo, served with homemade hot sauce & sour cream.
If you like Mexican influenced brunch items then we’d recommend the Huevos Rancheros on a toasted corn tortilla with refried beans, Mexican pork chorizo, roasted peppers, chihuahua cheese, two fried eggs, and pico de gallo.
If you prefer the lunch side of brunch then you should try one of Cafe Lift’s many sandwiches like Grilled chicken breast, roasted sweet peppers, onions, arugula, and sharp provolone or the Cubano with roasted pork, smoked ham, roasted red onions, fontina cheese, and whole grain mustard aioli. They even have a Vegan sandwich made with seasonal local veggies with a white bean herb spread on focaccia.
We love the Signature Burger with double smash-style Kensington Quarters‘ grass-fed beef burger with caramelized onions, bacon, aioli and mild provolone cheese on a soft burger bun. Kensington Quarters is also a member of the 13th Street Kitchens family.
There are also salad options offered here for the more health minded brunch diners! Cafe Lift also proudly serves Rival Bros. Coffee. Their blends include Revolver (med-light roast, Whistle and Cuss (med-dark roast), and Palooka (med, roast).
When we are craving tapas or brunch, we stop by Tinto in Rittenhouse Square. Jose Garces does not disappoint with this Basque tapas bar and restaurant “serving small plates such as montaditos (crostini), bocadillos (finger sandwiches) and brochettes (skewers) typical of northeastern Spain’s pintxo bars, complemented by the region’s ciders, sangrias and of course, a great deal of wine.”
Although most tapas bars only offer wine and dinner, Tinto also serves brunch. Starting with a drink, the Valencia is classic cocktail with champagne and orange juice. We also like the Pomelo with Rosé Cava and grapefruit.
Of course for all the tequila-lovers they’ve got a Bloody Mary with tequila and Espelette Rim. The most unique drink here is the Basque with Lavender Infused Gin, Lemon, and Spanish Cider.
Start off your meal with brunch-style tapas to share with the table like Yogurt & Granola with Acacia Honey, house made granola, and fresh berries or if you prefer the Prawn Brochettes are one of our favorite plates with shrimp, chorizo, and tomato (they’re also served on the dinner menu).
If you’re looking for more traditional brunch items they’ve got some wonderful egg dishes like the Omelet with any two toppings- pick from Jamon, Serrano, Spinach, Goat Cheese, Asparagus, Chorizo Idiazabal, Mushrooms, or Manchego.
The Benedicto is an interesting play on Eggs Benedict with Chorizo Pamplona, brioche, poached eggs, and black truffle hollandaise.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth than you can’t miss the Torrijas Citrus Vanilla French Toast, Fresh Berries, and Vanilla Mascarpone. This French Toast was perfection with just enough sweetness with fluffy brioche if you’ve got a sweet tooth we’d say order this!
The Chicken Bocadillo is also a great option for lunch lovers who shy away from the breakfast items at brunch. It is made with grilled chicken, romaine, bacon, and basquaise. The restaurant also offers for dinner a Short Rib Bocadillo made with braised short ribs, bacon, asparagus, and celery root aïoli.
Since moving to Philadelphia 5 years ago I've been exploring the food scene looking all over for restaurants that showcase the exciting and original flavors of the city. I love to write about the story behind these businesses, the great people who run them, and the food they serve. Check out my blog for more restaurant reviews, local events, and recipe posts.