I love a good egg dish as much as the next guy, but waiting more than 45 minutes for brunch is when I’m tempted to just eat the granola bar I’ve stashed in my purse and call it done. Yes, brunch is a great way to catch up with friends and rehash last night’s antics over mimosas, but waiting in a two-hour line for French toast is for jerks—unless the food is amazing. Here are nine places with some of the most outrageous brunch waits across the country that just might be worth passing on that granola bar and sucking it up.
1. Buttermilk Channel: Brooklyn, New York
The house-made breakfast sausage, carefully constructed egg scrambles, and eggs Huntington (buttermilk biscuit, poached eggs, country ham, and hollandaise) are absolutely scrumptious. But ever since Beyoncé was spotted there last year, it’s been murder getting a table. Try going right when they open, at 11 a.m., or get a large party together and make a reservation.
Photo: Buttermilk Channel
2. Bar Tartine: San Francisco, California
San Francisco is a city rich with brunch options, most of them delicious, but snagging a table at Bar Tartine can require planning months in advance. If you're really impatient, you could head to Tartine Bakery, pick up some of their famous baked specialties (the tea cakes, gougères, and brioche bread pudding are all fantastic), and go have a picnic in Dolores Park instead, but realistically, the wait might be even longer than at its sister restaurant. We say: Be patient. Bar Tartine is truly a not-to-be-missed brunch when in the Bay Area.
Photo: Bar Tartine / SF Weekly
3. Tasty n Sons: Portland, Oregon
Luckily this amazing restaurant recently opened a second outpost, Tasty n Alder, doubling their brunch capacity. Serving brunch until a very reasonable 2:30 p.m., Tasty n Sons is a great pick for seasonal recipes that don’t disappoint. To start, try the homemade granola, griddled-bacon-wrapped dates with maple syrup and almond, or polenta.
Photo: Tasty n Sons Brunch / Condé Nast Traveler
4. m.henry: Chicago, Illinois
Fannie’s Killer Fried Egg Sandwich here is so good that I’d spend the day sitting outside on the sidewalk in order to savor a few bites. Toasted sourdough with two over-medium eggs, bacon, freshly sliced plum tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and fresh thyme are what make this dish worth a few hours out of your life.
Photo: m.henry egg sandwich / Spoon University
5. Marché Artisan Foods: Nashville, Tennesse
Nashville knows brunch. At Marché, the waits are long, but the airy restaurant has plenty of room for you to relax and anticipate your next meal (and if you’re starving you can order coffee and snack on pastries from the bakery up front). The croissant French toast, authentic cheese grits, and crèpes (savory or sweet!) should definitely be on your list.
Photo: Marché Artisan Foods / StyleBlueprint
6. Hominy Grill: Charleston, South Carolina
The Charleston Nasty Biscuit is one-of-a-kind. With fried chicken, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy, this brunch favorite is the real deal. Hominy Grill is a Charleston mainstay and unfortunately only takes reservations for dinner. Sunday brunch starts early (9 a.m.), so make the Saturday before an early night and program your alarm so you’ll be ready to chow down!
Photo: Hominy Grill Nasty Biscuit / Fig and the Wasp
7. Gjelina: Venice, California
Brunch at Gjelina is not just your standard breakfast. Highlights include an entire vegetable section—with roasted Japanese sweet potato; grilled king oyster mushroom with tarragon butter, lemon, and sea salt; and charred okra—and a variety of beautifully composed plates. But the lines are long: On a Saturday morning you’ll wait. Luckily, they’ll be serving the duck confit–potato hash until 3 p.m.
Photo: Gjelina interior / Miss A
8. Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant: New York, New York
This Manhattan favorite may take the (pan)cake for longest wait times. Crowds line up early around the block, and waits over two hours aren’t uncommon. Their website even addresses the issue, but fans swear that the pancakes are unbeatable. February is pancake month at the bakery, when they serve special pancake flavors such as German chocolate, coconut and key lime, blueberry crumb streusel, and Japanese pumpkin.
Photo: Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant / Verily Magazine
9. Ted's Bulletin: Washington DC
Ted’s Bulletin serves breakfast anytime, and the breakfast combinations are both generous and delectable. The last time I tried to get in without a reservation they estimated over an hour wait, but reservations are available on opentable.com, and planning ahead for your Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito (served with hash browns!) is recommended. And yes, there are house-made peanut butter bacon pop tarts.
Photo: Ted's Bulletin brunch / DCDiningGuide.com
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.