Objectively, brunch might be nothing more than breakfast with a chance of booze, but those who revel in the weekend morning splurge know it’s more than the sum of its parts. Just saying the word is enough to conjure scenes of relaxed enjoyment, of leisure time with friends boosted by the occasional interruption of delicious bites.
For the benefit of local brunch lovers, Billy Penn is mapping 10 great brunch spots in neighborhoods around Philadelphia — places that offer great value, good service and a fun atmosphere. First up: Old City.
(Scroll to the bottom for the interactive map.)
The Plough and the Stars
After two decades in business without a single day closed, this pub has learned how to make people happy, even on mornings after late nights out. With three three owners from Ireland, of course there’s a traditional Irish breakfast on the menu, but there’s also lighter fare like veggie frittatas and poached pear salad. Nothing on the menu is more than $14, and most plates run $8 to $10, leaving you plenty left over for an early pint of Guinness (or two).
10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 123 Chestnut St. (entrance on Second St.)
Serving farm-to-table fare decades before it was trendy, this longtime bistro is co-owned by the duo behind Metropolitan Bakery, so you know their breads and pastries are on point. The menu runs the gamut, from Amish grits and country pork sausage to Mexican-inspired favorites like chilaquiles and hacienda eggs. The sunny dining room and elegant flatware belie reasonable prices — most entrees hover around $12, and won’t leave you hungry.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 15 S. Third St.
Khyber Pass Pub
For reasons that aren’t exactly clear — other than general deliciousness — the kitchen at this tavern known for its stellar collection of draft beer puts out food with a New Orleans focus. That means brunch treats like praline bacon, bananas foster french toast on Leidenheimer bread and grits with Creole gravy. There’s usually plenty of vegan options, too, and many of the food prices are lower than some of the rare brews pouring from the vaunted taps. In keeping with the Big Easy life, brunch isn’t just a weekend thing — it’s offered every day.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; 52 S. 2nd St.
This petite cafe opened with a goal of bringing together people of varying generations, and the mission has led to a welcoming, friendly atmosphere that pervades the place. Backing it up are the house-baked pastries — available in sweet (scones, brownies, carrot cake) and savory (salmon or prosciutto croissant, anyone?). There’s also a slate of weekend-only specials, like classic French omelets that start at just $8.50, and loaded avocado toast for just over $10.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 320 Walnut St.
Anyone who’s stabbed a hangover with a cold slice found on the kitchen counter knows pizza is a perfectly acceptable morning food — and at this Italian-inspired spot, it doesn’t have to just be leftovers. The full complement of more than a dozen wood-fired pies are on the brunch menu, alongside platters like Calabrian eggs with shallots and Yukon golds ($11) or poached eggs over housemade focaccia. (Note: The restaurant will reopen soon after being closed by the recent fire.)
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 233 Chestnut St.
If you don’t work in Old City, you might miss the wide-ranging breakfast and lunch at this small nook tucked between tourist traps on Market Street. Weekend mornings bring the same locally-sourced menu, but more time to enjoy it. You can still go healthy with one of the flavor-packed quinoa bowls, or live a little more on the edge with fried chicken and waffles or biscuits and sausage gravy. Most plates run $12 to $15, and they’re all overflowing with food.
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 317 Market St.
The giant ceilings at this tavern in a historic former bank make for just enough echo that you can nod along with your brunchmates’ conversation without being expected to hear every word. The weekend menu has all the classics, from blueberry hotcakes to Western omelets, plus more unusual dishes like a Benedict served over crab cakes or avocado-grapefruit salad. Prices hover between $9 and $11, and top out at $16 — for that you get a whole steak with your eggs.
11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 22 S. 3rd St.
One of the least assuming storefronts in the neighborhood hides some of the best culinary values in the city. Most of the food at this coffee shop is scratch-made, from the Israeli salad that comes with the omelets to the rich tomato shakshuka stew studded with farm-fresh eggs. Best part has to be the prices — nothing on the list tops $10, and you can get away with tossing down a fiver for a decent meal.
7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; 147 N. 3rd St.
At this palm-filled homage to the tropical island nation 90 miles south of Florida, the way to go on weekend mornings is the all-you-can-eat deal. For $25 per person, you get a basket of pastries for the table, and then any three items from the tapas-like menu. It could be egg-topped papas fritas plus arroz con pollo plus a banana quinoa waffle — or a totally different trio like churros, trout salad and ropa vieja hash. A few sugar cane mojitos can help make the decision easier.
10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 10 S. Second St.
Kabul Afghan Cuisine
This 25-year-strong Afghani kabob house doesn’t have a separate menu on weekends, but it does open early enough to do BYOB brunch with an unusual twist. Vegetarians have tons to choose from, but the skewers of meat and fish are generally the best option, served in giant platters that aren’t cheap ($15 to $20) — but are perfect for sharing. Give sleep a good shake with some strong chai or Turkish coffee, then dig in, but make sure to save room for housemade baklava or pistachio pudding for dessert.
Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 106 Chestnut St.