If you have a hunch that brunch might be the bomb in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, you are correct.
Queen Street, east of the Don Valley, is a haven for hashbrowns, French toast and, of course, every member of the Benedict family that has ever existed: Veggie, Pastrami, Duck Benny, Riminese, to name a few.
Take a stroll through Riverside on a Saturday or Sunday between 10 am and 3 pm, not only will you smell the aromas of fresh pastries and sizzling bacon as it wafts onto the street, you’ll know you’re in the hood when you see all the busy brunch spots.
A staple in Riverside, celebrating 20 years in 2017, is award-winning Bonjour Brioche. Recently though, new rise and shine restaurants have joined the club – and brunch goers can’t seem to get enough: The Peasant Table, White Lily Diner, Sugar Loaf Bakery & Cafe, and Eastbound Brewing Co, all opened in Riverside in the past couple years. And let’s not forget other popular spots that have been around for many years: while they may be better known for their late night crowds, Prohibition Gastrohouse and Aft Kitchen & Bar make a mean morning meal, best served with cocktails.
If you happen to find yourself visiting Toronto’s east end, here are a few local hotspots to hit up for mid-day mocktails, cocktails, or coffee, and any kind of brunch you can dream up. If you’re a local dweller, you’ll already know and love many of these spots!
686 Queen Street East ~ Brunch served Saturdays & Sundays from 11AM to 3PM
If you’re super starving (and/or in need of a hungover cure), you can’t go wrong with the Hoppin John – smoked (on the BBQ) and shredded ham hock served with simmered tomatoes, black-eyed peas, avocado, a sunny-side-up egg and tortilla chips. Yum! Tip: Aft is first come first serve, as they don’t take reservations.
812 Queen Street East ~ Brunch served Tuesday to Sunday from 8AM to 4PM
Bonjour Brioche is Riverside’s Little Paris with buttery pastries, warm baguettes in a French cafe style setting. There is always a lineup on weekends at this cash-only brunch so come early or late if you’re with a group. A dish to try for sure is their smoked salmon and scrambled eggs served with chives, roti potato, creamed horseradish, and caviar. This restaurant’s grab-and-go counter is just as delicious and convenient if you’re in a rush or would prefer to enjoy the morning in nearby De Grassi Parkette. Bon Appetit.
782 Queen Street East ~ Brunch served Saturdays & Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM
Are you in the mood for double smoked bacon mac and cheese in a stylish setting. The dish is served with shredded smoked mozzarella and sunny side up eggs while the restaurant delivers service with a smile that will make you feel right at home. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to sit by the window and practically dine al fresco as you watch Riverside roll by.
696 Queen Street East ~ Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM to 4PM
While Prohibition Gastropub is well known for its after dark club scene, brunch is also a big thing here. When late night party-goers hit the hay, this restaurant is prepping for early birds with dreams of comfort food and a coffee (or a cocktail). Try the savoury house-made Mexicana Waffle topped with five kinds of cheese, guacamole, cream and three eggs over easy. (P.S. kids under 10 eat for free from the Kids Brunch Menu and Signature Cocktails are only $9 during brunch)
All day Breakfast – Saturdays & Sundays from 9AM to 10PM, Wed-Fri from 8AM to 10PM
One of the newer kids on the block, White Lily is a rocking brunch west of Broadview Ave in a cozy ‘70s diner setting. There’s been a lineup here since day one but (tip) if you leave the host with your number they’ll call you when a table is ready. Take that time to enjoy other Riverside attractions and build up your appetite for a good old-fashioned plate of steak and sunny eggs served with hash browns, poblano relish, and small batch caesar.
700 Queen Street East ~ Brunch Served Saturdays and Sundays from 11AM to 2PM
Not only does Eastbound Brewing specialize in craft beer, this Queen Street East hot spot also specializes in brunch: snacks, plates, and side. Next time you find yourself strolling around Riverside on the weekend, pop in for a fork and knife fried chicken sandwich with maple bacon, pancake bun, smoked cheddar and two egg omelet. Wash that down, of course, with a refreshing Eastbound brew.
729 Queen Street East ~ Saturdays & Sundays from 9AM to 2PM
While this Riverside bakery sounds more like a place you’d go for sweet treats, Sugar Loaf also serves up a savoury brunch on weekends. In addition to your typical continental breakfast, here you can also indulge in rare dishes like the mushroom and black truffle terrine with house-made brioche pudding, sauteed mushrooms, cheese, black truffle oil, thyme, and a poached egg. The cafe is small so get there early before it fills up, and enjoy your brunch with a mimosa if it suits you!
KNOW A GREAT RIVERSIDE BRUNCH SPOT THAT WE’VE MISSED? LET US KNOW!
Karen Lloyd is a writer, photographer and website designer in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood. This blog is part of the series giving you the inside scoop on Riverside, Toronto. Read other blogs in the series: Riverside Patios, Places to Stay in Riverside