15 Hot Brunch Spots
These local eateries lead the way in the Pittsburgh brunch movement, serving fare that’s worth waking up late for.
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An assortment of goodies, including an orange-pistachio crepe, bacon-egg biscuit cup, and a chicken and waffle mini-sandwich. Photo by Heather Mull.
Mansions on Fifth
Brunch at Mansions on Fifth is as grand as the name suggests. Everything in the lavish spread evokes Old World, perfectly in sync with the quality service and the setting. Here, the experience is multisensory: You’re seated amidst wood-paneled walls and world-class art, listening to ambient live music, dining from an elegant menu. The expansive feast has something for everyone, and the chefs may accommodate special dietary needs if notified in advance. Omnivores will love the rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, grilled salmon and crab cakes. Vegetarians will savor the braised spinach, butternut-squash risotto and roasted asparagus. And for those with a sweet tooth, French toast, pancakes and desserts abound.
(5105 Fifth Ave., Shadyside; 412/381-5105, mansionsonfifth.com; Monthly brunch on the first Sunday, plus Sunday holidays)
The “Devils on Horseback: Breakfast Edition,” is a cream cheese-filled date, wrapped in pecan bacon in a pool of maple syrup, served here with grilled bread, house-made blueberry jam and butter. Photo by Heather Mull.
Meat & Potatoes
You know where your priorities lie if you’re elated by the fact that the list of cocktails at Meat & Potatoes takes up one-third of the brunch menu. (And that doesn’t even include the Bellini and Bloody Mary bars!) With drinks like French Toast Flip, Irish Breakfast and Aloe Vera Lemonade, you need to plan a very easy day post-meal. The fare is true to the restaurant’s name, featuring different meats like pastrami belly, Korean BBQ and smoked brisket. All this in a comfy 105-seat, velvet, wood and marble space with a 25-seat bar and a DJ (just on Sundays). Mirrors float above the banquet gastropub-style, enabling you to people-watch on the sly while sipping your Kingston Club.
(649 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/325-7007, meatandpotatoespgh.com)
Watch: Beer cocktails at Meat & Potatoes
Antipasto bite in a pastry cup, short-rib tostada with caramelized onion cheese and apricot disk with candied maple walnuts and Boursin cheese. Photo by Adam Milliron.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
While museum cafés are often an afterthought, Café Phipps is a destination in itself; the airy café serves food that evokes the same oxygen-high that a conservatory tour gives you. Fitting then that brunch at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a special event, held in the Special Events Hall of the lush Tropical Forest India environ. All fare is made from scratch, and seasonal ingredients are sourced locally. The selection is perhaps the most egalitarian of all, with options like a grass-fed beef carving station, a tofu scramble with slow-cooked black beans and quinoa pumpkinseed oatmeal. One of the best deals in town, a brunch ticket also includes admission to Phipps — a perfect way to spend a Sunday.
(One Schenley Drive, Oakland; 412/622-6914, phipps.conservatory.org; Brunch on select Sundays from March to December)
Liege waffle with red wine-poached pears. Photo by Heather Mull.
No one knows how to do “neighborhood restaurant” better than Jesse Seager. Point Brugge (and its sister restaurant, Park Bruges in Highland Park) takes the cliché out of “great food in a cozy atmosphere” — a sought-after yet often elusive combination. With a Belgian-influenced menu, you can’t go wrong with Point Brugge’s Liege waffles: The dense waffles are made with a pearl sugar-studded batter that caramelizes when cooked, making for a delicious characteristic crunch. The eatery also offers a substantial prix-fixe menu, with weekly specials and regular choices like Moroccan baked eggs, Merguez sausage and tartes flambée. But most tempting of all are Brugge’s frites (some of the best fries in the city) — they’re so good that it’s perfectly OK to order some with a salad.
(401 Hastings St., Point Breeze; 412/441-3334, pointbrugge.com)
Quiet Storm Vegetarian & Vegan Café
Editor's Note: This article was first published in March of 2013. Since then, Quiet Storm Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe has closed.
Beef bulgogi and egg with Korean marinated ribeye, potato confit and grilled bread. Photo by Heather Mull.
Editor's Note: This article was first published in March of 2013. Since then, Tamari has closed its Lawrenceville location.
Tin Front Café
For the best homestyle brunch entrées and a buffet of sides, take a trip to Homestead. Tin Front’s vegetarian spread is an ever-changing selection of egg and vegan burritos, omelets, quiches, pancakes and French toast. But don’t get fooled by the V-word: As one diner swears, Tin Front Café is “so good, you forget that it’s vegetarian!” Love beans, greens and grits? Try the Southern Comfort burrito (also offered as vegan), generously filled with black-eyed peas, kale and grits. Love Elvis? Then you need to try the Sunday at Graceland French toast; a spin on the classic, it’s presented as a sandwich filled with banana and Nutella. How can you miss that? And the value can’t be beat; for $11.95, brunchers choose one entrée and unlimited sides — just be sure to call ahead if you’re bringing a group.
(216 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead; 412/461-4615, tinfrontcafe.com)
On Sundays, lines at The Zenith are famously long — so local bands often play to keep waiting customers content as they get java from the coffee bar. Most menu and buffet items are vegan, but there’s also an egg dish for non-vegan diners and cheese available by request. The $10 brunch price includes a meal, coffee or tea and access to the buffet of sides. Tip: Consider getting your share of peanut noodles shortly after arriving — people have been known to riot when they run out. The noodles really are that good.
(86 S. 26th St., South Side; 412/481-4833, zenithpgh.com)
Leah Lizarondo authors the food blog Brazen Kitchen. She received her certification in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University and in health counseling from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She also has a master’s degree in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.