Brunch is a weekend ritual in Atlanta.
With countless area restaurants offering this midday repast, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s dining team set out to find the best of the bunch. We ate at myriad spots, digging a fork into everything from pancakes to pimento cheese omelets in order to find the top dishes and drinks to suit every mood.
This dining guide includes the top intown brunches and those OTP. It offers suggestions for vegetarian bites, international fare and where to go when what matters is not just the food but also fresh air and a fine view.
Besides standout food, the establishments in this guide excel for any or all of the following reasons: They have a separate brunch menu, or at least offer distinct items during brunch that are not available any other time; the service is better than average; and drinks are not an afterthought — whether or not they include alcohol.
When it comes to brunch, all of the above matter, because brunch is truly special. Maybe it’s because it’s the weekend and we’ve worked pretty darn hard from 9 to 5 (or 7 to 4 or 10 to 7) Monday through Friday. We want someone else to help us recharge. The places in this dining guide — and Atlanta is lucky to have so many — know how to do brunch very well.
Four months of weekend brunching also has brought insight. Personally, I’ve learned to make a reservation; it’s the safest bet for not experiencing the frustration of standing in line for 30 minutes or longer, stomach growling louder by the minute.
As for our pleas to restaurants: For the love of a runny yolk, it’s as much the responsibility of the front of the house to run those poached eggs to the customer before the yolk firms up as it is for the kitchen to cook them right. And, pretty counts for something; dishes like biscuits and gravy might not be the most visually stunning, yet some places gussy them up far better than others.
Also, the day that more vegetables are incorporated into brunch dishes can’t come soon enough; brunch doesn’t have to be a meal overloaded with carbs and protein.
And fruit. A smattering of places offer fruit in yogurt parfaits or a few wedges of citrus or berries on the side with an order of waffles, but chefs in Atlanta are highly creative. Imagine the possibilities when they do with bananas what they already do with bacon.
What to eat
What to drink
Get on top of brunch with these maps, videos, quizzes and other interactives
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