I tend to think of weekend brunch as a spring and summertime indulgence—one that should necessitate sunscreen and an abandoning of concerns about cholesterol. And, while I don't normally drink during the day, brunch is an excuse for that mid-day mimosa, Kir or cocktail on a sunny patio.
You're probably already familiar with the most popular, well-established brunch spots around. They are places like Tuscany, Grand America, Trio, Eggs in the City, The Park Café, Avenues Proper, Eva, Pago, Frida Bistro, Caffe Niche, Oasis Café, Copper Onion, Ruth's Diner, Gracie's and a few others. But my job is to find places that you might not have yet explored. So here are some newer options, along with under-the-radar finds that you really ought to try.
I've eaten at Bob McCarthy's Stoneground Kitchen (249 E. 400 South, 801-364-1368, StonegroundSLC.com) on a couple of occasions, and came away mighty impressed. I hadn't visited since its complete overhaul and remodel, and the place is drop-dead gorgeous. (Gone is the pool table in the middle of the dining room.) The addition of Justin Shifflett—formerly of Metropolitan and other fine restaurants—as head chef is a good one. He's a bundle of talent. Anyway, I'll write a more thorough review of the "new" restaurant in an upcoming feature. For now, the focus is on their new brunch, which is served on Sundays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
In warm weather, grab a seat on the sunny upstairs deck. The look is very contemporary—complete with a fire pit—but the vibe is laid-back and casual. And, while standard breakfast items such as eggs Benedict, applewood-smoked bacon and scones are available, the menu is skewed toward Italy. That means that if you'd prefer something other than breakfast foods, there are plenty of alternatives, such as a fresh and delicious caprese salad ($9), the savory turkey panini ($9.50), ricotta pancakes with maple mascarpone ($14) and veal, pork and beef Bolognese ($18) made with fresh creste pasta produced in-house. There's also a nice selection of wines, beers and cocktails to accompany your Tuscan day in the sun.
Moving south from Italy to Greece, Manoli's (402 E. 900 South, 801-532-3760, ManolisOn9th.com) brunch features dishes with Greek flavors, in addition to classics like eggs Benedict ($13), biscuits and gravy ($13), quiche ($8), Welsh rarebit ($9) and the like. I loved my loukaniko and eggs ($11), which is housemade Greek sausage patties, two over-easy eggs, Greek yogurt and breakfast potatoes, sliced lengthwise and fried till crisp. Manoli's sausage is so much more appealing than typical American pork sausage, with hints of orange zest and herbs. Citrus- and ouzo-cured salmon (dako) with green olive relish, whipped myzithra, shaved red onion and arugula on a toasted baguette ($13) is equally outstanding. Be sure to enjoy a mimosa ($4) or delicious Greek coffee ($4).
For the lightest, fluffiest pancakes on the planet, make your way to Lazy Day Café (2020 E. 3300 South, 801-953-0311, LazyDayCafe.net), where brunch/breakfast is served from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The aforementioned pancakes are lemon pancakes ($7.50), served with buttermilk syrup that is also made in-house. The pork chile verde breakfast burrito ($8.50) is a real crowd-pleaser, as is shrimp and grits ($8.50). Fried scones, beignets, corned beef hash and biscuits with gravy are just another handful of Lazy Day Café's many morning temptations.
Most SLC diners are familiar with Current Fish & Oyster's (279 E. 300 South, 801-326-3474, CurrentFishAndOyster.com) excellent nighttime and lunch menus. But, did you know it now also serves brunch? And, not surprisingly, it's geared toward seafood lovers. So, consider kicking off your meal with oyster shooters ($3) and the heavenly ricotta doughnuts ($5) before moving on to more substantial items like the buttermilk fried chicken with white cheddar and green onion waffle ($15), or the terrific seafood Cobb salad ($19) with prawns, crab, scallops, local egg and more. The Mexican-style shrimp chilaquiles ($14) will light the fire within—a dish of fried tortilla chips and black beans covered in a spicy, dark guajillo sauce, topped with cotija cheese chunks, avocado and a fried egg. The missus also loved her blackened Hawaiian ahi served atop a fresh, gorgeous niçoise salad ($18). And hey, it's hard to beat the $3 mimosas, made with high-quality sparkling wine.
Ditta Caffè (1560 E. 3300 South, 801-410-4696, DittaCaffe.com) is a locally owned deli, bakery and coffee shop that features coffee and espresso roasted by Charming Beard. Stop in for Sunday brunch and find a seat on the patio before digging into one of Ditta's bagel breakfast sandwiches ($5) or the yummy breakfast burrito ($5.15). Housemade pastries start at $2, and there's also a fantastic selection of made-to-order sandwiches featuring meats and cheeses from Caputo's. The tuna on rye ($6.75 with chips or greens) is a must-have.
I doubt there is anybody that doesn't already know about SLC's Pig & A Jelly Jar. But, many might not know that there is now an Ogden location: Pig & A Jelly Jar II (227 E. 25th St., 801-605-8400, PigAndAJellyJar.com). Like at the SLC location, Ogden's Pig II is funky and laid-back, but with super-friendly and professional service. And, you won't have to wait as long for a table in Ogden as you would in SLC. We like to dine out back on the sunny patio, sipping glasses of Big House white wine ($5/glass).
Like the original, Pig II serves hearty, Southern-style brunch dishes such as pulled pork sandwiches ($10), Buffalo chicken sliders ($9), chicken and waffles ($10), Creole pork belly Benedict ($12), biscuits and sausage gravy ($9) and such. I'm especially fond of the spicy fried chicken, served slider-style on flaky homemade buttermilk biscuits with smoky and spicy whole-grain mustard "chow chow" ($10). For something a tad lighter, try the generously portioned curried chicken salad ($10), and be sure to order up a side of fried green tomatoes.