From tiramisu French toast to sizzling shakshuka and down-home shrimp with grits, brunch can be just about any treat you’re craving. Maybe it’s paired with a steaming mug of organic coffee or with a sparkling mimosa — or both.
No matter your mood, Pittsburgh has a great and growing array of eateries offering exceptional brunches. We’ve explored fine dining restaurants, casual favorites and surprising new eateries to bring you this list of two dozen fabulous brunch destinations.
Spirits & Tales, Oakland
Sunday brunch at a hotel restaurant was once a stuffy, formal affair for a semi-captive audience of overnight guests. Spirits & Tales, perched atop the new Oaklander Hotel with commanding views of the neighborhood, is definitely not that. Oysters are a specialty here, as are the house-made breakfast sausages and cinnamon chocolate babka buns. Enjoy subtle French touches, like the Jambon-Beurre sandwich with Serrano ham, Comté cheese and kraut on a baguette, or the Pain Perdu (French toast) with squash apricot marmalade and coriander almond crunch. Brunch is 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Con Alma, Shadyside
Like the Dizzy Gillespie tune it’s named for, Con Alma bops to its own Latin-inflected rhythm. There’s the arroz con huevo frita y pollo, a Cuban chicken dish served with pigeon peas, piquillo peppers and a fried egg, and an array of arepas (Venezuelan sandwiches) on sweet yellow corn buns. There are also several options of chilaquiles, a Mexican tortilla dish topped with eggs, chicken or jackfruit. For drinks, get the Old Cuban with local Kingfly Bliss Spiced Rum. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, with live jazz from noon to 3 p.m. On a recent Sunday, we feasted before catching Dwayne Dolphin, Jevon Rushton and Max Leake, three standouts on the local jazz scene.
Eleven, Strip District
One of Pittsburgh’s best restaurants for more than a decade is still going strong, and their brunch is a great reason to go back if you haven’t been there in awhile. The Eleven Burger has been one of the best burgers in town for many years running. If you’re in a more breakfast-y mood, there’s the Prosciutto Cotto, Ramp & Cheddar Omelette with bacon or sausage, and the Polenta Waffle with raspberry compote and candied pecans.
Federal Galley, North Side
Brunch is on the menu at all the current pop-ups at the North Side restaurant incubator and food hall Federal Galley. Which Came First makes Nutella Stuffed French Toast, Southern Avocado Toast and a great mess of a chicken sandwich with sausage gravy, bacon and a dippy egg on it. And Guapo, a Southwestern spot, has the Sheepherders Breakfast — crispy papitas layered with sharp white cheddar, chiles and a choice of proteins like carne adovada or slow-braised roast beef. Provision PGH features a Croque Madame sandwich, with (again) that Pittsburgh touch — a dippy egg. Brunch starts at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Every weekend, Lawrenceville’s cool, subterranean nightclub/concert venue opens for daytime brunch. There’s a hot bar with buttermilk biscuits and gravy, zucchini fritters, quiche, French toast sticks and beignets, and a cold bar with yogurt and granola, fresh fruit and four seasonal salads with veggies, grains and “pickled things, lentils and legumes.” The buffet is free for kids younger than four, so you’ll see lots of them running around. Also, there’s pizza (Spirit has excellent pizza day or night) with both a meat and vegan option. Often there’s a DJ, plus mimosas and seasonal Bloody Marys for the adults. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bonfire Food & Drink, South Side
The South Side was once among Pittsburgh’s premier destinations for great food; the new Bonfire is making a case for it once again. This multilevel restaurant from chef Chris Bonfili (Avenue B) has brunch options ranging from the familiar (chicken and waffles with greens, pickles and hot honey) to the offbeat, like the breakfast calzone. Other winners include the spiced French Toast with rum, bananas and walnuts and the ginger BBQ pork belly, served with grits, kimchi, peanuts and scallions. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fairlane, Mt. Lebanon
Once an auto shop, then a butcher shop, Fairlane is now an ambitious restaurant drawing on flavors from all over the world, with a spacious, airy indoor/outdoor layout. Brunch comes with a range of options that are mostly traditional, like brioche French toast and biscuit Eggs Benedict. The standout, though, is shakshuka, an Israeli/North African dish featuring eggs baked in a tomato, pepper and garlic sauce. Fairlane serves it with a grilled baguette from La Gourmandine. Brunch is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
Scratch Food & Beverage, Troy Hill
The brunch menu here is helpfully divided into three sections: Best Intentions, No Guilt and No Shame. Thanks, Scratch! I feel better about my choices already. The menu touches on all parts of the globe, from Japanese pancakes to a Creole Benedict, plus shakshuka and even Pittsburgh’s own little-known specialty, turkey Devonshire — basically, a turkey sandwich submerged in Béchamel sauce. Sunday brunch is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with live jazz starting at 1 p.m.
Pie For Breakfast, Oakland
Chef Trevett Hooper, who owns the acclaimed Butterjoint and Legume next door, envisioned Pie for Breakfast like this: “Imagine if a truck stop and a European coffee shop had a baby.” He somehow managed to create just that, offering classic comfort food with locally-sourced ingredients (try the meatloaf with cheesy grits) alongside creative dishes like the Fancy Omelette, featuring escarole, shishito peppers, onion jam, raclette cheese, home fries and Appalachian salt-rising bread. Brunch includes Commonplace Coffee and either a mimosa, a mule (Moscow or Kentucky) or a Bloody Mary. Plus, of course, there’s pie. Breakfast is served all day, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Onion Maiden, Allentown
Another vegan place that’s so good even carnivores won’t miss their eggs and bacon. Bonus: heavy metal puns galore. Sample dishes include “Fig Destroyer,” toasted raisin bread topped with cashew cream cheese, figs, blueberries and cinnamon with a chrysanthemum syrup drizzle (referencing the band Pig Destroyer). There’s also “(Sc)ramble On,” a tofu scramble taco with potato home fries, smoked maple shiitake mushrooms and shredded cabbage in a corn tortilla (love the Led Zeppelin reference). Brunch is served Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Threadbare Cider House & Meadery, Spring Garden
This out-of-the-way spot on the North Side specializes in cider and mead but also features a way-better-than-necessary kitchen. In fact, the food is worth the trip, particularly for brunch. Breakfast pizzas are the specialty: Try the Threadbare hash pizza topped with mozzarella, smoked potato, onion, eggplant and scrambled egg. Or the beer-braised greens pizza, with smoked ham hock, mozzarella and a sunny-side-up egg. Platters include pickle (featuring whiskey barrel-fermented bread and butter pickles, seasonal vegetables and eggs) and meat (a charcuterie plate of country pate, genovetta, coppa secca, capicola and pickled grain mustard). Brunch service is Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of Pittsburgh’s most stylish dining rooms sits on the second floor of the Fairmont Hotel, and the food is just as good as the decor. You can pair chicken chilaquiles (served with poblano peppers, avocado and fried egg) with a grapefruit tarragon mimosa. Or order huevos rancheros with duck fat refried beans and sip a Rise and Grind cocktail, featuring Hazelnut Espresso Vodka and coffee. Even the French toast is elevated, crowned with macerated cherries. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Zenith, South Side
This shop, packed to the rafters with art and antiques, also has a nice little café inside. It’s known for sending Pittsburgh’s vegan/vegetarian community home with full bellies — and often with some cool vintage stuff as well. The menu changes weekly, including dishes like vegan portobello mushrooms stuffed with spicy chipotle mashed potatoes, and a vegan smokey maple seitan sandwich. But the dessert table may be the main draw. These vegan desserts are definitely not pale imitations of their buttery cousins, so indulge. And along with the food, everything in the room — from the lamps to the charmingly mismatched tableware — can be purchased. Brunch is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.