In the 1895 Hunter’s Weekly article “Brunch: A Plea,” British author Guy Beringer coined a new word and begged for a mid-morning Sunday meal that combined the best parts of breakfast and lunch. His creation, brunch, has spent the last 120 years growing into one of the week’s biggest meal occasions – one that has stayed true to Beringer’s original vision. “Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well. Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,” he wrote. “It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings; it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”1 Today’s diners agree – about 40% see brunch as a fun, engaging social meal that includes family and friends, according to Technomic.2
There is no question that the words breakfast and lunch combined become brunch. But there has been some recent debate about whether the word brunch refers to the combination of breakfast and lunch foods or the hours the meal is served. Some argue that having one service time with both breakfast and lunch dishes offered defines brunch. Some deep thinkers offer that it has more to do with having one late morning or early afternoon meal, rather than both a breakfast and a lunch. And even deeper thinkers suggest that it’s tied to the literal definition of breaking your fast (break-fast being the first meal of the new day) at a later time of day and replacing lunch. Whichever side of this issue you choose to side, you have to agree that there must be plenty of thinkers available to linger over brunch, with this occupying their time.
Throngs of urban hipsters have resuscitated the old Sunday-only, brunch buffet, into an all-weekend, à la carte affair that’s gaining new ground – good for both diners and restaurateurs. 68% of consumers say they eat brunch on Sundays, 49% enjoy it on Saturdays, and a surprising 24% of consumers say they brunch on weekdays2 – meaning a quarter of your consumers are looking for brunch opportunities between Monday and Friday. To keep up with consumer demand, savvy operators are extending weekday breakfast hours into the afternoon to keep tables turning and maximize profits.
Restaurants are also rolling out reimagined brunch menus – with no basic bacon-and-eggs combo platters in sight. Instead, chefs are raising the bar with dishes that combine breakfast and lunch in creative new ways, from authentic global items to twists on down-home favorites. And of course, pork is perfect on the brunch menu. Bacon, sausage and ham are always favorites, but pork has a lot to offer beyond the basics. Cuts like pig ear and pork shoulder are moving to mid-morning, and exciting preparations like stew, chili and pasta keep customers coming back for more.
Take a look at restaurants that are building a better brunch:
Tasty n Sons
This neighborhood eatery from Chef John Gorham in North Portland, OR serves inventive “new American diner” cuisine – and is Portland’s go-to brunch spot. Their Burmese Red Pork Stew is a local favorite – marinated pork shoulder and belly braised in a syrup of caramel, garlic, ginger and chili paste, served over steamed rice and topped with chopped pickled eggs.
Chef Rick Lopez’s modern Mexican restaurant in Austin, TX has one of the top brunch menus in the city and a loyal brunch following to boot. Their Chilangos and Pambazo dishes start with their house-made chorizo – the Chilangos are paired with poached eggs, a quinoa croquette, baby arugula and salsa verde, while the Pambazo is served with black bean puree, Mexican crema, cotija, baby romaine, avocado, duck fat potatoes and guajillo-tomatillo salsa.
This is where Nashville, TN likes to hang out, all day long. The social spot from Chef Josh Habiger serves breakfast, lunch and dinner all week, with extended brunch hours on the weekend. Their Broken Yolk Tacos are made with pork green chili, crisp bacon and fresh avocado on tortillas, topped with a fried, gooey egg.
Chef Sean Brock celebrates modern Southern ingredients at his Charleston, SC restaurant. The menus change daily, and they’re full of inventive dishes that stay true to Husk’s southern roots. Diners are particularly fond of the Kentuckyaki Glazed Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps, paired with sweet marinated cucumbers and red onion.
This Indianapolis, IN restaurant is dedicated to unconventional, creative morning meals. Chef Jonathan Brooks offers counter service coffee and pastries from 7am-9am, with full-service brunch from 9am-3pm every day except Tuesday. The City Ham and Gruyere Dutch Baby Pancake is definitely a standout, paired with cranberry-red onion mostarda and grapes.
With a ramen shop on the first floor and a Japanese izakaya, or casual bar, on the second, Washington, D.C.’s Daikaya has something for everyone. Chef Yama Jewayni’s izakaya brunch menu is an innovative fusion of global-inspired cuisine – notably, the Sisig, a Filipino braised pork hash skillet with an onsen egg, liver mayo and kalamansi lime.
Chef Abraham Conlon’s Chicago, IL hotspot serves up the cuisine of the Chinese region of Macau, showcasing Portuguese, Indian, Southeast Asian and African flavors in the process. Their brunch menu is available on Sunday, as well as for lunch on Friday and Saturday. The Minchi Hash and the Zhu-pa-bao are favorites. The Minchi Hash is made with stirfried minced pork and beef with a sunny egg, coconut rice and greens, and the Zhu-pa-bao is a juicy pork chop sandwich on house bread with crab chips.
Scopa Italian Roots
This Venice, CA restaurant from Chef Antonia Lofaso stays true to its name with a menu full of classic Italian flavors presented in new, exciting ways. Their Fried Eggs dish is anything but basic, made with a hash of tender pork belly, white beans, rapini and tomato topped with a fried egg.
Chef Maria Hines has created a casual, welcoming trattoria in Seattle, WA that features Italian cuisine paired with local Pacific Northwest ingredients. Their brunch service is a local favorite and features bottomless mimosas to pair with the creative menu. The Red Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara is a brunch menu star, made with Skagit River Ranch bacon.
2Technomic’s Breakfast Consumer Trend Report