There’s a lot to like about brunch. There’s booze and pancakes, and everybody’s in a better-than-usual mood because it’s the weekend. The only issue is finding a place that’ll motivate you to get out of bed and put pants on before noon. These are those places. So the next time you’re planning a brunch for nine friends who want to drink, or your sister who’s visiting and wants the “full Southern experience,” you know where to turn.
On the days you’re using brunch as an excuse to get some friends together to day drink, Ticonderoga Club is the perfect place to go. Start with a cocktail, like their take on a gin Bloody Mary or the Ticonderoga Cup, which is a refreshing and deceivingly boozy way to start your day. They only serve brunch on Sundays, so get there early, chase your cocktails with huevos rancheros or a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, and then either keep things going with another round at Watchman’s next door or go home to drunkenly organize your shirts by color before the week gets started.
There aren’t many good bagel options in Atlanta, so when Emerald City opened we were cautiously excited. Thankfully their New York-style bagels hold up and it’s become a go-to of ours for picking up round circles of dough. The East Atlanta spot has traditional sandwich favorites like whitefish salad, gravlax, and Scottish-style lox, and if the weather and your timing add up just right, you can eat at one of their few sidewalk tables. If not, get a handful of napkins and head to your car for immediate consumption.
El Tesoro in Kirkwood is Atlanta’s best breakfast taco spot, with options like migas and chorizo con papas in your choice of corn, flour, or homemade spent-grain tortillas. Get two or three tacos with a horchata iced coffee and sit at a picnic table with a bright tablecloth in the sunshine while you pretend you’re in an ad with the tagline “Come to Atlanta, we have breakfast tacos now.” The last order for breakfast is taken at 10:50am, even on the weekends, but if you don’t make the cut, their lunch tacos are also exceptional.
People in Atlanta take breakfast chicken biscuits pretty seriously and Buttermilk Kitchen’s with sweet-tea-brined fried chicken are a really solid way to start a morning. This Buckhead spot is one of the best for a brunch that you’ll be guaranteed to need a nap after. The rest of the menu has things like a pimento cheese and Benton’s smoked bacon omelet and Ray’s waffle burger. Though when you’re more in the mood for something not built on a foundation of butter and bacon, get the vegan cereal bowl with almond-chia pudding.
The General Muir serves New York classics like latkes, pastrami hash, and bagels and lox, along with a few other things that’ll make you feel like you’re in a Seinfeld episode where everyone naps at the end. Since it’s right next to Emory, it’s always packed first thing in the morning, but this is one of the rare brunch spots that’s actually worth the wait.
Sun In My Belly is an indoor/outdoor cafe in Kirkwood that works regardless of whether you woke up strangely early and want to beat the morning rush, or turn brunch into an afternoon activity (they’re open until 3pm daily). Find a seat on the patio and order one of their Capri Sun cocktails while you look over the menu. Make sure to get some lavender biscuits to share and the pimento BLT if you’re especially hungry.
Ria’s Bluebird feels like a classic diner that was taken over by hippies. The staff is super friendly and always one step ahead when you need a refill of anything, and regardless of whether you’ve gone paleo or vegan this week, there will be something on the menu for you. Grab a seat at the counter and get the slow-cooked brisket with poached eggs or tofu scramble, along with some buttermilk pancakes - which are the best in the city - to share. There’s a wait here seven days a week, but just walk around the corner to Revelator for a coffee in the meantime.
Your parents are in town and you need a place that they’ll like, but where you can subtly treat a hangover too. Enter South City Kitchen in Buckhead. It’s a bit more upscale than where you’d go to recount your night with your friends, but between their menu of Southern comfort food and the covered patio, there’ll be plenty to preoccupy your folks while you nurse yourself back to health. Go for the country ham benedict or cheddar biscuits and gravy, and be glad that they didn’t want to meet before 11am.
Unless you’re up early, it’s usually too humid to eat brunch outside. But when that rare weekend morning comes when you can sit on a patio without worrying about melting, head to Einstein’s in Midtown. This place has one the best brunch menus in the city, with everything from bourbon and banana french toast to manchego fritters. They have a Bloody Mary bar too, if you feel like starting the day on a boozy note while you’re reminded what a breeze feels like.
Unlike at lunch or dinner when it’s all about oysters and lobster rolls, brunch at Beetlecat is all about the donuts. The flavors range from the Buford Highway with pork floss and salted caramel to the Green Machine with basil and pistachio, or you can go with the burger or fried chicken on a donut if you want something more substantial. Their brunch cocktails are great too.
You and your friends leaned a little too heavily into bottomless brunches last month, and now you want somewhere more low-key to spend your Sunday. Babs is a little cafe in Midtown that you might walk past without noticing, but that’s part of the charm and what makes it feel like you discovered something secret. They serve a mix of brunch favorites with Middle Eastern twists, like an Israeli omelette with smoked salmon, and you can get some work done in the small garden outside if you’re feeling motivated afterwards.
There’s always a wait at Murphy’s in Virginia Highlands, but it’s worth it just for the complimentary biscuits and muffins with seasonal jams. This place also has a great wine selection, so you can have a glass while you wait and look through the menu, which includes everything from pancakes to corned beef hash for those who want breakfast, and sandwiches and salads for the people who don’t. Even better, brunch goes until 4pm, so you can turn off all seven of your alarms and head here whenever you wake up.
There’s one main reason you go to The Nook and it’s the tater tot nachos. The breakfast version with sausage gravy and an egg has the power to bring you back from the dead, and if that doesn’t work, split one of their 128-ounce fishbowl drinks with your friends. There are also normal-sized cocktails for the days when a Mega Mule with 16 ounces of vodka isn’t required.
King and Duke is always a great choice, but if you don’t want to spend a ton when you go, brunch is a good alternative to a big dinner here. Sit at the bar if you come solo or ask for a table outside for a bigger group. Either way, make sure you get something sweet to start with, like the cinnamon rolls or warm doughnuts, before splitting the burger or the hash.
With its wood paneling and long counter, Home Grown looks like where your dad took you for breakfast when you were a kid and told you stories that started with, “Back in my day.” This 70s-style Reynoldstown diner serves Southern comfort food, like steak hash and a pimiento cheese sandwich on Texas toast, but if you want something green on your table, they have a few healthier sides that come straight from their garden out back too.
Some weekends you wake up wanting something healthy, whether it’s because you got roped into training for a half marathon with your office, or because you feel guilty that you took the elevator one floor yesterday. When that happens, go to Recess in Krog St. Market. Most of the food at this tiny counter is vegetarian and at brunch they have things like a breakfast grain bowl and a golden chia bowl, along with an almond date shake that’s reason enough to come here any day of the week.
Over in West Midtown, you’ll find the appropriately named West Egg Cafe. This place is known for their fried chicken biscuits, but if you missed dinner last night and want to make up for it at brunch, go with the Peachtree Plate, which comes with two eggs, bacon, pimento cheese grits, fried green tomatoes, and, of course, a biscuit. This place gets slammed on the weekends, but they’re open until 5pm and after you put your name down, just walk up the street to Brash Coffee and grab a cold brew while you wait.
Maybe your mom is feeling nostalgic or your friend always tells you they were born in the wrong decade. Either way, take them both to Folk Art. With vintage signs all over the brick interior and a massive menu, it’s a great choice for a casual brunch in Inman Park. The sweet potato waffle with fried chicken and sweet potato beignets are two essentials, but it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu.
This biscuit shop started in Charleston, but over the past few years, it’s become one the best brunch spots in Virginia Highlands. They have seven different types of biscuits, each of which you can turn into a sandwich or cover in gravy. Seating is limited, but the biscuits hold up well if you’re getting them to go. Just make sure to get an extra for yourself.
For the days when you want to use brunch as a jumping off point for day drinking, Mezcalitos in Grant Park is where you should start. Their huge patio is dog-friendly and especially good for groups, and their huevos rancheros is one of our favorite brunch dishes in the city. They also serve a wide range of margaritas, which will make working from home on Monday sound like an increasingly good idea as the day goes on.
Bread and Butterfly is about as close as you can get to a French bistro without leaving Inman Park, or really Atlanta for that matter. This all-day spot has a big marble bar that’s conveniently located next to all of the pastries, but try to get a spot on the glass-encased patio instead if you can. Food-wise, the menu changes throughout the day, but the quiche, omelette, and crepes are what we usually make it out of bed for.
Waffle House is an American institution with each one as beautiful as the next. Everyone, rich and poor, can agree that few things are more comforting than a Waffle House breakfast, whether it’s actually breakfast time or 3am after one too many drinks. Order as much as you want because it’s impossible to spend more than $15 (and that’s a stretch), and at a minimum make sure to smother and cover your hash browns.