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Annabel's. The experience is worth every single second of the wait. -- Located in Mt. Lookout, Annabel's serves brunch Thurs-Sun, 9am to 2pm. (Image: Clay Griffith / Cincinnati Refined)

Top 12 Brunch Spots in the Queen City

It's just one of those wonderful, universally understood truths that needs no explanation. Things are different on the weekend.

Exhibit A: It's suddenly alright (if not encouraged) to start your day with a hard drink.

Exhibit B: The morning meal transforms into something much more substantial and daring. (And if the dishes involved ever come across as a bit, shall we say, self-important... well, ya know what, it's warranted. This is, after all, the most important meal of the day. On steroids.) Which is why

Exhibit C: During the weekend, it's not just breakfast. It's BRUNCH.
Here are our favorite spots that prove this weekend meal is entirely worth the new name.


Columbia-Tusculum: 3543 Columbia Pkwy.
Brunch served:
Saturdays & Sundays, 9 am to 3 pm
Vibe: Bustling but chill. The pace is perfect (a comfy blend of activity and calm) and the dining space is expansive and airy (plus there's plenty of patio seating).
Must-try: Farmer's Breakfast. Any restaurant that doesn't underestimate the basics and actually gives them their due is alright in my book. And Green Dog nails 'em. When you get into the potatoes and gigundous cathead biscuit (go heavy on the jam), you'll know exactly what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Oakley: 3098 Madison Road
Brunch served: Monday-Friday, 7am to 2:30pm / Saturday & Sunday, 8am to 3pm
Vibe: Modern quirky. Exposed brick, clean lines, and just enough personality to make ya feel right at home. Sleepy Bee is all about local, pesticide-free, non-GMO foods, so you can rest easy knowing that your morning-after meal is gonna be as good for the planet as it is your palate.
Must-try: "The Broakley" breakfast sandwich. (That thing is on-point.)

Oakley: 3200 Madison Rd
Brunch served: Sunday, 11am to 3pm
Casual upscale.
Must-try: Buttermilk Pancakes. (I know, I know. It might seem like a waste of this eatery's pedigree. BUT! I often find that restaurant pancakes pale to the homemade variety. So when you find an actual, real-live anomaly to that rule, I say "Stack them flapjacks high!" Or you could always go with the Red Feather Omelet.)

Oakley: 3235 Madison Rd
Brunch served: Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 2pm
Casual, fun, food-centric. Maribelle's m.o. is "local, sustainable, & deeelicious."
Must-try: I'm always torn between the "Sunny Side Eggs" and the Cheeseburger. (What can I say? My brunch tastes vary.)

Hyde Park: 2710 Erie Ave
Brunch served: Saturday, 11am to 2pm / Sunday, 10am to 3pm
Vibe: Traditional. Housed in a former bank building, this establishment has incorporated various elements of the facility's history into the current aesthetic. Food-wise, everything they do is as solid as the giant old safe in the middle of the room.
Must-try: Shrimp and "Grits." It's the brunch of champions. (Seriously. I had this dish -- along with several others -- directly after the Flying Pig. Hit. The. Spot.)

Downtown: 326 E 8th St
Brunch served: 7am to 4pm (Breakfast served every day)
Chill/ Hip & Happening. (The easiest term to use here would probably be "hipster." But that's super-limiting. The folks are all great and the food is crafted with love, skill, and intention.)
Must-try: Chorizo/ Egg Sandwich. Satisfying but not overly filling, and a little spicy. There's just enough heat to subtly broaden your palate's horizons, without ever leaving the comfort of your breakfast-sammie backyard.

THE GRILLE AT PALM COURT (Hilton - Cincinnati Netherland Plaza)
Downtown: 35 West Fifth St
Brunch served: Sunday, 10:30am to 1:30pm
Impressive! With art-deco décor, jazz music provided by live musicians, and table after sumptuous table of superbly prepared eats, the Grille at Palm Court puts the classy back on the buffet menu.
Must-try: Everything.

FRENCH CRUST CAFE (by Jean Robert)
Over-The-Rhine: 915 Vine St
Brunch served: Monday-Friday, 8am to 10:30am
The name says it all. A little European. A lot attentive to what they put on the plate. Throw on that scarf (the one you've been waiting all summer to wear), order up that latte', and enjoy your mid-morning taste o' Paris.
Must-try: Croque Monsieur with two fried eggs. Voilà!

ewport: 500 Monmouth St.
Brunch served:
Saturdays & Sundays, 9 am to 3pm
Vibe: Laid-back. Folks (customers and employees alike) just seem to have a great time here. What can we say? Good times are infectious. And good food is... well, it's pretty great, right?
Must-try: Mokka French Toast. It comes battered with sweet corn flakes and topped with crème brulle pastry cream and fresh bananas. Bon appétit!

521 Main St.
Brunch served: Sundays, 10am to 2pm
Vibe: Southern & Charming. This place has an enticing hint of that old-school mystique typically associated with places like Charleston, Savannah, or New Orleans. It does a brisk trade, but the generally buoyant atmosphere helps you never easy, breezy, and never rushed.
Must-try: Blue Ribbon goes to the Otto's Benedict. Close runner-up: The B.L.F.G.T. (a classic BLT with a Fried Green Tomato twist).

Northside: 4579 Hamilton Ave.
Brunch served:
Sundays, 11am to 2pm
Vibe: Buzzy/ Boozy/ Beloved. Fans come for the food but stay for the experience. And with on-point Bloody Maries, mimosas, and one of the best jukeboxes in town (or, if you're lucky, a funk/soul DJ), it's easy to see why.
Must-try: Pork carnitas tacos. Or the 20-layer crepe cake. OR the "Hot Mess." The menu changes a bit every week, so you might have to shoot from the hip on this one.

Mt. Adams: 1077 Celestial St.
Brunch served: Sundays, 11am to 3 pm
Vibe: Hip & Happening. With the bar churning out phenomenal drinks, and a DJ spinning old school funk & southern gospel, it'd be easy for the food to play second fiddle. That is, fortunately enough, not the case! This place does some truly stellar things when it comes to brunch.
Must-try: The "Double Bypass." (Don't be scared. Or do. Either way, it's worth it.)