Arguably, we all look forward in some form or fashion to the various meals of the day, but generally speaking, breakfast, lunch and dinner are more often than not an average affair defined by daily routines and family budgets. Perhaps that’s why brunch has an almost magical quality to it – a shining luster that lunch and dinner typically lack. For me, brunch is synonymous with vacation; it’s a meal that breaks routine. It is leisure at its finest. And from unusual and boisterous to upscale and refined, the city’s various restaurants greet brunch goers of all types with menus that celebrate this exceptional meal. Here is a small sampling from around the city.
The French Quarter
As a main hub for visitors to our city, it’s no wonder the French Quarter is replete with noteworthy brunches. A calling card of the French Quarter brunch is live jazz, often in the form of a roaming ensemble strumming guitars and banjos or playing horns and clarinets.
“The jazz trio that strolls around the restaurant is fabulous!” says Julie Brignac, Marketing Director of Mr. B’s Bistro. “They make Sunday Jazz Brunch even more fun.” Mr. B’s Bistro offers its Jazz Brunch on Sundays from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. The restaurant is known for its rich Brandy Milk Punch made with creamy vanilla ice cream, but you can also find the usual brunch “eye openers” of bloody Marys, mimosas and specialty cocktails.
A popular menu favorite is the bacon-wrapped Shrimp & Grits entrée, sautéed jumbo Gulf shrimp wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and served with cream stone-ground yellow grits with red-eye gravy. Other big hits include the Fried Oysters on the Half Shell appetizer and Mr. B’s Barbequed Shrimp, a signature dish of the restaurant. Satisfy a sweet tooth with the Bread Pudding, a Brennan family recipe served warm with Irish whiskey sauce.
The Brennan name runs throughout the Quarter, and according to Christian Pendleton, General Manager at Brennan’s, brunch as we know it is a derivation of “Breakfast at Brennan’s,” Owen Brennan’s answer to the 1948 best-seller, Dinner at Antoine’s.
“Before then, people didn’t really do multiple courses or cocktails with breakfasts, and what Brennan’s started, other restaurants adapted for Saturdays and Sundays,” says Pendleton. Breakfast at Brennan’s is available from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on weekends.
LEFT, Brennan's Eggs Hussarde with housemade English muffins, coffee cured Canadian bacon, hollandaise and marchand de vin sauce. RIGHT, Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary at the Palace Café
Popular egg dishes include the Eggs Sardou and Eggs Hussarde, a Brennan’s original. Diners opting for items on the sweeter side can experience the tableside preparation of Bananas Foster or the Crêpes Fitzgerald. A play on Crêpes Suzette, Crêpes Fitzgerald are folded with Creole cream cheese and seasonal fruits flambéed with a liqueur.
Styled after a lively Parisian café, Palace Café offers a festive and energetic brunch from the foot of the French Quarter on Canal Street on Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The à la carte menu ranges from soups and salads to Haute Creole Benedicts, seafood entrées and specialty cocktails, including the Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary and the Build-Your-Own Mimosa. A roaming jazz trio accompanies the meal 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
“We have the best Bloody Mary and Bubbles Bar in town,” says Ken Kraft, Assistant General Manager. “It features over 10 creative house-infused vodkas, our own pickled garnishes, a sauce buffet and our own Creole seasoning rim. We offer five different juices for your mimosa with a liqueur splash, sugar rim and fresh berries.” According to Kraft, the drink bars, roaming jazz trio and Canal Street café-style seating define and distinguish Palace Café’s brunch.
While most brunch menus are à la carte, The Court of Two Sisters offers a taste-it-all approach with its daily Jazz Brunch buffet 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Located at 613 Royal St., The Court of Two Sisters is known for its spacious French Quarter courtyard and historic, elegant dining rooms. An abundant feast of hot and cold dishes includes everything from soups, salads and cheeses to made-to-order eggs and omelets, entrées such as grits and grillades or etouffee, and fresh-baked breads.
As with each of these French Quarter restaurants (and most of the following), reservations are recommended at The Court of Two Sisters, especially on weekends and holidays such as Mother’s Day (May 8).
Horn’s, a corner neighborhood restaurant, serves up what Manager Addison Suderman describes as “New Americana cuisine with a South American twist.” Open daily at 7 a.m. for breakfast and brunch on weekends, Horn’s offers an eclectic foodie experience where meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans can dine amicably and extravagantly to their hearts’ content.
For brunch, diners can expect a shortened version of the weekly breakfast menu, which features favorites such as the Waffle Cochon – a cornbread waffle topped with pulled pork, chimichurri sauce and pickled peppers – as well as the Tex-Mex Slammer, which Suderman calls “a big, delicious mountain of food – hash browns with black beans, salsa, cheese, eggs, plantains, avocado, salsa and sour cream.” Taste-worthy specialty cocktails include the gin-based Ginger Baby and tequila-based Velvet Elvis with hints of grapefruit and lavender.
CBD / Warehouse District
Unassuming and quaint, a small farm-to-fork restaurant is making a big splash on the local brunch scene. According to regulars, Red Gravy looks like a New York City bistro, which isn’t a surprise considering its owner and self-described “ring leader,” Roseann Melisi Rosstoker, hails from the area. Voted No. 1 Best Brunch Spot in New Orleans on OpenTable in 2016, the restaurant was also listed on The Culture Trip as a Top 10 brunch spot in the neighborhood.
Influenced by her Italian roots, Rosstoker’s menu features everything from its namesake red gravy and family-recipe meatballs to her Sicilian Egg Pie, Praline Pancakes, Waffles & Wings and Tuscan Shrimp & Grits. Libations include Witch’s Coffee (with a Patron chocolate chile liqueur) and mimosa flights made with Italian Prosecco and three fresh juices. Closed on Tuesdays, the restaurant is six days a week, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., and features live music on weekends.
LEFT, Sicilian Egg Pie and a Mimosa at Red Gravy. RIGHT, Creole Fried Rice with Seared Tuna, Papa-Toms Tomato and Cheese Curd Grits at Annunciation
While some diners may be skeptical of a pasta-laden brunch, another CBD restaurant is ready to convince that brunch is boundary-less. Pastas are in the spotlight at Josephine Estelle, the restaurant housed in the new Ace Hotel. Opened by James Beard Award Finalists Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman and with executive chef Phillip Mariano at the helm, the restaurant will feature an Italian-inspired menu highlighting flavors of the American South.
According to chef Phillip, the house-made pastas are some of the restaurant’s top brunch items. The Agnolotti, for example, is stuffed with sweet breads and served with chanterelle mushrooms, egg yolk, black pepper and Parmesan. The Rigatoni is served with a Calabrian sugo (a spicy meat sauce), fontina cheese, pickled peppers and panna grata (breadcrumbs). The menu satisfies more breakfast-leaning palates, too. The popular JE Breakfast features pork belly, fried eggs, potato frico and salsa verde. Brunch is available at Josephine Estelle on weekends from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
More proof that brunch welcomes the unexpected, Chef Jacob Cureton of Annunciation Restaurant incorporates unique interpretations and combinations of foods in his self-described “nostalgic” approach to cuisine. After spending a month in China and eating a fair amount of fried rice for breakfast, chef Jacob decided to marry Asian and Louisiana flavors through his Creole Fried Rice with Seared Tuna dish featuring local rice and vegetables (the “Cajun trinity”), white miso and an Andouille-seasoned rare tuna.
Another popular dish is the Noisette Waffle with smoke-fried chicken, garnished with local arugula or micro sorrel and drizzled with a sweet and sour gastrique made from Steen’s cane vinegar and a caramel glaze. Brunch is offered 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Bourbon-focused Kenton’s offers a couple of ways to experience its cuisine, from the à la carte menu to the $24 two-course Kenton’s Brunch that includes freshly made donuts, choice of brunch entrée and an eye-opening cocktail.
“With large windows looking out on Magazine Street and Nashville Avenue, the restaurant is bathed with light, which makes for an ideal brunch environment whether you’re seated at the long marble bar or in the cozy booths and banquets in one of our dining rooms,” says Owner Sean Josephs. Likewise, the large outdoor patio is popular on cool-weather days and a great place to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Chipotle Bourbon Bloody Mary or a Bourbon Milk Fizz. Decadent dishes include the Pulled Pork over Crispy Grit Cake with Sauce Mornay and the Smoked Brisket & Eggs with Crispy Potatoes and a Biscuit.
LEFT, Kenton's Grilled Flatbread with Smoked Drum and a Bloody Mary. RIGHT, Crawfish Beignets at Katie's Restaurant & Bar
Brunch is only offered one day a week at Mid-City’s Katie’s Restaurant & Bar, so while you can usually expect a short wait for a table, the ample sidewalk and cool drinks are perfect for building anticipation for your meal. Offered on Sundays 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Katie’s brunch offers a smattering of possibilities: New Orleans-inspired egg dishes such as frittatas, benedicts and omelets, sweet and savory dishes such as the Crawfish Beignet and Scrumptious Pain Perdu, as well as lunch items and weekly specials.
“We have a pretty large brunch menu with a few more lunchtime items, and patrons aren’t limited to eggs only. There’s pizza, chargrilled oysters and poor boys available, too,” says Katherine Denman, Co-Owner. Some of the best menu items, she says, are the weekly specials on the board, such as the Chicken or the Egg and Fried Fish & Grits. Additionally, bottomless drink specials are available for keeping your cup full and your meal relaxed.
Mr. B’s Bistro 201 Royal St., 523-2078, MrBsBistro.com • Brennan’s 417 Royal St., 525-9711, BrennansNewOrleans.com • Palace Café 605 Canal St., 523-1661, PalaceCafe.com • The Court of Two Sisters 613 Royal St., 522-7261, CourtofTwoSisters.com • Red Gravy 125 Camp St., 561-8844, RedGravyCafe.com • Josephine Estelle 600 Carondelet St., 930-3070, JosephineEstelle.com • Annunciation Restaurant 1016 Annunciation St., 568-0245, AnnunciationRestaurant.com • Horn’s 1940 Dauphine St., 459-4676, HornsNOLA.com • Kenton’s 5757 Magazine St., 891-1177, KentonsRestaurant.com • Katie’s Restaurant & Bar 3701 Iberville St., 488-6582, KatiesInMidCity.com