The Complete Guide to Brunch
For restaurant and café owners, your guide to brunch needs to pack a heavy punch. There's a lot you should know to prepare for serving up a great brunch menu.
Lucky for you, that's what this guide is for! Read on to learn everything about creating the perfect brunch, preparing a brunch menu, decorating your brunch space, using restaurant marketing plans, and more.
If you haven’t learned the answer to, “What is brunch?” today’s the day you’ll learn all about it. For restaurant customers, you’ll learn about what you can expect at brunch, from delicious foods to cocktail drinks. For restaurant and café owners, this brunch guide will teach you the finer points of what brunch is all about.
Overall, brunch is the ideal mix of breakfast and lunch foods. Brunch foods and drinks can include anything from pancakes to pasta, from cocktails to coffee. That’s really just scratching the surface. We’ll walk you through everything to do with brunch, and once you reach the end of this guide, you’ll be an expert.
What Is The History of Brunch?
The history of brunch isn’t something we can nail down to a T. We wish we knew who we could thank for this perfectly timed meal. Since we can’t, we can enjoy some brunch while we learn about its possible origin stories.
Two common theories are:
- Brunch came from the English tradition of enjoying a large meal before a hunting trip.
- Brunch started with the Catholic practice of fasting before mass, to prepare to enjoy a large meal after mass.
One more traceable theory is that brunch came about from the number of cafés that sell brunch foods and drinks. This theory is specifically tied to New York, with places like The NoMad and other spots featuring great brunch menus.
What Is Brunch Food?
Brunch food is the best of breakfast and lunch combined. There are many different brunch menu types. From brunch served at home to bottomless brunch, to themed brunches, the variety means there is a brunch place for everyone.
If you’re designing a brunch menu and looking for inspiration, this list of the top seven food options is a good place to start:
7. Mini Frittatas
6. French Toast
5. Coffee Cake
3. Eggs Benedict
2. Banana Bread
What Are Brunch Cocktails?
Of course, you’ll need something to pair with those great brunch foods. Brunch wouldn’t be complete without popular cocktails.
You don’t need to serve alcoholic beverages at brunch, coffee, tea, and different juices certainly have their place. That said, if you want to serve cocktails, these seven cocktails (including some great summer cocktails) are some good options.
7. Frozen Mudslide
6. Kir Royale
4. Strawberry Margarita
3. Rosé Lemonade
2. Bloody Mary
What Time Is Brunch Served?
Typically brunch is served from 11am to 2pm. This covers the time that people are looking to roll out of bed on the weekend and enjoy brunch at a relaxed pace. Though brunch is often reserved for the weekend, you’ll find restaurants that serve brunch during these hours throughout the week.
What Is Bottomless Brunch?
For people looking to enjoy brunch, and people who run restaurant operations that include brunch, the term “bottomless brunch” is an important thing to understand. Generally speaking, bottomless brunch is a term to describe a brunch meal that has one inclusive price. Bottomless brunch often includes a buffet-style meal and unlimited drinks (often from a well drinks list).
Now that you’ve got a good overview of brunch, it’s time to dive deeper into everything that brunch is. This guide to brunch is all-inclusive. One of the most important things you can know as a brunch fan or café owner is the ins and outs of brunch menus.
A good brunch menu means a lot of things depending on who is asking and where brunch is being served. From home brunch, to bars (even the oldest bars in America), to small cafés, a brunch menu can vary.
The menu types for brunch you’re interested in will vary depending on what you’re looking for in a brunch menu. If you’re a restaurant owner, you’ll be looking to learn about what you should serve, how to price a menu, and when you should serve brunch.
For serving brunch at home, you’ll be looking for brunch menu items, and perhaps themes to design your brunch around. If you’re just looking to learn more about brunch, well, all of this is interesting information.
What Is a Typical Brunch Menu?
A typical brunch menu is a mix of breakfast and lunch foods that work well together. It’ll also have cocktails and drinks that work for any time of day. Some typical brunch foods are:
- Eggs Benedict
- French toast
- Belgian waffles
- Smoked salmon on a bagel
- Avocado toast
- Brunch casserole
- Cinnamon rolls
- Coffee cake (or make it a whiskey cake or rum cake)
All those food options are always improved by some good cocktail choices. A mixed drink can make any good brunch even better. Some great brunch cocktails include:
- Mint grapefruit mojitos
- Kir Royale
- Sangria lemonade
- Rosé lemonade
- Frozen mudslide
- Raspberry mimosa
- Blackberry champagne mule
- Strawberry margarita
- Sweet tea sangria
- Frozen orange prosecco
- Bloody Mary
- Irish coffee
- Sea breeze
- Salty dog
- French 75
- Champagne punch
- Honeydew margarita
- Gin and tonic
- Wine spritzers
- Blueberry mojito
That said, you don’t have to enjoy alcohol to enjoy drinks at brunch. Some non-alcoholic options are:
- Coffees (coffee statistics get a boost from brunch spots)
- Orange juice
- Iced tea
From brunch cafés to home brunch settings, any of these brunch options are likely to show up on a menu that everyone will enjoy.
Of course, there are plenty of other options for what you can serve and what you can expect at brunch. This list is pretty well-rounded, but there’s always more to learn. Beyond learning about other brunch menu options, it’s also good to learn about café and bar design for brunch.
The themes, menus, and overall aesthetic of brunch call for a very specific type of location. That location is a brunch café. There are all sorts of cafés out there, and they’re all pretty perfect for all sorts of brunch.
If you’re already a café owner, you’re in the perfect place to start serving brunch. If you’re not, there are lots of café types you can open that will serve a brunch crowd. Some of those café types are:
- Sidewalk cafés
- Coffee shops
- Tea houses
- Hotel lounges
- Hole-in-the-wall spots
- Destination locations
- Rooftop spots
- Pop-up locations
These are all fairly casual, relaxed establishments, and this theme of ease suits brunch perfectly. Almost any café can be a good brunch café. All it needs is a tasty menu and some good brunch hours.
That said, there’s always more you can do to make your brunch café the best it can be. From restaurant marketing initiatives to brunch themes, creating a great brunch spot is an ongoing project. If you’re looking for ideas on what to do, this guide to brunch is the right place to look.
When it comes to designing your brunch spot, there are numerous factors to consider. Some are within your control, and some are not.
You can spend time worrying about the ones out of your control, but that won’t change anything. The best thing to do is to plan for what you can control, and make your brunch spot the best it can be.
If you’re already locked into a location, you can always look at the best bar locations that are doing well. You can pull inspiration from those spots, and do what you can with the space you have.
Beyond searching for inspiration, there are practices you can put in place now that will pay dividends in the future. These restaurant marketing plans and practices include:
- DTC advertising and interacting on social media
- Working your design to suit your brunch spot
- Investing in paid advertising (including eCommerce content marketing) to get word of your café out to the public
These practices and the ones you’ll discover along the way will help with making your brunch spot amazing no matter your location.
Some of the best ways you can make your brunch spot spectacular are the variety of marketing and promotional plans you can work with. Bar promotion ideas can work just as well for a brunch setting as they can for a bar.
Whether you like deals like half-price dishes (from an appetizer list), group coupons, or something different, there aren’t many limits to your options.
Some good starter ideas are:
- Sunday Funday deals
- Raffles for brunch deals
- Group rates
- Buffet-style meals with an all-inclusive price
Those ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. As you create your brunch space, you’re sure to find even more ideas that work well for you.
Brunch Food Ideas
As you plan for decorating, marketing, and locating a great space, there’s one thing you really can’t forget about: the menu items. No matter what, the most important part of your brunch spot is the foods and drinks that you serve. Marketing can only get you so far if your product falls short of expectations.
Luckily, you have a huge range of foods and drinks to choose from for your menu layout. Earlier in this guide, we outlined a lot of standard brunch menu items.
Those are all great to start out with. That said, it doesn’t hurt to have some mind-blowing options to mix in.
Some of those showstoppers are:
- Berry Muesli: a French-inspired berry delight with a recipe that is easy enough to follow and delicious enough to wow any crowd.
- Frittatas: These simple egg dishes can be dressed up with all sorts of exciting ingredients.
If you’re looking for something truly spectacular, you can also pull out old family recipes to give your brunch space something truly unique.
For BinWise visitors who are mainly reading this to prepare for their next brunch outing, this section’s for you. Brunch doesn’t exactly have a strict dress code, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare for what you might want to wear. Especially if you’re going to brunch on a weekend morning, it’s nice not to have to plan your outfit the morning of your brunch.
The appropriate brunch wear for you will depend on:
- The type of brunch you’re going to
- The reason you’re going
- How dressed up you want to be
There are lots of options out there, and since brunch is so casual, you can get away with pretty much anything.
Since the rules around brunch wear are so lax, it can actually be more difficult to choose an outfit. If you’re the type of person to stare at your closet for hours, this list of the 15 best brunch outfits is for you.
15 Best Brunch Outfits
15. Jeans and a Blazer
14. Slacks and a Tee
13. Maxi Dresses
12. Jogger Pants and a Hoodie
11. Mini Dresses
10. Leather Pants and Printed Tops
9. Shorts and a Tee
8. Jeans and a Button Down
7. T-Shirt Dresses
6. Tank Tops and Shorts
4. Chic PJs
2. Bike Shorts and a Big Tee
1. Leather Jackets with Anything
Birthday Brunch Outfit Ideas
For birthday celebrations at brunch, there is a slightly more specific dress code. Naturally, birthday brunch dress codes will be dictated by the birthday person or perhaps even the class level of the location. Typically you can expect a birthday brunch party to be a slightly more dressed-up occasion than a regular brunch date.
There are outfits from the above list of 15 ideas that certainly work for a birthday brunch. If you’re unsure, the best thing to do is check with the birthday person, or with other friends who will be attending the party.
What to Wear to a Brunch Wedding
Of course, if a birthday brunch is a fancy occasion, a wedding brunch party is even fancier. A wedding brunch combines the rules of brunch with the rules of a wedding.
Like a birthday brunch, the dress code will be dictated by the wedding party and hosts. Odds are there will be a dress code stated in the RSVP.
If you’re invited to a wedding brunch and there isn’t an explicit dress code, you can always reach out to the couple getting married. If they don’t state anything specific, it’s best to lean on the side of dressing up. You can wear an outfit similar to a classy summer barbecue or even a cocktail party.
What to Wear to Brunch In Winter
Often when you’re preparing for brunch, you’re getting ready for a summer or spring event. That said, there’s no reason to not have brunch in the winter. In fact, sometimes enjoying a sweet brunch treat is exactly what you need to get through the winter months. The question is, what should you wear?
If you’re attending a winter brunch, you’ll definitely be inside. With that in mind, you don’t need to change much about your outfit choices. The main thing you should do is add a coat that will keep you warm on the way to and from brunch.
When it comes to finding the best brunch places in your area, there are a lot of ways to go about your search. You can research restaurants online, ask friends for recommendations, or just wander in a nice area and find places in person.
At this point, brunch spots are pretty common. Even if you live in a small community, you’re bound to find at least one brunch café.
If you’re in a larger area this is the place in your brunch guide for you. To make your search easier, we did some research on the best brunch spots in a few major states.
If you live in one of these spots, then you’ll have your weekend plans. If not, maybe some travel is in your near future!
Good Brunch Spots
In doing the research for this list, we kept some general brunch location qualities in mind. If you want to do your own research, these brunch qualifications are a helpful thing to look out for.
These qualities are definitely factors to be mindful of. That said, they’re not the end-all be-all of the brunch spots you should visit.
Your ideal brunch space may have one or several of these characteristics, or it may have none (that’s unlikely; these are pretty common traits). When it comes to finding your perfect brunch place, take these traits as guidelines, not requirements.
Some of the best brunch spot qualities are:
- A varied brunch menu
- Strong reviews
- Long brunch hours
- A great location
The best brunch spots have some or all of these features, including all of the following restaurants:
Best Brunch Places in Chicago
- M. Henry
- Batter & Berries
- Frances' Deli and Brunchery
Best Brunch Places NYC
- Jack's Wife Freda
- Chez Ma Tante
Best Brunch Places in Boston
- Rosebud American Kitchen
- Lincoln Tavern and Restaurant
Best Brunch Places in Miami
- Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company
- Blue Collar
Best Brunch Places in Los Angeles
- Leo & Lily
- Poppy + Rose
If you live in one of these cities or you're planning to travel, be sure to add one or more of these excellent brunch locations to your plans.
Your Guide to Brunch: Ready for Mimosas!
There is a lot to learn about brunch. From serving brunch in a restaurant and hosting a home brunch to preparing to attend a brunch birthday party, there are unlimited possibilities.
That said, as you go through the lists of everything you should prepare, don't forget to enjoy some champagne (perhaps with a champagne saber to open it). Your guide to brunch is just as much about having fun as it is about learning.