We’re hopelessly trapped between morning and afternoon—and loving it. Here are some local best bets for the popular repast.
Orlando is packed with happy hours, late-night specials and lunch deals. But the big draw for the dining-out crowd these days is brunch, a mid-morning/afternoon concept that Smithsonian Magazine tracks to the late 19th century, old enough to have fallen in and out of favor too many times to count.
From taco brunch in parking lots to high-end carving stations alongside hotel swimming pools, the combination of eggs and everything under the sun has captured our taste buds. There’s even an amateur baseball team called the Orlando Brunch. Here’s some help keeping up with the new midday treats.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Kitchen
Lots of eatin’ and drinkin’ at Homecomin’ with a new weekend menu of Smith’s Southern delights. From cheddar cheese drop biscuits to short rib hash, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes with country ham and eggs, Smith defines a hearty breakfast. “We reinvented the Benedict,” he told me, “by creating cakes from our hush puppy batter instead of using English muffins as the base and then we added pimento to the hollandaise.” Fried chicken and sugar donuts are a must (waffles are so passé), as are an order of mini-doughnuts coated with pecans and bacon bits or Chef Art’s Church Lady Deviled Eggs. The morning cocktail crowd can sample the Southern Mary, with tomato vodka, smoked bacon, fried green tomato and pimento cheese-stuffed olives, or try the white peach moscato sangria. Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; homecominkitchen.com
Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
Dragonfly, known for its exacting fish sourcing and fragrant Japanese charcoal grill cooking, has taken a hybrid carving/sushi station, table service approach to brunch. Nigiri, hand rolls and bao are ordered at walk-up counters, while Dragonfly’s chef de cuisine, Dequane Stobbs, has designed a tableside ordering system for unlimited izakaya, or pub style, casual selections. The checklist includes delightful octopus fritters, dumplings, Japanese burger sliders, ramen and veggies charred on the very hot robata grill. The suddenly popular poke bowl offerings come with salmon, tuna or yellowtail and layer rice with vegetables and some very spicy sauces. $39 adult, $19 ages 5-12. Sun., 11a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dragonflyrestaurants.com
A sweet pancake creation at the Plancha brunch at Four Seasons Orlando (FOUR SEASONS RESORT ORLANDO AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT)
Here are some other enticing brunch offers:
(a la carte unless price is noted)
Cinco Tacos + Tequila, in the space last occupied by Carmel Kitchen across from the Winter Park Trader Joe’s, offers weekend brunch with specialty items like adobo fried chicken and churro waffles; guacamole toast; Cap’n Crunch French toast; and Barbacoa Benedict. $32, including unlimited mimosas, sangria, margaritas and Bloody Marys. Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; facebook.com/cincotacosandtequila
In the former home of Kasa, just down the block from the Dr. Phillips Center, Chela Tequila & Tacos added brunch when the restaurant changed concept in January from vaguely Asian to loosely Tex-Mex. Mimosas and sangria complement salads, carving stations, chicken n’ waffles with honey hot sauce, chimichurri steak and tostones, fried cauliflower, and shrimp and chorizo grits. Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; chelatacos.com
Jimmy Hula’s recently opened Orlando location brings its “Dawn Patrol” brunch to downtown. Surfer-style breakfast tacos of chorizo, steak or bacon with potatoes, eggs and cheese; a Monterey hash bowl; and Nutella bacon buttermilk biscuits are options, and bottomless mimosas are available. Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; jimmyhulas.com
The popular breakfast spot First Watch opened a new-concept Waterford Lakes location this year with a so-far exclusive addition for the chain: brunch-ready beer, wine and cocktails. The bar menu includes Stoli vodka and kale tonics; the coconut rum-loaded Cinnamon Toast Cereal Milk with cold brew coffee and coconut milk; and the Million Dollar Bloody Mary with candied “Million Dollar” bacon. Oh, and there’s food, too, and lots of it. Daily, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; firstwatch.com
Orange County Brewers had a change of food offerings this summer. Switching from Orlando Pizza and Wing Co. to lobster rolls and pizza via Red Claw, its weekly “beer and lobster brunch” now features wild game, sausage or lobster pies and three types of rolls, along with $5 “Beermosas.” Sun., 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; theocbrewers.com
One overlooked brunch spot is Plancha, adjacent to the Tranquilo Golf Club at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Open to more than just course duffers, the Cuban-style restaurant is an undiscovered treasure: The three-course brunch menu includes a choice of entrée surrounded by appetizer and dessert buffets, along with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. $68 adults, $20 children. Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; fourseasons.com/Orlando
Café Linger, the latest eatery to fill the NYPD Pizza location in College Park, offers a Continentally accented brunch that includes the ubiquitous avocado toast, ricotta pancakes with house-made jam, a “Madame Linger” sandwich combo of ham, Swiss and an egg in a basket, or steak and eggs. Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; cafelinger.com