Orlando’s Best Breakfasts (and Brunch too!): Brunch
Do you brunch, Orlando?
Chef Greg Richie may not have invented Southern cuisine, but you’d be hard pressed to find many who do a better job of elevating everyday classics to something special. Cuisine at Soco is so whimsically and thoughtfully prepared that if at least one person doesn’t gasp in delight when those plates hit your table—well, we can’t be friends.
At this cozy Thornton Park institution, you find staff who greet you warmly. If your table isn’t ready, don’t hesitate to sit at the bar and order a welcoming cocktail; bartenders stand ready to make helpful recommendations. Bourbon is a specialty of the house here (natch), and you’ll even find it in some unexpected combinations. The Sparkler, for instance, could be construed as an Aperol Spritz with a Southern twist: Duke Bourbon offers a classy twang to the combo of lemon juice, simple syrup, Aperol and sparkling wine. I promise—you’ll be attempting to recreate this one for lazy weekends at home.
As for the dishes, you can’t go wrong with riffs on classics such as “Bacon, Egg and Cheese” Shrimp and Grits—a hearty affair—or “Southern Style” Eggs Benedict served atop biscuits and layered with fried green tomatoes and Benton’s country ham. But Chef Greg also takes Avocado Toast to the next level; served on whole-grain toast, the avo is topped with goat cheese, tomatoes, bacon and a poached egg. If you’re feeling extra fancy, add some house-smoked salmon for a small additional fee.
Brunch is only served on Saturdays and Sundays, so hop to it. —B.F.
Black Rooster Taqueria
Black Rooster Taqueria chef-owner John Calloway has wanted to serve a Mexican breakfast staple—Chilaquiles—for some time. In January, when Calloway’s new Rooster location in the Curry Ford West district opened for weekend brunch, the savory dish debuted featuring a soft fried egg on a house-made tortilla with roasted tomatillo-cream sauce, Oaxaca cheese, shaved onion, avocado, radish, cilantro, crema fresca and cotija cheese.
“While I was living in Mexico, chilaquiles were my go-to breakfast,” says Chef John. “After long nights working at the restaurant, then waking up early to get back at it, it was the perfect way to start the day. When we opened Black Rooster, I knew it was a dish I wanted to offer on our menu. It wasn’t until Curry Ford that I was able to create the one I wanted and offer it with other delicious breakfast items.”
The second Rooster opened last November as part of the Curry Ford restaurant renaissance and features the original Mills Ave. menu of wildly popular tacos, bowls of slow-cooked meat in broth, sides, desserts and its fan-favorite guacamole.
John’s wife and partner, Juliana, says brunch is receiving enthusiastic reviews. “A lot of families have been coming in and saying, ‘We’ve been waiting for you so long,’” she says. Guests can dine inside or at picnic tables outside in a green space outfitted with yard games like corn hole and giant Jenga.
Adult brunch libations like the Michelada, made with tomato, habanero, lime, and Underduck Lager from Central 28 craft brewery in DeBary, are offered along with a rich, swoon-worthy Mexican Hot Chocolate. Some menu front-runners, in addition to the Chilaquiles, include a delicious Birria-style Smoked Brisket Quesadilla, a tasty Mushroom Quesadilla, and a sweet offering of Brioche French Toast with dulce de leche, agave-habanero butter, cinnamon, and berries. The Rooster’s main menu of starters, tacos, and more also is available at brunch.
Brunch hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with takeout available for pickup or delivery. —J.H.
For Saturday and Sunday brunch with a view, make a beeline for Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe. With stellar views of the lake from the entire restaurant, as well as ample outdoor seating, you’ll feel like you’re getting away from it all while never leaving the city.
Russell’s is a great spot all week long, with a stellar happy hour and a delicious, French-inspired menu. But the weekends give you a chance to see the restaurant, which is only open for dinner through the week, and in a whole new light. Start with an indulgent and refreshing cocktail. To keep the party going throughout the meal, opt for bottomless mimosas or sangria, or switch it up with a house special. We love the Earl Grey Gin Fashioned, made with Waterloo Antique Gin, Earl Grey simple syrup and a dash of lavender.
For dishes, dig into the Mrs. Croc, a beautiful take on a traditional Croque Madame made with ham and gruyere and topped with bechamel and a fried egg, with a salad on the side. For something sweet, indulge in the Cinnamon Roll Waffle, with its crunchy topping adorned with berries and rich cream cheese icing, served with a side of house-made sausage. Anyone looking for less breakfast and more brunch can tuck into the Naked Burger with hash browns, cheese and fried onions topped with a fried egg. —B.F.
Perched alongside a shimmering body of water in Lake Nona, Canvas Restaurant & Market redefines a breezy Florida brunch. The interior space is marked by exposed brick walls and artful splashes of color, plus a full wall of windows from which to enjoy the view. Outside, patio seating overlooks the lake—the optimal place to enjoy a meal outdoors.
Seasonal, regional produce and seafood drive the menu, which comprises a host of options from the Crispy Bacon Hash Skillet to a Lobster Benedict with vanilla butter-poached lobster. But the real treat is the Sweet Tea Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich, a glorious sweet tea-brined and buttermilk-fried chicken with cayenne mayo and house pickles. For something lighter, consider the Farmhouse Salad with locally-grown Kalera rustic greens, house-made granola and a warm apple-honey vinaigrette.
Just stopping in? Breeze by the market for a specialty coffee, fresh smoothie, or house-made pastry to jump start your morning. There’s plenty of space overlooking the water to cozy up with a book, journal or laptop for a feel-good, productive Sunday morning.
While in the area, consider a visit to Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen, known for its small plates and craft beer and located in Lake Nona Town Center. The restaurant’s recently launched brunch options include its signature Molten Strawberry French Toast, a Giant Cinnamon Roll with warm vanilla icing and Hot Chicken and Waffles. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. The Bubbles + Beats Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., with a DJ on Sunday mornings. —J.S.
Weekends are made for brunch, and The Osprey in Baldwin Park features one of our favorites. We named this comfortable-yet-chic spot as our pick for Restaurant of the Year in our 2021 Dining Awards for good reason: They’re the total package. Enter the open and spacious restaurant, and you’re captivated immediately by the beauty of the space. And you know how sometimes a restaurant is gorgeous at night, but not so much during the day? No worries here. The dining room with its open kitchen concept is stunning whatever time you visit, with a refined mid-century vintage vibe.
Head to The Osprey on Sundays from 11 a.m until 3 p.m. and you’ll find the same thoughtful, sea-centric approach to fare you get during the week. Chef Michael Cooper carefully curates a fun combo of beautiful pastries and sweets alongside a stellar lineup of more savory options. Whether brunching or dining later in the day, we can never pass up a dish of The Osprey’s Mussels: PEI mussels simmered gently in coconut milk flavored with poblano pepper and Fresno chile, served with grilled bread to sop up the incredible broth. But if this is your first visit, do not miss out on Shrimp & Grits prepared classically with andouille sausage. Complement your dish with an expertly crafted cocktail, or opt for The Osprey Punch of the Day, a house specialty. —B.F.