Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Brunch sometimes gets a bad rep. You hear the word and you think of the giggling Insta-generation gushing over a plate of overhyped avo on toast.
But when done right, brunch can be a pretty wonderful thing. A lazy man’s breakfast, its hybrid nature means it can be as simple as eggs your way and as adventurous as a middle eastern mezze or an Indian breakfast naan.
London is a shining example of this, with a whole host of different restaurants offering up brunch menus well worth trying.
Don’t believe us? Let us take you on a food tour of the best brunch places in London – whether you’re after bao buns, boureka, or pimped up porridge.
The Good Egg
With restaurants in Stoke Newington and Soho, the Good Egg has long had a reputation for serving some of the best brunch in London.
These aren’t dishes you can get anywhere else. They’re brunch as you know it, but with Israeli flavours.
For instance, in Stokey you can get your hands on a Challah french toast, with raspberry, honey and rose cream, and in Soho you can start your day with a zhoug fried egg cornbread, served with crispy onions and harissa.
Dishes range from eight to 15 quid, and both restaurants also serve a mean shakshuka, as well as a boureka plate, served with egg and pickles.
Casual and always bustling, truthfully, The Good Egg is great at any time of day – but after you’ve been once, you’ll likely wake up thinking about it.
South east London’s Mr Bao offers up an alternative to your usual brunch fodder. Think smacked cucumber, chicken dumplings and fried chicken with smoky miso mayo.
It may not be traditional brunch food, but it’s one of the best brunch places in London. Dishes sit around £3-5, and you’re encouraged to order as many as your morning hunger pangs call for.
As its name suggests, the restaurant also offers up its signature bao buns. The pillowy pork belly bao is a star, with slow braised meat, house pickles and roasted peanuts, and you should absolutely try the tofu bao, too, served with house kimchi and crispy onions.
Who says you can’t start your day with a Japanese feast? Such versatility is the exact reason that brunch is so much better than breakfast food.
Brunswick East in Dalston is a hidden gem you could very nearly miss. Tucked down a side road off the main high street (with another branch nearby in Hackney Downs) the Australian-owned cafe is about as east London as you can get, with an edgy industrial feel and quirkily named brunch dishes to match.
Don’t let that put you off, though. One look at the scope of their menu and you’ll understand why this is hailed one of the best brunch spots in the city.
Dishes are a little on the steeper side, sitting at around or under £15, but their green eggs and ham is an undisputed favourite amongst locals, made with a maple glazed ham hock, fried egg and a watercress and basil pesto.
Meanwhile their chilli poached eggs are much more special than the name suggests: a hefty wedge of sourdough housing a mountain of spring greens, eggs and cultured chilli butter.
Come here in the summer and make use of the sun trap terrace, or tuck yourself away when it’s chilly. Either option is equally lovely.
You’d be forgiven for thinking porridge is one of the more boring brunch foods, but 26 Grains turns that on its head.
With the likes of Andrew Garfield, Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal having paid a visit, this is a London brunch hotspot you’re going to want to know about.
Based in colourful Neals Yard, in Soho, Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s eatery offers a delectable porridge with banana, tahini, honey, cinnamon, sesame seeds and cacao, to name just one option.
If porridge isn’t your thing, fear not. There’s also a host of sweet and savoury dishes to choose from, like Turkish fried eggs, with labneh and apricot harissa, and a drool-worthy chocolate ganache, with banana and pecans on brown butter brioche.
The focus of 26 Grains is local, seasonal ingredients turned into the best brunch dishes you can imagine. Prices range from around £9 to £15.
This is one to put on your brunch bucket list.
Milk Beach has locations in Queen’s Park and Soho, both of which offer traditional brunch menus done really bloody well.
With a coastal Aussie vibe that drips through from the decor to the plates, Milk Beach originally launched as a brunch spot, and whilst it has now spilled out into small plates and all day dining, the former will always be its bread and butter.
Ranging from around £5 to £15, Milk Beach serves comforting classics like a soft boiled egg and soldiers (jazzed up in a jar, with sweet potato puree and cream), and eggs benedict, served with overnight cooked pulled ham hock, spinach and pickled daikon, chef Darren Leadbeater is really showing us how brunch is done.
If you’re looking for a boozy brunch in London then you’re in luck, too. Brunch cocktails are served over the weekend from 11am, whether it’s a bloody Mary or a mimosa you’re after.
Ignore the crude name, Eggslut is one of those brunch spots you can depend upon when you want food that’s indulgent, calorific and dribbles down your gob.
This London brunch restaurant is for yolk porn enthusiasts, serving what are essentially fancy egg baps, with everything from wagyu tri-tip steak to a home-made turkey sausage stuffed inside a brioche bun.
With all dishes sitting at around a tenner (objectively a lot pricer than your usual egg roll), Eggslut makes no mistake that it’s not the sort of grub you’d find in your local caff.
The atmosphere is casual – you pick your food up at a counter and eat it hurriedly – but in some instances that’s exactly what brunch is meant to be. Plus, you can also order on Deliveroo if you’re near one of its three outposts in Shoreditch, Notting Hill or Soho.
If you’re looking for a brunch place in London to nurse a sore head, then this could very well be it.
Granger and Co
Granger and Co is another Aussie brunch option, because let’s face it, they do it best, don’t they?
With outposts in Chelsea, Clerkenwell, King’s Cross and Notting Hill, their onus is on fresh and healthy produce, but before you yawn and keep on scrolling, can we implore you to stay and read about their sweetcorn fritters? Crispy and stacked on top of each other, they’re served with a roast tomato, spinach and bacon.
And if that isn’t your thing, there are plenty more seasonal options, like their ginger and soy steamed rice, with greens, egg and turmeric pickles.
There are more typical brunch dishes too, like soft boiled eggs on toast and smoked salmon (cooked in jasmine hot tea and served with eggs, greens, furikake, avocado and cherry tomatoes).
Dishes range from £5 to almost £20 (for the salmon), but the clean, airy vibes and frankly delicious food makes it more than worth it.
Carmel is the newest restaurant from Josh Katz of Berber and Q, serving North African/East Mediterranean brunch food that you’ll want to order again and again.
Dishes range from £4 to £15 and promise brunch flavours you simply can’t get anywhere else. Their breakfast menu, served on weekends, features the likes Malabi french toast, which comes with rose raspberry syrup, peanuts and coconut and tumeric fried eggs, with pickled shallots, spinach and tamarind.
If you arrive after noon, for the love of god, get a flatbread. Like a cross between a really good bread and a mini pizza, we frankly can’t think of a better option for a slap up brunch. There’s one with asparagus, crème fraîche and preserved lemon, but the za’atar and tahini one is equally special.
Situated in Queen’s Park, Carmel’s bright exterior and cosy velvet seating makes it a welcoming spot to start your day. It’s undoubtedly one of the best brunch places in London, if you can bring yourself to make the trip out of the city.
Ah Dishoom – a classic but a goodie. We’d be remiss to give a list of the best brunch places in London and not include it.
If you’re living in London and you haven’t started your morning with a bacon naan roll, then you’re doing it wrong, and if you’re visiting London and you wake up craving delicious, Indian flavours, then this is the spot.
Alongside a plethora of naan rolls to choose from, Dishoom offers dishes like The Big Bombay, which is basically an Indian fry up, made with akuri, streaky bacon, pork sausages, masala beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. Plus, their chilli cheese toast (kejriwal) is well worth ordering, too.
Dishoom has six outposts across the city, so there’s bound to be one near you, and the best thing about going for breakfast is that you may not have to queue.
You can get a naan roll for under seven quid, whereas a Bombay breakfast is closer to £14, and if you want to make it a boozy brunch then you can, as various cocktails are also available.
So, there you have it, our ultimate guide of the best brunch London has to offer, whether you’re after a boozy brunch, a hungover feed or a massive feast of small plates.
Next time someone turns their nose up at brunch food you know what to do…