Eats of Eden: The Triad’s most unusual brunch options

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by Eric Ginsburg

In the first four years I lived in the Triad, I ventured into Winston-Salem only once: to eat brunch.

It isn’t easy to convince most college students to leave campus on a regular basis, and even though I worked diligently to connect myself to things happening in Greensboro while attending Guilford College, I rarely found the occasion to leave city limits. The only thing that could convince me, apparently, was the promise of a fantastic brunch. The former incarnation of Mary’s Gourmet Diner, then on Brookstown Avenue, pulled me into the Camel City, but as soon as the meal ended, I slipped back onto Business 40 without ever seeing Fourth Street.

After graduating five years ago and deciding to stick around, immersing myself in the cities became a top priority. I’ve always felt like you need to peel back the edges here to find the charm, digging in and discovering what is incredible on your own. I’d ask people for advice, sure, but for the most part there were no guides or wise sages to turn to. My friends and I discovered thrift stores, swimming holes and tiny restaurants like lost tourists in a place overlooked by Fodor’s, occasionally asking locals but mostly stumbling onto marvelous things accidentally.

We found unlocked rooftops and swimming pools, traipsed through abandoned buildings and international markets. We found most everything we were looking for eventually, but one thing I longed for eluded me: multiple crave-worthy brunch choice.

So I started a chart. It’s the only time I can remember voluntarily opening Excel, punching in each place I found, listing operating hours and making notes about what to order. “Weekends, open early, chocolate crepes,” reads an entry from years ago next to Print Works Bistro, the restaurant for the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro.

Since I started the personal list, the number of venues serving brunch has increased dramatically, with places like Sticks & Stones adding the meal to their menu. It spiraled out of hand as I expanded my scope too, incorporating High Point and Winston-Salem to the rolls. An exhaustive list began to seem unreasonable, and impractical.

So I narrowed the scope. There are enough brunch options in the Triad now that you likely already have a favorite place or two, but it would be a mistake to overlook the bounty of choices, particularly the bizarre, unusual and rare menu items that — more often than not — are delicious.

Here are the most unique brunch options around that I can find, based on hours of combing through menus and asking around, but primarily by sitting in the pews on Sunday at what is my closest equivalent to church. And then, because you only live once, I threw in nine more honorable mentions.

There’s a chance I’ve missed something, and because you may take this meal as seriously as I do, let me make a few quick disclaimers:

Before arguing about how good the “World Famous Pancakes” are at Tom’s Place in High Point or lamenting the recent announcement that New Town Bistro in Winston-Salem is closing, remember that this is a list of the most unusual and uncommon options that the Triad has to offer.

  • For the most part, I’m leaving out breakfast all-day-any-day type places, though I bent the rules in some spots.
  • I intentionally excluded large chains; I’m pretty sure you can find them on your own.
  • I know that High Point is significantly underrepresented on the main list, though the Third City did pretty well in the runner-up section at the end. That’s because brunch fare in High Point leans more traditional; even places like the Claddagh (brunch all weekend) provide standard options unless you count its Dublin omelet or Irish mixed grill.
  • Some of the best brunches I’ve eaten, or even entire restaurants that serve brunch, aren’t on this list. That’s a conversation for another day. For now, it’s all about the strange stuff.
  • I encourage you to use this list, to cross things out you dislike or aren’t interested in and to add your own that I intentionally excluded or accidentally overlooked. This may be my temple, but I’m not dogmatic about a religion of brunch — discovering it for yourself is half the fun.
  • Acey

    that Funny Monkey sandwich is plenty to feed an adult (and delicious) if they’ll let you order it without a kid at the table, I recommend it!