It used to be that I could list Greensboro’s brunch options on one hand — and I wasn’t particularly excited about most of those, either.
But that’s changed. The breakfast-lunch fusion meal has proved that it has staying power beyond most food trends, and local restaurants have finally caught on. Some of them are producing really excellent and interesting items, too.
Yes, it’s an Irish pub, but I’m adamant that M’Coul’s Public House serves the best shrimp & grits in the Gate City. Other restaurants may serve them creamier, cheesier, spicier or offer more inventive takes on the dish, but if you’re looking for the comfort classic, M’Coul’s wins, hands down. The perfectly seasoned, pop-in-your-mouth large shrimp raise the bar for any crustacean entrees around, and the grits are also unparalleled.
I’ve never had anything I didn’t like at M’Coul’s, and with an expanded brunch drink list, there’s even more incentive to drop by. But honestly my favorite part is the perfectly fluffy and buttered biscuits.
The Bucket List
When friends visit from out of state, I take them to Dame’s Chicken & Waffles. Sure, I’ve had pretty sublime chicken & waffles as far away as Boston, but Dame’s is a must-have experience of Southern food, with a thick mac & cheese side to match. My favorite is the Orange Speckled Chabo, as it comes, but there are cutlet and wing options, various spreads and a couple kinds of waffles including sweet potato.
If you’ve never been to Dame’s, don’t tell anyone. Just make plans to go, be open to a short wait and don’t expect to physically exert yourself too much soon after.
The Healthy Helping
If I’m in the mood for something that isn’t going to weigh me down, Iron Hen is my first stop. The smoked salmon omelet with goat cheese used to be my go-to, and the country ham Benedict is pretty tasty, but the toasted quinoa plate or the Gorilla Grains granola might just inspire you to take a jog on the nearby greenway trail.
Broke & Bougie
Print Works Bistro — the tony digs at the Proximity Hotel — might seem like a rich man’s game. But the brunch menu is shockingly affordable: nothing crazy, but it’s on par with any others on the list. Bring a friend or date and split the challah French toast and smoked salmon Benedict (both a respectable $11) for a variety of tastes that will leave you feeling like royalty without shelling out. It’s a steal, really.
Take it up a notch with the seasonal watermelon salad with crumbled feta, fig balsamic glaze and mint.
Speaking of hotel restaurants, sister venue Green Valley Grill at the O. Henry Hotel serves a deeply satisfying smoked salmon pizzette — basically a pizza/flatbread hybrid with fresh tomatoes, green onions and dill cream cheese topped with capers and a sunny-side up egg. It’s $14, but for that price you also get to sit in the semi-enclosed, lush patio, which feels like a brief escape from the city.
Nurture your true bougie side with the $12 avocado toast, which includes a portabella mushroom to give it a little heft and texture.
The Early Riser
I can’t bring myself to get out of bed early on the weekend, even if I’m awake. That’s why I’ve (embarrassingly) only been to the early Saturday morning brunch at Sticks & Stones once, despite reveling in the deliciousness of everything I tried on the relatively Spartan and straightforward menu. Like its pizzas, Sticks’ brunch items are prepared with more intentionality and care than most.
The Long Wait
I loved my last trip to Scrambled. While I wish that Josephine’s hadn’t closed (and that Scrambled just opened elsewhere), Scrambled is the kind of restaurant designed to capitalize on the brunch crowd — with an expansive menu that includes six kinds of Benedicts, fantastic gravy and memorable scrambles and omelets served in skillets — but it’s almost a victim of its own success. I don’t even bother to show up on weekends at this restaurant that shares a parking lot with the original Hops Burger Bar, going instead for weekday lunches, but Scrambled still belongs on any brunch list.
It’s a drive, unless you’re already on the northwest end of Battleground Avenue, but allow me to list several of the menu items at Tessa Farm to Fork: fried oyster Benedict with summer succotash, blueberry lavender French toast, crab cake and bacon BLT and a brisket Benedict with caramelized onion and pico de gallo.
There’s more, of course, and the menu is always changing — I about died when I tried the chicken confit and waffles with poached watermelon, feta, peach habanero sauce and basil — but this should be enough to make your mouth water. Tessa is worth the drive.
There are other great brunch options in Greensboro, of course — shouts to the Mexican eggs (with a biscuit) at Smith Street Diner, Lindley Park Filling Station’s chorizo & egg burrito and the menu at LaRue, in particular — but most other brunch menus are really just uninspired-yet-tasty breakfast or generally mediocre, bland or forgettable. Sorry not sorry.
There are one or two spots or key dishes I likely overlooked — I haven’t hit Traveled Farmer yet, or the pricey smoked salmon pizza at Wolfgang Puck Kitchen & Bar with dill cream, chives and friggin’ caviar. But these are easily my Top 8. At least for now.