Palette Magazine

Where to Brunch Right Now in South Florida

Rick Carlin

Firefly’s shrimp and grits
Firefly’s shrimp and grits Nick Doll Photography

Brunch is the ultimate luxury. Simply by opting for this meal you say to the world, “I couldn’t be bothered to rise early enough for breakfast.” Even the dishes on brunch menus are lavish, certainly more so than what you would find in a regular morning spread. Various sources pin the origins of brunch back to the kinds of extravagant breakfasts held before hunts in Victorian England. Others credit this in-between meal to celebrities traveling by train from Hollywood to New York and grabbing a late morning bite during their stopover in Chicago. Whatever the origins may be, a number of South Florida spots can address your need for a sprawling meal that run the gamut from luxurious formal buffets to fun and sassy casual spots.

Island Indulgences

With its inviting second story balcony and rich, comforting menu, Firefly is one of the “must dine” brunch spots in Key West. Start your meal with at least one order of fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits, which you can enjoy plain, with just a dab of butter or with the delicious house-made jam. Alternatively, you can always turn them into the foundation of a hearty meal, topped with sausage gravy and eggs. And if you really want to be decadent, add some spicy fried chicken or a chicken-fried steak to your humble biscuit and turn it into an all-out Southern affair. Many of the other starters may sound simple, but pack intense flavors. There are also a number of other Southern classics, including shrimp and grits and fried chicken and pecan waffles, as well as more standard breakfast and lunch fare like pancakes, eggs, bacon, a variety of sandwiches, burgers and salads, that round out the wealth of options. And, in true Conch Republic style, brunch at Firefly is a daily event

For Bullish Appetites

Toro Toro is the place to see and be seen in downtown Miami, as much for the pan-Latin cuisine as for the inventive cocktails and down-right cool ambience. On Sundays — between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. — the tone gets decidedly more indulgent thanks to a high-end brunch buffet, served with bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. Though already lavish, the buffet can be upgraded to include bottomless Champagne Taittinger. The starters on the buffet are indisputably yummy — especially the crostini with Serrano ham quinoa salad, asparagus with chimichurri and tortilla Española. But you should save your appetite for the big ticket items. The massive seafood bar features chilled shrimp, mussels, oysters and ceviche shots, and a carving station features Brazilian-style grilled meats, chicken and fish. Waffles and egg dishes are prepared to order at their own station, as is the bananas foster — a standout among the dessert options.

On a First-Name Basis

If you prefer your brunch experience to be loud, raucous and quirky, you can’t do better than Rosie’s located in the heart of Wilton Manors. Sit at the patio tables and you’ll forget that Wilton Drive is right on the other side of the hedge. The wait staff is (mostly) young, friendly and sassy, and the menu offers a multitude of puns and double entendres for your ordering entertainment.

While we’ve all heard of the breakfast burrito, Rosie’s offers the breakfast taco: two corn pancakes stuffed with slow-simmered pork in mojo sauce, scrambled eggs and queso blanco. They also feature four versions of the classic eggs Benedict, including one that swaps out the Canadian bacon for fried green tomatoes. For dessert consider the Fat Elvis, which consists of a large, ripe banana smothered in crunchy peanut butter and stuffed into challah. The entire package is then dipped in Rosie’s delicious French toast mix, coated with corn flakes and deep fried ‘til crunchy. If you would like to live longer than the dish’s namesake, share it with a fellow culinary adventurer, and wash it all down with one of the many drink specials, which are poured liberally.

A Delicious Oasis

Tucked away just off Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, you’ll find Sundy House, a Queen Anne-style structure that was built in 1902 by Delray Beach’s first Mayor, John Sundy. The beautiful property once served as the city’s first church, bank and schoolhouse. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is home to a restaurant and an inn. One of the most amazing aspects of Sundy House is the serenity afforded by the Taru Garden and its fresh water pool. Brunch is served underneath the lush canopy there, and the meal includes carving stations, traditional and inventive breakfast options, mimosas and bloody marys. The recently added Saturday brunch offers an a la carte menu that features freshly made donuts and delicious twists on classic entrees such as a blue crab Benedict and Nutella stuffed French toast. For those who take a more lunch-like approach to the meal, a burger, fish tacos or chicken paillard served over a salad of watercress, fennel, endive and citrus segments are all pleasant options as well.