10 Superlative Brunch Offerings in the East Bay

Round out your weekend with this lazy-Sunday staple

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More than a century ago, great minds got together and decided that on the day of rest, a decidedly unhurried meal was in order, and so, the perfect collab between the first and second meals of the day emerged as “brunch.” Historians differ on where credit should be given in the US for introducing the lavish and leisurely delight to the masses, but all can concur: brunch is always a good idea.

From sweet and savory dishes that delight to bougie boozy imbibing, the East Bay delivers when it comes to the one meal to rule them all. We’ve rounded up some local palate-pleasing all-stars for every taste that we love a brunch bunch.

The Irish Brunch: Aidan’s Pub

As synonymous with Emerald Isle as a pint of Guinness, the hearty Irish breakfast originated as a meal to satiate farm workers to tide them over on long days working the land, which is ironic, considering you might want to take a nap after indulging in Aidan’s authentic rendition. Served on Saturdays and Sundays only, the pub’s traditional Irish breakfast consists of two eggs any style, rashers (Irish bacon that is much closer to slices of fried ham than American bacon), bangers (sausage, but a far cry from Jimmy Dean’s lethargic links and substantially plumper), fried tomato, and black and white pudding (both are patties made from oatmeal, pork, bread, onions, and spices, only black pudding also traditionally contains pigs blood). The rich dish is served with home fries and slices of crumbly Irish brown bread that would make you believe you were perched in a pub on Galway Bay. Bristol

The Boozy Brunch: Waterdog Kitchen + Bar

This delicious new addition to Warren’s working waterfront sees no reason to save brunch for just Sundays and instead kicks off the breakfast-lunch hybrid meal on Fridays – that’s three days of kegs and eggs! In a homestead that seamlessly blends hip and historic (think exposed beams and roaring hearths but Anthro-style dishware and trendy wood accent walls), Waterdog’s well-curated menu pairs beautifully with their craft cocktails that are thoughtful but stop short of pretentious (plus wine on tap by Rhode Island’s own Anchor & Hope). If you’re brunching for the ‘gram, the brioche French toast is a picturesque stack topped with Portuguese custard and drizzled with wild berry port coulis and maple syrup, then generously dusted with powdered sugar. Pair it with the “Poochageez Bloody Mary,” made with Portuguese allspice, grilled chourico, pickled veggies, and pimenta moida (a spicy red pepper sauce). Another option: the Sunnyside Margarita. This tequila reposado concoction contains Aperol, lime, soda, and of course, a splash of orange juice (you know, vitamins). Warren  

The Hippest Brunch: Nomi Park

Combining vintage vibes, retro finds, and no shortage of animal print, Nomi Park is well matched for its location at The Wayfinder Hotel outside of downtown Newport. Snake plants and other greenery bedeck the space and a sun-dappled lounge space with reupholstered
mid-century modern furnishings, AKA the ideal setting to sip a piping hot latte from the coffee bar and snap a few selfies. Once you’ve thoroughly worked up an appetite, perch yourself in one of the fire engine red vinyl booth benches and prepare to be torn by the drool-worthy brunch menu. To be satiated until suppertime, opt for the Shakshuka, a one-skillet dish consisting of baked eggs swimming in a sauce of simmered tomato alongside feta and cilantro. On the lighter side but no less palate pleasing is the avocado toast, but may we suggest a remix and order the burrata version with heirloom tomatoes and pistachio served on sourdough. Pair it with a reimagined Rhode Island staple: coffee milk, only spiked with Rhode Island Spirits’ Rhodium Coffee & Black Walnut Vodka. Make it a staycation and take advantage of Rhode Island Hotel Month’s crazy low prices – The Wayfinder’s special rates start at $69. Newport

The Something-For-Everyone Brunch: Portside Tavern

Did someone say bottomless mimosas and sangria? Bunch is the real deal on Saturday and Sunday at Portside Tavern opposite Independence Park and Bristol Harbor. Their house-smoked salmon bennie is one for the ages with its cherrywood smoked salmon, poached egg duo, tomato, and classic hollandaise sauce. Tip: get the corned beef hash as your side. The “country music” three-egg omelet, however, is a true gut-buster with bacon, onions, potato, and smoked gouda bathed in sausage gravy (and some scallions, so you can say you ate your greens). The fried chicken and waffles are made more heavenly when the cinnamon butter and jack-honey and bacon maple syrup merge together and runneth over. Portside also offers a kids menu with favorites like pancakes and French toast, so brunch can be a true family affair. Teach ‘em young. Bristol

The Down Home Brunch: The Barn Restaurant

If you talk brunch on the Farm Coast and The Barn doesn’t lead the conversation, you’re doing it wrong. Also, around these parts, people are a little more specific about the well-loved rustic outpost’s location — The Barn’s not just in Little Compton; it’s in Adamsville, a historic village in Little Compton settled in 1675. In homage to the nearby Gray’s General Store, built in 1788 and known as the oldest operating general store in the US until it closed just a few years ago, a menu staple at The Barn is Rhode Island Johnny Cakes complete with crispy edges. But not everything is local-inspired. Weekly specials have included dishes like Eggs on the Bayou – two poached eggs atop real meat crab cakes with hollandaise sauce served on an English muffin. Insiders tip: The Barn really doesn’t have an off season, so unless you don’t mind a wait, arrive early. Adamsville

The Parisian Brunch: Le Central

With its decidedly Parisian bistro vibes and menu celebrating French classics like duck liver mousse and pâté de campagne avec poivre vert (a country terrine with pork, chicken liver, and green peppercorn pâté, served with grilled country bread, beaux mustard, house pickles, cornichons, and olives), you feel a world away once you walk through Le Central’s Hope Street door. Local ingredients include organic Little Rhody eggs in dishes including eggs Florentine and omelet aux ratatouille. Crepes here are “magnifique” while dishes that put the “unch” in brunch include Croque Monsieur, steak frites, onion soup gratinee, and nearly a half dozen salads. A trio of BLTs, including lobster, are served on brioche, naturally, while a selection of oysters are locally sourced. Bristol

The Legendary Brunch: Johnny’s Restaurant & Patio

Johnny’s Middletown Spa first opened its doors on the edge of the Atlantic, right where Newport and Middletown meet, about 100 years ago. Though destroyed by the Great Hurricane of 1938, Rhode Island resiliency ensured it was rebuilt. By 1960, the hotspot emerged as Johnny’s House of Seafood, and in the mid-1990s, with the acquisition of a neighboring watering hole, Johnny’s Atlantic Beach Club became a beloved beach bar-meets-upscale-dining-room with a popular lounge and second-floor event venue. Sunday brunch here became the stuff of legend with seemingly endless rows of chafing dishes boasting eggs, bacon, sausage, eggs Benedict, charcuterie, potatoes, an omelet station, breads and fruit, plus lunch items, baked stuffed scrod, and roast beef and ham carving stations. And desserts. Lots of desserts. Today, the brunch is replicated at Johnny’s at the Wyndham Newport Hotel, located about a mile inland from its original location. Served 10:30am to 2pm, it’s a blessing Easton’s Beach is just a few minutes away as you might need a brisk après brunch walk. Middletown

The Insta-Envy Brunch: The Beehive Cafe

If you tell someone you’re headed to The Beehive, you’ll likely be met with a wide smile, gentle sigh, and an “I love that place” thrown in. For more than a decade, the restaurant has served made-to-order dishes from its Franklin Street perch. The Gilmore Girls-esque eatery includes the cafe for dining and the quick-serve pantry where the sweet smell of cinnamon buns wafts out the front door daily and the coffee is top notch. Though new owners came on board this past November, patrons can expect the same great food with new creations. Warm up with a s’mores latte or make it high octane with a ginger cranberry margarita made with ginger beer, cranberry juice, tequila, and Cointreau served in sugar-rimmed glass and garnished with a sprig of rosemary and floating cranberries – just make sure you snap and post before taking a sip. Indulge in the gluten-free lemon-ricotta pancakes or opt for a special, like the cinnamon fig French toast with caramel and whipped cream. Breakfast is served all day, but be prepared: such perfection yields popularity, ergo crowds. Bristol

The Southern Style Brunch: Blue Anchor Grille

If you can’t jet down to the French Quarter for Sunday brunch, you can still score some pillowy soft beignets at this charming Island Park eatery which opened in 2020. While the classic deep fried doughy delights will easily win you over, level up with the banana caramel edition. Bananas also make an appearance in the stuffed French toast with cream cheese, drenched in Gosling’s maple syrup. The eggs ranchero offers another hearty heaping only with a Southwest twist: eggs your way plus black bean and sweet potato cake, chourico, avocado, and tortillas. Served 10am to 4pm Sundays, some afternoons you’ll catch live tunes, and with ample space in the dining room and plenty more around the bar, you’ll likely be seated right away. Portsmouth

A Very Vegan Brunch: Kaffeology

Eggs, bacon, sausage – all the brunch staples seem to have originated in the barnyard, which doesn’t sit well for vegans. With locations in downtown Newport and in Portsmouth, Kaffeology offers almost as many options for the plant-based populace as carnivores. The Vegan Vanderbilt is a tofu scramble with sautéed peppers and caramelized onions in a spinach wrap with roasted sweet potato, juicy tomato, sliced avocado, and Interstellar Microgreens with garlic, while the Vegan Cobb, made with crisp romaine, is topped with sweet corn, roasted sweet potato, cherry tomato, red onion, avocado, baked chickpeas, and meatless “bacon bits’’ topped with a dusting of nutritional yeast, tossed in house dressing. And for a sweet finale, there’s a bevy of vegan pastries. Newport & Portsmouth

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