Plates Neighborhood Kitchen

Brunch Drunk Love

In Feature Stories, May 2022 by Raleigh Magazine1 Comment

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Breakfast is a meal. Brunch is a culture. But it hasn’t always been that way. We dig into why brunch’s star rose to such epic heights—plus the best bloodys & brunch patios in town.

Brunch is serious business. Literally. On any given Sunday (or Saturday) you see waitlists and rez lists long enough to make you think you’re waiting for a taste of the Last Supper.

But it hasn’t always been that way. Locally, a bloody and some scramble used to be as easy as posting up at Hibernian for their once-famous brunch buffet—and the toughest breakfast ticket in town was Waffle House at 2am after a night out (to ward off the hangover, natch). 

Now, what used to be a simple excuse to day drink during its come-up has arguably propelled to one of the most booming and iconic pasttimes in cultural and dining history. 

More than just a meal, it’s an experience. And while brunch is not new—and it’s not just a millennial movement (though no one’s denying that gen loves to get avocado toast-ed. Who doesn’t?), a deep dive into its history tells us the concept of mixing spirits and brekky are new-ish (relatively speaking).

“During the pandemic people started hunkering down at home more with early bedtimes. Brunch offers an early-to-bed option with all the fun of a dinner experience but without the formalities—and all before sundown.”

Coleen Speaks, chef/owner, Hummingbird

Expert Farha Ternikar breaks down our complicated relationship with the century-plus old repast in Brunch: A History. Originally a boy’s club—literally—brunch circa 1900s was designated as a meal for college men (at that time, women weren’t attending en masse) who woke up late. Then, enter Prohibition—clearly stifling the spirit of brunch, as people discreetly imbibed in their homes (hence the juices in mimosas and bloodys as cloaks for the alcohol). Pause for a nod to our great-grandparents for keeping the dream of morning ’tails alive. 

Post-Prohibition, especially around the “fringe” ’60s & ’70s when protests were more popular than pancakes, brunch was more of a counterculture movement—not so trendy in restaurants as much as a way to entertain at home. 

But IHOP changed all that. And Denny’s. And the like. In addition to giving us big hair and parachute pants, the ’80s brought pancakes to the masses—and moved the meal from metropolises like NYC into the suburbs, where IHOP became all the rage.

From the bowels of private dens and restaurant chains fueling a movement into the belly of established kitchens, we’ve since fed on brunch’s epic rise in popularity—and watched (and noshed) as it secured its spot in American mainstream culture. A shift from scramble and hash and buffets to thoughtful breakfast fare if you will. 

But that shift wasn’t overnight. It was slow and steady—and then, arguably of late, all at once, thanks to a cultural shift bookended by a pandemic (read desperate return to society and out-of-home dining), church that became more flexible as it moved online, and updated liquor local laws that allow you to imbibe that bloody in the Bible Belt before noon—a cure for that eggsistential crisis if you will. As a result, our money is on both the business and the iconolatry of brunch soaring to new epic heights. 

Says Hummingbird owner Coleen Speaks: “For Hummingbird, brunch has become the breadwinner! Brunch has always been solid, but over the last six to eight months it has doubled in volume.” She adds: “Many restaurants stopped doing lunch during COVID, and brunch offers people that fix that they can’t find during the week anymore.”

No doubt a luxury of time and money—as well as a social driver—from that first 1900s bite, today’s brunch is more than a stereotype. It’s a bonding ritual. It’s an impassioned pastime. And it’s been credited for reviving the art of conversation. 

It’s not a fad. And it’s not just fodder for your Instagram feed (though double-tap on). And, yes, the stereotypes exist in all their hilarity, but our deep desire to press pause, gather with our people and decompress over drinks is real—and as bottomless as those mimosas. And it isn’t going anywhere.


Alfresco Affairs

THE TRIFECTA: Great cocktails, great food and great patios

Wye Hill

Go for the chef-driven brekky selects, stay for the skyline vistas (find a better view, we’ll wait). Resting brunch face commence. Reservations recommended, wyehill.com
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Shakshuka

Rosewater

Rosewater

Relationship status: it’s caffeinated (and spirited). And romance is def in the air on Rosewater’s enchanting garden patio with its lush greenery surrounds and climbing roses. But you won’t need that excuse… as your full attention will be on chef Brian Jenzer’s beautiful, mouthwatering (and healthy) brunch menu—think breakfast risotto, fine herb omelet and tartines. Do it for the ’Gram—and your belly, of course. Reservations recommended, rosewaterraleigh.com
Served: Sun.
Our pick: Steak & eggs

Plates Neighborhood Kitchen

If your love for brunch is bottomless, meet us on the patio at Plates—where head chef David Mitchell dishes up an ever-evolving cast of globally inspired locally produced brunch selects five days a week alongside a full-service coffee shop. Ah, the perfect blend. Reservations recommended, plateskitchen.com
Served: Wed.–Sun.
Our pick: Brunch quesadilla 

Young Hearts Distilling 

Turn down for brunch at Trophy Brewing Co.’s DTR distillery serving a full program of farm-to-table bites, which pair well with its program of perf potables. Used primarily for private events, the roof space overlooking Wilmington Street is fair game for brunch dining—making it a must-reserve Sunday seat. Reservations recommended, trophybrewing.com
Served: Sun.
Our pick: Biscuits & “sausage” gravy (VG)

Barcelona Wine Bar

Barcelona Wine Bar 

Tapas for brunch? Brilliant. You’re gonna wanna squad up for the renowned regional juggernaut’s brunch tapas so that you can try everything—from the savory olive oil pancakes to the wild mushroom scramble to the gambas and grits. Best paired with the guava-lavender-lemon mimosa. Fizz the season! Reservations recommended, barcelonawinebar.com
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Potato tortilla

Clouds Brewing, Chorizo Benedict

Clouds Brewing

You’ll be on cloud nine after a leisurely brunch at Clouds thanks to its German-inspired eats + classic hearty brunch dishes (NTM brunch drinks and bloody bar!) Brunchin’ is a habit. Reservations recommended, cloudsbrewing.com
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Chorizo Benedict 

Midtown Grille

Intimate patio vibes, morning ’tails and bangin’ brunch collide at Midtown Grille via a range of delectable dishes best polished off on the partially covered patio—aka the perf perch for soaking up the spring sun… and people-watching, natch. Reservations recommended, themidtowngrille.com
Served: Sun.
Our pick: Shorty hash

Relish 

Taters gonna tate—and tots are on order at this Northwest Raleigh brunch staple, paired with pretty
much anything from the scrumptious Southern-inspired craft kitchen menu. First come, first served; join waitlist ahead, relishraleigh.com
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Mama’s chicken biscuit

Mandolin

Happy hollandaise indeed from this longtime local fave where sublime herb and flower box surrounds serve as a the perf serene backdrop for NC-style elevated brunch selects (think farm-fresh eggs sourced straight from chef Sean Fowler’s own Mandolin Farm (!) to scratch-made buttermilk biscuits, local Tepuy Donuts and more). Reservations recommended, mandolinraleigh.com
Served: Sun.
Our pick: Johnston Co. country ham Benedict

St. Roch 

Mary Smokes When She Drinks—just one of the buzzy beguiling beverages (an aptly named bloody) that brings us back to St. Roch again and again. And don’t even get us started on that best-in-class Nawlins-inspired cuisine. But, the epitome? Those in-the-know request the hidden back patio—aka a primo secluded spot for noshing on 2022 James Beard Foundation semifinalist chef Sunny Gerhart’s bold Cajun brunch dishes. A sweet escape, if you will. Reservations recommended, strochraleigh.com
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Bolo ’n Grits

Humble Pie 

No matter how you slice it, brunch on Humble Pie’s patio overlooking the ever-burgeoning Warehouse District has easily been one of the best seats in town since its humble beginnings in 1989. Period. Reservations recommended, humblepierestaurant.com
Served: Sun.
Our pick: Huevos Rancheros

Whiskey Kitchen

No Champagne, no gain. Grab your brunch buddies and head to WK for a “mimosa party”—aka a bottle of bubbles and orange juice—plus hearty brunch plates out on one of the best patios in town. And like mimosas, our love for it is bottomless. Reservations recommended, whiskey.kitchen
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Nash Square Breakfast Sandwich

Hummingbird (Chair8 Media)

Hummingbird

She’s got eggs and she knows how to use them. Chef/owner Coleen Speaks is easily serving up some of brunch’s best bites in town at Dock 1053 with a cocktail program that you’re gonna wanna mimosey on over for. Reservations recommended, hummingbirdraleigh.com
Served: Sat. & Sun.
Our pick: Chicken & waffle


5 spots for business over breakfast 

  • A Place at the Table 
  • Big Ed’s
  • Plates
  • Pam’s Farmhouse
  • State Farmers Market Restaurant

Oh, Bloody Hell (Yeah)

Tazza Kitchen 

While the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, it’s the little things that go into Tazza’s bloodys that make them oh-so-delicious. Think roasted cherry tomatoes, spicy pickles, Cholula and Worcestershire. @tazzakitchen

The Raleigh Times

Bacon and bloodys—name a better duo, we’ll wait. The RTB Bloody Mary is the perf pre-brunchin’ drink/snack, thanks to its house-pickled green beans, pepperoncini and candied bacon toppings. @raleightimesbar

NOFO

If you haven’t tried NOFO’s housemade “ribbon-winning” bloody mary, you haven’t lived. It’s a Raleigh favorite for a reason. @nofo_at_the_pig

Clouds Brewing

Clouds’ famous bloody mary bar is returning for your sipping pleasure May 1 (!)—and so to celebrate you’re gonna wanna go all out with your brunch bev toppings… bring on the toppers (pickles, celery, olives—oh, my!), mixers and allll the hot sauces. @cloudsbrewingraleigh

The Station

Sunday, bloody Sunday (and Saturday!). Venture to The Station every weekend for $6 bloody marys, made with a house bloody mix and garnished with bacon, olives, lemons and lime. @stationraleigh

Humble Pie

With the perfect ratio of spice, tomato juice and vodka, Humble Pie’s bloody is the ideal way to ward off the Sunday Scaries or beat a hangover. Hair of the dog, anyone? @humblepieraleigh

St. Roch

St. Roch’s smoky spin on the classic bloody mary is just what you need to wake you up after a long night (or, er, early morning). Dubbed Mary Smokes When She Drinks, it’s made up of smoked tomato, Worcestershire, hot sauce, lemon and vodka. @strochraleigh

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