07/21/2014 10:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Brunch Like an American Hero: The Definitive Guide

These are dark times for brunch, my fellow citizens. Just a few months ago, in a fiasco as absurd as it was frightening, this nation's mightiest city nearly lost its God-given right to drink bottomless mimosas while eating brioche-everything and talking about Coachella. Across the country, our fast-food overlords are horning in for a share of the morning hangover crowd, brunch's traditional constituent base. The specter of linner (lunch plus *shudder* dinner) looms ever closer.

American brunch needs American heroes, you guys. And we are them. They are us? Whatever, you get the point.

Or rather, you will get the point --ALL OF THE POINTS -- once you've digested this totally official, critically important, extremely definitive guide to brunching with the vigor of Captain America himself. Its wisdom will deliver you -- unfettered by wait times, unruly waitstaff, and poorly mixed Bloody Marys -- to Flavor Country, a mythical All-American burgh whose population is composed of only the most dedicated disciples of our beloved weekend ritual. When the dust settles, you'll be a soldier of fortune/frittata, ready to deftly navigate the pitfalls of any early-afternoon egg encounter while keeping brunch's proud flame alight.

This, my comrades in corned beef hash, is how to brunch like an American hero.


Credit: The Frying Pan

Step 1: Pick your place
Like the wands in Harry Potter, your ideal brunch spot will choose you as much as you, it. (Or at least, that's how it was in the first couple books, after which I stopped reading because, y'know: the Internet!) But there are commonly coveted factors, and to ignore them in your vetting process is to risk spending your special day in the muggle equivalent of the Weasleys' disgusting hovel. (Do they ever end up getting a new house? Are any of these references accurate? Let me know.)

Once you locate a candidate with these crucial traits, do not hesitate to get a reservation, because waiting for brunch is for plebes:

  • Cool neighborhood. Pick an area edgy enough for cool Instagrams & hot Tinder right-swipes, but not so edgy you'll feel endangered gramming/swiping there. Density of viable post-brunch bars is critical. There should also be at least one convenience store nearby, at which to purchase a pack of cigarettes when you inevitably get not-sober enough to start smoking again "just for today".
  • Pet-friendly, kid-unfriendly. Nothing will make your weekend brunch more enjoyable than the presence of a puppy, and nothing can make it less so than a screaming child. Bars that do brunch are generally more welcoming to small, leashed animals, while remaining blessedly unappealing to the dastardly young parents out there trying to spoil your fun.
  • Outdoor seating. Sidewalk tables are good (people-watching!), but a back patio/deck is better (people-watching, plus less incentive to behave decently!). In dire circumstances, flung-open oversized windows will do. When brunching with undesirables (second cousins, former coworkers, former cousins, etc.), sit indoors to hasten the meal's conclusion -- a Pyrrhic victory, sure, but a victory nonetheless.
  • Parking. If you exist outside a bustling metropolitan center, you'll want a brunch destination with plentiful parking. Heroes don't spend precious minutes scouring side streets for a Pontiac Aztek-sized spot while the rest of their group crushes beignets.
  • Accepts credit cards. Nothing will imperil your post-brunch activity outlook faster than six separate trips to a down-the-block ATM. Plan ahead.

More: How to Day Drink: The Definitive Guide


Step 2: Rally the troops
No man is an island, and, as such, no brunch can be either. But don't get overzealous with your invites. Though your friends are all (probably) great in their respective ways, they may not all be brunch material. Be selective! For maximal morning mealing, shoot for a crew of 8-10, peppered with the following personalities:

  • The loudmouth. He's annoying, he's incorrigible, and an unreasonable number of his stories revolve around this one time eight years ago when he met Ja Rule in a Meineke. But his narcissistic energy will be invaluable, especially in the grueling downtime between seat-taking & drink-receiving.
  • The industry drinker. She's a bartender, or she's banging a bartender -- or both. Thanks to her wisdom, you'll quench your thirst with unspoken shot-and-beer combos instead of watery mimosas. She'll also have stories about bathroom sex, which will fuel your motivation to hook up with her following this brunch. That said: she can drink more than you. Proceed with caution.
  • The petite girl. All good brunch plates must come to an end, unless you're this girl, in which case, you've never finished an entire plate of food in your life. Sit next to this bird-eating bird, and you're all-but guaranteed another half-meal when she taps out early.
  • The photographer. Someone needs to document this rabble-rousing, but it's not gonna be you. Let this social media zealot waste his phone battery on the festivities, while you crush waffles and conserve juice on airplane mode.
  • The bill-splitter. His incessant blithering about "fuh-nontz" is obnoxious in literally every other context, but in those irritating occasions where credit cards aren't accepted (or there's an arbitrary limit on how many they'll run), his self-important math skills will be your savior.

Pro-tip: Book a reservation before assembling your crew. This way, you control the numbers, instead of the other way around. Oh, Mike wants to bring his frumpy, mouthbreathing cousin along? The one who gets weirdly sweaty on his shoulders? You already tried to expand the table, but the restaurant wouldn't let you. Bummer, Mr. Sweat-Drenched Fun-Hater!

Learn all the rest of the ways to brunch like an American hero, including CRITICAL steps like "go hard the night before", "eat something the morning of", and what your dress code should be -- all on!

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