01/15/2012 10:59 am ET Updated Mar 16, 2012

America's Best Brunches (PHOTOS)

If everybody's working for the weekend, then brunch is our reward. Unlike grab-and-go breakfast, the best brunches are drawn-out, indulgent meals in good company that inspire you to shake off those covers and then linger over another round of Bloody Marys.

America's best brunch spots deliver that kind of pick-me-up first and foremost through their food, whether it's reinterpreting classics, highlighting regional flavors, or simply churning out the most delectable comfort dishes around. But atmosphere counts, too, as does the approval of locals. In San Francisco, that can mean satisfying cravings for fresh goat cheese on toast with lavender oil, while a New Orleans spot specializes in Cajun-inspired fare like hearty sweet potato and duck hash with a cornbread waffle. Other brunch restaurants even rethink the Pop-Tart.

Yet not all chefs look forward to brunch time. In his nonfiction book Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain, a former line cook, called brunch "punishment" for the B-team cooks (whose supervision is at a minimum) and a "dumping ground" for the week's leftovers. For diners, it's the possibility of crowds or a long wait that can be the biggest brunch turnoff. But these brunch haters remain a vocal minority pushing against the tide of enthusiasm expressed by present-day fans on sites like and

In their celebratory spirit, here are the coast-to-coast spots most likely to cheer up everyone in your brunch party.

- Nina Fedrizzi

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America's Best Brunches