On a recent Sunday in South Beach, Bagatelle (220 21st St., Miami Beach; 305-704-3900; bistrotbagatelle.com) began brunch with a DJ spinning and an order of le pain perdu — Nutella French toast — and ended with free-flowing drinks on a rowdy dance floor. About the same time, Chopped championGiorgio Rapicavoli was serving a peaceful parkside brunch at Glass & Vine (2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove; 305-200-5268; glassandvine.com) in Coconut Grove. In Wynwood, restaurant/gallery R House (2727 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0201; rhousewynwood.com) hosted a drag-themed brunch party, where patrons snacked on bottomless plates such as truffle mushroom mac 'n' cheese while divas sang and danced through the corridors.
Brunches in Miami range from calm, reasonably priced à la carte experiences to lavish buffets and spirited parties with effervescent crowds. The festivities often begin between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., allowing enough time to comfortably sleep in and work up an appetite. They end sometime in the early evening, leaving room for a light Sunday dinner.
As cooler temperatures roll in, Miami's transition into fall is marked by a bundle of old brunches to revisit and new ones to sample. Pro tip: Forgo air-conditioned meals for al fresco feasts on patios or in courtyards.
"An inspiring menu is an asset, and a mimosa or two definitely help," R House's director, Owen Bale, says. "But what every great brunch experience needs is a warm sense of coming together with family and friends. After a long workweek, brunch is a time to kick back, catch up, and be yourself with your nearest and dearest."
Before every restaurant in Miami made hosting brunch de rigueur, locals in the Grove had been enjoying mimosas and omelets at GreenStreet Café (3468 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 305-444-0244; greenstreetcafe.net) for more than two decades. Today Michael Beltran's Ariete (3540 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 305-640-5862; arietemiami.com) has joined them with regular dishes such as Dallas breakfast burritos and salmon bagels.
On South Beach's Lincoln Road, Juvia (1111 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-763-8272; juviamiami.com) offers a prix-fixe brunch in a rooftop dining room, where menu items such as beef carpaccio, smoked salmon eggs Benedict, and grilled skirt steak rotate every few weeks.
A few blocks north inside the Confidante, Bird & Bone (4041 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-424-1234; theconfidantemiamibeach.hyatt.com) serves a Southern spread on a farmhouse-inspired patio. Find chef Richard Hales' best-selling dishes, such as hot chicken 'n' waffle drizzled with Chinese hot mustard and local honey;biscuit Benedicts coated in a thick, gravy-like hollandaise; and fried apple hand pies.
"People often view brunch as an activity versus just a meal, and they're more likely to stay, socialize, and have a few drinks rather than just eat and run," Bird & Bone's food and beverage director, Peter Abbruscato, says. "Miami's brunch scene is so unique because we have access to the outdoors all year-round. Outdoor spaces add to the overall brunch experience, where we are just a stone's throw away from the beach."
On the mainland, R House hosts brunch with all the fixings: unlimited small plates, a choice of hearty entrées, bottomless mimosas and sangria, and live performances every 15 minutes. It's worth the $60 price.
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A few miles north, on Miami's Upper Eastside, Phuc Yea (7100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-494-0609; phucyea.com) marries Vietnamese and Cajun flavors, popular in Houston and New Orleans, to create items such as "brekky" nachos, a spinoff of traditional breakfast nachos, where sesame rice crackers are smothered in salsa, crème fraîche, bird's-eye chilies, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg.
In North Miami Beach, Danny Serfer's Mignonette Uptown (13951 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami Beach; 305-705-2159; mignonettemiami.com) uses the weekend to whip up French-fried chicken toast, for which crunchy chicken fingers are stuffed inside a half shell of crisp brioche dipped in a sweet egg batter and fried; Maine lobster and crab Benedict served on crisp latkes; and honey-butter rum buns.
Out west at the Trump National Doral Miami, BLT Prime (4400 NW 87th Ave., Doral; 305-591-6606; bltrestaurants.com), helmed by chef de cuisine Dustin Ward, curates a $69 grand buffet generously stocked with the restaurant's legendary popovers, along with cheese and charcuterie, smoked bacon, short ribs, pancakes, and Belgian waffles.
Though Miami offers a dizzying array of choices in venues and menus, each brunch is unique. Wherever you end up this weekend, go bottomless.