To be honest, I wrote this post a long time and ago. I’m not a huge brunch person, mostly because I’ve worked nightlife jobs in both Taipei and Shanghai, which usually leads to the combination of many BIG NIGHTS OUT and I am NOT that aspirational girl that can put on sunglasses and drag her hungover ass out for food the next day. (UBEReats and Sherpas for me, please). But I mean, I’ve been to some brunches. Enough to write a post on it, I guess. So, here it is:
(Thankfully @taipeifoodie is my exact opposite, and has an impressive array of brunch places on her Instagram. Follow here for a comprehensive look, which this post is definitely not):
THE OH MY GOD I’M SO HUNGOVER BRUNCH
• The Diner [two locations]: Ah, the American food classic. The food is certainly not creative or inventive by any means – just the usual diner staples, but done well. The omelettes are solid. I love the nachos, and buffalo wings – but to be honest, I love those things pretty much anywhere. I go with my family to the location on Ruian St. all the time – although I wouldn’t necessarily meet with friends there – and wouldn’t necessarily take visitors.
• Herban Kitchen & Bar: This vegetarian restaurant is another brunch favorite. I like to sit on the outside patio now that’s its cooler, and they’ve got a creative menu that’s meatless but extremely hearty. Friends like the Swiss Rosti (basically a magical potato pancake smothered in sour cream), but I always get the “pink” pasta – sundried tomato cream sauce and home-made gnocchi.
• Whalen’s 味鄰 is where I go when I am way too hungover to actually enjoy the experience of brunch, and just want to scarf down food with no makeup on, in my gym shorts. Poutine solves everything, and when I’m feeling healthy (read: not hungover), I like their yogurt with granola.
THE GOSSIP-UNTIL-AFTERNOON INSTAGRAM-WORTHY BRUNCH
• NOM NOM: This cafe tucked into the quiet alleys behind National Taiwan Normal University (Shida) is popular with the local hipster contingent. The creatively styled brunch plates are Instagram-worthy, although maybe not the most filling. Although I may be totally off the mark, I personally call what places like NOM NOM and Duomo offer “bento brunch”: it’s a lot of small items and dishes arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way. I love how low-key it is, although they take a good long while to make the food, so don’t go if you’re in a rush.
• Duomo Cafe 多麼: My absolute favorite brunch spot – one that I take out-of-towners who may have more rigorous brunch standards. Housed in a beautifully designed two-floor structure, this cafe specialises in home-made waffles with a selection of jams. I usually get on of their “bento brunch” plates and share a plate of waffles-‘n’-jam with a friend.
• Sugar Pea: Aussie-style brunch in a light-drenched, Instagram-optimised setting. Banana pancakes and chipotle chicken bowl, very good. I wrote about Sugar Pea here.
• Woolloomooloo [multiple locations]: The OG Aussie-style cafe, although they’ve branched out quite a bit in the past few years, with WOW Woolloomooloo Out West. How could an Aussie-inspired resto not have at least a decent brunch? This one is just decent, but I’d go for the atmosphere, and for their ricotta & sundried tomato toast, or avocado eggs benedict- the only thing that pisses me off is that they’re a la carte, while Taipei brunches tend to be sold in sets, but that’s my cheap-ass Asian coming out – now that I think of it, Singapore was always a la carte. Plus, they’re open early.
THE BOOZY HOTEL BRUNCH
• W Hotel [The Kitchen Table]: My birthday tradition, mostly because there is free-flow champagne. The buffet isn’t spectacular but if you secure a table by the pool, it’s really nice – and even if you do get seated indoors at The Kitchen Table, it’s still nice, because – alcohol. Great service as always.
IF YOU DON’T REALLY ACTUALLY LIKE BRUNCH aka, WHY ARE THESE PLACES POPULAR?
• Grandma Nitti’s: Man, Grandma Nitti’s got so shitty. Would not recommend – even with their free-refill coffee. The food is horrible and overpriced now.
• Second Floor Cafe [multiple locations]: This place is like a B-grade version of The Diner. Everything is sub-par atmosphere, the food, and the hours-long queues (why?) – all at the same exact same prices as you’d get at other places (read: The Diner).
• September Cafe I fail to see the appeal of this place and all its other related outlets. The little clouds hung up in the corner are cute I guess, but the food is overpriced and mediocre. Leave this one for the socialites and head elsewhere.