Brunch, Sunday’s Happy Place

Brunch. To me, that meal is often associated with a hangover, or at least an uneasy feeling that food and sunshine are not worth rolling out of bed for early on a Sunday morning. But you might need to brave the young day due to friend obligations, the inability to work the coffee maker, parental units needing your attention, or your half-grown kids wanting to overtly hit you up for money. So you agree to brunch. *sigh* At least you should eat well.

Any brunch place worth its salt will have three things: bottomless cups of coffee, optional outdoor seating, and a menu that offers sweet and savory breakfast and lunch dishes.

Not required, but definitely appreciated, is a place that also offers typical brunch drinks like mimosas and bloody marys. Of course here in Gainesville, we’re limited by some archaic laws that don’t allow alcohol to be served before 1 o’clock on Sunday. So if you require some hair of the dog, time it so you arrive around 12:30 because most servers will kindly announce when they are allowed to take orders for adult beverages.

So where to go in Gainesville on a bright Sunday morning? We have our standard haunts that are veggie friendly, but are always open to suggestions. We would recommend starting with one of these:

• Leonardo’s 706 (or just 706)
High on the list because they have some delish standard menu items including omelets, benedicts, tofu stirfry, pancakes and french toast. Or commit to the buffet if you like big breakfasts because it’s packed with goodies. They have some great never-ending coffee, as well as the fancy stuff that requires a French accent to order, and noteworthy alcohol-mixed drinks (their mimosa is a favorite). It’s a bit pricey when you look at the menu, but you get a full bang for your buck because the minute you sit down, you’re served with their famous brunch punch (citrus, ginger, and watermelon) and mini-muffins (usually chocolate, cream cheese, berry, etc), and you’ll be delivered hot latkas (crispy potato pancakes). First rate service and an eclectic menu makes this a standard for us.
**Midtown, 706 W. University Ave [find them on Facebook!]**
Website: Leonardos-706.com

• The Top
“The Top?” you say. Why, yes. They’ve revamped their brunch offerings. If you like their dinner menu, you won’t be disappointed in brunch. They even have some decent vegan options which can be hard to come by. I absolutely recommend the Cuban bread with guava jelly and goat cheese to start with. Or they have vegan biscuits and gravy. The menu changes from week to week depending on what they’ve got on hand, but it usually looks like pancakes and grits, and home fries, and other hot comfort food that is better with syrup or hot sauce. And as always at the Top, you’ll get enough food to take some home for later. My only caution is that the pancakes tend to taste like the griddle, an oddly cloying cooking oil flavor. A bonus of the Top is that you don’t get a big wait time like at some of the other places. If you show up at the crack of 11:00, you can get your pick of tables. [They post that brunch is from 11 to 2. Check the chalkboard and specials menu.]
**University and Main, a block north, just follow the smell of food**

• The Flying Biscuit
Yes, this is a small chain restaurant, but it’s not sold its soul off yet. If the bright Disney-like interior design doesn’t wake you up, and regular coffee doesn’t sound appealing, try one of their insane drinks… you can get four shots of espresso in a bowl-size cup with whipped cream, or a Guinness (yes, the beer!) with shots of espresso in that. Once you’re awake and you’re grazing the menu, you’ll see there is almost no end to options. They’re all pretty good. And don’t even think about leaving without trying their biscuits. I heartily recommend one of their huge omelet meals if you know you can eat a lot. If you are not into big breakfasts, make sure to check out their sides menu where you can mix and match grits (light, made with cream cheese), half-order of french toast, soysage, ‘moon dusted’ potatoes, and more. Good food for good prices, and the staff are fun people. There is always a waiting list, but it’s worth it! [It’s posted that they open at 7am but that’s not verified, and who the heck wants to eat that early on Sunday anyway?]
**Northwest / Thornebrook area, near Fresh Market [find them on Facebook!]**
Website: FlyingBiscuit.com

• Ivey’s Grill
I have to add Ivey’s because they don’t have much for veggies, but do I love their potato pancakes. The coffee is good, and they have some great specials. Absolutely worth checking out. The small dining room is relaxed, and theres usually a wait time or it’s pretty busy. A good regular client base means good food and good service.
**University and 34th, next to Sunflower**
Website (incomplete): IveysGrill.com

• 43rd St Deli
Many people are partial to 43rd St Deli because they have a lot of options at reasonable prices. Ever since they closed the one on 13th St to make room for the huge CVS, I’ve hesitated to make the drive across town to one of the other locations. They earned a good following because of their real down-home cooking style, and there’s plenty of veggie and vegan options as well. Hint: check out the specials menu before anything else. Brunching here will definitely not break the bank.
**NW 43rd St location, behind Zaxby’s & Las Margaritas**
**SW Williston Rd location, just south of I-75**

That’s not the final list of options, but this is where we generally think to go first when someone says “Brunch!”. There are a few other places we want to check out over time, and we’ll add them as we gather info. If you want to suggest something, we’re open to ideas.

[Girl21]

Flying Biscuit for Brunch

You’re with family or friends and everyone in the group wants something different to eat. It’s Sunday morning. You’re hungry. You don’t want to deal with this before you’ve had a cup of coffee.

Simple. Flying Biscuit. It’s a small chain from Atlanta. Our Gainesville restaurant is one of the few not in Georgia. It’s up near 43rd and 16th/23rd a few doors down from Fresh Market and Dorn’s. They open every day at 7AM.

It’s a medium size restaurant. A bit on the cute side with their interior design. Southern style food in a we-don’t-cook-everything-in-lard kind of way. It’s always busy on Sunday morning. Even if you call ahead to get on the list (and we recommend that you call ahead) the wait can get to be 1+ hour. But that’s a good sign.

Flying Biscuit for BrunchThe menu covers breakfast and brunch in depth, from omelette to grits (oh the grits!) to pancakes to french toast. And of course, biscuits. And let me tell you, if your meal doesn’t already include a biscuit, order one on the side. That is the whole point of the place, and you’ll thank me for the advice. Big, fluffy, sprinkled with seasoned sugar, and spread with cranberry apple butter. Num num num.

But most important before the food is caffeine. Duh! Coffee. Can’t tolerate your breakfast-mates until you’ve woken up the old grey cells, right? If you don’t think a good old cup of coffee is good enough, you can get a Steamer, which is basically four shots of espresso and steamed milk (or soy milk) in a BIG cup. Better yet, confuse your brain… get a Guinness with two shots of espresso. Yes, beer and coffee. What better way to wake up?

As vegetarians, we’re happy to find any place that recognizes our second-class status. Flying Biscuit has Morningstar Farms soysage patties, several variations of tofu scramble, and even organic oatmeal pancakes. And they’ve got a few healthier dishes in case you want to sooth your guilt and go for some collard greens or black bean patties.

The menu is laced with some other options if you’re not in a breakfast mood. They offer salads, sandwiches, wraps, burritos and daily stoup (that would be where soup and stew meet into a perfect bowl of goodness). Honestly, I’ve never been in a non-breakfast mood walking into that place though. A switch gets thrown in my head and I MUST order something I can put butter or syrup or apple butter on.

If you’re like me, you have a hard time settling on one thing on the menu. Especially when you look around and see the amount of food you get with each order. Which is why I love a corner of the menu where the sides live. They’ve got half-orders of some of their best goodies. That way you can choose the things that tickle your drool circuits without overdoing (much). Half order of french toast. One pancake or biscuit. A bowl of grits (probably the yummiest restaurant grits EVER!). A bowl of fruit. Soysage patties. Mix it up and pack your tummy with exactly what you want.

The prices are fair; you get a lot of food for your hard earned dollars. I don’t think we’ve ever been there without taking food away for later. Usually the car ride home. And might I suggest ordering a few biscuits to take home? Trust me on this.

www.flyingbiscuit.com
(Yes, they’re on Facebook too!)

4150 NW 16th Blvd.
Gainesville, FL 32605
Phone: (352) 373-9500

Hours: 7AM-9PM (Wed-Sat)
7AM-4PM (Sun)
7AM-3PM (Mon-Tue)
Tables & Booths (some outdoor tables, and breakfast bar stools)
Service: polite, personal, efficient
Payment: All of the usual options

[Girl21]