People first started calling a late morning/early afternoon weekend meal “brunch” in 1895, but neither the term nor the idea grew popular in the U.S. — or elsewhere around the world — until the 1930s.
Brunch was initially promoted as a time- and labor-saving opportunity for women, because it meant they’d have one less meal to prepare on what should have been a day of rest. That might be partially why the meal has become so strongly associated with, among other occasions, Mother’s Day. Each May, many dutiful sons and daughters today seek out the best brunch spots to take their moms in every state.
Brunch has become such a popular meal that even many restaurants that don’t serve weekday lunch will fire up their ovens on Sunday (and sometimes also Saturday) morning. Approaches to brunch vary greatly. Some restaurants offer short, focused menus, heavy on eggs and morning confections like pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Others propose dozens of choices, ranging from omelettes and the inevitable eggs Benedict (the heraldic dish of American brunch) to burgers, pasta, even steak.
Many brunches are all-American in nature, with Southern classics being particularly popular. In many places, in fact, brunch offers a great opportunity to sample biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes, and all those other iconic Southern foods you have to try at least once.
Other cuisines are often represented on brunch menus, too, though — French (croque monsieur, quiche), Mexican (huevos rancheros, chilaquiles), Asian (Japanese-style pancakes, kimchee fried rice), and more.
These aren’t the only great brunch places in the country — there are probably hundreds that deserve to be hailed — but they all undeniably deserve a place of honor on 24/7 Tempo’s list of the best brunch spots in America.