Order a slab of layer cake or a hot fudge sundae for breakfast and garner more than a few raised eyebrows, but ask for an equally indulgent tiramisu or bananas foster in the form of your typical brunch fare and suddenly it’s totally fair game. “You want the crème brûlée? What kind of … oh, the crème brûlée waffles. Excellent choice!” This weekend, gather with friends for an unhurried morning meal and treat yourself to a sweet plate that practically comes with a certificate for one free nap afterward. These decadent dishes go beyond the usual waffles, pancakes, and french toast for a distinctly dessert-like take on brunch. Live the dream and order dessert for breakfast!
The Little Lion, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Old City eatery named after Alexander Hamilton reinvents a Southern dessert favorite with an unforgettable breakfast feast. For their Red Velvet French Toast, a cheesecake spread is sandwiched between layers of chocolatey bread and comes with a side of raspberry maple syrup for dipping or drenching. Our founding fathers would be duly impressed. Make a reservation at The Little Lion.
Max Brenner, Boston Massachusetts
At this chocolate lover’s mecca, there’s an entire section of the menu dedicated to a sweet brunch. You’ll find treats like White Chocolate Cream French Toast, Illegal Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Pancakes, and the aptly named After Party Belgian Waffles. Two hot waffles are the backdrop for balsamic strawberries, strawberry honey, melted white chocolate, and a healthy (sized) scoop of whipped cream. Take a cue from the name and order these after a late Saturday night — chocolate is a surprisingly powerful cure-all. Make a reservation at Max Brenner.
La Sirena, New York, New York
The fluffy Amaretti Mascarpone Pancakes at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s newest Italian restaurant — their first to serve breakfast — have actual amaretto cookies shaved on top for a nicely sweet, nutty flavor. What’s the opposite of a short stack? We’ll have that, per favore. Make a reservation at La Sirena.
Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky
This isn’t your grandmother’s casserole. Unless, of course, your grandmother’s recipe calls for liberal scoops of nutella and marshmallow. At this airy, art-filled space inside Louisville’s 21c Museum Hotel, chef Mike Wajda makes a French Toast Casserole with everyone’s favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, marshmallow fluff, and a hazelnut crunch for an indulgent spin on the classic breakfast staple. Make a reservation at Proof on Main.
Siena Tavern, Chicago, Illinois
In an effort to incorporate the restaurant’s beloved Tiramisu on the brunch menu at chef Fabio Viviani’s bustling Italian eatery, pastry chef Amy Arnold dreamed up the Tiramisu French Toast. With espresso-soaked brioche, marsala cream, and white chocolate, chef Arnold describes it as “your morning coffee and a day’s worth of dessert all wrapped up into breakfast.” Translation: there’s coffee in here, so it’s the perfect way to kick start your day. Make a reservation at Siena Tavern.
Avenue Kitchen, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
This stylish, sunny bistro takes the best part of the quintessential French dessert — the entire thing — and places it atop a perfectly fluffy Belgian waffle. Chef Gregory Smith whips up a vanilla bean crème brûlée, then torches the sugary top to create the signature crisp, caramelized coating. Custard fills the pressed pockets, and with every decadent bite you’ll wonder why all French restaurants don’t offer their crème brûlée on a waffle. Make a reservation at Avenue Kitchen.
Isla, Austin, Texas
Austin’s own Caribbean cantina serves up a sweet island-inspired brunch, complete with Bananas Foster French Toast. Chef de cuisine Alex Hughes explains, “Who doesn’t want dessert for breakfast? Ever since I was young, bananas foster has been a go-to for me. Now everyone can enjoy the best of both worlds.” To recreate the classic dessert, chef Hughes uses housemade brioche, sliced bananas, and Pilar rum caramel sauce. Paired with one of Isla’s signature brunch cocktails (the Goodie Goodie Rumdrop, perhaps?), it’s a recipe for a carefree, breezy kind of Sunday. Make a reservation at Isla.