Brunch may be an American invention, but Europeans have been quick to adopt it as their own—and, in some cases, improve on it.
Tara Penke, from Santa Barbara, California, has lived in Barcelona since 2002. Five years ago, she and her Chilean husband, Jaime, opened a restaurant in the city's trendy El Born neighborhood and named it Picnic. It quickly became one of the most popular brunch joints in the city. "My understanding of brunch is basically this: take your best salty dishes, mix them with your favorite desserts, sweets and baked goods, and add cocktails," said Penke.
While the concept of combining breakfast and lunch into one delicious meal has been around for years, it has never been more trendy than it is now. Perhaps it's the foolproof combination that magically cures a hangover, or the fact that eating breakfast halfway through the day no longer feels like a crime, but it seems like wherever brunch joints pop up, the locals rejoice. Nowhere more so than in Europe, where American restaurateurs like Tara Penke have joined forces with their European counterparts to bring you some of the world's most creative brunches in some of the most unforgettable locations.
These are some of the most outstanding brunches that Europe is now serving up.
Picnic in Barcelona
Barcelona has begun to rival Brooklyn for the number of brunch spots on offer, and perhaps the most popular is Picnic. Maybe it's the sheer size of the chipotle and horseradish Bloody Marys, or rather the Spanish-American twist on all its dishes (Quinoa Hashbrown Croquetas, Fried Green Tomatoes with Feta and Fresh Corn Salsa, Pulled Pork Chilaquiles). Either way, locals just can't seem to get enough.
Crab Tavern in London
Don't miss the bottomless "Luvin' Feeling" brunch at London's newest seafood restaurant, Crab Tavern. There's a photo booth, where guests are invited to recreate scenes from their favorite movies, entrees ranging from seafood specialties (Soft Shell Crab Burgers, Surf & Turf salad) to brunch classics, like Eggs Benedict. Don't miss the pop-up bar stations where you can build your own'Bellinis and Bloody Marys.
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in Lisbon
The Ritz in Lisbon has redefined opulence with its decadent brunch buffet, served every Sunday in the Varanda Restaurant. It features favorites such as Panettone French Toast and the delicious Ritz Eggs Benedict, as well as an international cuisine cooking station with delicacies from around the world, and a seafood, ceviche and sushi station. Kick things off with one or two pastries, like a flaky croissant or housemade muffin.
Mama Shelter Hotel in Paris
The best brunch in Paris can be found at the ultra-hip Mama Shelter hotel. This affordable boutique hotel, with its minimalist design by Philippe Starck, boasts one of the city's coolest rooftops and a decadent buffet brunch that includes all the best American, European, and French delicacies. Make sure you save room for dessert—the pastry chef is a genius. Try the Amandine Fruit Tart or the chocolate lollipops.
General Merchants Café in Belfast
Since opening its doors in June this year, General Merchants in East Belfast has made quite a name for itself as the Northern Irish capital's premier, must-visit restaurant. The food is excellent, the service is superb and, rumor has it, you might just spot the cast of Game of Thrones on their days off from nearby shooting locations. Order up the avocado toast with vegemite, capers, pickled red onion and parsley.
G's Brunch Boat in Amsterdam
Tuck into your brunch on board an authentic canal boat in Amsterdam, thanks to G's Brunch Boat. Spend two hours cruising along the canals of Amsterdam on an open-top riverboat with your shades on and the taste of Bloody Mary on your lips. The Brunch Boat sets sails from Keizersgracht 198 (by the Homomonument), every Saturday and Sunday at 11.00 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. This winter, the boat is serving hearty, cozy dishes including Eggs Benedict with spinach, ham, or bacon, and an egg-topped Caesar Salad with pariggiano and bacon bits.