Brunch is not just a meal, it’s an event. It’s a chance to gather with friends and savor a few comfort dishes and also try something new and unique. Brunch can be a dressed-up affair or something more casual and laid back. In the end, it’s not the food or the atmosphere that’s important, it’s the shared experience of a meal well-enjoyed.
In the following pages is a summary of just a few of the eateries in the 209 serving up a delicious brunch. Use this as guide to try a new place and then find a few of your own.
Now, let’s do brunch…
Where: 3020 Floyd Ave. #101, Modesto
When: Brunch is served 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily
Contact: www.squeezein.com or call 209-846-0719
Specialty dishes: The Squeeze In offers over 60 different types of omelettes
There may be a waiting list and you may have to ‘Squeeze In’ at the small restaurant on Floyd Avenue in Modesto but it will be worth it for a delicious brunch. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. seven days a week offering diners some unusual options, signature dishes and a variety of mimosas. The Modesto location is the eighth in the franchise and Kathy Monday is the newest franchisee of the small family-owned franchise.
The original Squeeze In opened in 1974 and became a staple in Truckee. Although it was extremely small – which triggered the name – folks would squeeze in to eat their breakfast and made the restaurant a local favorite. The original location in Truckee posted a green alien that the original owner’s grandfather made that were yard ornaments and a patron drew an ellipses and wrote “Best Omelettes on the Planet,” which became their tagline and mascot.
Following some specific requirements, the location has colorful walls, a gumball machine, a bike, surfboard and jewelry along with all the personal touches by Monday giving this restaurant a truly unique and fun atmosphere.
“It is a family thing that we plan to have for a long time,” expressed Monday. “Sometimes I will sit back here on a busy day and I will hear people talking and laughing; it is kind of a cool thing to have brought something that brings people happiness.”
The Squeeze In offers over 60 different types of omelettes like the Racy Tracy stuffed with mushrooms with Monterey Jack cheese and bacon topped with avocado. For something unusual the Zweifel has peanut butter, apples and bananas sautéed in butter and honey folded into an omelette. The Hangover Helper may hit the tastebuds just right with ham, bacon, sausage, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese.
The sweet, rich, Jack Johnson Banana Walnut Pancakes are fluffy buttermilk pancakes that take up the entire plate. They have just the right combination of flavors with the walnuts in the batter topped with bananas sautéed in butter and honey. The sweet yet salty Belgium dark chocolate dipped bacon is cooked up crispy and cooled served with some whipped cream and fresh fruit; not your typical brunch item.
To wash it down there are a variety of mimosas and a monster Bloody Mary called the Hail Mary. The football-inspired beverage is a liter of goodness that comes with three strips of bacon and half of a grilled cheese sandwich. The mimosas are served up in a combination of juices like the Hi-Mosa that has champagne, cranberry and orange juice.
Location: 61 Hanford St., Sutter Creek
Days and hours serving brunch: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday (closed on Tuesday); 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Contact info: www.restaurantelement.com
Specialty dishes: Hanford House Benny featuring housemade citrus hollandaise sauce and soppressata
A drive down Sutter Creek’s Main Street offers picturesque views of 19th century brick buildings that harken back to the Amador County town’s Gold Rush era roots. A sharp turn to the west at the end of Main Street, however, brings you to Element — a 209 brunch hot spot with a decidedly modern look and feel.
The restaurant is adjacent to the Hanford House Inn, owned by Athena Padilla-Gordon and her husband, Robert Gordon. When remodeling the hotel, they also updated the kitchen allowing for the creation of the unique eatery that is now Element. Their goal, according to Padilla-Gordon, was to create “an artistic neighborhood feel where both locals and tourists gather for a great bite and view works by local artists displayed on our walls.”
They’ve been serving breakfast and brunch with an international flare for the past five years and have already gained a faithful following.
While the menu changes often with seasonal specials — like the Meyer lemon poppy seed waffle served with lemon curd, candied lemon and rosemary flowers — there are a few staples such as the Hanford House Benny featuring housemade citrus hollandaise sauce and soppressata and the Pan of Gold, French toast made with grilled challah bread, topped with fruit and fresh-made whipped cream.
Another must-have is Element’s caramelized bacon. It is the perfect mix of sweet and savory that is what brunch is all about.
“We are a very welcoming and personable team and while keeping to recognizable food, we take each item a slightly different direction, our own interpretation,” said Padilla-Gordon.
The Sutter Creek brunch spot is also the perfect place for a specialty coffee, mimosa, Bloody Mary or one of the specialty beverages created by Element’s baristas.
Location: 19920 1st St., Hilmar
Days and hours serving brunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays
Contact info: Facebook.com/Lolabistroandexpress/ and 209-250-2777
Specialty dishes: Depends on the week
Hilmar may be best known for its cheese, but Lola Bistro & Express is quietly earning the town another designation as brunch hot spot.
Lola Bistro’s Sunday buffet offers guests the best of everything brunch. There are classics such as French toast, eggs Benedict, made-to-order omelets and crepes, along with the unexpected like freshly made sushi.
The best part — at least for some — is the bottomless mimosas.
“There are not that many places doing Sunday brunch, especially with bottomless champagne. When this place opened it was one of the few,” said Chef Michael Ortiz.
Ortiz said Lola Bistro offers a break from “American diner” type of brunch.
The menu changes every week and seasonally. Lola Bistro also supports the “farm to fork” movement with many of its menu items sourced locally.
“You have to try really hard being a restaurant from the Central Valley to get something that isn’t grown here…There isn’t a vegetable or fruit in this building that isn’t grown within 50 miles from here,” said Ortiz.
While the food is the main draw to Lola Bistro, the beautiful outdoor seating area is another reason to make the drive to rural Hilmar.
Location: 17525 Sonora Road, Knights Ferry
Days and hours serving brunch: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Contact info: 209-881-3466
Specialty dishes: Prime rib, made to order omelets, waffles
At The River’s Edge people come for the food and stay for the scenery. Outside the restaurant a lush green lawn slopes down to the Stanislaus River. The restaurant has live music, outdoor deck seats and a gazebo allowing their guests to have a serene Sunday after getting their fill at the brunch buffet.
“It’s a fun place to just come hangout,” said owner Debbie Tokar. “It’s just a good vibe out here.”
Debbie and her husband David Tokar took over the restaurant two years ago and started a renovation to give it a fresh and vibrant new look. They began offering a brunch buffet on the occasional Sunday and it proved such a popular fare that they made it a regular feature on Sundays.
The buffet, which is $21.99 and comes with one mimosa, changes up occasionally depending on what is in season and what can be purchased locally. One item almost always on the buffet is prime rib, which Tokar said is one of the most requested items the kitchen prepares. Another popular selection on the brunch buffet are the freshly made waffles and the wide array of fruits and toppings.
Because people like to stay a while at The River’s Edge, it’s recommended that guests make reservations.
MINERS ROADHOUSE 140
Location: 5199 CA-140, Mariposa
Days and hours serving brunch: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Contact info: 209-966-2444
Specialty dishes: Denver scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, pork and vegetable eggrolls.
Drive through downtown Mariposa on a Sunday and it’s easy to spot one of the most popular brunch spots in town — Miners Roadhouse 140.
The newly renovated restaurant and bar offers up a brunch buffet complete with all the standard breakfast fare, like bacon, hash browns, French toast, and their very popular Denver scrambled eggs. Mix that with some savory lunch items, like eggrolls and cheesy mashed potatoes, and the restaurant has created a buffet that pleases the palate of numerous diners.
“Our brunch buffet offers something for everybody,” said kitchen manager Mike Robb. “People seem to love the selections we have and come back repeatedly.”
When it comes to value it’s hard to beat Miners Roadhouse 140. The brunch is $12.95 for adults and $9.95 for children. Bottomless mimosas are $5.
The renovations to the restaurant make the most of the town’s Gold Rush history with artifacts and decorations reflective of the area’s heydays. The restaurant is on a slight hill and the window seating provides pleasing views of downtown Mariposa and the splendid mountain scenery.
Perhaps one of the restaurant’s greatest assets are the servers and regulars that enliven the place and make guests feel at home.
Reservations are a good idea during peak hours.
Location: 236 Lincoln Center, Stockton
Days and hours serving brunch: 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Contact info: (209)932-8001
Specialty dishes: Huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict, breakfast pizza
It’s the nature of brunch to have a leisurely conversation over the course of the meal. But be forewarned it will be hard to talk about anything but the food at Market Tavern because it is just that phenomenal.
Market Tavern was opened in November 2013, by owners Phillip Wong and executive chef Nick Di Arenzo with the idea of building a menu that showcases fresh and local food in creative spins.
“When it comes to food, his mind is always wondering,” Assistant General Manager Jonathan Chow said of Di Arenzo. He has experience from all over, including some Michelin three-star restaurants. He’s very creative and likes to play with flavors.”
The brunch menu reflects that creativity with dishes like lemon ricotta pancakes, quinoa and poached egg, and the Hong Kong French toast.
Almost every item going into the restaurant’s dishes is made in house and the quality and freshness is evident in each bite.
“We know everything that goes into a dish because we’re making it all here,” Chow said. “We hand press our juices every day. We make all our own salad dressings and sauces.”
Market Tavern uses the bounties of the 209 region to its best advantage by getting most of their ingredients from farms in the area.
Bloody Mary’s and mimosas are brunch staples and at Market Tavern the cocktails are a sight to behold. The Southern Fried Bloody Mary comes with a fried chicken wing, a bacon and cheese stuffed jalapeño, cheese stuffed deep fried olives and pickled vegetables. The drinks come with their own side plates for all the added fare. The restaurant offers a black mimosa, which uses activated charcoal in the cocktail. It’s topped with an edible flower, with all the flavors melding together to pack a bright punch.
Market Tavern is a popular eatery and reservations are recommended.
Location: 2505 W. Turner Road, Lodi
Days and hours serving brunch: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Contact info: 209-371-6160
Specialty dishes: Tamale pancake, Dungeness crab Benedict, Bradley’s soufflé pancake, shrimp and grits
Towne House Restaurant is an upscale eatery with a brunch menu that pays homage to the site’s farmhouse history by featuring a menu of New American cuisine utilizing local ingredients.
Culinary Director Bradley Ogden created the menu with a simplicity in mind that would highlight the fresh flavors of the region. Ogden is a two-time James Beard Award winner.
The tamale pancake made with homemade masa, chicken verde and guacamole is one such example of the cuisine he specializes in. It is also the dish actor Will Smith reportedly devoured with gusto when he visited the restaurant.
The brunch menu offers diners a selection that ranges from small bites to full meals and from breakfast fare to lunch favorites.
The restaurant is housed in a historic building dating back to the last part of the 19th century and is surrounded by lush landscaping and aromatic flowers. The restaurant does have outdoor seating.
One key feature of the restaurant is the extensive wine list that has more than 70 wines from the Lodi Appellation.
Reservations are recommended.