Most wait-staff working a brunch shift will tell you that’s when they see customers at their most needy. The brunch crowd needs their coffee refilled as often as possible, often before they can verbalize that they need a refill. And they’ll take any excuse to put booze in that coffee, or jazz up their juice. They need hollandaise sauce and bacon to survive, and a dining experience that will leave them in a food coma for the rest of the day.
Nearly every restaurant in Yellowknife offers brunch: some well-traversed and some little-known. We’ve tried them all and want to help guide you through your next weekend chow-down. Order is alphabetical.
The Black Knight Pub
The Black Knight Pub offers a fairly short menu for brunch, with eggs as the star in almost every one of them. There are also lunch options, mainly sandwiches, available if you’re not feeling so much into eggs, and “beermosas” in place of mimosas, to help remind you that you’re in a pub, even if it is before noon.
Our Notes: The place you can go to for eggs in the morning after having been there the entire previous night. This realization might make you feel a bit dirty, but they’ll feed you a coffee and another beer quick enough to help you forget, and it’s also dark enough in there to hide your shame.
Coyote’s is one of the few places in town you can go to for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The main attraction on Saturdays is their $10 Steak and Eggs breakfast; on Sundays they’ve got a buffet complete with vats of bacon, eggs, and pancakes. There’s even an omelette station as well as chicken breasts or crab legs and desserts.
Our Notes: We’re not suggesting a direct correlation, but we do know that our brunch mate popped a shirt button on the way out of his seat post-meal at Coyote’s. Take that as you will.
The Dancing Moose Café
The brunch menu at this little café in Old Town is full of tried-and-true brunch favourites, with egg-based dishes as well as Belgian waffles and simple, healthier options as well. Specials posted on their chalkboard offer a change of pace. If their fresh cinnamon buns are available, we dare you to not try and stuff those in your face too.
Our Notes: The brunch you go to with Grandma, or for that safe first date. Gaze out the windows and enjoy the beautiful view of the bay. The intimate setting offers great acoustics for conversation and is very family friendly. It’s bright, cozy and always bustling at brunch. Coffee is ever-flowing, though table service can be inconsistent, and they’ll even make you something slightly resembling a latte.
The Explorer Hotel
Brunch at the Explorer Hotel’s Trader’s Grill is the go-to indulgence for many Yellowknifers and out-of-town visitors. It‘s the brunch recommended most often, especially if you’re unconcerned about your budget (both calorie and wallet-wise). The Explorer certainly has the largest brunch buffet in town, spanning several rooms and feeding stations. Picture the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when the kids get their first glimpse of the factory — but replace all that candy with brunch foods (someone’s making omelettes over here, carving meat over there, adding to a tower of dessert over there, etc.) and that’s what you might feel walking in.
Our Notes: Sometimes, you just want all of the food. All of it. This is where you go when you really can’t decide if you want waffles or roast beef at 11:00 a.m. Put some crab legs on your pancakes? Why not? This is where you go when you’re in the mood to feel uncomfortable for the rest of the day and regret that last plate you thought you could fit in your expanded stomach. Here, brunch is not over when you’re full; brunch is over when you hate yourself.
The Fat Fox
Not brunch per se, but this much loved cafe serves up a truly awesome, lovingly made Full English Breakfast — served with house-made ketchup, it’s gigantic — on Saturdays.
Our Notes: Seriously, you gotta have this.
The Gold Range Bistro
Not a brunch location per se, but the Gold Range Bistro serves up breakfast all day, every day. That’s brunchy, right? Their menu includes your traditional two-egg breakfasts as well as oatmeal, French toast, and pancakes in one of the coziest diners around. They also offer kids’ options. And Chinese food for the gourmand in your group.
Our Notes: The keeping-it-real brunch spot, with your host Mary, who has been slowly but surely classing up the joint, while keeping its old spirit intact. The place you show up to in sunglasses with your hair almost as greasy as the hashbrowns you’re going to be served. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it will cure what ails you.
Operating on the third floor of the Days Inn, this friendly mom-and-pop style Filipino restaurant serves a wide range of food, but you are probably best off sticking to their home cuisine. On Sundays they serve a delicious, meat-heavy Filipino brunch buffet, including Sinigang pork, Chicken adobo, Pork menudo, Meat loaf pork(embotedo), Mixed pansit and Garlic rice.
Our Notes: Still very much under-the-radar outside of the city’s large Filipino population, The Mantle is well worth a visit for any curious eater.
The Monkey Tree
The Monkey Tree boasts a fairly impressive brunch menu, with your standard eggs benny options, a good ol’ gut-buster (the King Kong: all the traditional options, plus a 6-ounce steak), some vegetarian choices, and creative breakfast skillets.
Our Notes: The Tree seems to be putting together a menu of all the favourites around town, and also offering something different with their skillets and steak. It’s a great hangover place to sit in the sun on the patio and feel a bit rejuvenated. This is the kind of place where you could easily down a few Caesars with your meal and park yourself for the rest of the day. Your Lost Weekend ends here.
Thornton’s Wine & Tapas Room
Once every week during the winter months, Thornton’s opens up their tapas room for a fine-dining Brunch experience. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays, everyone at your table orders eggs how they want them (three different kinds of eggs benedict, quiche, omelettes etc.), and then your table gets a big platter of breakfast sides (hashbrowns, ham, pancakes and stuffed french toast) to fill the rest of your plate family-style. You can order refills of both eggs and platters, but we’ve never been able to finish our first.
Our Notes: You pay a premium for straight-up high quality brunch food, and it’s worth it: none of the stuff you don’t need but all of the stuff you’re probably craving at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, served on a big platter and accompanied by a constant loop of jazz music and professional service. There isn’t quite as much variety on offer as at some of their competitors, but the family-style platter is the only kind in town, and it just works. Make sure you do try to get out of your seat (at your own risk: the place is usually jammed) to check out their fruit and cheese trays right near the coffee and juice stations.
Twin Pine Diner
Robin Wasicuna is Yellowknife’s closest equivalent to a celebrity chef, with his Chopped Canada screentime, his big, sometimes explosive personality, and of course his innovative approach to comfort food and locally inspired cuisine. After spending several years building a loyal fan-base with his burger-focused Wiseguy food truck, Wasicuna has been occupying the small dining space in the Arnica Inn, at the bottom of Old Town Hill on Franklin Avenue, since 2015. He’s constantly playing with his menu, so the place rewards frequent visits.
Our Notes: On Saturdays and Sundays, the Diner offers a brunch menu with weekly special items such as their Bison and Bannock Benny, Chicken and Waffles, and creamy Mac and Cheese. It’s a small, popular room, so get there early or prepare yourself to stand in line for a while. But service is fast and efficient, so the line-up usually moves quickly.
Brunch is still fairly new to Twist’s menu. They’ve got some good, standard brunch fare: eggs benny, omelettes, and sandwiches. They’re also doing a few things differently to help them stand out, like serving eggs inside an onion ring for a breakfast sandwich.
Our Notes: This is the underdog on our list. Their menu is still evolving, so be sure to give feedback, as they can still change some things up. For example, many of their brunch plates come with a side of pre-frozen, deep-fried hashbrown rectangles that look like an afterthought compared to the quality of everything else going on the plate. When we asked what the deal was with the rectangles, the chef explained that these will soon be replaced with a fresh scratch-made hashbrown side. We’re looking forward to seeing how Twist keeps changing, and hope to keep being pleasantly surprised.
This buzzy brewpub in the heart of Old Town offers a forward-looking menu — with plenty of veggie options. On Saturdays, they have a compact selection of brunch items — a “Miner’s Breakfas,t” Chicken and Waffles, a tater-tots-based poutine, huevos rancheros and a variety of benny variations — available from 10 a.m. to p.m.
Our Notes: No better place for a boozy brunch in a casual but thoroughly contemporary environment.