The Rise of Vinyl Brunches in North America

Travel Lists North America
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A vinyl brunch is exactly what it sounds like: you sit down, gorge on waffles and sip mimosas all while listening to Jack White, or whatever hipster trend that location favors. The best part? There are no iPhones, Spotify or even boom boxes involved, the tunes come directly from a smoothly spun old-fashioned album.

Settings vary; some vinyl brunches take place in cafes, some in music venues that are rarely open when the sun is up, and others have found their homes in refurbished warehouses.

Thanks to the resurgent popularity of both old 78s and eggs Benedict served past 9 a.m., chances are if you stick a pin on a map, there’s a vinyl brunch within driving distance from you.

Here are a few of our favorites so far, but we have a feeling this trend is going to spread faster than the syrup dripping off your stack of pancakes.

Queens Comfort
Where: Astoria, New York
Why: The vintage toys and knickknacks

Queens Comfort specializes in Southern food with a twist, like disco tots with gravy and cheddar (pictured at top), or the chicken and waffles with a maple-Tabasco glaze and powdered sugar. Their decor is quirky with Christmas lights strung from ceiling beam to ceiling beam, TVs flickering with old Saturday morning cartoons, and classic Tony the Tiger and Michael Jackson figurines manning the shelves. On Saturdays, guest DJs—past music curators include Rob Select and Jonathan Toubin—pick records to complement the eclectic brunch scene; The Who frequently makes it onto the playlist. Take note, Queen’s Comfort is cash-only and BYOB.

Chimera Cafe
Where: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Why: Signature tacos and guest DJs

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Photo via Chimera Cafe

Chimera Cafe started their vinyl brunch after the owners asked Dillon Hargrove, a local DJ, to spin some records during their Sunday meal. Hargrove knew he didn’t have the collection to keep it fresh each week so decided to recruit local collectors as volunteer DJs. While mellowing out to unique record (think Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze and local group Low Litas) chow down on Chimera’s signature tacos like the Teenage Riot—egg, Fauxrizo, caramelized onion, cheddar, and avocado crema. Feel free to bring collectibles to trade with members of the Tulsa Vinyl Society, who hosts the brunch.

Blue
Where: Portland, Maine
Why: The bacon corn griddle cakes

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Photo via Blue

Blue is a live music venue in Portland, Maine that focuses on folk, roots and rock. Sundays they dial it back and throw on the jazzy vinyl, which is the perfect compliment to their packed menu of updated brunch classics like pan fried banana oatmeal, hash ‘n’ eggs, and the bacon corn griddle cake with maple syrup. Nothing soothes a food coma like some good jazz.
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Photo via Beachland Ballroom & Tavern

Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Where: Cleveland, Ohio
Why: Pitcher of Zombie Light

By night, Beachland Ballroom & Tavern hosts concerts, bands and burlesque fests, but come Sunday morning they’re serving buttermilk biscuits, breakfast burritos and boozy cocktails. Sip on a pitcher of Zombie Light—spiced Rum, Apricot brandy, pineapple juice and grenadine—while guest DJs like Tom Orange and Max Payola soundtrack your feast.

Graffiti’s Bar and Grill
Where: Kensington Market, Toronto
Why: The black metal brunch

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Photo via Graffiti’s Bar and Grill

The Black Metal Brunch at Graffiti’s is an experience worth crossing the border for. The food menu is short and the dishes are sweet. Try the sweet potato skins filled with cauliflower, bacon and cheese, or the homemade French toast with special sauce. Expect to hear a variety of extreme metal, punk, grindcore, and doom by classics like Judas Priest, Melechesh, Venom and Bathory, as well as newer picks like Behemoth, Chthtonic, Bloodbath and Vader.

The Tim Faulkner Gallery
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
Why: The reimagined warehouse-turned-gallery vibe

Located in Louisville’s up-and-coming Portland neighborhood, the space that houses the Tim Faulkner Gallery was once a dilapidated warehouse. Since moving in last fall, Faulkner has completely turned the space around by adding a coffee shop and bookstore, artist studios, and a gallery and event space, which houses their weekly vinyl brunches.

According to sound engineer Cal Reed, the brains behind the brunch, the idea originally started as a way to combine his love for good music and good food, but at a low price. A brunch here costs about $5 per person, with a percentage of the proceeds going to a local charity. Guests chow down on food truck Country Loves Breakfast’s specialties including brunch staples like biscuits, eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausage. Reed values community involvement, so visitors are encouraged to BYOR—bring their own records. Recent plays have included The Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Ashlie Stevens is a freelance food writer. Her work has appeared in Slate, Salon, The Guardian, Eater and National Geographic’s food blog The Plate.

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