If you’ve ever eaten your way through an endless stack of pancakes, nursed a hangover with one too many mimosas or ordered something with a face on it, you’ve probably been called “basic.” And if you’ve documented it on Instagram, you might have even poked fun at yourself: #SundayFunday, #InstaFood, #Foodgasm.
So we decided to find some of Kansas City’s best brunches that take your familiar favorites and add an anything-but-basic twist — helping you to be this summer’s trendsetter.
Basic: French toast
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Reinvented: District Pour House’s Stuffed French Toast
The music at District Pour House may be a nod to the past — with patio speakers playing throwback pop hits — but the food is forward-thinking. This lively weekend spot transforms classic French toast into a must-order dish. Their secret? Rich cheesecake batter and a thick middle layer of strawberry cream cheese. With banana nutter butter offered as an add-on, you’ll wonder, “Is this brunch or dessert?” Either way, it’s delicious.
To strike a perfect balance between sweet and savory, order from the selection of infused Bloody Marys — including pickle, bacon and pineapple-jalapeno — complete with a spiced rim.
7122 Wornall Road. districtpourhousekc.com
Reinvented: Wake the Dead’s Grilled Cheese Doughnut and Curly Fries
Look, we all know how weekends go. Sometimes you wake up early ready to take on the day, and sometimes you … uh, don’t. Wake the Dead’s Breakfast Bar presents the perfect solution: Saturday brunch runs from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday morning. With quippy menu items like “Yoga Pants & Fruit Parfait,” “What the French Toast” and “Cereal Killer Cocktails,” this laid-back Lawrence hangout doesn’t take itself too seriously.
One menu item will have you vowing to come back: the “Sweet Baby Cheesus,” simply described as grilled cheese on a Parmesan-crusted doughnut. Served with a side of just-greasy-enough curly fries, the inventive mashup works as a breakfast, lunch or dinner stand-in. Wake the Dead’s hipster décor and artsy doughnut bar is fit for Mass Street’s coolest college students and every amateur food critic with an Instagram.
7 E. Seventh St., Lawrence. wtdbreakfastbar.com
Basic: Brunch where the entertainment is hearing your friend talk about their ex … again
Reinvented: The Phoenix’s jazz brunch
With bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for only $12, this loungey downtown landmark will have you buzzing until you’ve been transported to the ’20s. The silky voices and up-tempo instrumentals from some of KC’s best jazz musicians will definitely help. After you devour your food — and maybe request more of the crispy, seasoned home fries — you won’t be able to resist exploring. The former speakeasy played a distinct role in Kansas City history, thriving as far back as 1888. Gems from its storied past, like the brick architecture and colorful mural, still shine today.
302 W. Eighth St. thephoenixkc.com
Basic: Any brunch item I can actually cook
Reinvented: Julep’s entire brunch menu
I’ll admit that when I first glanced at Julep’s menu, I panicked. This trendy whiskey bar is definitely meant for brunchers with sophisticated palates. With bourbon nuts, duck egg toast, and shrimp and grits on the menu, not much looked familiar. But it turns out that’s part of Julep’s charm. The shrimp and grits dish deserves its rep as one of the most beloved menu items. Meanwhile, the mushroom-and-black pepper-flavored house chips is a tasty side dish worthy of sharing … if you can manage not to keep them all for yourself.
Brunch purists will be delighted to find Julep does serve mimosas but can turn even a classic on its head. With the option to go bottomless for only $10, Julep ranks as one of the most affordable mimosa spots, and its Champagne might just be the strongest.
4141 Pennsylvania Ave. #104. julepkc.com
Basic: Your grocery store’s pastry section
Reinvented: Ca Va’s bacon cheddar scones and spiced pear and chevre Danishes
With its small, intimate tables and bistro charm, Ca Va stands out as one of the most date-worthy brunches on our list. The understated menu featuring flaky crepes and fried Nutella beignets may take only a minute to flip through, but guests can spend over an hour indulging in these elevated French classics. The dimly lit interior and rustic decor make this the perfect place to linger long enough to forget about the impending Monday. You’ll want to stay in this Parisian paradise for endless trips to the DIY mimosa bar.
4149 Pennsylvania Ave. cavakc.com
More brunch items to check out
Basic: Breakfast cocktails
Reinvented: Brewery Emperial’s beer brunch
1829 Oak St. breweryemperial.com
Basic: Sausage and bacon
Reinvented: Nick and Jake’s prime rib carving station
5031 Main St. nickandjakes.com
Basic: Vanilla latte
Reinvented: Succotash’s cotton candy cappuccino, with fluffy cotton candy spoon
2601 Holmes St. succotashkc.com
Basic: Chicken and waffles
Reinvented: Port Fonda’s fried chicken & churros
4141 Pennsylvania Ave. portfonda.com
Basic: Scrambled eggs
Reinvented: Baked in KC’s scrambled egg bowl, mixed with potatoes, gravy, cheese, sausage, bacon and salsa
706 Westport Road. bakedinkansascity.com
Reinvented: Westport Café and Bar’s lemon ricotta pancakes
419 Westport Road. westportcafeandbar.com
Basic: Hash browns
Reinvented: RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack’s burnt end hash
5835 Lamar Ave., Mission. rjsbbq.com
Basic: Biscuits and gravy
Reinvented: Californos’ poutine
4124 Pennsylvania Ave. californos.com
Basic: Never-ending buffet trips
Reinvented: Jax Fish House’s never-ending, bottomless crab
4814 Roanoke Parkway. jaxfishhouse.com
Reinvented: Louie’s Wine Dive’s BLT deviled eggs
7100 Wornall Road. louieswinedive.com
Reinvented: The Corner Restaurant’s Meshuggah bagel with bacon, egg and avocado-lime mousse
4059 Broadway. thecornerkc.com