Posted by: Bonita | April 9, 2008

Top 10 Brunch Places in Taipei

As spending a leisurely weekend morning with a friend or two is one of my most favorite pasttimes, I’ve been quite fortunate to sample some of Taipei’s best venues for having brunch. I’ve been wanting to come up with the list to share to you guys but for have been so lazy to do it. Finally, I’ve risen up my lazy ass and just started typing, and looking through some of my photos to see if I’ve managed to take pictures of these places I speak of.

I haven’t included hotel breakfast offerings — most are too expensive for regular diners like me anyway retailing at around NT$800 a buffet meal, and felt that authentic brunches are those outside an institution, made my normal people who enjoy flipping pancakes and frying omelets for the average Joe. In addition, I’ve tried to categorize these venues via the quality of food, speed of service, breakfast ambiance, location and price, with 6 stars as the highest ranking.

Forgive me if your favorite brunch places aren’t part of my list, as these are based merely in this humble blogger’s opinion. None of the restaurants listed have tried to bribe me with egg benedicts so you can at least assume that I’ve tried to be as unbiased as possible.

So without further ado, here you go! Hope you enjoy this list — the top 10 brunch places in Taipei. Do note that this list is made with a specific order in mind… listing up in front the places I enjoy the most, up to the least. To start off, we have:

1) Carnegies (No. 100, Anhe Road Sec. 2, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2325 4433)

Despite their reputation as one of the most fun dance clubs in Taipei (alternately, they’re known as Taipei’s Best “Meat Market” depending on who you’re asking), Carnegie’s is also well-known for their all-day weekend brunches. They’re also my number one choice for brunch in the island. When my friends ask me where to go, I choose Carnegie’s as the safest bet there is.

And what’s not to like? At Carnegie’s, one can expect American-size helpings, fresh orange juice, and decent coffee. Their dishes are so big that they offer a two-plated “Big Brunch” (NT$480) and a “Not So Big Brunch” (NT$380) for women like me who are trying (yet failing) to control our diet.

But don’t be fooled. Do not underestimate their Not-So-Big-Brunch as it provides a wide range of breakfast fare in the menu. To list them all, there are thick English sausages, 2 eggs (you may specify on how you want them cooked), red baked beans, unlimited toast with jam, sautéed mushrooms and all the other things that make you oh-so-fat. So don’t be turned off by the hefty price tags, trust me, Carnegie’s brunches are American sized portions!

Meanwhile, if you’re not into these typical brunch sets, you can also try their big-ass omelets (though I find them slightly dry/too flat for my tastes), Eggs Benedict (with or without salmon), or their delicious and ingenious pancakes which is my alternative choice if I’m being adventurous. Check out the pancakes:

The ingredients may sound weird, but are a perfect mix. Mixing apple and bacon… who would’ve thought of that?! They’re yummy too! Sweet and delicious with a dash of spice, just the way I like them! As for those who prefer the regular lunches, they can also opt for the ala carte meals which are equally big and satisfying. If you’re feeling generous, you may also order a glass of champagne to complement your meal while sitting at the patio and inhaling the polluted Taipei air.

So overall, Carnegie’s gives you a great brunch experience, well earning its reputation as the best place to have brunch in Taipei!

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: ***** (5/6)
  • Size of servings: ****** (6/6)
  • Level of service: **** (4/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: ****** (6/6)
  • Convenience of location: *** (3/6) – Reachable via bus, a good 15-20 walk from the MRT
  • Affordability of price: ** (2/6) – About Average: expect to splurge around NT$300-500 a meal, depending on what you order. At least they don’t charge 10% service charge.
  • Overall ranking: 4.3

2) Cosmopolitan Grill (218 Changchun Road, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2508 0304)

In my honest opinion, the best omelets in Taipei are found at the Cosmopolitan Grill.

Located at the intersection of Changchun and Jian Guo, the Cosmopolitan Grill is not that convenient to get to, as it falls between the Nanking East Road and Chungshan High School MRT stops, requiring diners to walk around 10 to 15 minutes from the MRT. Usually, I just take a cab because am a heavy sleeper and generally wake up late. Regardless on how you get there, the walk/cab ride is worth the deliciousness of their omelets! They are in general, soft, fluffy and just has the right watery consistency!

Specifically, my favorite is their signature breakfast dish — their Sour Cream Omelet with Black Caviar (NT$280). Seriously, you’ve just got to try it. Appreciate that hint of luxury thanks to the black caviar, which is an ingredient not usually used in making omelets. I would go back to Cosmo over and over for this dish!

The only downside is that their sets do not include refillable coffee which retails at around NT$90 a cup. Regardless, if you mix and match the drinks with their reasonably-priced ala carte menu (try their desserts, they’re delicious!), it’s still bang for your buck. So while all your friends trudge on to the Diner for their eggs, better head to Cosmo instead for better food and no waiting time!

Even better, Cosmopolitan Grill recently offers a 4-for-3 brunch deal where 1 person eats free with a party of 4 — a great deal if I do say so myself.

Give it a go while the promo is still on! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: ***** (6/6) — can only vouch for the Sour Cream & Caviar omelet
  • Size of servings: **** (4/6)
  • Level of service: **** (4/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: **** (4/6)
  • Convenience of location: *** (3/6) – A good 15-20 walk from the MRT
  • Affordability of price: *** (3/6) – Expect to spend around NT$330-400
  • Overall ranking: 4

3) Citizen Cain (No. 66, DongFong Street, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2708 4557)

At NT$199 a set, Citizen Cain’s breakfast is a steal with 4-5 engaging meals to choose from!

Pictured below is their famous Mediterranean-themed Citizen Cain breakfast complete with hummus, scrambled eggs and some meats. They also offer fluffy pancakes strewn with fresh fruits and served with apple-ginger jam (Quite good, and is filling enough for one), as well as fruit muesli yogurt with Mimosa (champagne cocktail), among others. You can also order some sausages on the side for a small fee:

What’s more, they also have hazelnut flavored refillable coffee! Ain’t life grand? :-)

Here’s another photo of their tomato breakfast if am not mistaken. Forgot the name as ordered these ages ago. Heavier on the tummy, this dish is quite delish if you don’t mind the heavy flavor. Nevertheless, I usually order this if am especially hungry as always like food that pack a lot of punch and this does it well:

The place may be a tad small for huge parties and the venue slightly dark for a cheery Sunday afternoon, but if you’re looking for decent special-tasting food at good prices, then Citizen Cain (if you can find it) is just the right place to go.

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: ***** (5/6) — if you like heavily flavored Mediterranean fare
  • Size of servings: **** (4/6)
  • Level of service: **** (4/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: ** (2/6)
  • Convenience of location: **** (4/6) – A good 10 walk from the Chungxiao Dunhua MRT or a bus ride away
  • Affordability of price: ***** (5/6) – Expect to spend around NT$220 – 250
  • Overall ranking: 4

4) Grandma Nittis (No. 8, Lane 93, Shida Road, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2369 9751)

Tucked in one of the little lanes at Shida Road, Grandma Nitti’s is a classic breakfast favorite with delicious omelet breakfast sets with French toast on the side complete with a scoop of butter, jam and real maple syrup. Pictured here is their special set breakfast which retail for NT$300 plus tax — pricier but worth the French toast IMHO. Usually eat the toast last as I add in the butter and dribble the maple syrup… mmmmm….:

At around NT$280+ a set, their breakfast is not the cheapest in Taipei, but it’s worth the relaxing open-air ambiance. There’s something about the white-washed walls that make me feel as if it’s weekend every time I go. If you don’t mind the sound of motorists zooming down the Shida lane, the patio also provides the best seat and light.

What’s more, the refillable coffee served in thick Grandma Nitti’s cups is another plus. Remembered one Sunday where a friend and I sat for almost 8 hours chatting the day away. Think I may have refilled my glass cup around 8 times and went to the restroom around 10, but Rainbow and Grandma Nittis management were nice enough not to kick us out.

As an alternative to the brunch, Mexican burrito dishes awith salad as a side dish are also served at Grandma Nittis. Their Mexican fare is merely so-so and best for you to go for Amigos or Tequila Sunrise instead. However, their freshly baked pies is a real treat though slightly pricey at NT$100 a piece.

Aside from the food, I also like their huge selection of second-hand books at the ground floor which you can purchase at discounted prices.

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: **** (4/6) — biased towards French toast, sorry!
  • Size of servings: **** (4/6)
  • Level of service: **** (3/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: ***** (5/6)
  • Convenience of location: ***** (5/6) – A good 5 walk from Taipower Building MRT
  • Affordability of price: *** (3/6) – Expect to spend around NT$300 – 400
  • Overall ranking: 4

5) Omelet to Go (No. 350-69, Keelung Road Sec. 1, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2720 8782)

Tucked in one of the little lanes behind the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Omelet to Go is indeed a Taipei’s hidden secret for delicious brunches at very VERY reasonable prices. As you can see, the place is tiny. Even so, you can squeeze by the bar and chat with the owners. They’re pretty friendly:

It’s worth finding though — their brunches are one of the cheaper ones among the top 10. Omelets cost a mere NT$100! Cheap, ey? My only complaint is their artificial jam that came from a glass can but heck, for NT$100 a set, who can complain?

Also, they have the brunch special which if am not mistaken sells for NT$200. Not bad when you think about it especially since it comes with two pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs, delicious hash browns, and sausage.

For those who are not in a breakfast mood, you can also try out their chicken pesto rice (NT$120) which I felt were slightly dry, and yet uses real pine nuts so hai hao la. I just wish they can decrease the amount of rice and pile on more of the chicken meat, but if you’re trying to get yourself full, this should do the trick!

In addition, they also have chicken fillet with macaroni and cheese (NT$150) which were pretty good. I think that’s chicken on the side which was slightly saltier to compensate for the cheesiness of the main dish.

Lastly, to finish off the satisfying meal is their chocolate brownie (NT$50) which is drizzled in thick chocolate and can be topped with vanilla ice cream (NT$80). The brownie felt cakey and too doughy as I prefer more compacted desserts, but hey, if you just need to satisfy your sweet tooth, then this would have to do:

Beware, unlike other brunch areas, Omelet to Go is only open from Monday to Saturday so call before going! You’ll need the directions too as it’s not easy to find if you’re unfamiliar with the area. If you can’t make it in the daytime (which ironically is their busiest time of the day), you can try visiting in the evenings when business is slower. Trust me, you’ll appreciate the relaxing ambiance. They open till 9:30 am to give you enough time to chow your food and sip a latte while taking a bite from your brownie.

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: *** (3.5/6) – omelets recommended
  • Size of servings: **** (4/6)
  • Level of service: **** (4/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: **** (5/6)
  • Convenience of location: *** (3/6)
  • Affordability of price: ***** (5/6) – Expect to spend around NT$110-200
  • Overall ranking: 4.1

6) The Diner (145 Ruian St, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2700-1680; http://www.thediner.com.tw)

The Diner’s popular all-day brunch includes a wide range of breakfast classics and omelets of around NT$180-NT$240 an order, served with fresh orange juice and coffee or tea. Omelets come with a choice of hash browns or potatoes O’Brien, and there is an option of egg-white only for the extremely health conscious.

Personally love the hash browns as you can see that they’re made from scratch, and not something that you can buy from Costco. A patron describes them as “sliced and pressed potatoes grilled to a golden brown, they were slightly crunchy on the outside, with the starchy texture retained in the middle.” Since he writes better than I do, I had cut and pasted the whole quote instead.

My favorite however is their Breakfast Burrito (NT$160) which consists of eggs, onions, ham/bacon and green pepper wrapped in toasted pita and sliced. I’ve ordered their main dishes (meatloaf and country fried steak) but they’ve failed to impress so try as I might, I stick to their tried and true and order their Breakfast Burrito every single time:

Their pancakes (NT$180) I heard are pretty good too. An article I googled raved about it saying, “It was the pancakes that earned the highest praise. Unlike the doughy concoctions at many restaurants, pancakes at The Diner are made from the perfect batter. Biting into the soft yet slightly resilient texture, I thought how a stack of these pancakes would make an ideal pillow.” Hmm… maybe I should be more adventurous and try the pancakes next time then!

Other options include 10 types of burgers (NT$180-260), sandwiches like Philly Steak and Turkey Reuben, and desserts like homemade apple pie, brownies, and strawberry shortcake. They also have vegetarian options.

Overall, it’s an adequate breakfast place in Taipei if you don’t mind the wait.

At their Rui-an branch, you’d always have to wait at least half an hour for food. Things are looking way better with the opening of their Dunhua branch, which would soon be filled with patrons looking for some reasonably-priced breakfast alternatives.

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: *** (3/6)
  • Size of servings: **** (4/6)
  • Level of service: **** (3/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: **** (4/6)
  • Convenience of location: *** (3/6) – Bus to both branches
  • Affordability of price: **** (4.5/6) – Expect to spend around NT$220 – 300
  • Overall ranking: 3.58

7) The Taiwanese Breakfast Place Near my House (Chungxiao East Road Sec. 5, close to the 7-11)

Am not kidding, this small stall just right in front of Chungxiao East Road Sec. 5 serves the BEST Taiwanese omelette (dan bin) in town! At only NT$35, it’s definitely a steal and would strongly recommend that you order their huo thui yu mi dan bin (ham and corn Taiwanese omelet).

The eggs itself are not too runny, but are of the right consistency. Their ham isn’t overcooked and still retain their chewiness. And the corn? My gosh, they may come from the can but they reserve the right hardness and sweetness that complement the salty soy sauce accompanying this dish. What’s better is that their chef is a pro and can prepare one in less than 3 minutes! Great way to grab breakfast when you’re almost late!

Don’t go for their iced coffee though. Like similar stores all around Taiwan, this store doesn’t serve any better coffee. But if you’re wanting a good treat and want to find what good Taiwanese breakfast is all around and you’re just right near the Taipei City Hall MRT Station (it’s in front of MRT Exit 2), then this is just the place for you! Seriously, their dan bins are just YUMMY!

Raven’s Relative Rating (compared with the rest of the list):

  • Deliciousness of food: ***** (5/6)
  • Size of servings: * (1/6)
  • Level of service: **** (4/6)
  • Breakfast ambiance: ** (2/6)
  • Convenience of location: ****** (6/6) – 2 minute walk from home
  • Affordability of price: **** (6/6) – Expect to spend less than NT$50
  • Overall ranking: 4

8) Dan Ryan’s (No. 8, Dunhua North Road, Taipei; Tel: (886) 2 2778 8800)

9) Swensen’s (No. 109, Ren Ai Road, Sec. 4, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2772 6174
; http://www.swensens.com.tw/)

Swensen’s is mighty convenient as it’s accessible at all hours of the day.

Unfortunately, breakfasts are an exception as they stop serving them at 10:00 am sharp! I’m serious, try getting there at 10:05 am, and they’ll tell you that you’d have to order their regular fare, no exceptions!

Hence, check out the only food photo I have for Swensen’s — their deluxe mushroom burger which is worth around NT$250 — how can I take their breakfast photo if they stop serving it on time?!

Anyway, if you do manage to wake up early (or drop by after an exhausting night of clubbing and KTV), at NT$120 to NT$250 per set, their breakfast offers a terrific deal! Their servings are just the right amount, and the last time I went, I ordered their fluffy pancakes, which consisted of 3 pancakes, 2 pieces of sausage, scrambled eggs and a hashed brown — all for less than NT$190!

Now if that doesn’t convince you to wake up earlier, then I don’t know what else! Plus, their regular meals are decently priced, so if you don’t mind the more local scenery as a lot of Taiwanese families love dropping by this 24-hour delight along with their noisy kids, then probably Swensen’s just the right place for you! There’s at least two branches I know… one at the Ren Ai Circle and the other one’s at Jeelung Road.

10) 24-Hour NY Bagels Cafe (No. 147 Renai Road Sec. 4, Taipei; Tel: (02) 2752 1669)
Consolation Prizes – Other Breakfast Options (in no particular order):

* The Tavern
* Pasta and Brunch Cafe
* G’ Day Cafe
* Woolloomooloo
* Mary’s Australian Bistro

Too bad they’re CLOSED: JB’s and the Shannon

It’s getting late. I’ll just finish tomorrow. Night night!

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Responses

  1. Darn it. It’s 11:00 am. Now, you’re making me hungry. That chicken pesto rice looks good as well as the chicken fillet with macaroni and cheese.

    I think I’m gonna have my lunch.

    eya

  2. Don’t you find it awkward to whip out your camera to take photos of your food when everybody else is ready to dig in? Don’t your buddies find it strange? If so, what do you usually say?

    Uhmm, do you also take notes like prices, name of dish, etc? Or do you just take a photo of the menu too?

  3. Uh, on another note… how do you manage to stay in shape like you do?!!!

  4. If you haven’t been Eya, try out Omelet to Go. Good bang for your buck!
    ========
    Blackdove, it can be a bit awkward. Trick is to photograph your own food. If you can whip out your camera, modify the settings and snap a photo, all in 10 seconds or less, usually, your friends won’t be too embarrassed. After taking a photo, change the topic immediately and divert their attention elsewhere. Works every time!

    What do they say? Usually, “Oh, are you one of those people who take photos of food and uploads them in their blog?” I just deny, deny, deny… most people don’t even know I have one! And yes, sometimes take photos of menu, but don’t take too much notes. Not really a food blogger like JoanH!
    ========
    How I stay in shape? Sigh, such a challenge. Wallclimbing and walking a lot help, but it seems like a losing battle. I like food too much!
    ========
    Thanks for the comments! Let me know if you guys discover any more new brunch venues!

  5. hi!! I will totally have to hit up your list.. though I have put off blogging about Omelet to Go since it’s always so crowded and tiny. Haha! can you believe I’ve never been to Carnegies, Grandma Nitti’s or Cosmo Grill for anything, much less brunch?

    as for pictures, most of your friends will get used to it once you do it often enough and then will also offer up their plates for pictures and tastes. :)

    have you tried the breakfasts at Jake’s Country Kitchen (far I know, in Tienmu) or Posh?

  6. What? Girlie, you’re missing out! Definitely try Carnegies, Grandma Nittis and Cosmo Grill. Top recommends! As for Omelette to Go, great time to visit is in the evenings. Lunch is their busiest time.

    I’ve tried Jake’s in Tienmu but it’s not worth the travel time. Where is Posh? Do share!

  7. I stand corrected, the Diner is my most favorite brunch place for the moment. Good for them to open a new branch at an all-new location! :)

    ROCKS!

  8. hey there :) i came across this post when i was looking up on brunch places in taipei. i just moved to this city from vancouver a few months ago. i really like your blog! hope you don’t mind if i “follow” you from now on. hope to see more great posts from you!

    - amanda

  9. No offense, but I guess you must not have been in Taiwan too long…..the places you mentioned here are average at best and way overpriced. These place are the “standards”…with a little looking you can find much better… Carnegie’s #1??? puhleeeeese!!! You are leading people asytray because you can’t be bothered to go find new places. I would give you all a much better list but it’s not my blog. Cafe Cafe and Wooloomooloo are 2 names to google start with though.

  10. No worries, SMWard. Post was dated April of 2008 so am sure that there are more wonderful places that opened up recently. So hopefully, people would simply use this as a guide and not as the bible.

    Cheers for letting me know and leaving a comment. Back in 2008, Carnegies personally was the best place to be. :)


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