Here’s a phrase you probably haven’t heard as much in the past couple years: Let’s do brunch.

The timeless tradition of weekend brunch took a major hit during the pandemic. Some spots closed permanently or ended their brunch service, while others had to deal with making food that’s not typically portable available for takeout.

But, despite all the challenges, new restaurants have cropped up and, with most COVID-related restrictions lifted, the time is right to get out and fill your belly with some delicious food, starting whenever your day does.

Anyone who has lived in the Portland area for more than a minute knows there are a lot of options for a morning meal, from casual diner food to creative and upscale eating, and we’ve updated our roundup of 40 brunch spots in Southern Maine. Here, we’re focusing on a few of the newer brunch spots, some catering to certain diets, and, with two major brunch holidays – Easter and Mother’s Day – coming up, a couple places you can count on to make it a special occasion.

Huevos Rancheros, made with sunny side eggs, beans, pico de gallo, tortillas, avocado, chorizo, queso fresco and avo verde sauce, at Bird & Co. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

BIRD & CO.

Bird & Co., in Portland’s Woodfords Corner neighborhood, has established itself as a go-to spot for unique tacos and creative margaritas since opening in 2019. A few months before the pandemic started, Bird & Co. started making waves with its weekend brunch, but took a hiatus when it transitioned to takeout and didn’t immediately bring it back when it reopened to diners. However, a month ago, Bird & Co. relaunched dine-in brunch and has been going strong ever since.

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The menu features five types of breakfast tacos, including bacon and chorizo. Tame your sweet tooth with an order of churro French toast and send your hunger packing with huevos rancheros, avocado toast and Tijuana chilaquiles made with tortilla chips, shredded beef, salsa roja, eggs, cheese, sour cream and avocado.

Bird & Co. is also vegan-friendly, offering an entirely plant-based menu along with its standard one.

9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday. 539 Deering Ave., Portland. thebirdandco.com

The Cebiche Tostada, made with crab, diced chiles, leche de tigre, red onion, cilantro and green banana, at Cafe Louis. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

CAFE LOUIS

Cafe Louis, just over Casco Bay Bridge in South Portland’s Mill Creek neighborhood, opened last summer, serving mostly Costa Rican and Caribbean fare. Its brunch menu, available five days a week, includes a cebiche tostado made with crab, diced chiles, leche de tigre, red onion, cilantro and green banana. In case you’re wondering, leche de tigre is not actual tiger’s milk but a yummy citrus marinade.

Or perhaps you’ll find yourself in the mood for gallatas. It’s a dish made with fried avocado, cabbage, crema, fermented peach salsa, radish, tortilla and gallo pinto (Costa Rican rice and beans). For the “unch” part of brunch, try the chickpea patty sandwich or Louis burger.

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Need something sweet to cleanse your palate? Look no further than the chorreada, made with Nutella, maduro brittle and sea salt.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Monday. 173 Ocean St., South Portland. cafelouis.me

PJs are welcome during Pajama Brunch on Sundays.

THE MAKER’S GALLEY

The Maker’s Galley opened last fall on the east end of Commercial Street. It’s both a marketplace for Maine-made and Maine-grown products and a cafe. It’s open five days a week and, depending on the day, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sundays, however, are when the real fun happens with the weekly Pajama Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You’ll save 5% off your order if you show up in your pajamas, so there’s no need to change out of your Big Lebowski-style bathrobe or footies. On the food front, options include the Everything You Ever Wanted (toasted everything bagel, plain or pepper, bacon, scallion cream cheese, fruit), The Main-ah Muffin (grilled blueberry muffin, honey butter, fruit), Wharf Boy Sandwich (everything bagel, bacon, egg and cheese, fruit) and Let Me See Your Cinn-Roll (homemade cinnamon bun, cream cheese frosting).

You can also get lunch stuff like Carb-o-load (house sourdough bread board, honey butter, herb butter) and the Cluck It Like It’s Hot (blueberry-rubbed chicken skewers, seasoned yogurt, orzo salad).

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Quench your Sunday morning thirst with the Big Girl Mimosa (described as your classic mimosa, just a little extra, because you deserve it), The Jet-Setter (flight of three different mimosa flavors to taste throughout the world) and Sunday Bloody Sunday (classic bloody Mary).

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. 5 Commercial St., Portland. themakersgalley.com

The Sai Oua Sammy, made with sai oua sausage, american cheese, fried eggs and an english muffin, at Crispy Gai. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

CRISPY GAI

Crispy Gai got its start in the Portland Public Market, then moved to Exchange Street last year. Its specialties are Thai-style fried chicken and fabulous cocktails, which now can be enjoyed much earlier in the day.

You can indeed order the Chicken Sammy (extra crispy chicken thigh on a Martin’s sesame seed potato bun, available in spicy, classic and satay) from the brunch menu, as well as the Crispy Chicken Waterfall, made with jaew (Thai dipping sauce), mint, cilantro, toasted rice powder and fried chicken.

However, if you need your eggs in the morning, Crispy Gai’s got that covered with the Sai Oua Sammy (sai oua sausage, cheese, fried egg, English muffin).

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Its brunch twist on dessert is the Ice Cream Cookie Sammy – lemongrass ice cream served on a Fruity Pebbles cookie. Should you need further motivation to plan a visit, you can get an eyeful before you dine at Crispy Gai’s colorful and photogenic Instagram page.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 90 Exchange St., Portland. crispygai.com

Fruity Pebble crusted & strawberry cream cheese stuffed french toast from The Sinful Kitchen. Photo courtesy of The Sinful Kitchen.

THE SINFUL KITCHEN

If your bathroom scale goes up a bit after a visit to this spot, you can just say that the devil made you do it. But have no remorse after a decadent visit to The Sinful Kitchen – you can even stick to a gluten-free diet here, as most items can be made to adhere to one.

You won’t need a pitchfork, just a standard issue one to work your way into a proper food coma. The Sinful Kitchen makes something called the Peanut Butter Cup Belgian waffle, topped with chopped Reese’s, chocolate and peanut butter sauces and whipped cream. That’s a real thing, not something out of the game Candy Land.

There’s also the Cinnamon Roll Belgian waffle, topped with cream cheese icing, cinnamon sugar butter and whipped cream.

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The Sinful Kitchen also has a section of the menu cleverly called Friends With Benedicts with five variations of the classic dish, including pulled pork and Maine crab. You’ll also find plenty of breakfast classics along with the Brunch Burger (topped with a fried egg) and a Reuben.

Although The Sinful Kitchen isn’t new to brunch enthusiasts, you can indulge in its menu from a different vantage point when it moves down the street in May.

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. 906 Brighton Ave. (soon-to-be 952 Brighton Ave.), Portland. thesinfulkitchen.com

The sockeye salmon from Ruby’s West End. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

RUBY’S WEST END

Ruby’s West End’s brought its brunch game to Portland about a year ago when it moved into the spot Aurora Provisions called home for several years and where Blue Spoon Cafe resided for a New York minute. Ruby’s menu and ethos are inspired by Midwestern and Southern hospitality. Hello there, shrimp and grits! We see you, beet and mushroom toast!

For some real stick-to-your-ribs nourishment, try the Croque Madame (smoked ham, mornay sauce, sunny egg), biscuits and gravy, or French toast covered in candied walnuts, Maine Maple syrup and dark chocolate.

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Splurge on a $20 mimosa because it’s bottomless, or sip on Matt’s Bloody Mary or an espresso martini.

Once you’ve had your fill of food and drink, you can digest with a leisurely stroll around the Western prom and its picturesque mansions.

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. 64 Pine St., Portland. rubyswestend.com

SEA GLASS AT INN BY THE SEA

Be sure to make a reservation for this coastal Cape Elizabeth inn’s special Easter feast ($76 per adult, $32 for kids 3-12). Starters include an assorted pastry platter, smoked salmon and carrot salad. Entrée options are pan roasted scallops, almond stuffed French toast, steak and eggs, duck, braised lamb and eggs Benedict. Top it off with the maple crème brûlée.

Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, 40A Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth. seaglassmaine.com/dining

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EIGHTEEN95 RESTAURANT

Reservations are strongly recommended for this holiday meal at the Portland Regency’s restaurant. The à la carte menu wets your whistle with a cucumber Mary and peach-mango bellini, among other libations. Then, it’s off to the breakfast races with the smoked salmon board, Benton’s country ham and eggs, almond-crusted French toast, and a chicken and asparagus omelet (among other items).

If lunch is on your mind, the Easter menu includes pork belly and spinach salad, braised lamb shanks and grilled salmon. Seal the deal with a slice of key lime cheesecake.

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 20 Milk St., Portland. theregency.com/dining


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