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Top 10 Brunch Hotels in the U.S. 2006

When it comes to the perfect weekend escape, there are elements we can't do without: ultra comfy beds, enticing settings and good food. In particular, we want to wake up in the morning—late—and wander down the hall to a meal we can linger over for hours, should we feel so inclined. Brunch is a decadent event. It's not a hearty breakfast that gets your motor running, nor is it a refreshing lunch to give you energy to make it through the afternoon. It's an extravagance—an opportunity to sample and nibble and drink Champagne in daylight hours—and in the following list, you'll find our favorite places to spoil ourselves when traveling out of town.

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BOSTON, MA
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BOSTON: Aujourd'Hui

A tuxedoed wait staff, opulent décor and contemporary French cuisine make brunching here an exercise in the art of excess. Bernardaud china and Rivolta Carmangani linens serve as palettes for dishes like seafood crêpes with Newburg sauce and apricot- and honey-glazed ham leg carved to order. We suggest you skip standards such as scrambled eggs and granola for more elegant fare, including cracked native lobster tails or coconut- and ginger-marinated baby chicken.


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CHICAGO, IL
THE RITZ-CARLTON CHICAGO:
The Dining Room

Moo Shu Peking duck, applewood home-smoked salmon, and Belgian waffles with shaved chocolate demonstrate the variety at this sophisticated Sunday brunch. In a tranquil setting, you can enjoy selections from fish, sushi and Asian stations, as well as an array of desserts: cheesecakes, tarts, tiramisu and rice pudding. Although the special kids buffet lacks imagination—chicken nuggets, hot dogs and PB&J—it will keep the little ones preoccupied while you savor your delightfully adult cuisine.

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LAS VEGAS, NV
BALLY'S LAS VEGAS:
Bally's Steakhouse/The Sterling Brunch

We would like to point out that there is a distinction between a breakfast buffet and brunch. A breakfast buffet is generally a free-for-all morning meal (particularly in Vegas, where morning is a relative hour), while brunch is a deliberately plotted event. That’s why we applaud Bally's for its dedicated Sterling Brunch. Reservations are essential for this upscale gastronomical extravaganza. Caviar, lobster gazpacho, cranberry crusted rack of lamb and vintage Champagne are among the gustatory pleasures you'll find.

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LOS ANGELES, CA
THE PENINSULA BEVERLY HILLS:
The Belvedere

You're not likely to find an unappealing dish on this weekend menu. That's the dilemma. How do you decide what to choose? To solve this problem we recommend the brunch sampler: caramelized cashew French toast, Maine lobster tart and "quail egg in hole" with chicken apple sausage. You'll want to take your time and enjoy the terrace setting, whose calm atmosphere is enhanced by a playful but unambiguous note on the menu discouraging cell phones.

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NAPA, CA
THE CARNEROS INN:
The Boon Fly Café

This hearty weekend brunch menu takes its cues from its rustic, wine country surroundings. You'll find top quality ingredients such as house-made chorizo and Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, as well as favorites such as the triple stack of buttermilk griddle pancakes. Accompanying innovative takes on traditional fare are a wide selection of flatbreads and the signature Boon Fly donuts. The latter comes paired with a fresh "Cuppa Joe."


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NEW ORLEANS, LA
ROYAL SONESTA HOTEL NEW ORLEANS:
Begué's

Despite the hardships wrought by Hurricane Katrina, a gracious, welcoming spirit perseveres in New Orleans. You'll be happy to know that the Sunday Champagne brunch at Begué's is still going strong. Dating back to the late 1800s, this mid-morning meal is now a local institution. Expect regional flavors—from robust local coffee to shrimp étouffée—on the French and Creole menu. In a dignified setting looking onto a tropical courtyard, you'll also enjoy surprise treats from the pastry chefs, who use Sundays to try out new creations.


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NEW YORK, NY
HOTEL ON RIVINGTON:
Thor

For those who associate Sunday brunch with fussy, classical settings, Thor sets out to change that stereotype. Its name is an acronym for the property it inhabits, and its style corresponds with the hotel's stark, striking atmosphere. The chef here relies on New York's greenmarkets to support his menu, and Saturday and Sunday brunches keep in line with the restaurant's global cuisine, which has included such breakfast items as crêpes with caramelized plums and quark cheese.


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PARK CITY, UT
STEIN ERIKSEN LODGE:
Glitretind

If you've come to spend your weekend on the slopes, this brunch might prove a predicament, diverting your attentions with its blueberry pancakes, maple-glazed bacon and waffle station. We think it's worth giving those Rossignols a rest, though, for the signature Stein's wild game chili and roasted buffalo rib roast. You'll also want to save time for the chef's grand dessert buffet, featuring fourteen kinds of cakes and pies.


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PORTLAND, OR
THE PARAMOUNT HOTEL:
Dragonfish Asian Café

Given this restaurant's Pacific Rim locale, we find its dim sum brunch quite clever. In fact, we're surprised more places in the region don't offer similar fare. We appreciate this alternative to typical eggs and bacon: caramel ginger chicken, bulgogi skirt steak, honey walnut shrimp and the like. If you're looking for an "authentic" experience, keep in mind that this isn't an old school Chinatown kitchen. Dragonfish Asian Café is a place to see and be seen, even on a leisurely Sunday morning.


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SAN ANTONIO, TX
LA MANSION DEL RIO:
Las Canarias

Right on the Riverwalk—with terrific river views—Las Canarias has been presenting its Champagne Sunday brunch for more than two generations. Vie with locals for dishes from food stations that run the culinary gamut, from sushi and meat carvings to omelets and regional cheeses. House made breads, cakes, pies and tarts make hearty Texas-sized appetites a must for this lavish meal.


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