At Penn, weekends are more than just a reprieve from a stressful week of classes, midterms and the like. For many, they start on Thursdays and are filled with busy days and boozy nights. As such, weekend brunches do double duty as a time to recap said nights while feeling productive (well, socially at least) during the day.

Campus has a few decent brunch spots, but nothing compares to the options that await a short cab ride, or leisurely walk, eastward. Enter: Rouge, the proverbial Penn favorite on Rittenhouse Square. On any given Sunday (or Saturday) you’ll see familiar faces who also decided to treat themselves to a relaxing midday meal across the Schuylkill.

Rouge is always crowded, but in a cozy way, as small groups of diners (big parties beware: you’ll have to sit at round tables awkwardly pushed together) sink into sumptuous purple couches or soft pink chairs at tables that seem a tad too close to one another. And one of the more important things you need to know about the restaurant is that they don’t take reservations. Ever.

The wait is made less painful during the non-winter months, when you can stroll around the park while you wait (plus, the number of available tables increases with the addition of outdoor seating when it’s warm out). Otherwise, you can wait out your time at the bar at the center of the restaurant, where mimosas and Bloody Marys garnished with huge green olives are consumed liberally.

The brunch menu features standout dishes like the brown sugar French toast, stuffed with honey mascarpone and raspberries ($12), drowned in a pool of maple syrup and topped with thick whipped cream, as well as eggs Benedict ($15) served with creamy Hollandaise sauce atop focaccia with a side of roasted potatoes.

You can, however, opt for more lunch-y fare, including the famed Rouge burger ($16). Long considered one of the best in Philly, the thick burger contains gruyere cheese and caramelized onions between its challah roll bun and comes with a generous serving of pommes frites. If you decide to forgo brunch, spring for the burger and not the brisket sandwich ($27), which disappointingly lacks flavor despite its inclusion of white cheddar and Worcestershire mayonnaise. The French onion soup ($12) is another Rouge must-try. A thick layer of gruyere and provolone coat the top of the iron bowl, hiding a piece of garlic croustade submerged in the sweet broth.

The decadent, but not decadently priced, dishes (around $13) are certainly worth the oft-annoying wait times and uneven service (a request for coffee went ignored, but thankfully did not end up on the bill), provided you have the time to spare.

205 South 18th Street


Don’t miss: Brown Sugar French Toast

Skip: Brisket Sandwich