Start your perfect Saturday or Sunday in leisurely fashion at one of the best brunch places in the East Village. If the wait’s too long at legendary brunch spot Prune, there’s no shortage of worthy alternatives. Head to spacious, Southern-accented Peels for a buttermilk biscuit topped with scrambled eggs and bacon, Northern Spy Food Co. for the memorable “chicken and egg” sandwich, or Back Forty for seasonal-fruit-laden pancakes. Afterward, hit the neighborhood’s shops or attractions.
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Inside this antiques-filled dining room, chef Joe Dobias (Savor NY) gives life to his wildest, and most successful, impulses: An appetizer of griddled challah smeared with chicken liver takes on a subversive (and delicious) edge when sandwiched with smoky bacon and caramelized onions. An inventive entrée features tender slices of beef served with sesame spaetzle and a gorgeous curl of bok choy, petrified in a translucent batter. The dining masses have yet to catch on—get in before they do.Read more
After the success of their brunch-only pop-up at Resto Leon, new-wave Filipino darlings Nicole Ponseca and Enzo Lim have finally found a permanent home in the East Village. Fans of their daytime fare can revisit hits like eggs Imelda (poached eggs on pan de sal with taro leaves, coconut milk and prawns) and Sizzling Sisig (a spiced mix of shredded pig’s snout, ear, cheek and belly). New to this iteration: dinner plates, including Southeast Asian spins on American classics, like chicken and purple-yam waffles and a spiny-lobster roll laced with fermented shrimp-paste mayo. Lim, also a barkeep at Minetta Tavern, slings tropical concoctions, such as the Manileño, which mixes brandy, pineapple, maraschino, Peychaud's Bitters and lime.Read more
This slim, urban beach shack shrouded in bamboo thatch serves some of the city’s most consistently satisfying Mexican food. Instead of finding happy-hour throngs checking beepers for tables, you’ll see a chef-owner inside the open kitchen. At Mercadito, whose name means “little market,” the portions are designed to be small: Instead of huge platters filled out with rice and beans, you’ll find miniature tacos and tostados bursting with original flavors. Start with guacamole enlivened by mango or orange, or gooey queso fundido, a cheese fondue made of smoked Gouda, Chihuahua and Manchego cheeses. The tacos, served in foursomes, are consistently excellent; the skirt steak’s a standout. For dessert, order the warm plantains Foster with a cold mound of vanilla ice cream.Read more
Part of the problem with eating well—healthfully, deliciously and environmentally correctly—is that it’s expensive. Enter Northern Spy Food Co., a restaurant that serves locally sourced meals at reasonable prices (no dish costs more than $15). Chef Nathan Foot’s frequently changing menu is based almost entirely on what’s in season (Northern Spy is an apple indigenous to the Northeast). Rounding out the farm-to-table experience is a general store filled with locavore staples—grass-fed milk, McClure’s pickles, salted caramels. Though the urban-rustic conceit is reaching critical mass—the clapboard walls and beat-up school chairs are by-the-books at this point—value sets Northern Spy apart. The food isn’t fancy, but it satisfies. A “chicken and egg” sandwich memorably combines pan-crisped dark meat, zingy chimichurri, arugula and a poached egg on Sullivan Street bread. A runny egg also graced a hearty salad of escarole, country ham and roasted turnips in a mustard vinaigrette. Toothsome pastured pork loin shared the plate with rich pork jus and a “green saut” of leeks, green cabbage and brussels-sprout leaves. Less successful was the Montauk squid, an ill-defined mass of bland calamari, navy beans, carrots, more cabbage and tough-to-detect pasilla peppers. Red quinoa, meanwhile, found a bitter mate in radishes in an unpalatable side. As for drinks and dessert, we felt obligated to try a glass of dry, tart Northern Spy hard cider—offered along with other wines and local beers—plus a so-so wedge of Northern Spy apple pie, packed with slices of dry, al dente fruit. We preferred the bread pudding—eggy bites topped with whiskey-laced whipped cream. If this is eating well, we’ll take seconds.Read more
Tiny, well-lit Prune is still as popular as it was the day it opened. Gabrielle Hamilton’s French mother developed this fearless chef’s palate early on: Expect creative dishes like Manila clams with hominy and smoked paprika butter, and roasted suckling pig with pickled tomatoes, black-eyed-pea salad and chipotle mayo. This is the area’s go-to brunch spot, so beware: The wait for a table can stretch over an hour.Read more