New York’s most talked about borough long stepped out of Manhattan’s shadow to become a must-hit dining destination in its own right, and at no times does that seem more true on Saturdays and Sundays, when Kings County dwellers are on the hunt for the best brunch in Brooklyn. Whether you want Bloody Marys at bottomless brunch in Bushwick or tricked-out pancakes in Park Slope, here’s where to find the best weekend-morning (or late afternoon, if you’re still nursing that hangover) meals in Brooklyn.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best brunch in NYC
Best brunch in Brooklyn
There’s a lot of new competition on Washington Avenue, which sits on the border of recently trendy Prospect Heights and newly trendy Crown Heights, but no one else draws loyal customers quite like beloved Brooklyn institution Tom’s—as evidenced by the line spilling out of the place and around the corner every weekend. Queuing up is a pleasure, though, with friendly staffers handing out complimentary coffee, cookies and (most famously) orange slices to hungry waiting patrons. The joint is best known for its variety of griddled offerings, including fresh strawberry and banana-nut pancakes, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the comforting morning options.
Two words: Breakfast. Sandwiches. A bacon-egg-and-cheese on a roll is a Saturday late-morning standby, but the righteous brunchtime subs at this beloved Carroll Gardens market-café are a welcome upgrade from that bodega classic. We’re talking Balthazar ciabatta loaded with scrambled eggs, salty Cabot cheddar and arugula, or a Taylor pork roll with American cheese on a Martin’s potato bun, delivered straight to the cozy dining room.
Bloody Marys are to brunch what pinstripes are to the Bronx Bombers. At this dark-wood, naval-inspired Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, tavern, you can get master barman Damon Boelte’s civilized take on that time-honored hair of the dog à la carte, or bring a buddy to split the bar’s brunch-on-steroids Bloody Mary Platter ($70). The head-turning spread comprises two house Bloodys (your choice of vodka, tequila or gin), two sidekicks of pilsner and a two-tier tower set with local bivalves, fresh vegetables, shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs and a colossal king crab leg that can be tricked out with accompanying medicine droppers of mignonette. It’s a cure that almost makes your hangover from last night worth it—almost.
While the down-and-dirty Southern fare—honest, cheap and often delicious—is certainly in line with Brooklyn’s all-American moment, it’s an audacious departure from the borough’s judiciously sourced, seasonally orthodox, self-righteously ethical ethos. Yes, the chickens are antibiotic- and hormone-free, but you won’t find the name of the farm where they came from on the menu. During brunch, available weekends 10am to 4pm, you can get that namesake bird on a buttermilk biscuit slathered in hot sauce and honey butter, or atop buckwheat waffles topped with cinnamon butter and baked apples.
Reynard, and its upstairs sibling, the Ides, are the brainchildren of Andrew Tarlow, a restaurateur as responsible as any for Brooklyn’s culinary ascendancy. The restaurant builds on everything he’s done so far, elevating all the usual Williamsburg tropes. Just check out brunch: Dishes include cast-iron pancakes with dark chocolate and preserved citrus, baked eggs with a smoked-chickpea–and–saffron stew and a breakfast sandwich with flavored with fennel, celery and mint.
Executive chef Jared Braithwaite retools hearty morning classics with an array of locally sourced ingredients at his exposed-brick–fitted Brooklyn Heights dining room. Pasture-raised eggs—think a step above “cage free” or “free range”—are purchased from Rock Ridge Farms in Andover, New Jersey; grains and grits come from Castle Valley Mills in Bucks County, Pennsylvania; and potatoes and veggies are sourced from Sparrow Arc Farm in Copake, New York. While offerings rotate regularly, seek out permanent favorites like a garden-fresh duck hash, with a poached egg laid over red potatoes and roasted onion puree, or cured steelhead trout, spread on potato rosti with dill crème fraîche and trout roe.
The main menu at this Williamsburg gastropub changes daily, but luckily for all you indecisive diners out there, its Tumblr gets updated every morning. The brunch menu does not vary as often: Expect buttermilk pancakes with organic blueberries, a gut-busting egg sandwich with homemade fries, plus some picks straight outta left field. For a real eye-opener, try the Cowboy Coffee, a bracing mix of bourbon, iced coffee, Borghetti and cream.
This Southern-accented breakfast and lunch abode has no parallel in Billyburg or beyond—which means you can expect a bit of a wait to get seated. Once you do get in, perch on chairs at a paper-covered table (crayons are provided), wake up at a leisurely speed to the occasional old-time folk music on the sound system, and scarf down a cheap meal that may include eggs Rothko (a slice of brioche with a hole in the middle that accommodates an easy-cooked egg, all of which is covered with sharp cheddar) or a terrific country-ham biscuit sandwich.
Pizza for brunch is always a good idea, especially when it’s served at the Michelin-starred pizza joint favored by Bill and Hillary Clinton. The venerable Bushwick institution offers many of its artisanal pies during brunch, and you always have the option of topping your order with an egg. Plus, Roberta’s has stellar seasonal greens, plucked from its own rooftop garden; a fancy bacon-egg-and-cheese on croissant; and a life-changing sticky bun. Sure, you won’t sit down right away, but the wait is substantially shorter than at dinner—and you can always while away the time with drinks in the adjacent bar.
The downside: Sweet Chick lies on that crowded patch of Bedford Avenue typically overrun by tourists who want to see where Hannah and the rest of the Girls live (people, they’re in Greenpoint!). The upside: The food is worth the hassle. Sumptuous treats like chicken and waffles (they even have a vegetarian version) and steak and eggs more than make up for what the space lacks in personality. Brunch here means you won’t be eating much for the rest of the day—no, you’ll be splayed out on your bed, rubbing your belly with a smile on your face.