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.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the East Village
Best brunch places in East Village
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.
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.
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.
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
It may be sacrilege to say it, but it seems that the legendary 96 -year-old Grand Central Oyster Bar, located in the epic and gorgeous hub that shares its name, is running on fumes. The surly countermen at the mile-long bar (the best seat in the house) are part of the charm, but the fishy lobster roll, overly breaded fried clams and ketchup-tasting pan roast are not. Play it safe—and classic—with a reliably awe-inspiring platter of iced, just-shucked oysters (there can be a whopping three-dozen varieties to choose from at any given time, from Baja to Plymouth Rock) and enjoy the vaulted-ceiling view. As long as the station is abuzz and the oysters good—they are—the other food is really beside the point.
Venue says: “For over 100 years we have been serving the freshest oysters & seafood in NYC! Our Oyster Happy Hour features Bluepoint Oysters, $1.25/each”