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Chez Ma Tante
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

The best brunch in NYC to try right now

The best brunch in NYC includes boozy specials, old-school New York gems and a new wave of all-day cafés.

By Bao Ong and Time Out contributors
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In a year where dining in New York has been unpredictable, we've all looked for experiences that bring us back to the Before Times. The top of that list is brunch. It doesn't matter if it's takeout, delivery, outdoors or for some, a partial return to indoor dining. Things are constantly changing but with our brunch guide, you can discover under-the-radar and overlooked joints by browsing the full list of spots for the best brunch. It doesn't matter if you're seeking the best bagels to kick off your Saturday or some Bloody Marys for a boozy affair, there's an option for everyone.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

A brunch spot we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

Bessou
Photograph: Teddy Wolff

Bessou

Restaurants Japanese Noho

If Bessou only offered its chicken karaage and nothing else, we'd still sing its praises to no end. But this exceptional Japanese restaurant offers stellar pancakes, pickle-accented bowls and, yes, one stand-out fried poultry dish.

Clinton St. Baking Company

Restaurants American Lower East Side

If we could brunch every day, we would do it in heart beat, and you'd find us at Clinton St. Baking Company. We never tire of the pancakes and breakfast-as-dinner fare, so, naturally, we invited it to hold court at Time Out Market New York. 

Best brunch in NYC

Gertie, brunch, new york city, nyc
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

1. Gertie

Restaurants Cafés Williamsburg

Williamsburg’s hot-spot Gertie serves up near perfect breakfast with the soul of old-school New York. Here, luncheonette-style dining is made for 2020 with all-day café you'd expect to find in California (there's an Instammable mural designed by artist Lea Carey that we loved when indoor dining was an option here). Excellent egg 'n cheese sandwiches are offered on housemade English muffins that we'd want to order any day of the week.

Golden Diner, brunch, new york city, nyc
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

2. Golden Diner

Restaurants Diners Two Bridges

The former Momofuku Ko and Torrisi chef opened an unlikely solo project: a diner in Two Bridges. Diner culture is dwindling in New York and Sam Yoo hopes to change that. In addition to classics like grilled cheese, expect yuba club sandwiches, matcha crumb cake and chicken katsu BLTs.  

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B&H Dairy, brunch, new york city, nyc
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

3. B&H Dairy

Restaurants Diners East Village

Open in the East Village since 1938, B&H Dairy is a 400-square-foot lunch counter that still serves sunny-side-up eggs and pierogi with a side of on-the-house challah.The incredibly gregarious staff makes every moment worth it, even when it’s mobbed with hungry (and hungover) diners.

EGG SHOP el camino
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

4. Egg Shop

Restaurants Sandwich shops Nolita

Capitalizing on the versatility of eggs, this eatery fries, scrambles, poaches and pickles its organic, locally sourced main ingredient, which tops sandwiches and anchors bowls of miso-soaked quinoa and farm greens. And it all happens in a pleasant, mint-green environment that sports playful, yolk-related illustrations and ceiling lights shaped like egg cartons.

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Le Crocodile, NYC, brunch
Photograph: Courtesy Le Crocodile/Liz Clayman

5. Le Crocodile

Restaurants French Williamsburg

The Chez Ma Tante team has taken over Reynard, the lobby restaurant in the Wythe Hotel. On The French-American menu, you'll find escargot, profiteroles and fries inspired by Balthazar's iconically crispy ones. Don't forget about dessert.

Tim Ho Wan Hell's Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Tim Ho Wan

6. Tim Ho Wan

Restaurants Chinese Hell's Kitchen

Tim Ho Wan has earned a ton of hype throughout the years thanks to its title of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. The first NYC location of the dim sum darling launched in the East Village in 2016, serving its signature baked BBQ pork buns, steamed shrimp dumplings and pan-fried turnip cakes, all priced in the single digits. This Hell's Kitchen location dishes out these specials in a space inspired by 17th-century French salons, with Chinese accents like an embedded bamboo steamer and the Tim Ho Wan dragon logo.

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Golda, brunch, new york city, nyc
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

7. Golda

Restaurants Mediterranean Bedford-Stuyvesant

So much about brunch is centered on gossiping about last night, but sometimes you just want to eat alone. If so, head to this healthy-ish all-day Mediterranean café, where you can sit at the counter and nibble on Levant brunch options, such as cauliflower chermoula or our favorite, the eggplant menemen with crispy egg and saffron yogurt.

Photograph: Courtesy Atla

8. Atla

Restaurants Mexican Noho

The more casual, cooler follow-up from Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes' Flatiron megahit spotlights healthy Mexican and Central American fare: chayote squash salad, flax seeds chilaquiles and striped bass aguachile. There’s also a strong emphasis on drinks; diners can begin the day with café con leche and end with agave-leaning cocktails by beverage director Yana Volfson. Taking cues from the community-focused restaurants of Mexico City, the 60-seat venue features sleek black and oakwood furniture, a white terrazzo bar and verdant monstera accents lining the walls.

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Freemans, brunch, new york city, nyc
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

9. Freemans

Restaurants American Lower East Side

Tucked away in an easily missed dead end, this treasure feels like it’s straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, in all of its taxidermied, vintage-wallpaper–laden, old-book–strewn glory, creating a nice atmosphere to spill the beans with pals at one of the long communal tables.

Chez Ma Tante, brunch, brooklyn, new york, nyc
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

10. Chez Ma Tante

Restaurants Canadian Greenpoint

A visit to Chez Ma Tante sometimes feels like you’ve stepped into a Montreal restaurant with its European influences sans any pretense. You’ll find the restaurant on a sleepy corner in Greenpoint not too far from the waterfront. The menu seems simple but everything coming out of the kitchen speaks for itself: stripped down recipes that focus on quality ingredients that you can’t stop eating. Our favorite? The stracciatella with marcona almonds and preserved lemon.  

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La Mercerie
Photograph: Courtesy La Mercerie

11. La Mercerie

Restaurants French Soho

The stylish sit-down café, set in Roman and Williams Guild, also has to-go service for its food and home goods. While you're noshing on French fare from chef Marie-Aude Rose, scope out the kitchenware that is also for sale. 

Baar Baar
Photograph: Courtesy Liz Clayman

12. Baar Baar

Restaurants Indian East Village

The inventive Indian menu highlights chef Sujan Sarkar's modern takes on classic dishes like an avocado and green chickpea bhel and chicken tikka and cheddar kulcha.

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edslobsterbar80721
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nels

13. Ed's Lobster Bar

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Seafood Nolita

Ed’s Lobster Bar, started by the longtime sous chef at Pearl Oyster Bar, nails the seafood dishes we love all summer long and makes it a treat for brunch. Whether it's a lobster roll or a clam chowder, you'll leave satisfied and daydreaming of that beach vacation.

 

Photograph: Courtesy Nick Sethi

14. Short Stories

Bars Café bars East Village

It’s easy to overlook Short Stories as just another place where Reformation-clad fashion-industry folks post up while dancing to a hypebeast DJ’s spins. But this millennial-pink nightlife spot serves brunch where the food is comforting yet exciting. With the food on-point and a bumpin’ playlist, it’s the place for a high- energy weekend-morning meet-up.

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15. El Castillo de Jagua

Restaurants Dominican Lower East Side

This casual Lower East Side gem was an Anthony Bourdain favorite for good reason. El Castillo de Jagua serves up heaping portions of delicious food, like its mofongo, a dense mash of garlicky green plantains and fried pork. Rest assured, if you have a laundry list of chores to do, the grub comes out fast.

Davelle, brunch, nyc, new york, toast
Photograph: Time Out/Ann Sullivan

16. Davelle

Restaurants Japanese Lower East Side

Milk toast seems to be everywhere in New York these days. Get out of bed this weekend to see the artistry that is Davelle's own mesmerizing berries and cream toast that creates a delicious checkerboard effect.

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Photograph: Courtesy Ruby's Vintage

17. Ruby’s Vintage

Bars Café bars Harlem

Located on Strivers’ Row, Ruby’s Vintage is named after actor and civil rights activist Ruby Dee, whose childhood abode now houses the restaurant.With a focus on soul food and cocktails, the joint encourages you to sop up the pain of last night’s liquor with some carbo-loading grits and a hair-of-the-dog tipple.

The Honeywell
Photograph: Angie Vasquez

18. The Honeywell

Bars Cocktail bars Harlem

Who says brunch is a drag? This ’70s-style Hamilton Heights cocktail den has a weekend deal—$40 for a meal, a shot and a cocktail—all alongside drag performances that conjure up “Disco Inferno” visions.

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Russ & Daughters Café, best brunch NYC
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

19. Russ & Daughters Café

Restaurants Delis Lower East Side

If you’ve spent more than one Saturday afternoon waiting in line for a few gorgeous slices of nova, this is the brunch for you. Gather your fellow lox lovers and slip into a time-warp vinyl booth to split a smoked-fish platter for four people at the coffeeshop sibling of the Lower East Side’s revered appetizing store. The beefed-up boards are each named after one of founder Joel Russ’s daughters and padded with a laundry list of accoutrements (rye bread, cream cheese). There's another location on the Upper East Side, in the basement of the Jewish Museum.

Banana cream pie from Pies & Thighs
Photograph: Time Out/Lauren Spinelli

20. Pies ’n’ Thighs

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Soul and southern American Williamsburg

Beginning as a drunk-food closet at the back of a bar, this Southern-fried grease trap run by the three chefs—Carolyn Bane, Erika Geldzahler and Sarah Buck, who met working at Diner—retains the DIY, seat-of-the-pants spirit of the dive that it sprang from: food specials scrawled on sheets of paper, chairs and tables that might have been salvaged from a public school, and borderline aggressive bright overhead lighting. The food, not the venue, is clearly the draw. The down-and-dirty Southern fare is honest, cheap and often delicious. The fried chicken—simply brined, floured and fried—is among the city’s most succulent, with a greaseless, extra-crispy crust.

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Roey's, brunch, nyc, new york
Photograph: Courtesy Roey's

21. Roey's

Restaurants Italian West Village

Rosemary’s, the scene-y Italian restaurant in the West Village, reconceptualized it's second location, Rosemary's Pizza, flipping it into Roey's. In place of pizza, the new concept offers an all-day menu of savory miso oatmeal, Dutch boy pancakes and cacio e pepe egg sandwiches, both in their pleasing sit-down area and their to-go counter, which also serves coffee. At night, the coffee area converts into a bar.

Peaches, brunch, NYC
Photograph: Beth Levendis

22. Peaches

Restaurants Soul and southern American Bedford-Stuyvesant

At this pioneering Bed-Stuy restaurant, owners Craig Samuel and Ben Grossman (both of the Smoke Joint) ably merge two trends—Greenmarket and upscale Southern. Appetizers emphasize salads, like the toss of watermelon, arugula and spicy pickled ginger. The rest of the menu hews closer to Cajun and Creole: a juicy half chicken sports a salt-and-chili rub, and garlicky shrimp with tomato gravy are served over fluffy grits.

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Shuka
Photograph: Courtesy Shuka

23. Shuka

Restaurants Mediterranean Soho

Shuka is complete with a rustic yet vibrant menu inspired by Ayesha Nurdjaja’s travels through Spain and North Africa, as well as by her experience on the line at top Tel Aviv kitchens. The decor has likewise been rejuvenated, with Moroccan-influenced tiles and textiles to accompany a menu full of meze (fried halloumi, spicy turmeric-ginger carrots) and dishes like whole porgy with zucchini, tomatoes with a fiery zhoug sauce, and cod tagine with potatoes, cracked olives and pickled lemon.

Pilar Cuban Eatery, brunch, nyc, new york
Photograph: Courtesy Pilar Cuban Eatery

24. Pilar Cuban Eatery

Restaurants Cuban Bedford-Stuyvesant

The name of this family-run restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant comes from Ernest Hemingway’s boat, Pilar, which he used for fishing trips in Cuba. One peek at the menu reveals this eatery stays true to its Cuban roots. For entrees, there’s a classic pressed cubano sandwich served with more plantain chips, arroz con pollo or ropa vieja. Sip on cuban soft drinks like the pineapple-flavored Jupiña or the yerba mate–spiked Materva. If you need a caffeine fix, they’ve got you covered there too: the cafe con leche especial is a sweet combination of Cafe Bustelo espresso and condensed milk.

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Dimes
Photograph: Liz Clayman

25. Dimes

Restaurants Californian Chinatown

These days Dimes is overrun by skaters with trust funds, but the quality of the brunch has remained just as cool as ever. With playful interior design and art made by customers punctuating the space, it’s one of the most pleasant places for morning fare. Dimes has their market, the main restaurant and Dimes Deli, which remains our favorite of the three. Here you might find macro bowls with ingredients such as sesame seed, purple sweet potato or hijiki, salad with pomegranate and fennel, or their breakfast burrito, which is also excellent.  

Fairfax, brunch, nyc, new york
Photograph: Courtesy Fairfax/Eric Medsker Photography

26. Fairfax

4 out of 5 stars
Bars Wine bars West Village

Another sunny café from Gabriel Stulman’s team is Fairfax, parked right in the middle of the West Village. Sporting of-the-moment mid-century modern decor and large windows, it’s a prime place to post up alone with a laptop or for break-up with that might go south.

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Kopitiam, malaysian, brunch, new york, nyc
Photograph: Courtesy Kopitiam

27. Kopitiam

Restaurants Malaysian Two Bridges

The Malaysian café is now bigger and (arguably) better with an all-day menu of affordable small plates and snacks. Their nasi lemak, the national dish of Malaysia coconut rice, ikan bilis sambal (fried anchovies and peanut sambal), cucumbers and hard boiled egg, is a comforting way to start any morning.   

Bottomless brunch at Miss Lily's 7A
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

28. Miss Lily’s 7A Cafe

Restaurants Caribbean East Village

This downtown Caribbean corner joint playing a reggae-and-dancehall soundtrack offers a brunch power hour with the purchase of any brunch entrée. Guzzle 60 minutes’ worth of island cocktails like the One Love bellini (champagne, passion-fruit puree) or a boisterous, soju-based Hotstepper (spicy Bloody Mary, Scotch bonnet pepper) while feasting on West Indian–inspired platters.

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Cookshop, NYC, brunch
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

29. Cookshop

Restaurants American Chelsea

Nestled next to the High Line, Cookshop is perfect for alfresco dining. The seasonal, locally sourced dishes and array of fresh, piquant cocktails—many of which contain bitters or muddled fruits—are not to be missed. For a decadent brunch, try the French toast, served with almonds, poached blood orange, tangerines and cinnamon pastry cream. Appetizers include beignets with spiced pear compote and smoked arctic char with crème fraîche and pumpernickel toast. Many dishes are grilled, rotisseried or prepared in a wood-burning oven, in a wide-ranging display of sophisticated food craftsmanship.

Photograph: Courtesy Sunday in Brooklyn

30. Sunday in Brooklyn

Restaurants American Williamsburg

Contrary to what the name might suggest, Sunday in Brooklyn is open for brunch every day of the week. The rustic three-story space boasts an outdoor patio, private dining room and rooftop garden. The brunch menu includes items like an egg and sausage with gochujang aioli or fried eggs with chickpea panisse, feta cheese, charred onion and pepper relish.

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Jack's Wife Freda
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

31. Jack’s Wife Freda

Restaurants Contemporary American Nolita

Israeli-born Maya Jankelowitz met her South African husband, Dean, while working at Balthazar, and the patrons at their charming, sunlit Soho nook look like holdovers from that late-breakfast bastion—i.e., tiny-waisted ladies who brunch, and the men who love them. But the Jankelowitzes’ café offers Jewish-tinged bites as warm and comforting as anything your bubbe ever made you. With one (or three) refreshing cantaloupe mimosas, chowing down next to hoards of lithe brunch ladies ain’t so bad after all. In fact, it’s pretty damn great.

5 Leaves
Photograph: Jonny Valiant

32. Five Leaves

Restaurants American Greenpoint

Five Leaves these days is mobbed, but their truffle fries are worth the wait. Looking for a reason to get your booty out of bed? This might be it. 

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Esperanto Restaurant, brunch, nyc, new york
Photograph: Courtesy Esperanto Restaurant

33. Esperanto

Restaurants Brazilian East Village

Here, you can scarf down tapas and tap your toes to live music while gazing out on one of Avenue C’s gorgeous community gardens, located directly across the street. The good times don’t stop there. The brunch cocktails—mimosas, Bloody Marys, sangria and other quaffs—are ace for a buzzy day off, with a choice deal to match: One tipple is $8, two cost just $15, three are $20, and you can guzzle the whole damn pitcher for $36.

Heritage Juices at Butcher's Daughter
Photograph: Krista Schlueter

34. The Butcher’s Daughter

Restaurants Juice bars Nolita

From humble juice bar beginnings to raw-food superstar with bicoastal outposts, this sun-drenched café in Nolita has vegetarians hooked — and for good reason. The rustic-chic vibe — complete with blonde-wood counters, white-washed brick, and a plethora of lush greenery — sets the scene for farm-forward plates. Not to be overlooked, the extensive drinks list includes super-food smoothies, elixir shots and even cold-pressed cocktails.

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