Best brunch in NYC
Open in the East Village since 1938, this venerable, 400-square-foot lunch still serves the kosher dairy dishes it has always been beloved for. There's no better way to start a weekend morning than with a cup of coffee and sunny side-up eggs that come with a side of complementary challah bread. Not to mention, that their incredibly gregarious staff makes every moment worth it, even when it's mobbed with hungry (and hungover) diners.
Capitalizing on the versatility of eggs, this breakfast-minded restaurant fries, scrambles, poaches and pickles its organic, locally sourced main ingredient to top sandwiches (steak, smoked salmon) or to anchor bowls of miso-soaked quinoa and farm greens. And all of it goes down in their pleasant mint green environment with ceiling lights shaped like egg cartons with playful, yolk-filled illustrations display throughout.
If you grabbed brunch at Clinton St. Bakery and didn’t order the stack of fluffy pancakes, did you really even go? At least, that’s how sought-after the dish is among the early-morning (and breakfast-for-dinner) crowd. Chef Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, who co-own the Lower East Side hot spot, offer their iconic brunch items—think egg sandwiches and latke eggs Benedict—that New Yorkers line up for every weekend. Even on those mornings when it seems impossible to get out of bed, the duo beckons us to the Time Out Market for breakfast delights.
Down an easily-missed deadend on the Lower East Side called Freemans Alley, is a carefully-tucked treasure known just as Freemans. It’s here that you’ll find one of our favorite spots for fancy brunch, that feels straight out of a Wes Anderson movie set in all of its taxidermied, vintage wallpaper-laden and old-book strewned glory.
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.
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.
Calm still exists off the main drag of Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue. Hidden inside a relatively non-descript front with no street-facing window, is a magical Japanese brunch oasis, not to be missed. House of Small Wonder is perfectly named, with an enchanting small tree, sprouting at the center of its greenhouse-feeling restaurant.
Williamsburg’s new hot-spot, Gertie serves up near perfect breakfast with the soul of old-school New York. Here, luncheonette-style dining is made for 2019 (there's an Instammable mural designed by artist, Lea Carey). Excellent egg 'n cheese sandwiches are offered on bialys (made in-house by Savannah Turley) to which you can add mushrooms, lox or seasonal ingredients, such as ramps.
Everyone's favorite hotel bar, Broken Shaker just launched their very own brunch. Pulling inspiration from its Miami roots, the Saturday and Sunday morning menu offers a clever play on the brunch classics: avocado toast is transformed into a tostada (avocado salad, black bean, cotija, red onion, and radish and corn tortilla); a Bloody Mary by mixologist Evan Hawkins is made light and refreshing as a green juice of smoked tomatillo, cilantro, lime, jalepeños, beer, pickles and vodka; but the best is their ode to the everything bagel, instead using malawach Yemenite bread, served with cream cheese and lox.
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.
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.
Were not one to go all the way to Midtown for brunch, let alone in a hotel. But if you’ve been to Grammercy’s Freehand Hotel, you’ll agree it’s worth the distance. The Freehand property has multiple restaurants and bars, but for brunch you’ll want to head to the casual-yet-stylish Studio at the Freehand for head baker Zoe Kanan breakfast-time carb mastery.
At the charming sit-down spot, Madcap Cafe in Carroll Gardens, you’ll find one of our favorite egg sandwiches in the whole city. For six dollars you can get a heaping “flat” with scrambled eggs and a doughy flatbread wrapped around, that’s massive enough to tide you over until dinner.
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.
If you’re looking for a in-and-out brunch experience, head to Golda, the healthy-ish Mediterranean all-day cafe in Bed-Stuy where you can order at the counter. Golda serves house-made breakfast pastries and Levant brunch options like babka french toast, acai yogurt with orange blossom and bee pollen, and, our favorite, the eggplant menemen with crispy egg, saffron yogurt, Jerusalem artichoke and urfa biber. The cards to mark table numbers are cute animal illustrations, which is an added bonus.
Housed in what was once the legendary Perk’s jazz bar, this uptown sleeper opened late last year with chef Gustavo Lopez (Terroir, Lupa, DBGB) at the helm, turning tired “farm-to-table” on its head. Trend chasers should seek out the corner spot’s contemporary yet cozy bi-level dining rooms, where rib-sticking midday meals are ushered to blond-wood tables on hand-thrown earthenware. At this historic jazz stalwart, you’ll catch a glimpse of both new and old Harlem.
Enjoy tapas and live music while peering out onto one of Avenue C's gorgeous community gardens, located directly across the street. Tables are covered with bright plastic cloth splattered with charming fruit patterns, which complement the colorfully painted interiors. Their brunch prix-fixe special includes any brunch entree, 1 cup of coffee or tea and a brunch cocktail, but there’s also a bottomless brunch deal as well.
Inventive riffs on morning fare draw both locals and comfort-seeking travelers—unfortunately even Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives crew—to Donnie D’Alessio’s homey Astoria standby. Post up on the turquoise swivel stools or settle into the family-style communal tables to nosh on a whopping 11 jazzed-up varieties of poached-eggs Benedict, from a King Creole with fried tilapia and shrimp to a South by Southwest plate with a corn tamale and pulled pork. Equally adventurous are brioche sandwiches, with fillings like sweet-savory Cap’n Crunch–crusted chicken and deep-fried pork tenderloin.
Milk toast seems to be everywhere in New York right now. 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.
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.
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.
Demi-Monde is one of Brooklyn's most low-key brunch options. But with seriously delicious, plant-based offerings it confuses us that it's not more packed. Swap out oatmeal and berries for Demi-Monde's equally decadent savory version with roasted sweet potatoes, shiitakes, fennel, sautéed kale, pink peppercorns, balsamic vinaigrette and a soft, runny egg.
El Castillo is where we’d go to meet up with friends after a crazy night out to spill all The Tea. It’s one of the last remaining spots on the Lower East Side that give a window into what the neighborhood used to be. Visions of yesteryear come with delicious Dominican food, like their mofongo, a dense mash of garlicky green plantains and fried pork (meant for dipping in tomato broth).
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.
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.
Located on Striver's Row, Ruby's Vintage takes its name after its location at playwright and civil rights activist, Ruby Dee’s childhood home. The brunch spot’s tagline reads: “welcome to Harlem 1968: a hub for the artist- activist who shaped a generation,” and it’s accomplished not only through soul food, but soulful small design details of vintage records, portraits and a living room salon-style feeling throughout.
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.
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.
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 (wife of Le Coucou's Daniel Rose), scope out the kitchenware that is also for sale.
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.
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.
Inspired by 1960s Los Angeles, this California cool café in SoHo boasts a flavor-packed, health-driven menu that won’t leave you feeling guilty or lethargic. That said, the plates—named for neighborhoods and institutions around L.A.—don’t follow any strict nutritional rules, but rather a general ethos of wellness lead by owner and Golden State native Camilla Marcus. The healthful additions from the open kitchen are smart and subtle, like buckwheat in vanilla crème-fraîche–topped Malibu waffles, a pair of Echo Tacos loaded with potato-pepper hash and crisp romaine, and, of course, a chia pudding tinged with coconut and decorated with toasted almonds and fresh raspberries. If nothing else, the donation from every purchase to the poverty-fighting Robin Hood Foundation will leave you feeling pretty damn full.
What initially feels like a hodge podge menu of curries, avocado toast with tostones, and ginger shrimp pho, makes sense when you learn more about the owners of Tamra Teahouse's personal history and culinary journeys. Founders Yunha Moh and Draman Berthe are first-generation immigrants (from Korea and Mali, respectively) serving up dishes that might just give fusion a good name again. With collective experience from prior jobs at Saltie, Milk Bar, Pok Pok, and Lucky Bee, the duo pair their culinary training with Afro-Asian inflections: curry is the common ground. We recommend the butternut squash curry served with corn, potatoes served with jasmine rice, chadon beni and daikon pickles or the oxtail version braised in coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, and shrimp paste, with beansprouts, chadon beni, scallions, peanuts, lime and jasmine rice. Finish things off with a korean medicinal tea made from dates or a Carribbean sorrel cocktail.
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.
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.
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.
It's easy to overlook Short Stories as just a place where Reformation-clad fashion industry gals post up over avocado toast while dancing to spins by a Hypebeast DJ. But, in fact, Short Stories, a new millennial-pink club-brunch, can back up its almost egregiously on-trend vibes with excellent bites. The kitchen is run by executive chef Daniel Bagnall (an alum of The Smile and Eleven Madison Park), the delicious menu runs the gamut of the "Story Burger" made with an Impossible patty and poblano queso; blistered shishitos; and burrata with tomatillo jam. Short Stories also hosts pop-up menus from chefs around the world.
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.
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.
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.
Keep the party vibes going with the hip-hop-fueled brunch from Leah Cohen, who dishes out culture-crossing Southeast Asian morning fare soaked up with all-you-can-drink beer and tropical mimosas during brunch. Choose from the usual orange, or opt for mango, lychee or white peach to offset the gut-sticking Filipino Sizzling Sisig, featuring pork head chopped on a hot skillet with a whole egg.