Start your perfect Saturday or Sunday in leisurely fashion at one of Soho’s best brunch places. Head to airy café Jack’s Wife Freda for globe-trotting offerings for $10 or less, or if you want to splurge, Balthazar serves nearly a dozen egg dishes alongside French classics. Afterward, hit the neighborhood’s shops or attractions.
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Like any sage mentor, Hoffman has been grooming successors for years. He’s installed one of them here, shifting his Back Forty protégé Shanna Pacifico across town to help run the new spot. Her menu of small and large shareable plates is unconventionally laid out by delivery medium, with snacks and starters to consume with your “hands,” “spoon & ladle” soups and stews, and “fork & knife” proteins and vegetable sides. The duplex space has been reconfigured to fit the anything-goes format, trading in Savoy’s upscale polish for a much more rustic look, with rickety shelves on the ground floor across from a wall stripped to its concrete base, and upstairs a sentimental hodgepodge of homey mementos (crafty ceramics, mismatched paintings, a decorative quilt).
Not only is the iconic Balthazar still trendy, but the kitchen rarely makes a false step. At dinner, the place is perennially packed with rail-thin lookers dressed to the nines. But the bread is great, the food is good, and the service is surprisingly friendly. The $99 three-tiered seafood platter casts the most impressive shadow of any dish in town. The frisée aux lardons is exemplary. Roasted chicken on mashed potatoes for two, délicieux. Skate with brown butter and capers, yum. Don’t hate the patrons because they’re beautiful; just join them.
From the folks who brought us Chelsea’s Cafeteria comes this loud, aggressively fashionable Soho spot. Its reimagined takes on comfort food include Reuben fritters—Swiss cheese, corned beef and kraut fried into golden nuggets—and crunchy cheeseburger spring rolls, with ground beef and melted American cheese. For dessert try the black-and-white sundae: three scoops of ice cream, black-and-white cookies, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles, skinny jeans be damned.
Dominique Ansel honed his skills as executive pastry chef at Daniel for six years before opening this American and French patisserie. Caramelized croissants, miniature pastel meringues and madeleines make up the sweet selections at the counter. But the café also serves savory offerings like roasted butternut squash soup and a pork club sandwich with pickled eggs, tomatoes and spicy mayo on sourdough.
Keith McNally protégé Dean Jankelowitz (Schiller's, Pastis, Balthazar) is behind this morning-to-evening café. The 40-seat restaurant—sporting dark-green leather banquettes, brass railings and marble counters—serves homey fare, like Jankelowitz's grandmother's matzo ball soup made with duck fat, a skirt steak sandwich served alongside hand-cut fries, and piri-piri-hot-sauce-marinated chicken kebabs. In the morning, find Stumptown coffee, homemade croissants and full breakfast plates, including soft-boiled eggs with challah "soldiers" (strips).