New Yorkers love cheap eats and they sure do love brunch, so double down on that affection with the best cheap brunch places in NYC. From the best brunch in Brooklyn to great spots in the Bronx, we’ve picked the best restaurants serving egg dishes, pancake stacks and bottomless brunch that will fill your belly without emptying your pockets.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best brunch in NYC
Best cheap brunch places
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. Once inside, you’ll find an old-school diner lined with wood paneling and all manner of items hanging on the walls—plastic flowers, photos of local celebrities, framed newspaper clippings, etc. The joint is best known for its variety of flapjacks, including harvest pancakes (stuffed with corn and cranberries) and Danish pancakes (blueberries, ricotta, Parmesan), but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the comforting breakfast options.
A late-night meal at East Village institution Veselka (translation: “rainbow”) is a rite of passage for NYU students, artists, club kids and all sorts of other downtown creatures. But the brunch fare at this classic Ukrainian diner is worth waking up (relatively) early for. Pillow-light blintzes served with sweetened sour cream and seasonal compote are a refreshing alternative to standard-issue pancakes. Those seeking something more savory can tuck into the kale eggs Benedict; a Slavic twist on the brunch classic, they’re served on a bed of the leafy green, with potato pancakes instead of English muffins. Pro tip: Order a side of kielbasa with your breakfast food. You’ll never want to return to plain old sausage or bacon.
April Bloomfield knows a thing or two about curing hangovers. At Salvation Taco, her South of the Border outfit in midtown’s Pod 39 hotel, Bloomfield and co-chef Robert Santibañez (of Fonda) dish out the booze-sopping brunch eats you need when you’ve had one too many tequilas the night before. That means chicken Tinga torta, steak-and-egg burritos and, yes, a spicy-as-hell Bloody Mary. And if your hangover is particularly debilitating—we’ve been there—the canteen graciously offers brunch to go, so you can refuel with banana dulce de leche empanadas in the warm confines of your bed-sheet cocoon.
This Southern-accented breakfast-only 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 mismatched chairs at a paper-covered table (crayons are provided), wake up at a leisurely speed to the 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 a sunny-side-up egg, all of which is covered with sharp cheddar) or a terrific country-ham biscuit sandwich. If you must have dessert at breakfast, finish with two slices of Amy's brioche French toast with Vermont maple syrup.
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: rosewater waffles with Lebanese yogurt and honey, and the hard-to-pronounce but easy-to-eat green shakshouka (eggs baked in a chili- and cumin-spiced tomato sauce). 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.
Expect this trendy spot to be packed during peak brunch hours, as patrons wait for excellent coffee, craft beers and hangover-helper classics. With offerings such as Gouda grilled cheese and the breakfast burrito (mushroom-fried rice, avocado, egg, black beans and pickled jalapeños), carnivores won’t even realize the menu is completely vegetarian. Early risers may drop in as early as 9am, while late sleepers can brunch until 4:45pm.
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 chilaquiles 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. (That sounded less weird in our head.)
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.
A peaceful respite from Soho’s shopping-bag-toting hordes, this light-filled Nolita bar feels especially welcoming during daylight hours, when it’s scarcely populated and gives off a friendly neighborhood vibe. Its cheap but filling dishes—try the chicken and waffles, or the French onion soup grilled cheese with grilled cheese, with gruyere, cheddar and carmelized onion—leave you cash to spare for expertly crafted cocktails. The daily special of tequila, lime and blood-orange jam is eye-openingly tart.
For a chill dining experience filled with burritos, tacos and fantastic huevos rancheros, visit this Long Island City restaurant and comedy theater, which houses two stages and a separate dining area. At each table you’ll get unlimited tortilla chips and homemade salsa. Check out the patio or the downstairs bar and performance space, which hosts a variety of acts. The kitchen serves all kinds of savory Tex-Mex standbys, but for a twist, try the BLT Bacon Taco with the usual fixings plus pico de gallo, cheese, salsa and chipotle mayo in a flour tortilla.
Looking for more cheap food?
Paul's on Times Square
Searching for a restaurant in Times Square that specializes in something other than hot dogs and hamburgers? Paul’s serves modern Italian fare for both lunch and dinner. Start with beef carpaccio ($19.50) or a burrata caprese salad with truffle oil ($19) or an antipasto plate including prosciutto, salami, parmesan and eggplant caponata ($14.50). For the main course, there is plenty of pasta, including linguini with white wine and clams ($20) and sun-dried tomato ravioli in thyme cream sauce ($26.50). The menu also includes personal pizzas topped with everything from prosciutto and arugula ($17) to duck confit and caramelized onions ($22) to Maine lobster and grilled corn ($29). If you’re looking for a protein-centric entree, the lamb osso buco with mushroom risotto ($37) or Tuscan seafood stew ($36) might tempt you. In need of refreshments after a long day of sightseeing? Paul’s offers a menu of signature cocktails including a chocolate martini and blue margarita ($15-$17).
Venue says: “Fun, fine dining experience with friendly service & delicious Italian food in the heart of NYC.”