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—photos of local celebrities, framed newspaper clippings, etc. The joint is best known for its variety of flapjacks, 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. Pro tip: Order a side of kielbasa with your breakfast food. You’ll never want to return to plain old sausage or bacon.
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 or a terrific country-ham biscuit sandwich.
At Gabriel Stulman's all-day Gramercy café, nosh on Mediterranean and North African plates in a stylish, mid-century setting in the Freehand Hotel. For brunch, try the inventive egg dishes or the house-baked pastries.
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.
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, delivered straight to the cozy dining room.
This sunny spot on Madison serves fresh, healthy-ish brunch classics in a casual setting. Plus, it's one of the few spots in the neighborhood built for the under-35-crowd with a chalkboard menu and cookie dough to-go.
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 leave you cash to spare for expertly crafted cocktails.
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.