A true New Yorker’s favorite meal is undoubtedly brunch, where savory and sweet dishes are consumed simultaneously and drinking before 5pm becomes acceptable. With the array of options to choose from in every part of the city, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites to make choosing a place to brunch a bit easier.
Last updated on 1/17/2011 by Sarah Lynn Knowles
Fresh off the farm yet located on the Upper West Side, Good Enough to Eat makes you feel like you should have been woken up by the sound of a rooster crowing rather than a beeping alarm clock. Good Enough to Eat celebrates traditional American cuisine, pairing each brunch dish with freshly baked buttermilk biscuits and strawberry butter. Try the Pumpkin French Toast or one of their many scrambles or pair your breakfast with a bloody mary to remind yourself you’re an urbanite. Like your eggs loose and runny? This is the place for you, as all omelettes are made in their traditional, loose style. If you prefer your omelette well done, don’t have a cow – just mention it to your waiter.
Good Enough to Eat, 483 Amsterdam Avenue (at 83rd Street), 212.496.0163
Across the street from the Museum of Natural History, Calle Ocho spices up brunch with Cuban flair. Walk through the sultry lounge in the front of the house to their sun-lit dining room in the back and experience one of the most unique brunches in Manhattan. On both Satuday and Sunday mornings, Calle Ocho offers delicious and affordable Latin brunch dishes paired with their ever-flowing free sangria bar, consisting of five white wine and five red wine based concoctions, each one more innovative than the next. If you are craving something savory, try the Pollo Ranchero or the Tortilla Espanola, which arrives in a skillet on a bed of delicious peppers and onions. For something sweet, sample the Torrejas, Cinnamon Spanish toast topped with a Star Anise syrup. If you enjoy white wine, start your meal with the Tropical Sangria, infused with rum, pineapple and mango. For red wine lovers, the Spanish Harlem Sangria spiced with cinnamon and filled with sliced peaches and plums pairs perfectly with anything on the menu. Although Calle Ocho offers this fantastic deal twice a week, open tables are few and far between – try to call as far in advance as possible to secure a reservation.
Calle Ocho, 446 Columbus Avenue (Between 81st and 82nd Sts.) 212.873.5025
Jane offers fancy-yet-affordable Sunday brunch dishes such as Lobster Benny (Maine lobster, poached eggs, buttermilk biscuit, spinach and hollandaise), Vanilla Bean French Toast (brioche bread cooked with crème brûlèe batter, served with Vermont maple syrup), and Salmon Scramble (scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, chives, imported Italian mascarpone cheese). Fine attention is paid to each plate's presentation, making this restaurant a great pick for a special occasion gathering.
Jane, 100 West Houston Street, Manhattan, 212-254-7000
A gem located in the heart of the East Village, Café Orlin is a hub for locals who know good food. Laid-back, unpretentious, and lip-smackingly delicious, this quaint café is perfect for brunch with friends or family. Although it draws quite the crowd for every meal and does not take reservations, the delectable array of brunch options at Café Orlin are always worth the wait. The cuisine is the perfect combination of American, French, and Israeli cuisines, creating a menu where there is something for every diner. Seasonal brunch specials like sweet summer corn pancakes and steak and eggs with creamed spinach make deciding what to eat a daunting task. For egg lovers, five different benedict options and omelettes galore can turn any night owl into a morning person. Pumpkin Pancakes topped with cinnamon yogurt make anyone who prefers savory breakfast feel guilty for neglecting their sweet tooth. Deals like a complimentary cappuccino and fresh-squeezed orange juice with your entrée make Orlin one of the most affordable brunches in the Village. Drip coffee does not exist at Café Orlin, only freshly perculated espresso is served at this European inspired spot. Orlin’s breakfast cocktails like bellinis, mimosas, and bloody marys are superb and attract a fun, young crowd each and every weekend.
Café Orlin, 41 Saint Marks Place (Between 2nd and 1st Ave.) 212.777.1447
For a slightly more upscale brunch affair, head to Blue Water Grill on Union Square Park. One of the best seafood restaurants in Manhattan, Blue Water Grill brings their simple sensibility and knack for all things underwater to brunch – serving up an overwhelming selection of benedicts from Lobster Benedict with lemon pepper brioche to a Smoked Salmon Benedict on a buttermilk biscuit with Dill Hollandaise. While browsing the menu and enjoying your first cup of coffee, delve into Blue Water’s legendary complimentary bread and pastry basket, filled with petits-croissants, banana bread, and rolls with strawberry butter. Enjoy a complimentary bloody mary, mimosa, bellini, campari, champagne, juice, coffee or tea with your meal, where ordinary lunch fare is also made available. Elevating bagels with their heavenly smoked salmon and making French toast sinful with a Bananas Foster twist, Blue Water Grill is the perfect way to indulge before starting off your workweek. You can also leave Blue Water knowing you can bring their passion for fresh fish into your kitchen - the fresh fish they serve can be purchased from Union Square Farmers Market, at a booth located right outside the restaurant. A few dollars more than the standard New York brunch, Blue Water Grill’s brunch is still a fantastic way to take advantage of Blue Waters amazing flavors.
Blue Water Grill, 31 Union Square West (at 16th St.)
Zagat-rated Sarabeth's (3 Manhattan locations: East on 1295 Madison Avenue, 212-423-0128; West on 423 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-496-6280; Central Park on 40 Central Park South, 212-826-5959) is known for its fresh baked goods. Thus, it's a perfect spot for fans of French toast ("Fat and Fluffy" original style as well as apple-cinnamon or almond-crusted variations), pancakes (lemon and ricotta pancakes with fresh berries as well as whole wheat pancakes with bananas and wheatberries are popular), or waffles (try the pumpkin waffle topped with raisins, pumpkin seeds, and honey or the crisp potato waffle with chicken apple breakfast sausage, apple sauce, and sour cream). The restaurant's fruit-topped "Three Bears style" porridges make great winter warmers, too.
Southern soul food fans will dig The Pink Tea Cup (88 7th Avenue South, Manhattan, 212-255-2124), a Greenwich Village mainstay for 56 years. Each weekend, a live band provides a Southern soundtrack for your experience. Menu highlights include sweet potato waffles, fried or baked chicken brunch, and the ever-popular Fish-n-Grits option, which may be ordered with either catfish, salmon croquettes, jumbo shrimp, or whiting. The restaurant also recently expanded to 2,000 square feet with a 112-person capacity, shortening ravenous brunch-goers' table wait time.
Notably, brunch at Bar Tabac (128 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718-923-0918) in Cobble Hill lasts until 5pm. Owner Georges Forgeois -- also of Bistro Jules, Café Noir, and Le Singe Vert -- specializes in authentic French cuisine, making your best bets here traditional plates such as Croque Monsieur, steak frites, or "Eggs Bar Tabac" (eggs baked with ratatouille and merguez sausage). Also enticing is the "Diet Busters" section of the menu, which includes drool-worthy desserts like Gâteaux Au Chocolat (warm flourless chocolate cake) and Profiteroles to tempt your sweet tooth.
Scottadito Osteria Toscana (788A Union Street, Brooklyn, 718-636-4800) serves unlimited mimosas, champagne, and coffee as part of its all-inclusive $17.95 brunch special. Entrees included in this prix fixe range from sweet Pane Dolche alla Nutella e Banane (French toast with chocolate-hazelnut spread and caramelized bananas) to savory Tagliatelle al Brie (homemade pasta, melted brie, prosciutto, arugula, and truffle oil) and are sure to add a little decadence to your weekend
The Grey Dog’s Coffee Shop is a Greenwich Village hub for recovery brunch. Serving up farm fresh omelettes, steal cut oatmeal with fruit, and free re-fills on coffee, the Grey Dog’s good service and its ability to draw a good crowd of New Yorkers both young and old make it ideal for a brunch with friends after a late night out. Lunch options at the Grey Dog are also favorites of the locals, as they are known for their oversized fresh and innovative sandwiches on thick and freshly baked Michigan breads. Focusing on the quality of the food rather than on fancy table-to-table service, the Grey Dog gets you involved in the process of serving yourself – order at the counter and after be lead to your table by the host during peak hours, or sit wherever you like at times that are less busy. Pick up your condiments and utensils at an antique armoir and wait to be served by the friendly wait staff. That’s where the self-service comes to a screeching halt as those kind and friendly waiters collect your plates like at any other sit-down eatery. The Grey Dog also caters to those too exhausted from the night prior by offering delivery service from their Carmine Street location. Sit back on your couch or at a table and prepare to have leftovers of some hearty and delicious dishes.
The Grey Dog’s Coffee, East Village - 90 University Place (between 11th and 12th Sts.), West Village – 33 Carmine Street
Looking for a gastronomical adventure? Head to Prune for an innovative take on a classic meal. Sample something sweet when fresh ricotta replaces traditional yogurt and is topped with dried figs, fresh raspberries, honey and toasted pine nuts. Or, order their stellar Huevos Rancheros with avocado, cilantro, and lime. Take your time when ordering from their Bloody Mary Menu, where Prune gives you eleven innovative takes on a classic breakfast cocktail. Having a tough time choosing? Try the Green Lake Bloody Mary, which is spiced with wasabi as opposed to the ever-traditional Tabasco.Take a risk – brunch at Prune!
Prune, 54 East 1st St (Between 1st and 2nd Ave.), 212.677.6221
Known for their creative cocktails and trendy atmosphere at night, Stanton Social makes every attempt to keep the party going into the morning hours with their social and festive brunch. Visit them at night with friends and sip on vanilla fig martinis only to return with as many or more friends the next morning for their delicious brunch. With a tapas style brunch, Stanton Social is the perfect way to sample all of your brunch favorites in one meal. Designed to encourage sharing, Stanton Social’s tapas make sure you don’t feel guilty eating off your friends’ plates. Anything and everything is delicious on the Stanton Social menu, so being able to choose a variety of items relieves the stress of deciding what to order. To match their nighttime reputation, Stanton Social also provides a fantastic menu of breakfast cocktails to choose from like their Pomegranate-Peach Bellini and their Rosemary Infused Vodka and Fresh Cherry Tomato Bloody Mary. If you prefer mimosas, try their Bittersweet one with Campari and Moscato D’Asti.
The Stanton Social, 99 Stanton St. (Between Orchard and Ludlow Sts.)
When you find yourself on the Upper East Side, where brunch is often done with family at home, head to VYNL for a downtown take on uptown brunch fare. A New-American eatery infused with both classic diner and Thai influences, VYNL’s brunch has options for everyone, and entertains eaters with their fabulous décor and delicious staples and specials. With other locations in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, their Upper East Side spot draws in the perfect mix of young tastemakers and trendy uptown families. Mosaics of Madonna and Beyonce adorn the restrooms and glass cases that house action figures of famous pop-stars hang on the walls. Menus enclosed in record covers list specials like a Salmon Cake Benedict with a Pineapple Hollandaise and their basic brunch menu features a delicious Huevos Racheros and outstanding homemade granola. While their cocktails are fantastic around the clock, brunch beverages are not necessary to enjoy a late-morning meal at VYNL. With each savory entrée, prepare to receive a thick potato latke in place of classic hash browns!
VYNL, 1491 2nd Ave. (at 78th Street),
Brand new to the city and located in the East Village, Permanent Brunch is anticipated to be Manhattan’s Mecca for obvious reasons. The thought that one place could serve New Yorkers’ favorite meal on a constant basis sounds far too hard to resist. Furthermore, their artisinal bacon bar sounds as though it could make any mouth water with excitement. Brunch in the morning, brunch in the evening, and brunch at the wee hours of the night are promised at Permanent Brunch, which New Yorkers hope will live up to their high expectations. Buttermilk Yogurt Panna-Cotta and Baked Eggs with a Short Rib Ragu elevate brunch staples, but classics like an Open-faced Omelette and Southern Grits create a relaxed atmosphere where there is something for everyone from those with traditional taste to the fine diner. While Permanent Brunch seems too good to be true, there is a catch – keep track of their hours as they are not open during traditional breakfast and lunch hours on weekdays to prepare for the night shift.
Permanent Brunch, 95 1st Avenue (Between 5th and 6th Aves.)
What's your favorite neighborhood brunch spot? Let us know your picks for a potential inclusion in our next round of updates