Best Brunch Spots in NYC
Like riding the subway, paying $14 for a movie ticket, and making a tipsy 2 a.m. pizza run, weekend brunch has become somewhat of a New York City custom. And one we take quite seriously. (After all, it is the only time drinking Champagne before noon is acceptable—nay, admirable).
Between boozy and bottomless options, good-for-groups spots, and nutritious breakfast-meets-lunch service, there’s no shortage of restaurants to gossip about who did what last night. Yet every Saturday and Sunday morning, the same controversial question, “where should we eat?” is asked. And we don’t blame you—there are watered down all-you-can-drink deals, irritable staff, and of course, the never-ending “should I get something sweet or savory” self-debate to think about.
So to satisfy hungry, hangry, hungover (and everything in between) stomachs, we’ve compiled the best weekend feasts the five boroughs have to offer. Brunching uptown? We’ve got you covered at Sarabeth’s—just a stone’s throw from Central Park—where you can dig into a stack of lemon and ricotta pancakes. Brooklyn-bound? Check—hop on the subway to Buttermilk Channel and devour a plate of pecan pie French toast dripping with bourbon and molasses. Looking to wow visiting in-laws? The smoked salmon pizza at The Upland will surely blow them away. Searching for the best Bloodys in town? Knock back a beet, apple, and orange juice blend at The Penrose. There are even health-conscious options to help keep your New Year’s resolutions in check. But proceed with caution: post-meal naps are known to be a side effect of the best brunch spots in NYC.
Jack’s Wife Freda
Maya and Dean Jankelowitz, the husband-and-wife team behind this homey Soho café, draw from their Israeli and South African roots to bang out winners like the rosewater waffles topped with Lebanese yogurt, berries, and honey syrup; Mediterranean breakfast (two eggs, Israeli salad, labne, avocado, and pita); and the Instagram-worthy green shakshuka. Routine mimosas are reinvented with a cantaloupe flavor. In short, your bubbe might have finally met her match.
Impress out-of-town friends at this charming Brooklyn joint. Our go-to order is the ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter, banana, and berries, but the Moroccan scramble with merguez sausage, spiced chickpeas, and crushed avocado is equally worth rolling out of bed for. Expect a long queue and rollicking crowd, but once warmer weekends hit, the outdoor seats with a park view make the wait all the more tolerable.
Skimpy salads? Not here. Flimsy egg white omelets? Try again. The team behind these Brooklyn and LES locations serves up food coma-inducing soul food. We’re talking down-home grub like the heaping fried chicken and waffles; shrimp and cheddar grits; and towering pancake stacks. If that’s not enough (Southern) comfort, here are three more words: bacon Bloody Marys.
This Upper East Side gastropub has boozy brunch written all over it. Much like its sister spot The Wren, the cocktails here are worth the trip alone. Pig out on a bacon, egg, and fried oyster sandwich; then wash it down with hair-of-the-dog beverages like the Brunch Reviver (gin, Fernet Branca, ginger, lime, soda) or Horchata (liqueur-spiked Mexican rice milk). Everyone knows the secret sauce to any successful brunch is a good Bloody, and this location has four top-notch varieties, including a chile-infused vodka, beet, apple, and orange juice, ginger, and lemon blend.
The next best thing to brunching in the City of Lights is grabbing a bite at chef Jody Williams’ airy West Village eatery. Order the steamed eggs with prosciutto and a side of joie de vivre. Or carbo-load with Frenchified croissants and Croque Monsieurs before walking it all off during some post-meal window-shopping.
Vinegar Hill House
Need a good reason to venture far from Manhattan? How about two: the pear sourdough pancakes and biscuit sandwich topped with mortadella, fried egg, hot honey, and pickles. At this Dumbo spot, the bucolic garden out back transports you far from the chaos of Midtown while the lanterns and rustic wood furniture inside provide a cozy backdrop for discussing last night’s shenanigans.
What’s better than breakfast at lunchtime? Breakfast at lunchtime with gut-busting plates like the raisin walnut French toast loaded with candied almonds, peaches and vanilla cream. Even better, co-owner Vicki Freeman and husband Marc Meyer use seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients for their rotating menu. Consider giving your usual brunch-time beverages a break and pick from the creative cocktail list instead. Extra points for the perfect-for-people-watching glass windows, open kitchen, and weather-permitting al fresco seating.
It’s the most important meal of the weekend, so do it right at this Fort Greene hotspot. Get your fill of Mediterranean vibes from the Spanish, Greek, and Italian-inspired menu as well as the décor (think terra cotta tiles and colorful mosaics). Come hungry—the hearty Turkish breakfast (scrambled eggs, fattoush, eggplant salad, herbed yogurt) and lamb sandwich with feta and spicy tomato sauce are so mercifully good, you’ll forget all about your impending Monday blues.
Undo last night’s damage with healthy eats like the lavender acai (blueberry, banana, coconut, milk, cornflakes), kedgeree (smoked trout, curry Basmati, parsnip, pomegranate poached eggs), and a scrambled egg, avocado, cheddar and jalapeno breakfast sandwich that puts your corner deli egg-and-cheese to shame. Tucked in LES/Chinatown, the tiny spot can be overlooked, so just follow the mustache- and flannel-clad hipsters to find your way.
If rowdy boozy brunches aren’t your cup of tea, head to this refined Central Park restaurant, where everything on the extensive menu is a winner. Sink your teeth into main attractions like the decadent crab cake Benedict or a buttery lobster roll. Easy-like-Sunday morning lemon and ricotta pancakes and toasted coconut waffles with mango and vanilla-rum butter hit the sweet spot. The clincher: it has Oprah’s seal of approval.
It’s rare for one restaurant to please everyone—parents, in-laws, friends, and first-dates. But with swoon-worthy dishes like the smoked salmon pizza with Cloumage, sunflower sprouts and caper berries; a roasted porchetta and egg sandwich with guindilla chillies, farm egg and arugula; and spaghettini with fried egg and roasted peppers, this buzzy Murray Hill spot pulls it off. Kudos to Justin Smillie and Stephen Starr for making it happen.
Friend Of A Farmer
Turns out, Friend of a Farmer is quite the popular Gramercy neighborhood kid. Translation: rise and shine early to avoid the line that winds out the door. Once inside, take your pick from the endless menu of eggs. We suggest the smoked salmon scramble or hollandaise-drenched salmon Bennie. With seasonal and locally sourced ingredients and a rustic, fireplace setting, think of it like a countryside getaway right in the heart of the city.
Don’t be fooled by the clandestine alleyway. Follow the lane of twinkly lights to the entrance, where you’ll discover delicious dishes like the carrot cake pancakes and smoked trout with horseradish cream. With taxidermy lining the walls, it’s half hipster paradise, half LES cabin, 100 percent your new favorite brunch spot.
If a long a line is a sign of a good brunch, then this Kips Bay café is the tops. For a $19 pre-fixe, nosh on fare like the pumpkin waffles with apple butter, dried cranberries, toasted cinnamon-cardamom pecans, and warm baked apples alongside a brunch cocktail, coffee, tea, or juice. A la carte options (salmon-wrapped poached eggs are a solid choice) are also aplenty. And sips like the apple cider mimosa, beer shandy, and soju Bloody are so good, you’ll forget you were waiting in the first place.
You might know this Carroll Gardens favorite for its finger-licking good fried chicken, but we also highly recommend getting acquainted with the gluttonous, bourbon and molasses-slathered pecan pie French toast. And, because there’s no such thing as too many Bloody Marys, bottoms up to one of the many glorious variations, like The Court Street with rosemary-infused vodka and Caputo’s antipasti garnish.
Located inside the Gramercy Park Hotel, this trattoria doles out delicious Italian brunch plates. Do as the Romans would do and house down the porchetta and fried egg sandwich and the Contadino with Brussels sprouts, sunchoke, and butternut squash—all while taking in the Gramery Park scenery. Come noon, mangia pastas like the fettucine alla carbonara and pappardelle alla bolognese. After all, when in Rome…
There’s nothing like starting your day with fresh, house-baked baguettes, biscuits, and scones. Bigger appetites will find solace in plates like the Croque Madame and juicy lamb burger with yogurt feta sauce. And are you also looking for a killer outdoor patio? Then this spot is for you.