Brunch in NYC is alternately loved and loathed. Some folks deride its pricey dishes, some scoff at day drinking, and others call it amateur hour. Who knew pancakes could be so polarizing? But ya still gotta eat, and brunch splits the difference between sweet, rich breakfast items and savory, fortifying lunch fare. Call it what you wish: brunch is a mid-morning (or afternoon) meal teeming with opportunity.
When you find that perfect spot, whether it’s in your own neighborhood, or the one you wished you lived in, something magical happens. Every weekend suddenly has the potential to be a little vacation, one Benedict at a time. Give eggs a chance at the best brunch spots in 34 NYC neighborhoods.
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Queens Comfort This aptly named area fave is unique in its menu and aesthetic. Quirky, comforting dishes like lasagna Benedict and Cap’n Crunch crusted chicken sandwiches are served in a space that looks like Christmas fell in love with Mardi Gras and they had a Saturday morning cartoon baby. It’s cash only (boo!) and BYOB (yay!).
Fancy Nancy Arrive just before noon to avoid a wait at Fancy Nancy, which tends to fill up with regulars quickly on the weekends (no wonder it feels like a cross between Saved By The Bell’s The Max and Beverly Hills, 90210’s Peach Pit). The brunch menu offers a tidy seven options, all excellently executed. The chicken biscuits are a Fancy Nancy standout -- a salty, spicy, savory and sweet mash up ideal for a boozy morning meal.
Roberta’s Best known for its contributions to the NYC pizza canon, constant crowds, and warmed up warehouse style, Roberta’s is a bit of a pivot from your standard brunch fare. But the Of Champions -- a breakfast pizza topped with cheddar, salami, egg and maple syrup -- will make you want to break out of your typical weekend routine.
Buttermilk Channel Farmhouse fare and environs get an upgrade at this family friendly Court Street mainstay. Try the pecan pie french toast for a sweet fast break, or stay savory with the short rib hash. A tidy Bloody Mary menu includes a spicy classic, an antipasti-garnished option, and one with a freshly shucked oyster.
Milk and Honey Delicious brunch offerings like creme brulee French toast and Egyptian eggs (poached eggs with avocado, baby arugula, and tomato on sourdough bread topped with an Egyptian herb/nuts/spice mixture) are made with care at this cozy cafe. The airy interior is lush with plants -- large swaths of exposed brick are covered with flora -- and there’s outside seating for warm weather days.
Hearth Hearth is one of those places that’s as perfect the day after a rager as it is for a Mother’s Day brunch -- with grown-up decor and noise levels in spite of its EV location. Here “good fats are celebrated…and vegetables crowned supreme,” meaning your food will both taste good and be -- at least moderately -- good for you. The fluffy biscuits and rich gravy stand out on a menu full of exceptional options.
Hole in the Wall Primarily a coffee shop/juice bar with a bright, beachy color scheme that betrays its name, Hole in the Wall’s elevated takes on café food merit more serious meal consideration. Try not to inhale the smashed avo -- avocado toast featuring truffled feta, basil oil, pepitas and micro herbs -- before your walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, just a few blocks away.
Pop’s Diner Pop’s has been delivering warm, friendly service and classic greasy spoon favorites since 1963. They don’t serve alcohol, but they do serve breakfast all day, making it the perfect spot for brunch following a raucous night out. The food is always hot, fresh, fast, and affordable; expect to eat happily and heartily for well under $20 per person, all-in.
Jack & Nellie’s Classic wine bar vibes and loyal regulars make Jack & Nellies feel like it’s been in the neighborhood forever. Bloody Marys, royales (both made with sake), mimosas, and select wines are just $5 a pop at brunch, and sip will with breakfast burgers and bennies.
Miss Ada This casually cool restaurant’s tiny kitchen produces luxuriously flavorful dishes like sweet potato hummus and shakshuka, inspired by owner/chef Tomer Blechman’s upbringing in Israel. Reserve the communal table in the back for a large gathering or grab a quiet table for two on the shady backyard patio.
Glasserie Items on Glasserie’s Middle Eastern/Mediterranean menu hark back to meals like grandma used to make. Mix and match $5 mezze like pumpkin marjoram labneh, spicy hummus, and apple and pistachio tabouli, or feast on each of nine selections for $25 in a chic, rustic space.
Avena Downtown Avena opened in the former Da Silvano space earlier this year. Its tidy, modest decor of exposed brick and white tablecloths evoke a rustic-yet-sophisticated vibe. Go for the carbonara: Creamy, al dente spaghetti topped with a crispy cup of pancetta cradling a single egg yolk. Crack it open and mix it all together for an exquisitely rich and salty meal that pairs beautifully with a just-slightly chilled glass of sangiovese.
The Edge Sisters Juliet and Justine Masters opened The Edge in 2014 to both “pay homage to the spirit of Harlem” and share the foods of their parents’ homelands (Jamaica and England). Folks flock to the artsy spot where tables are dotted with dainty floral arrangements for traditional Caribbean dishes like ackee and saltfish and modern interpretations of classics like jerk chicken and waffles.
Bocaditos Bistro Bocaditos’ homey interior is at once welcoming (pretty plates and tea cups line the walls) and whimsical (birds factor into much of the decor). It’s also quite spacious, making it a great venue for a group brunch (plus a 90-minute bottomless mimosa session is only $18). Try the mama’s breakfast -- plantains, Dominican salami, white cheese and a fried egg.
The Queensboro The Queensboro is one of the newest restaurants in a neighborhood celebrated for its diversity, and it’s brunch menu is a reflection of these hyperlocal international influences. Cozy up in a banquette under a canopy of hanging plants and string lights and choose from dishes like garlic fried rice, garam masala granola with coconut yoghurt, and steak and eggs with chimichurri.
Leche Y Miel Everything in this unassuming Bronx storefront is made to order with care, the staff is incredibly kind, and its menu items are fairly priced. Try the mofonguitos -- a two-bite version of the classic Dominican dish made with plantains, garlic, steak or shrimp and cheese.
Long Island City
LIC Market You may already know that natural wine is all the rage these days. But did you know that LIC Market has been serving it (along with natural beers and ciders) from their little corner of the trend-setting neighborhood since 2010? Plates here are hearty and homey -- meat lovers in particular will rejoice at menu options like short rib & eggs, slow cooked pork and roasted duck hash.
Clinton St. Baking Company Clinton St. Baking Company, which has been serving some of the city’s favorite breakfasts in the same crowded, efficient locale for nearly 20 years. The blueberry pancakes are the most popular dish here, but don’t sleep on the farmers breakfast: soft scrambled eggs, farmhouse cheddar cheese, housemade rosemary sausage, potatoes and sourdough toast -- it’s a drool emoji worthy combination.
Valerie Owing to both its location (45th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) and its ambiance, which nods to everyone’s notion of The Great Gatsby, Valerie is the perfect stop for a post-matinee brunch. Go for the fried Korean chicken (served with kimchi butter).
Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen Charlie’s is great for buoyant group outings -- it often features live music and always serves vegan and carnivore-friendly dishes in vintage-ish environs. The Churrasco steak & eggs, vegan quinoa, Brussels sprouts hash, and fried chicken Benny are all stellar options for a variety of cravings.
Nicky’s Coffee Shop Nicky’s is about as classic a New York diner as it gets: a cash only, decades-old neighborhood mainstay with an extensive yet no-nonsense, plastic-covered menu. Order your favorite diner dish -- whatever it is -- and rest assured that it will exceed your expectations (but note that the Bainbridge burger is particularly fulfilling).
Oxalis Oxalis fires on all four cylinders from start to finish. Its service is genuinely gracious, its creamy white interior is cozy in spite of the sprawling space, and the food and drinks are truly extraordinary. Brunch here is a set, four course, family-style meal ($30 pp for fried eggs, fingerling potato hash, spring vegetable salad, and cinnamon rolls), and a la carte additions like pork neck, duck sausage, and country ham are predictably delicious, too. And don’t you dare leave without enjoying at least one breakfast martini.
Norma’s Corner Shoppe Find breakfast sandwich heaven at Norma’s Corner Shoppe -- an ideal option for a brunch on the go. In the mood for a classic bacon egg & cheese? Go for the New Yorker. Love a Mexican breakfast? Try the bagel ranchero, which is essentially a breakfast burrito on a bagel.
J’s on the Bay The “booooozy” smores and cannoli milkshake are obvious hits at this 1950s-styled Staten Island diner where brunch is served daily. Specials rotate weekly, and each new menu seems to outdo the last. The cauliflower hash with chorizo and dried cherries topped with a sunny side up egg was a recent stunner.
Havana Cafe If you’re looking for a boozy brunch in the Bronx, Havana Cafe should top your list. Listen to live music while you sip unlimited sangria and fill up on hearty dishes like cazuela, a breakfast casserole with chorizo, home fries, cheese and peppers. Service is quick and attentive, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with the bottomless option.
Surf The mighty backdrop of the Manhattan skyline makes this Staten Island mainstay an excellent option if views are your brunch priority. Expect traditional brunch fare but with a fresh farm-to-table upgrade, like the B.E.C., a locavore-filled take on the bacon egg and cheese. Care more about the booze? Go for Surf’s bottomless rosé brunch (two hours of unlimited rosé for $40).
Beso Terracotta-colored, white tableclothed Beso is one of the easiest SI restaurants to visit from outside the borough. An easy walk from the Staten Island Ferry, here you’ll enjoy what is perhaps the best brunch deal in all of NYC: $25 buys you three tasty courses, including a glass of sangria.
The Haab Hit The Haab -- adorned with colorful Mexican party decorations -- when you’re looking for a very chill fiesta brunch. Try the tamale Oaxaqueño or pancakes with figs and settle in for a good time: margaritas, sangrias, bloody Marys, bellinis and mimosas are all $4 until 4pm on weekends.
Greca Brunch (and happy hour!) is all day, every day at Greca, where everything is served with a Greek-inspired twist. Greca’s shakshuka gigantes includes tomato-braised giant beans, feta, fried eggs and toast, and the salmon platter comes with the usual capers and tomatoes, along with manouri cheese, pickled vegetables and olive. Bonus: the decor is cozy and gorgeous. And did I mention happy hour is all day?
Upper East Side
Regency Bar & Grill A leisurely brunch at the Regency Bar & Grill followed by a day of window shopping (let’s be real) will make you feel like you’re on staycation. Classics like buttermilk pancakes and eggs Benedict have no room for improvement, and if you’re in the mood to celebrate, they have nice options for split bottles of bubbly.
Upper West Side
Marlow Bistro It seems like everyone at Marlow Bistro is a regular, which is always a good sign. People keep coming back to the bright corner spot for good reason: everything at this UWS Mediterranean restaurant is done well, particularly brunch classics like the croque madame, eggs Florentine, and blueberry pancakes.
Beans and Leaves If you’re looking for a sweet tooth-friendly brunch option on Staten Island, West Brighton’s beachy Beans and Leaves is the perfect choice. Choose from six Belgian waffle batters and 15 different toppings (some are savory) and over a dozen types of frappes.
Extra Virgin Extra Virgin is one of the most charming restaurants in a neighborhood already flush with charisma, making it an excellent option for a date or catch-up with an old friend. Try the virgin frittata (goat cheese, roasted tomato, arugula and basil pesto) or the baked eggs (pancetta, spinach, roasted tomato hollandaise).
Leuca Dine at the stylishly elegant Leuca on a day when you have plenty of time to linger and luxuriate, and go with a group so you can order something from each section of the menu. Items are outlined in true Italian tradition: divided by course, beginning with bread, followed by the antipasti, then pizza, then brunch entrées.
The Hive Head to The Hive for locally sourced American comfort food (think Scotch eggs and five kinds of pancakes) served in a comfy yet meticulously decorated bistro. The restaurant, which lives on a cute and homey block in Williamsburg, is “inspired by the honeybee, which gathers, collaborates and creates for the betterment of its community.” Take advantage of patio seating when the weather is nice.
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