Queens Comfort is like your college-freshman brunch dream come true -- except instead of microwavable Annie's mac & cheese topped with poorly defrosted frozen peas, you’re getting fried mac & cheese balls with Sriracha (aka Atomic Fire Balls), deep-fried French toast balls, and breakfast lasagna Benedict. While the stunt comfort food mashups do the trick, the real star is a slightly less-stunty breakfast sandwich -- otherwise known as the Egg McRuffin: an open-faced fried egg sandwich topped with béchamel, Cheddar, and smoked bacon on an English muffin.
Lower East Side
Diner menus are notoriously hard to choose from -- breakfast? Lunch? A questionable scallop platter for $14? But the menu at this 30+ year old Lower East Side diner is on a whole other level. Shopsin’s -- which has existed in several locations over the years but now resides in the Essex St Market -- offers over 900 distinct items (everything from Tex-Mex nachos to Canadian-inspired poutine to mac & cheese pancakes). There’s no tolerance for slow ordering here, so be sure to plan your order ahead of time (the tiny space will also only accommodate parties of four or less) and don’t forget to say hi to the delightfully crass Kenny Shopsin.
It’s hard to think about brunch in New York and not think about Buvette’s steamed eggs with prosciutto. Made with the bistro’s espresso machine wand, the eggs are absurdly light and fluffy and topped with olive oil and pepper, followed by a rainstorm of grated Parmesan, then served with slices of thin-cut prosciutto on top of crunchy toast. Couple that with a small and intimate French cafe-like interior and you’ve got a pretty strong contender for a date, should a brunch date be something you’d like to subject yourself to. Yes, there will be waits here -- but these will not be Prune-level waits.
The cornbread at Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem comfort food spot is reason enough to travel uptown on a weekend afternoon -- it arrives warm and spicy with honey butter and tomato jam. But on top of that there’s fried chicken & waffles with gravy, apple cinnamon French toast, the Rooster Scramble (with fried ham, Cheddar, and crème fraîche) and several other Harlem- and global-inspired dishes that will cure even the most crippling hangover. Plus, there’s frequent live music downstairs.
Think of Veselka as your go-to when you wake up in desperate need of a hug. The Ukrainian diner is quite possibly the most comforting place in Lower Manhattan, where you can slide into a chair or a corner booth bench, and order up an omelette with a side of latkes and pierogi, a cup of coffee, and some orange juice. While the proper brunch menu only runs ‘til 4pm -- with dishes like salmon latke eggs Benedict and a lamb burger -- breakfast and lunch items are available all day... so technically you could eat brunch at 4am.
I’ve already made it clear that a long wait for brunch is a huge detractor, no question, but there’s something about Five Leaves that can’t be denied on a weekend morning. It’s a combination of the ricotta pancakes (a large but airy stack topped with bananas and berries and a beautiful ice cream scoop size of honeycomb butter), the option of outdoor seating in the warmer months, and the fact that, even though it's consistently hyped and ranked high on “best brunch” lists, it delivers every time.
The West Village spin-off of Gowanus’ meat-centric Pig Beach is the kind of place you want to brunch when you’re expecting to drink a lot later on at night (assuming your fullness doesn’t put you to sleep for the rest of the day). In addition to Southern-inspired comfort dishes from the regular menu -- like chicken wing lollipops and deviled eggs with country ham -- the brunch menu features hearty things like buttermilk waffles with a chicken thigh that’s both smoked and fried; linguine cacio e pepe with a slow-cooked egg; and rigatoni with gravy, meatballs, and smoked ricotta salata.
Lower East Side
Take everything you love about the original Russ & Daughters store and add tables, chairs, and new dishes that incorporate old favorites you used to purchase on their own at R&D (halvah ice cream! Babka French toast!). Top that off with the likes of knishes, latkes, and, of course, the much-Instagrammed boards (your choice of R & D’s famed smoked fish alongside a bagel, bialy, or rye or pumpernickel bread and the normal fixings).
Marco Canora’s East Village mainstay plays with the same healthy-ish homestyle Italian cooking at brunch as it does at dinner. Dishes here are all sharable, including biscuits and gravy with sausage and Cheddar on a fresh-baked biscuit and a hearty sausage and kale ragu with fried eggs and pane brutto. Whatever you order, make sure to tack on the restaurant’s famed beef and ricotta meatballs, which are some of the city’s best.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to find truly great croissants in NYC -- the kind that are buttery and flaky and soft enough to give you the fleeting feeling of being in Paris when you’re on the G train -- but the fresh-baked bread and pastries (including croissants) at Antoine Westermann’s ode to whole bird are just perfect. As are the egg options (also available at lunch and dinner), particularly the en meurette with bacon and mushroom in red wine reduction. The baguette tartine is also worthy of France, and because Le Coq Rico is chicken-focused, you’d be remiss not to order the quarter size.
At Minton’s 2.0, things are just as much about the music as they are the food. You’ll find that’s no less true at brunch, when you can start your morning (or mid-afternoon... ) with globally inspired dishes from the brilliant Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson -- like chicken & grits with gumbo gravy, smoked brisket & eggs, and spicy chicken wings with plantain waffles -- while listening to live jazz inside a truly storied space.
Put yourself in your Saturday morning shoes of being obnoxiously hungover, and then picture a hefty plate of crispy fried chicken and biscuits with honey butter and hot sauce alongside a Bloody Mary, or even better, a Shiner. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more compact, a chicken biscuit or egg biscuit sandwich. The Commodore offers the no-frills comfort food brunch that can cure the scariest of weekend mornings, with absolutely none of the pretense that usually accompanies this holy meeting of the meals. Stick around after you eat for more cheap beers at the bar.
There are countless options for dim sum in Chinatown (Nom Wah, Ping’s, and Joy Luck Palace among them), but the absolute best dim sum will always been in Queens -- particularly at Asian Jewels, which consistently offers authentic, fresh food and ridiculously fast cart service. Classic dim sum favorites are all here -- har gau, pork buns, spare ribs, and chicken feet -- alongside larger mains (beef, chicken, and seafood, as well as noodle dishes). This is arguably the best brunch in New York above all else, and it’s more than worth the trip out to Flushing.
East Village & Williamsburg
Mogador has been doing comforting Moroccan dishes in the East Village since the ‘80s, but it continues to generate crowds for brunch (at both locations) today. The reason behind that is the unfussy and reasonably priced (by general NY brunch standards, that is) egg-centric menu featuring things like a Moroccan Benedict with soft poached eggs topped with spicy stewed tomato sauce on an English muffin. Every dish costs $18 and comes with home fries, a salad, juice, and coffee or tea, which is far less than you’d pay elsewhere for a much less substantial meal.
Prices are high for brunch at this tiny Houston St favorite known for its beautifully executed small plates -- but allow yourself to splurge, make a reservation, and order one of the breakfast sandwiches, like the egg, pancetta, and avocado, or the rich “blood cake”: toast with blood pig sausage, onion marmalade, and a sunny-side up egg. If you go with a group, be sure to share a bunch of things -- the famed burrata is there, so don’t miss that, but also be sure to order the brunch-only slab bacon with dijon, potato, and egg.
A secret garden-like cafe with lots of light, wood floors, and plants, House of Small does a number of great brunch standards (croque madame and croissant French toast among them), but the real standouts are the Japanese offerings (it’s owned by the same people as Zenkichi). There’s a limited availability of the sashimi zuke don -- with the fish of the day, sweet mushrooms, and egg over rice -- so be sure to get there early, but if they’re all sold out, opt for the equally great tsukune don (Japanese chicken meatball with egg over rice), or the Japanese hamburg steak with melted Gruyère, also over rice.
Upland is the kind of place that always offers a consistently great meal, so much so that you can return countless times and never grow tired of it. The brunch is no exception, with options like a roasted porchetta and egg sandwich, smoked salmon pizza, and baccala with fried egg. The menu also features the much-lauded cheeseburger (also available at lunch) with Pat LaFrieda grass-fed brisket-chuck blend, American cheese, peppadew peppers, and avocado.
High Street on Hudson doesn’t technically have a brunch menu, but its daily breakfast menu is available 'til 3pm on weekends. You’re here for the baked goods (the breads and the pastries, all of which are made in-house). They’re sold at the bakery up front, but also get incorporated into the majority of the menu, like the savory sage-black pepper biscuit, topped with malted breakfast sausage, egg, and Cheddar in The Bodega.
A Williamsburg neighborhood favorite, Rabbithole does brunch basics better than almost anyone. French toast is stuffed with strawberry mascarpone and French-style soft omelettes come in a variety of savory and sweet options. The go-to here? The eggs Benedict, which comes with one of the best homemade biscuits in the entire city (a fluffy herbed number), along with spiced bacon, and hollandaise. Enjoy your meal outside in the garden among the ivy (yes, it’s that quaint).
Upper East Side
You’re coming to the Penrose to drink, specifically from an extensive brunch-exclusive menu list (that includes four different kinds of Bloody Marys, including a beet variation), but the food is equally solid, with several egg options -- like a bacon, egg & fried oyster sandwich on brioche -- plus fried chicken & waffles and a burger with fried egg on top.