Between boozy brunches and the best Bloody Marys, there are 14235 destination brunch spots in this city. But, sometimes traveling an hour to Greenpoint for a donut is reasonably daunting, assuming you're living/staying/sleeping on the Upper East or West Sides, which I am. So here are the 11 best brunch options that aren't anywhere near Brooklyn. From free muffins to croissant French toast, things are looking pretty good up here.
The Ultimate Uptown NYC Brunch Guide
Best donuts: Dough Loco
24 E 97th St
There are plenty of interesting options to be found at this little donut-hole-in-the-wall Harlem shop -- like Raspberry Sriracha and Blood Orange Poppy Seed -- but the Miso Maple, with its sweet miso glaze and a sprinkle of maple brown sugar, is definitely the star.
Best fancy prix fixe: Ouest
The $29 two-course prix fixe does not a cheap brunch make, but it’s the cost-affective way to try a higher-end restaurant that you maybe can’t really afford for dinner. Justify the price of that caramelized onion and Gruyère omelette by pocketing the complimentary basket of house-baked muffins and scones.
Best diner: EJs
1271 3rd Ave
It’s diner-style, which means all the classic breakfast favorites like pancakes, omelettes, and chicken Waldorf salad (if you feel like bragging to everyone at work on Monday that you went to lunch this weekend) are offered at all times. Though, if you order that eggs Benny from the special brunch menu, you’ll get a complimentary mimosa, Bellini, Screwdriver, or Bloody Mary. Options, people.
Best freebie muffins: Fred's
476 Amsterdam Ave
Thousands of photos of patron’s dogs paper the walls, but you're not here for the decor, you’re here for the gratis basket of cornbread-blueberry mini-muffins!
Best pancakes: Good Enough to Eat
520 Columbus Ave
You’re gonna wait an hour at least, but those thick, fluffy, absorbent pancakes with strawberry butter are definitely worth it. And we didn’t even tell you about the 46 Bloody Mary combos.
Longest line that's worth the wait: Sarabeth’s
Hotel Wales, 1295 Madison Ave
No Uptown brunch guide is complete without this breakfast and baked goods institution. And no matter which location you go (there's one of the West Side, too) or what you order -- lemon ricotta pancakes, vegetable frittata, braised short rib hash -- you’ll be taken care of.
Best Bloody Mary: Jacob’s Pickles
509 Amsterdam Ave
The Mason jar Bloody comes topped with a stalk of fresh romaine, half a hard boiled egg, and a bacon strip -- and ordered with a side of those eponymous pickles, it’s basically a first course. Follow it with a baked-from-scratch-biscuit sandwich and be even more convinced that this truly is one of the best UWS bars
Best low-key: Corner Cafe and Bakery
1645 3rd Ave
It’s not necessarily the best brunch spot on the Upper East Side, but the omelets are legit, the price is low, and the wait is short.
Best French: Nice Matin
201 W 79th St
Brunch is hardly a French concept, so if you want to be authentic, the Frenchest thing you could eat on this menu for breakfast is a cafe and the Brunch Basket -- simply a pain au chocolate and a croissant. But considering you’re here after 12pm and this is America, any of the many other specialities are totally fair game.
Best under $30: Uptown
1576 3rd Ave
$15.95 gets you two drinks and one brunch entree from a list that actually has a decent amount of choices. Among them, the incomparable banana-stuffed croissant French toast.
Best boozy: Parlor Steakhouse
1600 3rd Ave
An entree and five drinks are $29. Can’t beat that. Well, you could, but let’s not be greedy.
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1. Dough Loco24 E 97th St, New York
2. Ouest2315 Broadway, New York
3. EJ's1271 3rd Ave, New York
4. Fred's Restaurant476 Amsterdam Ave, New York
5. Good Enough to Eat520 Columbus Ave, New York
6. Sarabeth's East1295 Madison Ave, New York
7. Jacob's Pickles509 Amsterdam Ave, New York
8. Corner Cafe and Bakery1645 3rd Ave, New York
9. Nice Matin201 West 79th St, New York
10. Uptown1576 3rd Ave, New York
11. Parlor Steak & Fish1600 3rd Ave, New York
Chef Corey Cova (ABV, Earl's Beer & Cheese) is baking insanely delicious and creative donuts -- like miso-maple, blueberry-rosemary, and blood orange -- on the UES.
Considered one of the top spots for upscale dining in NYC, Ouest can seem intimidating. It's worth it though to have your wallet take the hit to try dishes like Moroccan spiced salmon or the prix fixe brunch.
This classic Upper East Side diner serves some of the neighborhood's best greasy spoon morning staples, like blueberry pancakes and eggs any style, plus specials like cornflakes-coated brioche French toast and crab cakes eggs Benedict. EJ’s is open all day, and if you aren’t hungry for a full meal, at least get one of the signature milkshakes.
This Upper West Side institution is known for its enticing brunch options, as well as its quirky canine-themed decor. Guests can enjoy an on-the-house bread basket (highlighting a rotating menu of baked goods alongside house-made spreads), generous entree portions, and a number of cocktails -- all while starting at a glamorous photo of some lucky New Yorker's French bull terrier.
Eating at Good Enough to Eat is like eating at your grandmother's house, minus all of the questions about why you're not married yet. The meatloaf and turkey dinners here are local favorites, but we're partial to the peach pie with homemade vanilla ice cream. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Good Enough to Eat also has a full service bar and bakery.
Which came first, brunch-as-a-New-York-institution or Sarabeth's? We'll never know because this posh city chainlet has been serving New Yorkers everything they crave on a weekend morning since 1983. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, the Upper East Side location sits on prime real estate near Museum Mile and Central Park. The lemon and ricotta pancakes are a fan favorite, but no matter what you order, be sure to try the fresh-baked muffins and fruit spreads -- they're the house speciality.
Jacob's Pickles is where you go when you want a Southern comfort kind of brunch. The Upper West Side restaurant pickles everything from cucumbers and beets to green beans and carrots. The non-brined part of the menu features baked-from-scratch biscuit sandwiches, buttermilk fried chicken, and Bloody Marys served in a mason jar with a stalk of romaine, a hard boiled egg and a bacon strip. The bar is also a big player in the craft beer scene, offering a rotating selection of more than 25 microbrews on tap from New York, Maine, California and other American beer makers.
This cozy neighborhood cafe and bakery is known for its low prices, baked treats, and serving weekend brunch until 4 pm.
This French, white-tableclothed, UWS restaurant draws in regular crowds for its weekend brunch service. As for dinner, you might be tempted to go for one of the classic entrees like the duck breast, steak frites, or grilled octopus, but the 5 Napkin Burger is the right pick. Don't believe us? The dish was so good the owners started a chain devoted to the delicacy. Yeah... THAT 5 Napkin Burger.
The Uptown Bar and Restaurant has a versatile layout, that includes a restaurant, bar, and lounge space, making it an ideal place for any occasion. The interior is colored with pink and purple, decorated with big indoor potted plants, flat-screen TVs behind the bar, snug intimate velvet booths in the back, and an outdoor space in front for when the weather is warm. The Skylight Room, located on the rooftop, is paneled with glass and has an additional bar, which you can reserve for a private party. The atmosphere is casual yet upscale, serving affordable food and drinks such as $4 draft beers, $6 selected wines, and $7 specialty martinis.
Under the leadership of a husband and wife team, this meat and fish haven brings exemplary steaks and an impressive raw bar program to the UES. Parlor Steak & Fish is also credited with a popular brunch, where guests can enjoy typical land and sea fare (such as grilled branzino, broiled lobsters, and NY strip) alongside oyster and mimosa deals.