You’d think one Greatest Hits list would do - but brunch is whole different game. Some restaurants are just better at fixing hangovers with pancakes and hollandaise. Just take a look at the spots on this guide. They aren’t necessarily the highest-rated places on our site, but they’re our all-time favorites for brunch. And if you live in NYC, you should hit all of these spots at least once. So pick one, and go with a few friends the next time you decide to not spend your whole weekend within a ten-foot radius of your bed. You might face a little wait at any one of these places, but at least you’ll know it’s worth it.
Sadelle’s is owned by the same people behind Carbone and Dirty French, and, like those spots, it’s essentially live theater. The waiters wear bowties, the salmon carvers wear lab coats, and every time someone brings out a stack of hot bagels, everyone shouts, “Hot bagels.” You feel kind of bad for them, but it’s fun. There’s a good energy here, and, more importantly, the food is great. Get a tower of smoked fish, some French toast, and maybe even a bagel grilled cheese. It’s definitely more expensive than your average bagel spot, but you’re also getting a show.
Prune has been around for about 18 years (or approximately one Lil Yachty), and it’s still where you line up to eat a Dutch pancake the size and heft of an Olympic-level discus. They also make a classic eggs benedict with a side of potatoes that you’ll actually want to finish and a deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich that, honestly, more places should do by now. You’re going to have to wait to wait for your brunch here (unless you get there when they open), but it continues to be worth it.
In the time before Russ & Daughters Cafe, you got a bagel at the original appetizing shop and ate it on a bench on Allen Street, or maybe you trekked up to Barney Greengrass. But now you can sit and eat a sturgeon omelette or an excellent bagel sandwich and, on top of it all, this place is extremely photogenic. Not that we especially care about such things, but you at least you can take a good-looking picture and show all your friends that you’re doing better than they are. Which is pretty impressive for a place that’s been around, in one form or another, for over 100 years.
If you want to eat some brunch in a backyard with at least two to three living plants and more species of bird than pigeon, you pretty much have to go to Brooklyn. Try Vinegar Hill House. The menu isn’t huge, but you don’t always need thirty things to choose from at brunch, and you can at least be confident that they do their few things very well. Get a sourdough pancake and some crab cakes benedict, and try your very best to sit out back.
You’ve been exchanging emails with a potential soul mate for several years, and now it’s finally time to meet up. Schedule a brunch at Joseph Leonard. Maybe even get there first and put a rose between the pages of a book that you brought, so they know you’ve seen a romcom or two. Joseph Leonard is about as “cute” and cozy as NYC restaurants get, and they do brunch exceedingly well. Hash browns, pork sausage, brussels sprouts - get it all. Also, get there early. They don’t take reservations, and this place fills up very quickly.
Roberta’s is one of the few places on this list that’s actually busier at dinner. We aren’t saying it’s slow at brunch, but it’s a little more manageable, and if you get there on the earlier side you should be fine. Obviously, you’ll be getting pizza here, but you can always supplement with eggs or the burger. Roberta’s has been a destination in Bushwick for a while now, and you should make it out before they open a second location and people start talking about how it used to be a lot cooler.
Over the years, maybe you’ve had dinner at Maialino. You probably remember eating some great pasta and pork or roast chicken. But the true pros know that brunch hours are the best time to come here. You can eat those pastas and that porchetta, with an egg added on top and a toffee-glazed brioche bun on the side, while the light shines in and you look out at Gramercy Park.
Hands down, Cafe Habana is one of the best brunch values in the city. For about $8, you can get an egg dish that you’ll think about for the rest of your day. Try the huevos rancheros, the huevos a la Mexicana, or, if you’re one of those people who eats dessert for breakfast, get the French toast. And don’t forget the corn. There’s always a good vibe here, and if you make it before 11am, there shouldn’t be much of a wait. This should be your go-to casual brunch in the Soho/Nolita area.
It’s not that Tom’s has food you’ve never eaten before. That’s just not what diners do. But you feel good here. Tom’s has been open since the 1930’s, and there’s still a sense of hospitality. Come for brunch on the weekends, and they might even hand you some free snacks while you wait. Once you get seated, you can hang out in a booth and eat some pancakes while you pretend you’re in Back to the Future (the first one, where Marty invents the skateboard and plagiarizes Chuck Berry).
Dim sum in Chinatown is one of the best brunches you can have in New York, and there are several ways to do one. You can go to Nom Wah for the old school vibes but just OK food, or you can go to Jing Fong or Golden Unicorn for a lively experience spread out over multiple floors. But if there’s one place we find ourselves going back to, it’s Dim Sum Go Go. The dishes here are among the best, and though there aren’t carts rolling around, it’s a fun place. Get the dim sum sampler, and try 10 excellent dumplings.
Let’s say you’re on the playground picking basketball teams. Maybe your first pick is that one really tall guy. Not because he’s the best - but because he’s big, and you know he’ll get the job done. That’s Lafayette. There’s plenty of room here, it feels like younger version of Balthazar, and pretty much everyone is going to like this place. They also have a ton of seats outside in case someone in your party refuses to eat under artificial light. Also, the food is really good. They even have their own bakery in front, so once you’re done eating some scrambled eggs in puff pastry you can grab a chocolate éclaire to snack on in bed while you stare at your ceiling and wonder what else Saturday will bring.
Barbuto is one of the greatest places to eat pasta (and pizza, and roast chicken, and kale salad) in the middle of the day. That’s partly because of the way the garage doors open up and turn the whole West Village space into a breezy indoor-outdoor situation, and also because the pasta here is excellent. For everything from a pre-Whitney meal with your mom to a much-needed alcohol-fueled reunion with your crew, Barbuto is pretty much always the right decision.
At dinner, Estela is a tiny, excellent restaurant where you’ll eat kind-of-adventurous food and sit next to people who can pull off pants that look like garbage bags. At brunch, the garbage-bag pants will still be present, but you’ll eat the greatest breakfast sandwich in New York City - eggs, pancetta, and avocado on sweet, flaky poppyseed bread. Estela also takes reservations, which makes it a great choice for a special occasion brunch. It’s a little pricier than your every-weekend spot, but pretty affordable compared to what you’d pay to eat here at night.
Cookshop is the go-to brunch spot in Chelsea. It’s big, there’s outdoor seating, and the menu is solid across the board. Also, the employees are nice, which is especially appreciated when you’re equal parts tired and hungover, and your sibling’s fiancée wants to grab brunch on a Sunday morning as if they need your consent before they become related to you. They also take reservations, if you don’t want to risk a wait, and there are some good healthy-ish options.
Olea is one of those brunch places people talk about like a Craigslist missed connection: wistfully, and with an intense look in their eyes that’s frankly hard to stare back at. But those people’s feelings aren’t wrong - this is a really great place to eat brunch. The space feels like someone’s home, but the Mediterranean food tastes much better than what you’d eat in someone’s home. The best things for brunch here involve lamb, and they also make what might be the best yogurt and granola in the entire city. Get one for the table.
There’s a street named after Sylvia, which should tell you something about the status of this place. It’s a Harlem staple, and it’s somewhere you have to check off on a soul food tour of NYC. Go ahead and stop by for brunch. They have chicken and waffles, but they also do a great fried catfish, and the macaroni and cheese should definitely be part of your balanced breakfast. It might be a little touristy nowadays (probably more so during the Sunday gospel brunch), but there are plenty of seats, so you should be able to snag a few.
Krupa Grocery is the ideal neighborhood restaurant for pretty much any meal, but especially so at brunch, when you can take advantage of the back patio and eat their insanely good breakfast gnocchi and lemon ricotta pancakes - two items that make it into our NYC Brunch Hall Of Fame. This place is very family-friendly, by which we mean that the back patio sometimes becomes a playground. But you’re in Park Slope, so that shouldn’t surprise you.
The first time we realized what Miriam was capable of was the first time we ate their burekas: light flaky, pastries stuffed with cheese, and one of the better things you can put on a fork with eggs. Since that fateful day, it’s been a heavy-hitter in our brunch rotation, and a place we send people to constantly for one of the best Mediterranean brunches in the city. It’s a casual, neighborhood-y place, and works for everything from a solo hungover meal at the bar to a big group throwdown over pitchers of sangria.
Barney Greengrass is an old-school New York brunch experience, and it’s where you go to eat a plate of smoked fish in a setting that’s about as casual (and unpretentious) as a diner. Get the sturgeon and/or smoked salmon, and there should probably be some bagels and eggs in the mix as well. Just know that it’s cash only and it can get pricey. So be sure to drain your bank account before you come, just to be safe.
Esme may be the most under-the-radar spot on this list, and that’s exactly why it’s one of our favorite places to eat pancakes in NYC. Also, the pancakes are excellent, and the back patio is great. When people ask us for a low-key place to get a very good brunch in Brooklyn, we always steer them here. It might be in Greenpoint, but it otherwise couldn’t be more different from the mob scene that is brunch at Five Leaves.
You will never not encounter a wait at Cafe Mogador (despite the fact that it’s been around since 1983). And if you’re the kind of person who would rather eat your own hair than wait an hour and a half for brunch, Mogador won’t convert you. That said, if you’re willing to wait, you will be rewarded. Not just with good Mediterranean food, but - in the case of the Williamsburg location - a highly charming, greenhouse-like setting (and excellent people-watching/hat-judging potential). Skip the more traditional American prix fixe and instead go for the Middle Eastern or Halumi eggs, and a bunch of mezze for the table to split.
La Bonbonniere gets better every year. Not because the food gets any better - but because it becomes less likely. It isn’t trendy, it doesn’t have a celebrity chef, and if you try to Instagram the food it’ll just look like you had breakfast at a diner. Which, you know, you did. Despite the fancy name, this place is really just a diner. You come here to eat some eggs and pancakes while you stare at the photos of the celebrity patrons on the walls. You might even see a live one when you go. This is the West Village, after all.
It’s only a matter of time before scientists prove, beyond a doubt, that time does, in fact, move faster in NYC. That’s why we’re all so tired all the time, don’t talk to each other subway, and get mad at our high school classmates when they ask if we’re coming to an upcoming reunion. (It hasn’t been that long, why are you asking.) So sometimes you just need to slow it down and recapture your childhood. There’s really no better brunch spot for this than Queens Comfort. Here, you can have Oreo French toast or some Captain-Crunch-crusted chicken. Also, it’s BYOB.