The Best Brunch In NYC guide image

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

NYCGuide

The Best Brunch In NYC

All the New York City restaurants where you should be eating pancakes, eggs, dim sum, and more.

Brunch is good for a lot of things. It's a solid pretext for day drinking, and it's also a convenient way to eat breakfast food after you've spent a reckless amount of time in bed. And if you need to meet up with some friends who bring their kids everywhere, it's perfect for that too. Brunch is, however, hectic. There's just something about Saturday afternoons that makes people want to absorb as much maple syrup and prosecco as they possibly can.

Whatever your reason is for subjecting yourself to the masses on a weekend morning, make sure you’re going to a place that serves great food. This guide will help. We’ve ventured out over the course of many weekends and come up with our list of the all-time best brunches in the city. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these spots get packed—so plan ahead with a reservation, or arrive as soon as these restaurants unlock their doors. Otherwise, you might face a two-hour wait. (Fortunately, it'll still be worth it.)

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Thai Diner imageoverride image
9.4

Thai Diner

$$$$

186 Mott St, New York
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You could stick a candle in Thai Diner’s Thai tea babka French toast and call it a birthday cake. And you could probably do the same to their breakfast sandwich, although then you’d technically have a hole in your buttery egg-and-cheese roti. The roti keeps all of the sandwich elements compact, so that every bite includes the same layers and flavors. From top to bottom, you’ll taste herby sai oua sausage, a mash of mayo and scallions, a soft egg crepe covered in oozing American cheese, and a few slivers of fresh Thai basil. Get that and the French toast, and you’re in for what is easily Nolita’s best brunch.

This East Village Texan spot is great at any hour, but brunch here feels like if IHOP and Dolly Parton had a baby. Get a brunch cocktail and a few kolaches to start, then stock up on tacos. We especially like the smoked bacon and egg, bean and cheese, and carne guisada varieties, all of which come on fresh flour tortillas. Yellow Rose also serves a rotating menu of glazed and sugar-covered doughnuts for breakfast on weekends—and they’ll wind up being what you remember most.

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You clicked on this brunch guide, so we assume you’re someone who gets moderately excited about pancakes. If that’s the case, it’s important that you go to Chez Ma Tante in Greenpoint and try theirs. This restaurant’s pancakes are fried until the edges are crispy and charred, and they’re topped with a bunch of butter that slides down the cakes like it’s trying to run away. Make sure to get a plate of those pancakes for the table, but keep in mind that the gravlax dish is always great too. Chez Ma Tante usually has waits on weekends, so make a reservation if you don’t want to gamble.

When Jing Fong’s 800-seat banquet hall on Elizabeth Street shuttered during the pandemic, we thought we were losing an NYC institution forever. But thankfully, it was just a Steven Soderbergh-type false alarm. (We’re still waiting for Ocean’s Fourteen.) The new, single-floor space on Centre Street is much smaller, but the dim sum is better than ever. There are still roving carts with chicken feet, fried turnip cakes, and egg tarts, but none of these dishes ever seem like they've been sitting around for more than a few minutes. If you don’t see a dish you want rolling by, just mention this to the accommodating staff, and someone will bring it to you straight from the kitchen.

photo credit: Dane Isaac

Ruta Oaxaca imageoverride image

Ruta Oaxaca

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New York isn’t necessarily known for great chilaquiles, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few versions worth seeking out. Ruta in Astoria has some of the best we’ve had. Aside from the chilaquiles, this spot (which opened in 2020) has a bunch of TVs above the bar and a back room with a skylight. It’s a great place to catch up with a friend or show up with a group around 2pm and drink a bunch of mezcal cocktails. Start with the choriqueso and move your way down to the brunch section of the menu until you get to the acidic, spicy, and partially-soggy chicken chilaquiles in salsa. If you can’t make it here on a weekend, know that Ruta serves their daily brunch until 4pm.

If you’re going to brunch at Jacob’s Pickles, bring a handful of Tums and a big group of friends—then order a bunch of heavy Southern comfort food with reckless abandon. They have french toast and omelets, but what you come here for are the otherworldly biscuit “sandwiches” that are really just huge piles of food that happen to include bread on the top and the bottom. You won’t have room for anything else, but not getting something pickled here would just be disrespectful. There’s pickle brine all over the cocktail menu as well as a Bloody B.L.T. that comes with bacon and a jalapeño pickled egg.

Ursula is the most popular kid in the NYC brunch class right now. You’ll probably have to wait in line when you stop by, but once you make it inside this tiny counter-service place in Crown Heights, you’ll be greeted with Brooklyn’s best breakfast burrito. Ursula offers burrito options with chorizo or bacon as well as vegan and vegetarian versions—all of which come with either red or green New Mexican chiles. The sidewalk seating here is first come, first served, but eating your burrito while it’s hot and fresh on the breezy patio is an experience worth loitering for.

Unlike the food at whatever place comes up when you search “diner near me,” the classics at Golden Diner in Chinatown are updated and slightly unexpected. In most cases, they make the original versions seem incomplete. It won’t take very many trips to Golden Diner—where the menu takes inspiration from Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine— to find some of your favorite comfort food in this city. Try the breakfast sandwich on a soft milk bun from a local Chinatown bakery with melted American cheese, more eggs than we feel comfortable knowing about, and a big crunchy hash brown. Just be sure to come early, as there are usually lines on weekends (and they only take reservations for dinner).

Miss Lily’s is a fun Caribbean spot that’s somehow just as appropriate for your 7-year-old nephew as it is for your day drinking shenanigans. We like mixing and matching things here, and we suggest you combine the curry sauce from the cod fritters with the rice and beans or get some festivals to go along with the oxtail stew that's full of fall-off-the-bone meat. If you're in the market for a bottomless brunch (no judgement), you can pay an additional $25 for an hour of unlimited bellinis, rum punches, and dutty wine to along with whatever entrees you chose.

The people behind a famous brunch place (Queens Comfort) that unfortunately closed in 2020, currently run this cafe and donut shop in Astoria. You order at a to-go window, and the majority of the menu involves elaborate pastries like funfetti Twinkies and a donut whose flavor is reminiscent of a Samoa Girl Scout cookie. For brunch, get the “McGruffin” biscuit sandwich. It’s so thick you’ll struggle to fit all of its layers in one bite, and the moist buttermilk biscuit is so fluffy and sweet it could be classified as a cupcake.

If you bring a random group of strangers to Melba’s in Harlem, you’ll likely get a universal stamp of approval, and that’s because this is where you'll find some of the best soul food in the city. One of the dishes they’re known for is their fried chicken with eggnog waffles, but we also enjoy the lightly battered catfish and the spring rolls with rice, collards, and cheddar. At the risk of making you even more indecisive, we should also mention that the collard greens are superb—although the best best dish here might be the rich and tender short ribs. They fall apart like a sweater from H&M.

Guevara’s, a vegan cafe and specialty foods store from the people behind Mekelburg’s, is where you’ll find some of the best plant-based brunch food in the city. They serve a breakfast torta with king trumpet mushroom bacon as well plant-based lox bagels, picadillo empanadas, coconut ceviche, and posole—and nothing costs more than $15. We recommend hanging out all morning on the pleasant patio, but if you’d rather take your brunch to-go, you can always grab some conchas to eat on your couch.

These days, there are only a few of the East Village’s Ukrainian, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish businesses left. Veselka, a Ukrainian diner that opened in 1954, is one of the best known, and it still somehow retains the magic of an old-school neighborhood joint. There are ceramic plates with the restaurant’s logo and unlimited coffee pours, and the service is remarkably fast. Our favorite approach is to come early, order some pierogi and an omelette with kielbasa, and have a strawberry-cheese blintz for brunch/dessert. Stick with Ukrainian food—like the stuffed cabbage, borscht, or potato pierogi—for the best results. 

There are few things more exhilarating than trying to get a table at Buvette on a weekend afternoon. As you peek through the windows on Grove Street, you’ll see people enjoying brioche french toast and the fluffiest eggs in all of New York City, and you’ll think to yourself, “That could be me.” Yes, it could be you. If you put your name in with the host and wait a few hours. Think about waiting for a table at this charming French spot (from the Via Carota people) as a West Village rite of passage, and be sure to complain about how cramped the space is once you finally get seated. That way, you can blow off some steam and better concentrate on your delicate mound of eggs.

The Bonnie is gastropub, and they’ve got the wood-paneled ceilings and pork belly burger to prove it. They also have a large garden surrounded by trees that’s perfect for brunch. What we like most about brunch here is that they don’t attempt to give their eggs benedict or shrimp and grits the M. Night Shyamalan treatment. There are no surprise twists that you didn’t ask for—at most you’ll get an aioli (barely) gone wild or some pumpkin latte maple syrup with your french toast sticks. Whatever you decide on, order a side of sauteed kale. Seriously, we didn’t know kale could taste this good. (We thought we’d just collectively agreed to wake up and lie to ourselves every day.) Speaking of greens, make sure to get some crusty zucchini bread to take home.

Brunch at Win Son Bakery in East Williamsburg involves food that's more exciting than your usual Saturday morning short stack. This counter-service Taiwanese cafe from the people behind Win Son (across the street) has fan tuan, mochi doughnuts, and one of the city's best BECs on the menu. The BEC comes on a milk bun with raclette—but for an extra $5, you can (and absolutely) should get it on a warm, chewy scallion pancake. Think of this place as a neighborhood coffee shop that happens to serve food so good it’ll make you angry and confused, like a dog confronted with a mirror. If there’s a line when you arrive, just know that the dishes here are absolutely worth the extra 10 minute wait.

In case you didn't know, the "V" in the name of this Jean-Georges restaurant is meant to indicate that the food is vegetarian or vegan—which means you can expect dishes like wok fried greens and herbs, soft scrambled eggs with cheddar and broccoli, and a vegan croissant with a mandarin orange compote. (If the world runs out of butter, and we can only have vegan croissants like the ones here, we’d actually be okay with that.) There are a lot of different seating areas at this Flatiron spot, so come here with some friends before you head out for a day of shopping or an afternoon at The Whitney.

Golden Unicorn is above a bank in a Chinatown office building that looks like it was built in the early 1960s, but that’s part of the appeal. At any given time, there might be a wedding reception or a birthday party going on here that you might consider crashing. Ignore all that, find a big table that you might have to share with strangers, and start flagging down carts with custard buns that look like pigs. But don’t stop there—keep getting more items than you need like har gow and beef rice rolls until you’re full, at which point you’ll still end up with a reasonable bill.

This quaint restaurant in Dumbo (or, technically, Vinegar Hill) has a smallish dining room that seats maybe 30, and, from the looks of it, we wouldn’t be surprised if the building was around when some of the founding fathers were still alive. The tasty seasonal broccolini and parmesan quiche has the consistency of a soufflé, and the fact that it doesn't collapse on itself seemed to defy the laws of physics. But the must-order item on the menu is the incredible sourdough pancake that's cooked in a wood-fired oven. It’s custard-like in the middle and might come with strawberries, apples, or peaches depending on the season. (No matter what it comes with, just get it.)

Whenever you go to this counter-service Malaysian spot on the LES, a few things are certain. First off, you won’t spend more than $15 on any single dish. Second, you’ll enjoy everything you eat. Be sure to order the sweet and nutty nasi lemak, as well as some tok tok mee with crispy egg noodles, cha siu, and fried shrimp and pork wontons. Generally, the lighter dishes are best here, but if you don’t mind spending the afternoon napping upright on your couch, try the french toast with chocolate malt powder and condensed milk.

If all the crowds of people and similar-looking menus have you boycotting brunch, get a breath of fresh air at Llama Inn. The buzzy dining room with cascading plants looks like a coffee table design book cover come to life, and this place somehow manages to have an upbeat rooftop without attracting the worst people you know. The awesome design is the perfect complement to the awesome, Peruvian-inspired food. Choros a la chalaca and papa rellena with fried eggs have both recently made appearances on the menu.

Whenever someone mentions biscuits, we immediately think of Post in Alphabet City. Most of the brunch menu revolves around their somewhat dense and intensely buttery biscuits. (Think of the Popeyes version if it got into Harvard.) You can get them with things like chicken sausage white gravy, peppery BBQ pulled pork, and avocado, and there are multiple vegan options as well. Two unexpected highlights are the arugula, avocado, and fennel salad with rice wine vinegar-marinated white beans and the creamy and foamy matcha with ginger.

When it comes to Mexican breakfast options in Brooklyn, this place should immediately spring to mind. This Bed-Stuy restaurant serves Oaxacan-style dishes like giant memelas topped with fried eggs, tetelas filled with everything from hibiscus flower to black beans, and tlayudas covered in a ridiculous amount of mushrooms. Come here for a laid-back brunch on the first-come, first-served patio, and bring a book in order to look like the mysterious, misunderstood soul that you are. And don’t forget to grab a pack of fresh tortillas before you leave.

The team behind Carbone owns this popular restaurant in Soho, and similar to that place, there’s essentially live theater going on here. 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. This place is definitely more expensive than your average bagel spot, but what you're paying for is a show and some of the finest smoked salmon in the city.

Sunday in Brooklyn attracts a brunch crowd for three reasons: the food, the space, and the fact that it’s called “Sunday in Brooklyn.” It’s the kind of place where people would go even if the food were hot garbage, but the good new is: It’s not. The hazelnut maple praline pancakes here are famous for a reason, and you've probably seen them on every single social media feed that you've ever encountered. This place may look like the beautiful home in Williamsburg that you'll never own, but at least you can own those pancakes (or the shakshuka or the steak and eggs).

Atla is a great choice for brunch that behaves more like lunch than breakfast. And that lunch-y brunch will probably cost you more than you'd spend at your average neighborhood brunch spot. So save this place for a special occasion or the next time you want to have a religious experience with chicken soup by yourself at 1pm on a Saturday. Other than the soup, this all-day Mexican restaurant in Noho makes a great shrimp taco, as well as crispy flautas with potatoes and cheese and some aguas frescas that make us wish they had a to-go window.

Come to Peaches in Bed-Stuy for brunch when you’re in the mood for both breakfast staples and Southern comfort food like blackened catfish and turkey meatloaf. We usually get the creamy shrimp and grits made with white wine, scallions, and mushrooms or their signature granola-crusted french toast with fresh berries. The latter reminds us of a crumb cake straight out of the oven, and you can (and should) opt to get it with a juicy, boneless fried chicken thigh. Portions here are generous, and the crowd gets into the music, so it’s an overall fun time.

Upland is an easy place to go to with just about anyone, from your parents to your friends to your friends’ babies. Once you’ve settled into your seat in the always-busy-but-still-relatively-quiet dining room, you’ll realize that this is an ideal place to spend a few hours on any late Saturday or Sunday morning. The hardest part about brunch here is deciding what to order—but we usually end up narrowing it down to the cheeseburger and the apple cinnamon pancakes. The good news is that you pretty much can’t go wrong no matter what you get.

This Jackson Heights spot is big enough to accommodate all of your extended family’s brunch gatherings during which everyone lovingly talks sh*t about how your aunt is always late. You’ll find booths big enough for 15 people and an American menu with lots of different options including some remarkably fluffy pancakes that we’ve been thinking about since we first ate them.

What we like about this Cuban and Mexican spot in Nolita is that you can order everything from both their brunch and regular menus at 10:15am on a Saturday. The cinnamon-laced challah french toast and the huevos con chorizo are great, but if you’re not in the mood for breakfast food, get the Cubano with chipotle mayo. The space still feels like the Dominican diner that it used to be, and you can easily have a filling meal for less than $20. (That’s saying something considering all the fancy boutiques around this place.)

With its chalkboard accents and wood-paneled ceiling, this daytime cafe in Williamsburg looks like it’s been around for at least 75 years. When you walk inside, you’ll think you’re entering a classic Brooklyn establishment—despite the fact that this place opened in 2022. But maybe Edith’s will be a classic one day. We wouldn’t be surprised. The smoked arctic char here is thick and silky, and the custardy Syrniki pancakes are worth a trip all on their own. Served with tart currants and thick sour cream, these pancakes are perfect for anyone who's morally opposed to eating dessert for brunch.

BGG is brunch royalty, as far as we’re concerned. If you’ve never been here before, you’re already overdue for a visit. This 1908-established Jewish deli has plenty of room for you to sit and eat a real brunch, which makes it stand out from a lot of the city’s classic smoked fish spots. Show up early for a table on weekends (they open at 8am, and you probably want to get here by 10am), and bring a crew for plates of scrambled eggs, oblong-shaped latkes, and near-translucent nova. Barney Greengrass doesn’t accept credit cards, but there’s an ATM across the street.

East Harbor Seafood Palace is our favorite dim sum spot in Sunset Park (a neighborhood with many great dim sum spots). Stop by with a group around noon on a weekend, and there will almost definitely be a wait—but the space is enormous, so you’ll probably be eating shrimp and watercress dumplings within 30 minutes of walking through the front doors. The beef ribs are especially good (and peppery) here, and the taro pork dumplings should be right next to them on your table.

Sylvia’s should be a tourist trap. It’s just that famous. To be fair, you will undoubtedly see some tourists here when you stop by, but you’ll also see people from the neighborhood who recognize the fact that Sylvia’s is good at just about everything. Fresh, warm cornbread? Check. Thick waffles and chicken so crispy that you could shoot an ASMR video? Also check. Mac and cheese is often disappointing (there’s just so much that can go wrong), but the version here stays moist, isn’t too dense, and comes with a thick cap of melted cheese. All it needs is a little hot sauce, and, fortunately, Sylvia’s provides their own custom bottles on every table. Stop by for brunch, dump that hot sauce on some collard greens, and wash everything down with a rum punch that tastes less like punch and more like rum. It’s what Sylvia would want.

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Suggested By Writer

Melba’s review image
8.3
Review
Melba’s

Melba’s is a spot in Harlem with some great fried chicken, catfish, and waffles. Try it for a casual meal, and get a side of mac and cheese.

Yellow Rose review image
8.8
Review
Yellow Rose

Yellow Rose in the East Village specializes in fantastic Texan food and homemade tortillas made with Sonoran flour.

Chez Ma Tante review image
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Chez Ma Tante

Chez Ma Tante is a neighborhood spot that looks like every other Brooklyn restaurant - but it’s not. Come here for simple, excellent food.

Ruta Oaxaca review image
Review
Ruta Oaxaca

Ruta is a fun Oaxacan restaurant in Astoria that specializes in mole and makes some exceptional tequila drinks.