Weekends are for trying new things. But if you aren’t sure what to do, here are some ideas: Buy a cat. Or learn Mandarin. Or go to a vintage store, acquire some ’80s fashions, then ride the Staten Island Ferry and pretend you’re Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. Or, you know, try a new brunch spot. Here are some places that are worth checking out. Bring some friends. They’ll assume (correctly) that you’re a very cool person.
New To The Brunch Hit List (as of 5/11): Olmsted, Bombay Bread Bar, Meme's Diner, Claro, Miss Ada, Fausto.
Olmsted’s brunch is a little like Willy Wonka’s factory. It’s magical and slightly inexplicable, and there are important life lessons to take away from it (mainly that eating BEC egg rolls is something you’ll need to do again soon). The interior is nice-but-not-formal, with more greenery than most of the streets in Manhattan, and there’s also a great backyard space with quails and a bathtub full of fish. Everything from the drinks (carrot mimosas) to the mains (duck two ways with scrambled duck egg, duck sausage, and maple pita) are unusual and, so far, there’s nothing here that we wouldn’t recommend trying.
If you’re looking for a new group brunch spot in a place that’s geographically convenient for both Uptown and Brooklyn friends, consider Bombay Bread Bar in Soho. Other than its location, this is a fun place to get a little rowdy with your friends and share plates of Indian food for breakfast. With the exception of the bacon and cheddar fried egg pizza, their brunch is basically the dinner menu with eggs on top. If it’s nice out, sit on the sidewalk.
The best diner is usually the one closest to you. Meme’s, however, is an exception to that rule. This little Prospect Heights spot is the diner you should travel for. It feels like a neighborhood hangout, but instead of the usual diner things like an omelette or a short stack, you’ll eat milk and cereal with yogurt panna cotta, frito migas, or a fried chicken biscuit with spicy maple syrup. In our experience, there is no wrong order here, except for one that doesn’t involve a piece of Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake at the end. Just get here early or expect to wait - this place is small, and it isn’t a secret.
Claro’s excellent Oaxacan food warrants a visit any time. But the minute it’s nice enough to eat outside in their backyard, cancel all other plans and get here immediately. Claro makes all of their tortillas, sausages, and cheeses in-house, and their recently-launched brunch has everything from chilaquiles to traditional Mexican cake (called marquesote) and a bunch of tequila and mezcal cocktails. Also important: they take brunch reservations - although that doesn’t guarantee you get a spot in the backyard.
Fort Greene takes its brunch as seriously as that one person on the engineering team takes office volleyball games, and Miss Ada’s new Sunday brunch is a great addition to the neighborhood. They serve great Mediterranean food like an Israeli breakfast with labne and stracciatella, and shakshuka that comes with challah and goat cheese.
Brunch at Fausto in Park Slope involves eating not-quite-heavy Italian food in a nice wicker chair or a tan leather booth. They have a solid lineup of breakfast things, like lemon ricotta pancakes and a poached egg with duck, as well as lunchier options like orecchiette that comes with braised pork and a bunch of parmesan on top. The sleek space makes it a bit nicer than your typical neighborhood brunch spot, so use it for a celebratory brunch, or just the thing that’ll keep you from watching sad, acoustic Youtube covers at your desk all week.
Evelina is a new-ish Mediterranean restaurant in the part of Brooklyn that has tons of good neighborhood brunch spots. But Evelina is particularly worth checking out if you’re looking for an attractive space that’s a big step up from your go-to hangover brunch place. They serve nice cocktails, duck confit, pasta, and other things that are good for people who are tired of eating eggs on weekends.
Flora Bar in the Met Breuer is run by the people behind Estela (another place for excellent brunch) and it’s definitely not your typical museum restaurant. Mostly because they serve food that would warrant a trip here, without actually going to the museum. There’s white sturgeon caviar, lobster and crab dumplings, and lamb ribs, along with more classic brunch options like waffles, egg and cheese with tomato chutney, and shakshuka with rye flatbread.
This is a vegetarian place, but vegetarian or not, you’ll like the food here - especially at brunch, when you can get a dosa filled with egg and cheese. If you’re trying to be healthier, you can get some lettuce cups or a brunch bowl with blueberries and peanut butter. The dining room here sort of feels like a nice, big art gallery (without the art), and it’s the perfect place to grab some food with your aunt after an afternoon at the wax museum. Or just bring a few friends who don’t need bacon.
Shuka is from the same people behind Cookshop and Vic’s, and, like those places, it’s nice enough for a meal with someone like your old college professor, but not so expensive that can’t come here last-minute with friends. The food is Mediterranean and you can start your brunch here with some cinnamon rolls or ricotta fritters or both. There are also some healthier things like beet hummus and a grain bowl, although chocolate babka French toast is also an option.
The type of food they serve at Chez Ma Tante is tough to pin down. At dinner they have things like pierogies and roast chicken, and at brunch, you can get falafel, a hot dog, an excellent caesar salad, or an egg sandwich. You can also get what are probably our favorite new pancakes in the city. They come crispy and topped with butter, and you should order them. Stop by for a low-key brunch in a cozy space in Greenpoint.