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 2/9): West-Bourne, Pheasant, Evelina, La Contenta Oeste, Flora Bar.
This new all-day cafe in Soho is inspired by “1960s Los Angeles,” but all that really means is that they serve healthy-ish brunch at all hours of the day and their menu is full of words like Malibu Waffle and Bay Cities Cauli. It’s pretty casual (you order at a counter) so it works nicely for a solo grain bowl or a laid-back brunch with friends. They also have beer, wine, and their own kombucha. Because of course they have their own kombucha.
Regardless of where you actually live, eating at Pheasant will feel like your personal neighborhood spot. The staff is super friendly and the tables are close enough together that you might end up making friends with some Williamsburg people named Eric and Desiree. Pheasant’s brunch has slightly-fancy things like banana date sticky buns and soft boiled eggs with smoked whitefish and polenta.
Evelina is a new-ish Mediterranean restaurant in the part of Fort Greene 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 spot. They serve nice cocktails, duck confit, pasta, and other things that are good for people who are tired of eating eggs on weekends.
If the brunch spectrum runs from boozy-rowdy to quiet-boring, La Contenta falls somewhere in the middle. No one is asking questions about bottomless deals, but they also have $8 brunch cocktails, along with very good poblano benedicts and chilaquiles, and you could easily hang out here drinking for a while. The space itself is much larger than the original LES location, and they also take reservations.
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.
We wouldn’t blame you for assuming the new restaurant in the Jane Hotel would be the kind of place to avoid on a Saturday at brunch. But most people still haven’t discovered Old Rose, and you should use that to your advantage. The space is also big and bright, so the next time you have to organize a group brunch, suggest this place. Your friends will be impressed that you know about it, and you can pretend that you don’t care how impressed they are. The menu is mostly Italian, but not the heavy kind. At brunch, you can get things like an egg sandwich, olive oil cake, or a pizza. Both the clam and vodka versions are excellent.
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.
Golda is a tiny spot in Bed-Stuy that’s currently only open in the daytime. It looks kind of like a coffee shop, but there’s a surprising amount of food (that you order at the counter). They have such things as a fried chicken sandwich, an acai bowl, and a plate of cauliflower that comes with a soft boiled egg and a magenta sauce. Most of those things are very good - although the toast with strawberry jam, foie gras, lemon curd, hazelnuts, and chocolate is just a little too confusing. Know that there aren’t many seats, and you might have to wait for one.
Lalito is doing its own thing, and we’re very okay with that. It’s a new restaurant in Chinatown from the former chef at El Rey, and you can get some vegan chicharrones here. Or a caesar salad with seaweed and nutritional yeast. If any of that sounds iffy to you (as it should), just know that the food here is actually very good. At brunch they do breakfast tacos, but you can also get coconut grits or some granola with roasted yams. Bring someone who’s down to try something new.