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 80′s 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.
If it’s nice out, and you want to grab a casual brunch, go to VHH Foods. It’s an all-day place from the Vinegar Hill House people on the waterfront in Dumbo, and the view from the patio will remind you why you haven’t moved to California yet. It’s super casual, however, and at brunch, you order from the counter. They do things like pastries, breakfast tacos, yogurt with granola, and some eggs with curried chickpeas - and the food is overall better than you expect from a place with plastic plates and paper napkins.
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. For now, this place is fairly under-the-radar, and you should take advantage of that. 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. The food is vaguely Mediterranean and somewhat experimental, and it’s all pretty photogenic. So if you’re going to brunch with someone who lives to take pictures of food, this place is a good choice. It also helps that dishes are all around very good - although the toast with strawberry jam, foie gras, lemon curd, hazelnuts, and chocolate is just a little too confusing. Just know that there aren’t many seats, and you might have to wait for one.
There’s a lot going on at Sunday in Brooklyn. It has multiple floors, there’s a takeout cafe, and you get the impression that someone lost a lot of sleep picking out plates and flower pots. Then there’s the food. It’s like brunch on steroids. The pancakes come covered in a hazelnut praline syrup, the breakfast sandwich is the size of a burger, and their house bloody Mary comes with mezcal. Get all of these things. Also, this whole place is very photogenic. So if you need to take some pictures, take some pictures.
Think of this place as a Balthazar, but further downtown. It’s from the same owner, and it’s the same idea - a big French brasserie where you can bring your parents (and hope they pay). If you’ve been meaning to try it, stop by for brunch. It’s cheaper than dinner, but they still do certain dinner things like their sea urchin pasta. It’s also in the bottom of the newly-renovated Beekman Hotel, which has an amazing lobby and overall looks like it’s haunted by rich, Jazz-age-type ghosts.
De Maria isn’t going to be your new hangover-brunch spot. But if you need to eat a grain bowl with someone who has 1,000+ followers on Instagram, or you just want to eat something kind of healthy for brunch, come here. The food is actually good, and the avocado toast isn’t the same version everyone else is doing. The space is also looks great. It’s been pretty busy for brunch, so expect a wait - or better yet, make a reservation.
The owners of Banter used to work at Two Hands, and there are a lot of similarities. They’re both Australian coffee shops, and they both serve more food than you expect. But Banter feels more like a restaurant (and they have a full liquor license). Service is casual, however, and it’s the sort of place where you can hang out and eat a piece a toast with someone who needs forty minutes of your time to tell you about their experience at Burning Man. Come by for brunch and have a banh mi or a bowl of vegetables. There might be a wait (this place is small), but you can always head nearby to Dante for a pre-brunch drink.
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.
Post is a tiny place in Alphabet City, and it’s where you should be eating biscuits. They make sandwiches with them at brunch, but you can also have your biscuits covered in gravy. Or get a stack of pancakes with bacon. The food isn’t too complicated here, and neither is the space. It’s too small for groups, but if you know someone who might be interested in a Cuban sandwich with biscuit halves instead of bread, take them here.
Sauvage has been open for a little while now, but they recently got a new chef, and now it’s in better shape than ever. This place is in lower Greenpoint, and it makes for an excellent alternative to the always-mobbed Five Leaves across the street (though you might encounter a bit of a wait here too). Have some almond French toast or steak and eggs, and if it’s a nice day get a seat on the sidewalk out front. This place looks like a big French cafe, and it’s great for a brunch date. Try the baked eggs or the burger. We approve of both.
Speedy Romeo isn’t new, but they just expanded their dining room on the LES, and now there are twice as many seats. This is great news, because A) we like Speedy Romeo, and B) we dislike waiting for tables. They do a few special brunch pizzas on weekends (including one with smoked salmon), but you can also order from the entire lunch menu. Which means their cheeseburger is in play. Order it if you like nice things.
Half hip diner, half coffee/sweets/egg sandwich take-out situation, Kirsh should be at the top of your UWS brunch hit list. They take their French toast very seriously, they have a solid burger, and there are plenty of quality eggs to go around. This is definitely a sleeper on the UWS that isn’t as packed as other popular sports (like the temporarily-closed Jacob’s Pickles). They also have a kids menu, in case you have children or enjoy eating small portions of food because it makes you feel like a giant.
Once you get up around 32nd Street, your dining options start to dwindle. But now there’s Massoni in the bottom of the Arlo Hotel, and if you live in the area, it’s a viable brunch option. The room dining room doesn’t have any windows, but consider that a bonus when you have a hangover and sunlight makes your brain hurt. At brunch, you can get a square (Detroit-style) breakfast pizza, or you can have some waffles or toast. Skip the avocado kind, and go for one with ricotta and prosciutto. Overall, this is a good place to eat if you’re catching something at MSG.