Maybe you love brunch. If so, we don’t need to convince you to use this guide to find some places where you can have it outside.
But let’s say you don’t. The crowds, the waiting, the usually-overpriced food you could (maybe) make at home. Those are all completely acceptable excuses to avoid brunch. During the winter. But it’s not winter right now - it’s summer. And in summer, we eat brunch outside. It’s worth putting on pants (and putting up with all that other stuff) for, especially if you make these places a priority.
Having brunch in a backyard while someone a few feet away grills homemade tortillas is a special experience. Set a personal goal to make it happen this summer at Claro in Gowanus. Their Oaxacan brunch menu is great on its own, with dishes like chilaquiles and octopus tostadas, but their outdoor space is what makes eating here feel like a vacation. Another win: they take brunch reservations.
All brunches exist somewhere on a very long spectrum. At one end, you have the places you go when you’re just trying not to vomit into your eggs. At the other, you have the places you go when the brunch itself is the start of the party. Llama Inn is an excellent choice for the latter - a slightly upscale, very fun Peruvian spot that would be perfect for a rooftop birthday party or impressing an out-of-towner.
Marlow & Sons is cool. Almost too cool. It kind of feels like a neighborhood clubhouse, but if you’re not a member you can pay a visitor’s fee (the cost of your meal) to get in for the day. And you should. The food is great (they have breakfast fried rice, gravlax and house-made pastries), there’s a small but nice little front area, and the crowd tends to be made up of people who care more about eating their food than taking photos of it.
Walk around Williamsburg on a weekend afternoon, and eventually you’ll run into a bunch of people loitering outside of a spot on the corner of Withers Street and Union Ave. The place is Reunion, and these people are waiting for the opportunity to eat an excellent Israeli brunch. The best tables are on the sidewalk out front, but the indoor space is bright and colorful, and won’t feel like you won runner-up at your 3rd-grade science fair. We like the schnitzel, shakshuka, and the savory pancake with an egg on top.
This is an Italian wine bar in the West Village with a charming little backyard and brunch that’s a bit lighter than most. Get some eggs and prosciutto and camp out back here for a few hours. You’ll forget about all the other stuff you have to do with your day because there will be wine and the ability to pretend you’re in a European country.
Esme is the best under-the-radar outdoor brunch spot in Brooklyn. Their back patio has tables both big and small, plus plenty of shade, and they make simple, good brunch food. The pancakes are some of the best in NYC, the avocado toast will actually fill you up, and the cocktails are strong and not too expensive. This is the outdoor brunch for brunch haters.
The West Village has it all - cobblestone streets, pretty people, and a disproportionate collection of delicious restaurants. What it doesn’t have are many restaurants with outdoor seating. That’s why you should know about Hudson Clearwater, a semi-hidden American restaurant with an extremely charming garden and good food.
In NYC, the combination of brunch, pizza, and eating outside usually comes with crazy wait times and/or sitting too close to a stranger while pretending they’re not there. But at Beebe’s in LIC, you can eat great thin-crust pizza on a nice terrace without too much of a crowd. If you want something other than a circle of excellent dough with cheese and sauce on top, their brunch also has lots of classic breakfast options like french toast or a ham and cheese melt.
Amanda’s quitting her job to be a yoga instructor in Costa Rica, Josh got invited to your college frenemy’s wedding in Italy, and your roommate has a Hamptons house (that she never invites you to). Meanwhile, you don’t have plans to go any further than Rockaway this summer. But if you want to feel like you’re in Paris for a minute, have brunch at Sauvage. Sit in one of the wicker chairs overlooking McCarren park, and have a fancy cocktail while you eat a croque madame.
This is a Williamsburg restaurant that’s named accordingly. Sunday In Brooklyn knows what the people want: giant bowls of healthy things, fluffy pancakes, mezcal Bloody Marys, and matcha lattes. This place is a bit of a scene, but eating on the semi-hidden rooftop is worth dealing with crowds for.
Flora Bar is in the bottom of a museum on the Upper East Side, and, despite this fact, it isn’t all that stuffy. Sure, you can get a $60 caviar supplement here (even at brunch), but most other things are less than $30, and there’s no dress code. The food consists of mostly smaller plates, like lobster dumplings, oysters, and lamb ribs, and, at brunch, they serve a lot of these things in addition to some egg dishes and waffles. You can also eat on the big patio when it’s nice outside.
Meadowsweet is the restaurant that inspired our use of a term called The Feel Good Factor, and that factor is just as present, if not more so, at brunch. The food is upscale (stuff like truffle egg toast, giant cinnamon donut holes, and a chorizo hash), but the place never feels stuffy. Not only will you be able to eat outside - but you will also be able to make a reservation. There’s no losing here.
Narcissa’s fresh, almost-healthy food is best enjoyed in the restaurant’s big garden. This isn’t a rickety-chair-on-some-cracked-pavement situation: there are couches, hanging lights, and even some real trees.
Barbuto should be your go-to brunch move for entertaining aunts and moms and really anyone who would enjoy drinking rosé outside - but you also don’t need any of those visitors to justify a meal here. This is an excellent place to eat pasta, pizza, an extremely good kale salad outdoors. You’re probably going to want some rosé too.
The backyard space at Forrest Point looks like someone started growing very nice plants in a large junkyard, and it is therefore unsurprisingly one of the best spots for brunch outside in Bushwick. Forrest Point is more known as a drinking spot, but their breakfast burritos, burgers, and french toast are all solid too. Just know you’ll have to make a hard decision about the pros and cons of ordering the cast iron s’mores while the sun is directly shining down on you.
Krupa Grocery is the kind of neighborhood restaurant that has you pulling out your phone to check your StreetEasy app in the middle of brunch. Which is to say, if you don’t already live in South Park Slope/Windsor Terrace, Krupa Grocery is worth traveling for. The back patio is great, and they make the kind of food you could never make in your apartment even if you tried. Get at least one order of breakfast gnocchi for the table.
Your mom’s in town, or your college roommate’s in town, or your college roommate’s mom is in town, and you have run out of activities that don’t involve eating. Foolproof summer idea: walk across the Brooklyn bridge. Then reward yourself for your activity with brunch at Vinegar Hill House.
Lafayette is a giant French restaurant in Noho that also has a giant sidewalk seating situation - complete with covered awnings for maximum comfort. Brunch is only on weekends, but you can eat breakfast outside here any day of the week. All you have to do to turn a Tuesday breakfast into brunch is to skip work and add a cocktail.
Another West Village patio we endorse for your brunch needs is the low-key neighborhood French spot AOC. While the food isn’t particularly mind-blowing, the garden is prime. It looks out onto the kind of beautiful West Village apartment buildings that either leave you feeling inspired (maybe one day you’ll live there) or depressed (you’re never going to live there).
Cecconi’s is an international mini-chain with locations in London, Venice, Miami, and a few other cities where you might plausibly run into Anna Wintour or ASAP Rocky. And now there’s one on the waterfront in Dumbo. It has a huge patio under a striped awning, and the menu is a mix of slightly-fancy Italian and American. This feels like the sort of place where you’d go with your aunt and uncle or some people who are trying to get you to work for them.
Sweet Afton is a bar in Astoria that serves french toast sticks, breakfast burgers, and homemade biscuits. That’s already reason enough to eat here year-round, but they also have a nice little patio in the back for a low-maintenance brunch with one or two people when the weather is nice.
The front patio at Harlem Tavern might be even larger than the tavern itself. Covered in tables and big umbrellas, it’s perfect for when you need an outdoor brunch spot that can handle a big group. The food isn’t anything special, but it’s solid, the menu is huge - and you mostly just come here to drink beer and frozen things out of jars anyway.
Large, partially covered, with plenty of greenery, Aurora’s got all you can ask for in an outdoor brunch spot. There are plenty of breakfast classics on the Williamsburg cafe’s menu, but it’s also a great option if you’d rather eat a salad or some pasta on a Saturday afternoon.
Want to feel like you’re in an Italian beach town, without leaving downtown Manhattan? Sit outside at Santina. Afterwards, take a walk on the Highline. Perfect summer day, complete.
We will say this very clearly because it’s important: Esperanto is where you should get rowdy brunch with a group outside. You and your friends can drink endless cocktails in the sun without spending tons of money or making enemies with neighboring tables (because they’re probably doing the same thing as you are). The Latin food isn’t amazing, but it’s decent. And you’ll start enjoying it a lot more once you’ve hit minute 20 of your bottomless deal.
Find yourself wanting brunch outside at 4pm on a Thursday? We support you. And so does Rabbithole. This neighborhood Williamsburg spot serves brunch every day until 5pm, and you can enjoy it on their umbrella-covered back patio.
Walter Foods isn’t new or trendy, and that’s exactly why we appreciate it. Don’t come here looking for avocado toast or acai bowls - you won’t find them. What you will find are solid versions of classic brunch comfort foods, and a mellow big back patio.
You might ignore us when we tell you to go to brunch at the very top of Greenpoint. But if you do, you’ll miss out on one of the best back gardens in the entire city. And if that alone isn’t enough to convince you, the bottomless mimosa situation should.