The Best Brunch On The Upper East Side
Sooner or later, you’re going to have to eat brunch on the Upper East Side. Whether you live there, or you’re getting your annual dose of culture at the museums—the struggle to avoid overpriced, mediocre eggs is real. That’s where we come in. Whether you look forward to your Saturday mimosas all week, or you just need somewhere to nurse your hangover, this guide to the best Upper East Side brunch has you covered.
photo credit: Café Sabarsky
If you’re going to have brunch on the Upper East Side, you really should do it at Café Sabarsky. Start with a kaffee creme or an einspanner, then do your best to decide which of the many really good menu items to order. On the sweet side, it’s impossible not to love the Kaiserschmarren, fluffy shredded pancakes caramelized in butter and sugar and dolloped with roasted fruits. If you prefer savory breakfast, get the wobbly bavarian sausages served in a steaming bath of hot water with a soft pretzel and grainy mustard.
Whatever neighborhood you live in, you need a good Thai place. If you're on the Upper East Side, Up Thai should be that place. There’s a whole menu of dishes worth ordering, from peanut-filled dumplings to great crispy duck, and the space is done up like it's going to prom. The room, with its hanging lanterns and plants, feels comfortable and borderline romantic.
If you like the Quality Eats in the West Village, you’ll probably like the one on the Upper East Side. They serve the same menu, and the only real difference is the space. (This location is a little bit brighter, and you'll see more families here.) As for brunch, you can get a BEC on their outstanding monkey bread along with less-expected stuff like bacon with peanut butter and jalapeño jelly. Expect crowds, and don’t be surprised if you notice a few strollers.
photo credit: Zenith Richards
If you're tired of things that go with syrup or having to decide how you want your eggs cooked for brunch, head to NR for some ramen. They have five different varieties (including one with cold broth, clams, chicken, and eel). You'll like whichever one you order, because all of them are great. If you are in the mood for eggs, get the deviled egg + egg + egg, a solid version of the egg + uni + caviar party trick.
photo credit: Kyle Huey Photography
The Penrose is from the people behind the The Wren in Noho. Like that spot, this place is a cross between a restaurant and a bar, and it can often feel like a clubhouse for single young professionals who occasionally eat avocado toast. The brunch menu consists of a few small plates like french toast sticks and mac and cheese bites, in addition to everything from shrimp and grits to a grain bowl. If the agenda for your Saturday is day drinking, this is a good spot to kick things off.
B. Cafe - East
They might not get many creativity points for their name, but B. Cafe is quietly one of the best brunch spots around. The menu is long and vaguely Belgian, and the waffles and fries are standouts here. Add in the fact that they have a covered back patio and a great beer selection, and B. Cafe is a power UES brunch move.
There are many great diners in this town, but Viand will always be one of our favorites. It feels like home from the minute you walk in—and sometimes that’s all you need. That, and an excellent club sandwich, which you can also find here. The next time you want brunch food without a brunch scene, come here.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Amali tends to get overlooked. Probably because if you’re going to spend a lot on a meal, you may not often think to do it on the Upper East Side. But if you’re in the market for an upgrade over your usual early Saturday meal in this area, consider Amali. The brunch menu includes everything from shakshuka and a burger to several fresh pasta options.
If you’re the kind of person who thinks the photo of your avocado toast is just as important as the avocado toast itself, you don’t need us to tell you about Bluestone Lane. But you should know that, in addition to taking a nice picture, you can get some pretty great food here. This location also happens to be connected to a church, which makes the whole setting feel very cool and unique.
The back garden at Uva is one of the best places to have brunch outside on the Upper East Side. It’s lovely, and so is the comfort Italian food here. The long brunch menu includes Italian-style omelettes and a bunch of pastas. We appreciate any excuse to eat pasta in the middle of the day.
The Upper East Side—actually, all of New York—could use more restaurants like Jones Wood Foundry, a place that’s just as good for brunch and as it is for avoiding brunch people. They serve excellent British pub food like a satisfying full English breakfast, their outdoor patio isn't usually that crowded, and there are TVs if you’re hoping to have a few pints and watch a match. If you're not into soccer though, this probably isn't the place for you.
If you're looking for a “Classic New York experience" for brunch, but you'd rather not spend $300 at some fancy hotel, J.G. Melon’s Upper East Side location is a good option. This place has been serving one of the best thick-patty burgers in the city for decades, so that’s what you’re coming here to eat—and you’ll want to make sure you get some cottage fries as well. They’re round, tiny, and will make you wonder why more places don’t make fries like this.