Walk across Central Park South on a Saturday morning, and you will find two things. One, the smell of horse sh*t. Two, a line of probably 50 people waiting to get into Sarabeth’s for the pleasure of eating $20 worth of Eggs Benedict.
But it’s not just tourists led astray by lazy hotel concierges – the scourge of brunch lines permeates the city. Just walk by Clinton Street Baking Company on the Lower East Side or Egg in Wiliamsburg. Yes, those pancakes and those shrimp and grits are good, but so was your sense of dignity at one point.
No hate if you want to stand in line, but for the times when you want a good meal during the day on a weekend without having to huddle on the sidewalk for an hour, here are some great restaurants to turn to. Being crystal ball-less, we can’t promise you’ll get seated right away, but we can say the waits will likely not be memorably long.
Bond Street is a place people go to feel great about themselves on Saturday afternoons. Cobblestone streets, pretty stores, fancy buildings? Great. But Bond Street is also a place people go to get told the wait at The Smile is two hours. Zip up your leather jacket (it looks great on you) and head down the block to Mile End. It’s a Canadian/Jewish sandwich shop, but the brunch menu is pretty extensive (there’s poutine and pastrami, and also granola), and there are plenty of tables plus full table service waiting for you. They also serve Black Seed bagels, no doubt with less of a wait than at Black Seed’s official shop.
Not into Canada and their hot prime minister? Head over to Bar Primi. In addition to a few standard pasta options, they do some great brunch specials like “breakfast spaghetti” and pomodoro baked eggs.
On many, many occasions, we’ve ended up at Bread after navigating the sea of packed Nolita restaurants on a Saturday afternoon. And we’ve never been displeased about it. The brunch options are plenty, but it’s also a good option if you prefer to eat food that isn’t eggs, pancakes, and granola. The salads are nice, the tomato soup is legendary, and as the name “Bread” would indicate, they do good things with a panini.
Thanks to its shellfish and cocktails-heavy menu, John Dory probably isn’t your first thought for brunch, but we’d urge you to reconsider – it’s definitely a better option than the packed-but-not-that-great Breslin on the other side of The Ace Hotel. Get the Carte de Musica (a super thin cracker topped with butter, chili, and bottarga), some oysters, and a lobster roll or lobster scramble.
This Latin/Mediterranean fusion (it works) spot has become our go-to for last minute West Village dinners, because it’s usually not too tough to get in. The same goes for brunch. In fact, brunch is probably the best time to visit, when light pours in through the skylight and a great short rib burger is on the menu.
An easy, tasty Middle Eastern option on a quiet block of Macdougal, that seems to go overlooked. Chill out over some shakshuka when the rest of packed weekend Soho is giving you a panic attack.
Despite characteristics that would suggest otherwise – proximity to McCarren Park, old soda fountain-style interior, seven different breakfast pizzas on the menu – Park Luncheonette is never packed. Do it instead of Five Leaves.
Al Di La serves some of the best pasta in New York, but few people seem to know it’s open for lunch. Many of the best pastas are available, as are some Italian brunch specials. Get on it.
Sisters in Clinton Hill is one of the best-designed restaurants around, and daytime – when the light shines in through the windows and skylight – is the best time to experience it. This is the kind of place you can easily hang for a few hours.