Where To Get Brunch On The Upper West Side
Start your weekend with some eggs and lox or a fried chicken donut sandwich.
Home to some of the city’s best bagels and appetizing shops, the Upper West Side does brunch exceptionally well. You should, of course, visit Barney Greengrass for all of your smoked fish needs, but this neighborhood also has a bunch of other options (that opened this century) where you can get everything from biscuit sandwiches and mile-high stacks of french toast to brisket shakshuka and gluten-free pancakes. Here are our top picks.
You need to have brunch at Barney Greengrass. This classic Jewish deli and appetizing store has been operating since the early 20th century, and a meal here is obligatory for anyone who loves New York City restaurants. Cash-only, with a simple diner-esque dining room, Barney Greengrass is an extremely casual spot where the friendly servers will ask you deep, meaningful questions like "How about some matzo ball soup with that?" Get an omelet, a bagel, and a smoked fish platter. The nova melts in your mouth and tastes like butter that was steeped in the ocean.
photo credit: Luis Chaves
The Park Slope location of Miriam gets absolutely mobbed on weekends, but the newer one on the Upper West Side isn’t that tough to get into. It still gets busy, and you’ll probably have to wait a few minutes for your table—but just put your name in and stick around. This place is worth it. The Israeli food is simple, well-executed, and great for sharing. Cover your table in shakshuka, silky hummus, and a few dense, flaky burekas. The space is bright and casual (with a bar in the back for solo dining), and it’s perfect for any kind of brunch scenario.
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Want to eat some heavy Southern comfort food like fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, and a hot chicken biscuit with a side of cheesy grits? That’s what Jacob’s Pickles is for. You’ve probably heard people talk about this place, and there’s a good chance you’ve been here before. It’s one of the most popular brunch destinations on the Upper West Side, and it’s a fun spot to drink a Bloody Mary and eat a good biscuit. Just be sure to make a reservation. Otherwise, you might have to wait an hour and a half for your table.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Maison Pickle is the slightly more upscale sibling of Jacob’s Pickles, and the food here is, somehow, even more excessive. Offerings include a big pull-apart frosted cinnamon bun, fries covered in gruyere fondue, and a massive stack of inch-thick french toast topped with several pieces of hot honey fried chicken. It’s all very cartoonish, and you'll probably be into it. The multi-level dining room has high ceilings and a bright neon sign, and it’s inevitably packed on weekends. Either make a reservation, or expect to hang out with a drink in the bar area until a table opens up.
If Maison Pickle is too hectic for you and you’d rather not eat (delicious) stunt food for brunch, go across the street to French Roast. This classic spot has everything you want from an old-school bistro: worn tile floors, a good number of ceiling fans, vintage beer signs, decorative bottles of Champagne, and perfectly serviceable French food. It’s a charming, relaxing place, and there’s a TV in the corner that occasionally plays Law & Order. Get some eggs benedict or a thick burger on a brioche bun, and sit outside if the weather’s nice.
Tiki Chick is a party at brunch. Every single seat in the small, tropical-themed bar fills up, and the party even spills onto the sidewalk patio out front. So if you’re looking to mingle and drink a rum cocktail out of a cup shaped like a shark, this is your best bet. The brunch menu is tiny, and it consists of various donut sandwiches, with everything from bacon and eggs to fried chicken. Don’t come here for a well-rounded meal, but do come for a good time.
Brunch doesn’t need to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to involve a bunch of recent college graduates who guzzle Prosecco like it’s vintage Champagne. When you want to keep things simple, head to Absolute Bagels. This counter-service place was founded by Sam Thongkrieng—who moved from Bangkok to NYC in the ’80s and worked at Ess-A-Bagel for years—and it’s home to some of the top bagels in NYC. Get a blistered, softball-sized bagel with scallion cream cheese, and order a Thai iced tea to go along with it.
Dagon is a plant-filled, pastel-colored restaurant where you’ll see families and groups of friends going to town on hummus and flatbreads that look and taste like giant Olive Garden breadsticks. It’s a useful place for a slightly fancier brunch, with inventive Mediterranean food—like brisket shakshuka and merguez benedict—and plenty of tables and bar seating. Skip the flatbread, but be sure to get a big pull-apart kubaneh stuffed with za’atar and feta for the table.
Thyme & Tonic
Thyme & Tonic is the top gluten-free brunch option on the Upper West Side. The menu is entirely gluten-free and mostly vegan, with options like a tofu reuben and a giant latke that comes with your choice of lox or plant-based salmon. They also have an extensive bar with great cocktails, and there's a lively scene both inside the dining room—where you’ll find a bunch of white wooden booths— and outside on the flower-powered patio. If you don’t need to have a productive day, get a carafe of margaritas or try the DIY mimosa situation that comes with a full bottle of Prosecco.
Do you hate brunch? If so, head to Zabar’s. The no-frills fluorescent-lit cafe attached to the longstanding appetizing store is the perfect place for a quick, antisocial meal. Pick up a bagel sandwich and a couple of latkes, then head out front and eat at one of the standing tables while you do a crossword and glare at all the people walking by.