If a genie granted us one wish, we’d wish for a million more wishes. And when he told us “no” we’d wish for a way to make brunch easier.
This magic power would be particularly useful when deciding on a brunch restaurant in the East Village, where nearly every block has five different places to get bacon cheeseburgers with your morning coffee, or ricotta pancakes with your afternoon michelada. If you have access to a genie, then we’d appreciate the hookup. Otherwise, use this guide to the best brunch spots in the East Village.
As they say, one person’s Veselka brunch is another person’s Veselka dinner. OK, no one says that, but it’s true. This is a classic 24-hour Ukrainian diner where you might see a group of people who have been up all night or a man reading the morning paper who might be the reincarnation of Elvis. Get some pancakes and pierogies, and enjoy this little slice of old-school NYC for brunch. It’s something you have to do at least once.
Ordering at brunch can be complicated. Toast or english muffin? Sweet or savory? Fries or salad? Breakfast or lunch? Let us simplify things: you want fried chicken. Maybe you want it in between two biscuits, or on top of waffles, or plain with some honey tabasco. Regardless, get it from Root & Bone. Sitting inside or outside is a choice you’re going to have to make on your own.
Pasta is to brunch as a moody pug is to the name Donnie Barko. And when you want to start your day with carbonara, you go to Bar Primi. Try for a table outside so that your meal will also come with people watching.
You look good in those new sunglasses, which is why you blew your dining budget and survived on Nature Valley bars for the past week. But your wallet has started to recover, and now it’s time for brunch. Eat some Moroccan-influenced breakfast on the sidewalk at Cafe Mogador, where there should be enough sun to justify your purchase. Everybody waiting out front looks like they tried on multiple outfits before leaving the apartment this morning, but the food is very good.
Brunch at Westville East has been crowded on weekends since Norbit came out in theaters (no correlation, unfortunately). That’s because Westville is reliable, comfortable, and works for almost any situation. Their produce-heavy brunch menu has constantly changing specials, and enough options for everyone to find what they like. Bring a friend, bring a book, or bring your estranged roommate to decide who gets to keep the microwave. Just try to get here early if you want a seat outside on the sidewalk.
Even though you ate three slices of pizza just a few hours ago, your stomach is hollow now and you need a burger. The massive double cheeseburger at David’s is one of the best in the neighborhood, and it comes out in about five minutes. Ask for extra special sauce because you’re going to need it for the mountain of fries that comes on the side. If your hangover recovery is a solo effort, we recommend sitting at the bar. Otherwise, share a pitcher of beer with whichever roommate didn’t already get Seamless delivered in bed this morning.
Your aunt is cool and all, but you don’t want to spend your Saturday night getting dinner with her. Have brunch at Hearth instead. It’s more upscale than most brunch spots in the East Village, so you won’t have to shout over people recounting their night before at The Wayland. Everything on the menu, like the breakfast bowl with polenta and sausage or kale ragu with eggs, is very good and fairly healthy.
You’ve been put in charge of planning an outdoor group brunch in the East Village. We’re sorry about that. But the good news is that you can close all of the other tabs on your computer and just tell everyone to meet at Esperanto. The Latin food is both solid and affordable, and there’s a great bottomless deal and plenty of outdoor seating.
Lil Frankies is the network television of East Village brunch. Everyone knows about it, almost everyone likes it, and there’s no harm in using it as a go-to when you’re with a group of people who have different tastes. You’ll find the same pizzas and pastas you’ve probably eaten here at dinner, plus some eggs and other morning stuff. But the main difference at their brunch is the 3-for-1 prosecco deal, and the fact that you’ll have more time in the day to lie down after you eat pizza at 11:30 am.
It seems crazy to spend two hours of your weekend waiting for anything, let alone a pancake. But when the pancake is the size and consistency of a baby pillow and topped with whipped sour cream and blueberries, it’s time to be patient. Clearly, we’re team pancake at Prune, but if you want something more savory, the eggs benedict and deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich are great as well.
San Marzano is a big, bright corner space on 2nd Avenue, and yet it’s one of the most affordable real restaurants in the East Village. Everything on the menu - like eggs benedict, omelettes, and paninis - is less than $10. The waits tend to be pretty long and this place gets packed with NYU students taking advantage of the $10 bottomless mimosa deal, so come early and sit at an outdoor table on 2nd Avenue.
Balade serves Lebanese brunch in a casual space on 1st Avenue that’s relaxed enough to nap in (please resist that urge, though). We like the eggs with zaatar and labne, eggs with halloume, and eggs with beef sausage. Just maybe don’t come here if you don’t want eggs. If that’s the case, more $6 sparkling wine for us.
This is a bagel shop, not a sit-down brunch spot, but it’s on this guide because this place has gotten us through many Sunday mornings in the East Village. The bagels here are massive and customizable, but we recommend getting the Weezer, which comes with bacon, chorizo, egg, cheddar, and any of the 40 varieties of cream cheese. Take it to-go and enjoy it across the street in Tompkins Square Park.