If we’re being honest, brunch makes us kind of panic. More specifically, the thought of waiting for brunch makes us panic.
This guide was created to help you make brunch plans without fear of hunger-blackout-yelling at your friends, or at innocent people who get seated before you. (To the perfectly nice couple at Five Leaves last weekend: if you’re reading this, we apologize.)
The secret to winning at brunch (and keeping your friendships intact)? Make a reservation. Here are a bunch of places where you can do just that.
Let the tropical vibes at Santina take the edge off your hangover. Although the bright colors might also aggravate it, so be safe and get a cocktail. Ask to be seated next to the couple with the most expensive dog, and eavesdrop throughout your shrimp frittata. Reserve a table on the later side to observe the Meatpacking District in full swing.
Brunching in Nolita without a reservation is like going to Ikea without a car. You probably aren’t getting a table. If you do, it will be tough. So make a reservation at Bread. They have pancakes, but they also serve adult-human food like steak, salad, sandwiches, and pasta (the menu’s huge). If eating outside is your thing, there are tables out front.
Bar Primi has something called “breakfast spaghetti.” It has kale, pancetta, and an egg. You’re probably going to order it, then take a picture of it, then hate yourself for taking a picture of it, then eat your shame. Go here for solid Italian brunch foods in a bright, attractive space. There are two floors and some outdoor seating, so there’s usually room for a last-minute reservation.
Miss Lily’s is still around, and a reservation is still a good idea. Here you’ll find Caribbean-spiced brunch foods and a crowd of young people who probably got kicked out of bars last night. For an extra twenty dollars, get unlimited Bloody Marys and mimosas. Your liver won’t thank you but it also won’t not thank you, because livers can’t talk.
Make a reservation at Sadelle’s or wait three hours for a table. It’s your choice. Once you’re in, order smoked salmon, babka, and French toast. (Unlimited bagels come with the fish.) Watch the employees shout HOT BAGELS as they bring out hot bagels, and think, for a second, that you’re at a mall in the suburbs. Somehow, this isn’t the worst feeling.
Williamsburg has changed. We assume it used to be a forest some few-hundred years ago, so it’s changed a lot. Reynard, in the bottom of the Wythe Hotel, is one indication. But maybe change isn’t bad. Reynard doesn’t feel bad. The ceilings are high, there’s a lot of brick, and it’s a good place to take a date or bring your parents when you’re hungover and wearing sunglasses indoors. Get the fried chicken, or, if you’re in the parents scenario, drink three Boulevardiers back to back to back.
One of our favorite new restaurants in the East Village, Timna’s brunch menu swings more traditional Israeli than at dinner. We know you people will wait hours for shakshuka, so we suggest you book a reservation at Timna and spend that time in bed instead of freezing outside Cafe Mogador next door.
Brunch is the one meal of the week where it’s perfectly acceptable - actually, encouraged - for you to eat obscenely unhealthy things. There are many ways you can chase that goal, but one of your very best options is the cinnamon rolls at Hundred Acres. Don’t think, just eat.
On the other hand, sometimes brunch is actually the best way to experience a restaurant, especially if you’re trying to do it on a budget. Go to Meadowsweet, soak up the excellent vibes, eat the excellent food, and come out with a much lower bill than you’d have at dinner. It’s called strategy, people, and we’re not above it.
All-American. Kind of sexy. Best enjoyed with alcohol. No, we’re not describing your last Tinder date - we’re talking about The Dutch. It’s always a satisfying spot for brunch, which is more than you can say for most internet app dates.
The West Village is an absolute nightmare for brunch. Waits are crazy, hordes of hangry people are everywhere, and getting a table for you and five friends is virtually impossible. “Cute” as the West Village may be, it feels like a war zone from 11am to 3pm on weekends. How to avoid it? Book a table at Morandi. It’s a comfortable, enjoyable spot with a menu that has something for everyone.
For those times when you want to feel more important than you actually are, Lafayette is the place to brunch. Reserve a table, order many things, and look down upon the plebeians not seated in your midst.
Estela may not be a comfortable restaurant, but it is an excellent one. Just like at dinner, the small plates are artful and impressive (the egg sandwich is required ordering) - but do know that you’ll need several of them to walk away full. If you’re looking for a special occasion/party time brunch (that doesn’t include people with hip or hearing problems), Estela is an excellent candidate.
Brunch at Barbuto is so good we always forget we have to pay at the end of the meal - we’re just too distracted by what’s being put on our table. That famous chicken? Check. Breakfast pizza? Three, please. And the carbonara? Try to share it with us and we’ll cut you.
The East Pole is the rare restaurant that both you and your grandma will enjoy. It’s upscale, but not stuffy; a little cool, but not too cool; and serves things like green juice and macro plates alongside eggs florentine and smoked salmon crostini. It’s kind of a serious spot, so it’s probably not one you’ll frequent every weekend - but when grandma calls, you’ll know what to do.
“Where can I go to brunch with my [insert high-maintenance food issue here] friend where I can also eat something not awful?” is a question that we (unfortunately) field often. And Cookshop is, more often than not, our answer. Your friend can have a grain bowl or beet salad, you can have beignets and a burger - it’ll all be super fresh, and highly tasty. This is the kind of place where you can take literally anyone - and if they’re not happy, we’ll buy you a pony. We’re that confident.
L’Express is a solid all-around player of a restaurant - consistent and one of the only places we can always turn to in Gramercy, especially for brunch.
Brunch is the time when we say give us the Southern food. Shower us with fried chicken, crown us with biscuits, and throw some waffle fries at us - we’ll take it all, especially when it’s coming from Root & Bone.
Cafe El Presidente is one of the only casual brunch spots in the Flatiron that don’t suck. In fact, it’s pretty great. For one, it manages to avoid the usual brunch-claustrophobia with incredibly high ceilings, lots of space, and tons of seating. The food, too, is solid - go for the breakfast tacos and fresh juices.
Upper West Siders, the time has finally come. You got yourselves an actually-happening, actually-good brunch spot. Even luckier for you - they take reservations.
East End Kitchen is a very solid neighborhood restaurant in a neighborhood where those doesn’t exist. It’s home to both the best burger and youngest crowd you’ll find this close to the water on the Upper East Side.
When The Upsider opened, it filled a giant, gaping hole among Midtown restaurants: a decently cool, decidedly casual place to have brunch. There isn’t any restaurant within a fifteen-block radius where you will find people eating things like avocado toast and kale salad, and we fully endorse you joining them.