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.
Lallito is for when you might want vegan coconut grits for brunch. This is a Mexican/Californian/Latin-American restaurant in Chinatown from the chef who used to be at El Rey, and, while they have more than just coconut grits, you won’t find your standard brunch things here. Think French toast covered in black sesame seeds and yams topped with yogurt and granola. This place is fun and different, and the food is overall better than it sounds.
Sunday in Brooklyn attracts a brunch crowd for three reasons: the food, the space, and the fact that it’s called “Sunday in Brooklyn.” They do things like hazelnut praline pancakes and a breakfast sandwich that could pass for a burger (if you took out the eggs). All that, and this place also looks like the beautiful home you’ll never own in Williamsburg. And, if it’s nice out, you can try to grab seat on the second-floor patio.
Hearth is a little pricey at dinner, but brunch isn’t bad. It’s also a little less healthy (fewer vegetables, more biscuits and pork). Still, it’s a nicer brunch option, and it’s a good place to bring your cousin who’s in town for the weekend and assumes that your life is polished and orderly and full of meals at places like Hearth.
Brunch on the LES can be loud and messy, and you can get barfed on by a birthday boy who decided to drink a mimosa for every year he’s been around. So maybe try Speedy Romeo. It’s lively, but it isn’t as crazy as some other spots, and you’ll have a solid set of brunch options here. They have baked eggs, some good Neapolitan-style pizzas, and a burger that’s actually pretty exceptional. They also recently expanded their dining room, so feel free to bring your friends (although you can only reserve for up to five people).
If Loring Place were a person, it would be about 35 years old - sort of grown-up, fairly put-together, and occasionally pretty health conscious. So if you’re looking for a place to pound bellinis until you fall out of your chair, this isn’t it. This is more of a spot to come with a few friends and embrace your adulthood in a way that doesn’t feel lame. Have some tuna tartare and baked ricotta, and if you feel like having something less healthy, there are plenty of options (donuts, pancakes, bacon, etc.) Just know that, even for brunch, reservations are recommended.
Sauvage has a lot of things you look for in a restaurant. It’s spacious, attractive, there’s outdoor seating, and they have a good burger. This place is a pretty complete package, and it’s great for most brunch situations. Eggs with your mom? Of course. Pancakes with friends? Absolutely. Smoked sturgeon with your nemesis? Why not? The food is French/American, the whole place feels like a nice cafe, and there are plenty of seats outside.
Augustine is in the bottom of the Beekman Hotel, and it’s where you get an upscale brunch in Fidi that doesn’t suck. It isn’t cheap, but if you don’t go crazy with the uni pasta and house cocktails, you should be able to get out of there without having to liquidate your 401(k). Alternately, come here for a special-occasion brunch and really get into the white-tablecloth spirit.
Freek’s Mill has a wood-burning oven, exposed brick walls, fancy light fixtures, and a bunch of other stuff you’d expect a newish neighborhood place in Brooklyn to have. So if you’re looking for a nice spot to eat some kale that was probably grown somewhere along the Metro North line, book a table here. Expect things like duck hash, crab cakes benedict, and whatever kind of vegetables are currently alive in the state of New York.
Llama Inn is great for when you want to have brunch with a few friends and not feel like you’re hitting up the continental breakfast at a Days Inn. This place is Peruvian, and you won’t find any pancakes or omelets here. Instead, they do ceviche, empanadas, and beef tenderloin with french fries (also, a few egg things). Hands down, this is one of our favorite restaurants in Williamsburg, and it’s guaranteed to be bright and lively at brunch.
This is the pizza place from the people behind Sullivan Street Bakery, so you know they have quality baked goods. And that works out pretty well for brunch. Have breakfast pizza (they do about five different kinds) or do some french toast with their house-made bread. This is a nicer (but still casual) brunch option in Chelsea, and it makes a good alternative to Cookshop. If you have family in town and you need somewhere to eat, reserve a table here.
Esperanto is a Brazilian/Latin American restaurant on the eastern edge of Alphabet City, and it feels like a real neighborhood spot. It’s the sort of place where you can grab a table outside and watch people walk their dogs while you drink margaritas and think about buying a dog. Or, if you want bloody Marys and mimosas, they do a reasonably priced bottomless brunch. So stop by for some laid-back vibes, quality steak, and guacamole.
ABC Cocina is attached to a home furnishing store, and it looks like the loft you assumed you’d be living in by the time you turned 25 (high ceilings, chandeliers, brick walls, etc.). More importantly, they also do some solid Mexican food. It’s on the pricier side, but you can probably think of an excuse to drop a little cash at brunch. Maybe you made it through the week without getting so drunk you could no longer pronounce the “d” in vodka. Wonderful. Get some tacos here.
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.
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.
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.
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.