Maybe you don’t like eating breakfast several hours later than usual, surrounded by people who justify drinking large quantities of vodka and sparkling wine by mixing it with orange juice. Or maybe you generally like brunch, but don’t currently want to be in a loud place where people are having mild panic attacks trying to decide between pancakes and eggs. That’s when you can use this guide. We’ve pulled together a bunch of places where you should be able to eat a low-key weekend meal, probably pretty efficiently, without having to speak to more than one person. Maybe two, tops.
Leo makes our favorite sourdough pies in the city. But this Williamsburg spot is also known for its excellent bagels and top-notch breakfast sandwich. Leo’s palm-sized bagels are light and airy, with a tangy flavor that pairs especially well with smoked salmon and cream cheese. And the creamy egg sandwich comes with salty, crispy, thinly sliced guanciale, chili jam, cheddar, and aioli. So whether you’re looking for a first-come, first-served breakfast option in the morning or a sit-down meal in the afternoon, consider Leo your best bet for a casual brunch in the neighborhood.
When looking for a great weekend lunch in Lower Manhattan that doesn’t involve rowdy brunch crowds, get dim sum at Ping’s in Chinatown. You might have to wait a while for a table during peak hours, but thankfully this cash-only spot on Mott Street serves dim sum all day long. Ping’s has some nice sidewalk tables as well as a few covered tents set up where you can order everything from steamed rice rolls and baked pork buns, to Hong Kong-style dishes like garlic eggplant, and a massive, fried soft shell crab. Whatever you do, order the fried shrimp balls - they manage to be crispy and light at the same time.
When it comes to Mexican breakfast options in Brooklyn, you should know about For All Things Good - especially considering you won’t find chilaquiles or huevos rancheros here. Instead, they serve Oaxacan-style dishes like giant memelas topped with avocado and a fried egg, tetelas filled with everything from hibiscus flower to black bean, and tlayudas covered in a ridiculous amount of mushrooms. Come here for a laid-back meal on their first-come, first-served patio and read a book like a mysterious, misunderstood soul. To go along with breakfast, order some horchata and a pack of their fresh tortillas to bring home.
Walking into Yellow Rose for a weekend morning meal feels like pulling over at a delicious pit stop in Texas. Before you receive your orange tray of excellent breakfast tacos, you’ll hear Willie Nelson playing through the speakers, spot a poster of Dolly Parton glamorously overseeing business from above, and notice the bags of stone-ground grits and heirloom beans on a shelf in front of a saloon-style swinging door. In addition to options like smoked bacon and egg, bean and cheese, or carne guisada tacos on fresh flour tortillas, Yellow Rose serves a rotating menu of glazed and sugar-covered doughnuts for breakfast on weekends, all of which rank among the best we’ve eaten as of late.
When it comes to all-day cafes, Otway in Clinton Hill is a rare triple threat: part bakery, part takeaway coffee window, and part wine bar. So on a weekend morning, it’s a great place to stop in for a quick bite or a discounted glass of wine during their weekend Happy Hour. Otway’s menu has everything from a simple bowl of fruit to an egg sandwich on pillowy soft homemade rye bread, and if you have some time, we recommend grabbing a sidewalk table and people-watching along Fulton Street. Feel free to show up in your sweatpants well after 10am and baby talk at a golden retriever while you wait for someone to bring you a plate of over-easy eggs with a side of bacon.
This Basque spot on East Broadway is ideal for a glass of wine and some pintxos at the bar. But we also like to stop by their cafe in the morning for coffee, sandwiches, and pastries. Ernesto’s cafe has a rotating menu of baked goods, but they usually serve a solid egg sandwich and a roll topped with the same thinly sliced jamon they use to make the must-order potato chip tower on their dinner menu. The cafe is open every day and works perfectly as somewhere to eat something light with a friend outside.
This breakfast taco spot from the team behind & Sons is the perfect place to go for a quick morning meal when you can barely stomach interaction with the outside world. You’ll only have to talk to one cashier at Mockingbird’s takeout window in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and there are just four taco options so you won’t feel too overwhelmed. Prioritize the bacon, egg, and cheese option that comes with two slabs of extra crispy pork, rich cheddar, and a soft flour tortilla. They’ve also got some fresh juices and nitro cold brew cans available from 7-11am Thursday-Sunday (or until they sell out).
Earl’s Beer and Cheese is the dive bar of UES brunch experiences. There’s lots of heavy food, bottomless Stumptown coffee, and a crowd of other people who are also trying to avoid being in brightly-lit public spaces. It’s usually busy, but it’s one of the better places to have a meal on the Upper East Side before noon on the weekends.
The next time you’re in Bushwick and need a relatively peaceful brunch spot where you can catch up with a few friends, stop by Tong for some banana blossom pancakes, crispy grilled catfish with mango salad, and grilled octopus skewers covered in a chili-lime sauce. The Thai menu here has a big section dedicated to kub klaem, or small plates, and all thirteen of them deserve your undivided attention. Tong’s sidewalk patio is big enough for a group brunch, perfect for ordering family-style, and ideal for a weekend morning meal that doesn’t involve rowdy teenagers wielding fake IDs to order mimosa pitchers.
If you ever wake up and find yourself wishing for a perfect deli sandwich, let Pastrami Queen be your north star. These sandwiches come on rye as soft as a kindergarten nap-time blanket, with exactly the right amount of lean meat (which is to say, a lot). All you need to do is add mustard. Not feeling pastrami? The roast turkey here is also worth your respect and affection, even though it’s objectively a less popular option. Either way, get some matzo ball soup and a plate of half-sour pickles in the mix, too.
Mike's Coffee Shop
This “coffee shop,” which really feels more like a diner, is from a pre-Starbucks time when coffee shops also served things like grits and hamburgers. Mike’s is on a quiet corner in Clinton Hill, and you should come here to eat eating pancakes and bacon on a Sunday morning when you want to reassure yourself that New York is not getting worse every year.
Kubeh is the sort of spot we always forget about until we realize we need a good last-minute place to grab brunch. And once you add this Middle Eastern restaurant to your brunch rotation, you’ll feel smarter than all of your friends and acquaintances. This place specializes in soft, round dumplings called kubeh, and you can get a few different kinds in a variety of soups, including a few vegetarian options. There are also some non-soup dishes like shakshuka and shawarma you can eat on their covered patio or inside their exceptionally bright dining room.
In November 2020, this Southern biscuit spot pop-up opened as a daytime operation in Harlem. And ever since then, it’s been scratching the neighborhood’s itch for a casual place to get flaky biscuit sandwiches that can hold up to any combination of eggs and protein. For that perfect balance of buttery bread and meaty filling in every bite, we recommend going with something simple like the classic bacon, egg, and cheddar cheese sandwich. But if just want to eat buttermilk, chive cheddar, or everything biscuit on its own, order the trio with some truffle butter spread.
For years, this mosaic-covered Mexican spot in Woodside right under the 7 train on Roosevelt Ave. has served excellent Pueblan-style dishes all day long. Starting at 8am, you can stop by for a basket of fresh breakfast pastries or a slice of rhubarb and strawberry pie. But if you’re not a morning person, try the chicken enchiladas covered in mole poblano or jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab meat at one of their sidewalk tables during brunch hours. Be sure to check out their Instagram to hear about their weekend specials, like tamales and soft shell crab.
Cemitas el Tigre
Now that you’ve moved on from eating homemade sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days on end, it’s time to check out Cemitas El Tigre. While visiting this Mexican spot any time of the week guarantees you a multi-layered and meat-packed cemita that you’ll be dreaming about for days, stopping by for brunch means you can choose from a range of weekend-only dishes like a breakfast burrito, breakfast tacos, and a cemita with onion rings, scrambled eggs, and chorizo.