Where are the best brunches in NYC?
We love a great downtown Manhattan brunch spot, but believe it or not you can get the same trendy, hungover scene uptown, too. We're big fans of Cafe d'Alsace, where the enormous platters of hearty French food more than make up for sometimes spotty service.
One of our fave things is the croque madame: a ham-and-cheese sandwich the size of a dinner plate, topped with a fried egg. The steak and eggs is also tops, while the brioche French toast with raspberry coulis works if you're in the mood for something sweet.
Sitting outside on the terrace is nice if you remembered your sunglasses, but you'll have a better chance of scoring a table inside. And if worse comes to worse, seats at the long, pewter bar will put you close to the bloody marys.
When it comes to trendy brunch spots with fancy omelets and inventive cocktails Manhattan's got the market cornered. But after a night on the town and an early morning walk of shame, sometimes you want a place that feels like home. For that, there's Penelope. The Murry Hill country kitchen serves up specials just like mom used to make--only better.
Buttermilk waffles are covered in seasonal fruit, French toast is drenched in hazelnut spread and farm fresh eggs come any way you want. Rustic wooden tables are perfect for tucking into a copy of the Sunday paper, and mismatched mugs for the strong house brew lend a warm touch to a meal that can sometimes be a pretentious scene elsewhere. If you can't eat in your own kitchen, Penelope is the next best thing.
[Photo: Towering Flat]
We love the West Village brunch spot Deborah for a few reasons--not the least of which is its friendly staff. We're used to the typical actors and actresses who pepper Manhattan's morning weekend scene--the ones that rarely crack a smile and too often serve up a hefty portion of attitude instead of that tasty side of crispy bacon. (Maybe it's because they were out until sun-up the night before?)
Deborah's staff is attentive without being overbearing, and the restaurant's laundry list of offerings, from syrupy sweet challah French toast to spicy eggs rancheros, makes it the perfect stop for when you can't decide on an answer to the eternal brunch question: savory or sweet?
So what if the wait at Ninth Street Market can surpass two hours on a Sunday? That just means the food is worth it. Well, that, and the place is small.
This cozy East Village spot has only about a dozen tables to feed the masses who line up early and often stay late. But who can blame them? The name says it all, since offerings are, indeed, market fresh. Brioche French toast is dipped in a batter of vanilla, cinnamon and Greenmarket milk and eggs, then topped with season fruit and real maple syrup. Omelets with wild mushrooms, asparagus or crispy bacon are made with farm fresh eggs and local ingredients. Even the O.J. and grapefruit juice (which come free with brunch) are fresh squeezed.
The staff is laid back but attentive, and their easy attitudes keep the regulars coming back ... even if they have to wait in line just like the rest of us.
· Best Brunch Places in New York [Jaunted]
[Photo: Project French Toast]
We're not sure whether to love or loathe La Esquina, a dingy but pretentious restaurant in NoLiTa. On one hand, we crave desayuno tipico, the Latin American brunch of tortilla, plantains, black beans, and eggs. We hear La Esquina's brunch combo deserves its hype.
On the other hand, the place embodies all the reasons why we avoid any restaurant that employs out-of-work models. La Esquina is notorious for treating its customers like crap. According to one New York magazine reader review:
This is a place I would definitely return if it weren't for the terrible attitude shown by all the staff at the place. Starting off with the "dying to be cool" French bouncer, going to the bad attitude bar man and including the "I'm pretty, but inarticulate" waitress. Don't get me wrong, the place is amazingly original, the food is not bad and the experience has great potential, but if I'm going to get this much attitude [I] might as well go to a place that will be worth the wait.
So, is the food worth braving the service? If they can get Nicole Ritchie to eat the grub, it must be.
[Photo: Front Studio]
Josie's Restaurant West on Manhattan's Upper West Side takes the proverbial granola out of organic eating (though the dairy-free oatmeal with maple syrup and fresh fruit is delicious).
Executive chef Louis Lanza also owns the place, in addition to three spin-off restaurants dotting the island: Josie's East, Citrus Bar & Grill, and Josephina.
Josie's is one of the few places in the city where everyone in a group of New Yorkers--and all the neurotic eating habits that comes with them--can find something to eat. While vegans fill up on animal-free fare, their carnivore friends can still find gorge. For every scrambled tofu omelet, there is a free-range egg one to match. And for every veggie burger, there is a beef patty made from a steer who supposedly was able to live his life grazing in an open field.
[Photo: US Menu Guide]
Television Travel / Williamsburg / Brunch-Places-In-New-York / Fabiane's Cafe / Flight of the Conchords / → All Tags
Sure HBO's Flight of the Conchords delivers travel tag lines like "New Zealand: It Is Not Australia", however the show, much of which is filmed on location in New York, features quite a few Williambsburg spots. For example, a tipster informed us last night's show prominently featured Fabiane's Cafe & Pastry on 5th.
While Kiwis Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement "dated" girls from this cafe, and enjoyed day old croissants from the cafe, non-fictional Willamsburg dwellers seem to appreciate Fabiane's food as well. Chocolate Creme Brulee, Tuna with capers, and most of the coffee drinks are favorites.
The service however, is less impressive:
On Saturday afternoons, you must order from the counter, and wait for a table, however long that may take. Meanwhile your dishes and lattes pile up on the counter edge ready to tip over onto your shoes. If you are able to find a table before someone else swipes it from under you, great. If not, too bad, so sad.
I wish I had known this beforehand, as I am not from the neighborhood. The girl bringing out the food from the kitchen rolled her eyes at me and then brushed past me when I asked her about a table. A civilized, mature employee would have just told me about ordering from the front, but this little baby butch punk wannabe did not.
Looks like Bret and Jemaine dodged a bullet by not getting into long term relationships with these waitresses.
The Departed / Movie Set Travel / Brooklyn Travel / Greenpoint / Brunch-Places-In-New-York / → All Tags
Maybe its that the parts of South Boston that still look like South Boston are hard places to both film and not get shot. Or perhaps Scorsese is physically incapable of making a film without some sort of connection to New York? In any case, The Departed is a Boston flick through and through (better accents than Mystic River, less... suck than Celtic Pride) but its dirty little secret is the large swaths of it that were filmed in deep dark blue Yankees turf.
For a dose of cinematic deja vu, head over to Brooklyn's longtime Polish stronghold and blossoming hipster enclave of Greenpoint. Make your brunch stop the Park Luncheonette at 334 Driggs Avenue, not too far from the Nassau Ave subway stop. The summertime open walls, street seating and great view of McCarren Park are a far cry from the menacing shadow cast by Jack Nicholson's Frank Costello in the diner and grocery scenes filmed at this location. Onscreen, it stood in for a Mom and Pop grocery on the take, but it takes a little squinting and a step inside to see the resemblance. Be sure to show up on the AM side of noon or expect to face a mob of asymmetrical haircuts with ironic t-shirts waiting to pile on breakfast nosh. The mozzarella and prosciutto omelette comes highly recommended and the french fries are exactly how they should be.
Another recognizable Brooklyn stand-in for Beantown turf is the Greenwood Cemetery. With 478 acres and close to 600,000 dearly departed, it might be hard to track down a stone inscribed "William Costigan" but these hallowed grounds are worth a walk for history buffs and those not creeped out by headstones galore. Its got Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, and The Wizard of Oz's Wizard and is still taking customers looking for a fashionable place to die.
· Martin Scorsese, The Departed Oscar Victory Tour Guide [Jaunted]
· Movie Set Travel: The Departed [Jaunted]
· Best Brunch Places in New York [Jaunted]
[Photo: Jack Rawlinson]
Though you'll probably have to wait an hour or more for a table, the deliciousness makes the thumb twirling worthwhile. Five Points Restaurant, on the quiet Great Jones Street in Manhattan's NoHo, delivers the quintessential white tablecloth NYC brunch. Chef Marc Meyer's menu is creative without being pretentious. And for City standards, the prices can't be beat. Here's a sample of the brunch menu:
For the less experimental brunchers with a penchant for the savory, Five Points also serves a variety of omelets, burgers, fish, and sandwiches.
Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes, $9; Honey Sweetened Soft Polenta, $8; Dulce De Leche French Toast, $9; Ricotta Fritters with Carmlized Apples, $8
· Best Brunch Places in New York [Jaunted]
Few can deny the appeal of Sunday brunch. It's a clash of indulgences -- sleeping late, overeating, and consuming alcohol at inappropriate times. New Yorkers understand this trio of pleasures and have transformed brunch into a weekly ritual. As with anything popular in Manhattan, this means lines, and lots of waiting. If you're going to sit on a narrow windowsill for an hour starving for a table, the food and the atmosphere better be good. That's where we come in.
Every Sunday at Nolita House, a quartet of musicians bring in their banjos, fiddles, harmonicas, and stomping feet for the weekly Bluegrass Brunch. Sounds loud, but the music coincides with the raucous, happy-to-be-alive feeling of late Sunday mornings in New York. Yellowed class photos, chalkboards, and family artifacts line the walls -- the schoolhouse theme is corny enough to give the place kitsch without being annoying.
If the band quits tomorrow, we'd still go for the food alone. The brick oven eggs are the brunch specialty -- eggs, bread, spinach, blackforest ham, and cheddar baked in a crock. Surround it with a cup of coffee, a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a bloody mary. Followed by a nap, of course.
The spring sun has been blazing in New York lately, and that means only one thing: time for a visit to The Central Park Boathouse.
The place certainly isn't under the tourist radar, but we're cool with that. Deep inside Central Park and overlooking the Lake, the Boathouse is a world away from the city it's in the heart of. Plunk down at one of the tables on the deck, and you'll be ready to tuck into a roasted beet and fennel salad or a bowl of mussels. Afterwards, you can rent yourself a rowboat to explore the lake--if that's your thing.
The Boathouse is also the perfect spot for a boozy brunch--just get there early. We're not the only ones who love Bloody Marys, artichoke frittatas and strolls through the park.
· The Central Park Boathouse [Official Site]