10 Amazing Brunch/Breakfast Spots in NYC
A month or two ago I had a morning doctor’s visit before work. The appointment wrapped up much faster than I’d anticipated, so I had time to take myself out for a leisurely breakfast before heading to the office. I measured my choices, and decided to go to a Ukranian diner called Veselka in the East Village. I sat outside, pulled out a book and ate a terrific omelette with a side of latkes while watching people walk their dogs and ride their bikes. It was such a relaxed (dare I say, civilized?) start to my day.
My perspective and priorities shifted that morning. Before then, I had always hoped for wild fame and massive fortune, the kind of income that made designer clothing and long vacations a possibility. But that morning I realized that the only thing I really want in life is to have enough time and money to be able to take myself out for breakfast everyday.
That’s it. That’s the life. I don’t want to rush. I don’t want to cook for myself. I want to sit outside under a striped awning, drink a good cup of coffee, and have someone with a friendly smile bring me a plate of eggs or pancakes.
When I’ve finally reached my financial goal, you’ll be able to find me at one of these places:
1. Chavela’s, Crown Heights
When you grow up in Texas, nothing trumps a good Mexican breakfast, and this place is IT. I was immediately blown away by this place; the atmosphere, food, even the plating– absolutely perfect. The Huevos Ahogados were to die for. In my opinion, everything–food, books, countertops, your children– should be smothered in Jalapeño hollandaise.
2. Hudson Clearwater, Chelsea
This restaurant is so charming! It has no door available on the front of the building, so you have to peep around the corner for entry into a tiny garden, then walk up the stairs. Great atmosphere and really awesome food at this place. Try the Southern Eggs Benedict (poached eggs, house-cured ham, sautéed spinach, more jalapeño hollandaise on a biscuit) or the unbelievable cornflake-crusted French Toast with cinnamon cream. Yum!!
3. Sugar Freak, Astoria
Louisiana homestyle cooking GONE MAD. The menu here is ridiculous in the best way possible, but prepare yourself for an afternoon of lazy afterward. Funnel-cake pancakes? Mac and cheese topped with jambalaya? Praline-bacon-Lousiana BBQ Shrimp Benedict served on a grit cake? Lawd have mercy!!
4. Balthazar, SOHO
No tip-toeing around this one, Balthazar is expensive. But it’s the real-deal-holyfield of brunches. Go here when someone else is picking up the tab (visiting parents, expense account) because this place is special, and so are you. Best latte I’ve ever had, and the eggs benedict and sour cream waffles are total classics. You can also pick up baked goods and coffee at the small bakery next door for eating on the go.
5. Veselka, East Village
Everybody in NYC loves this solid Ukranian diner, for good reason. Great food, open 24 hours, reasonable prices, no attitude. Oh! And they serve breakfast everyday, all day. Plus, where else can you find blueberry pierogies?
6. Sarabeth’s, multiple locations in Manhattan
You know them for their fancy jams in your grocery store, we know them for their classically tasteful brunches all over this town. Can’t really go wrong with a breakfast or brunch at Sarabeth’s. I could really go for some lemon and ricotta pancakes with blackberries right about now…
7. Tal Bagels, locations on the Upper West and Upper East Side
I don’t eat bagels often, but when I do, I schlep to the Upper West Side to indulge in an Everything toasted with full-fat cream cheese, piles of lox and sliced red onions at Tal. An extravagant dining experience this is not, but this casual shop is my favorite place in the city to grab a really great bagel and schmear. Perfectly chewy on the inside, slight crunch to the edge.
8. Peaches Hothouse, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
I have always said that should I ever be lucky enough to make it into heaven I would like to be welcomed at the pearly gates with a bucket of fried chicken. I’ve tried a lot of fried chicken in this town–not all of it, but a lot– and so far, Peaches Hothouse has earned a special place in my heart. Go with a friend– one of you order fried chicken (Nashville style)– and one of you order the French toast with bourbon peaches. First you split the plate. Then you split the pants. Then you go to heaven, and do it all over again.
9. The Haab, Woodside, Queens
This tiny hidden gem of a neighborhood joint is serving up some of the best Mexican breakfast in New York City, and I consider myself a tough critic in that category. Go as early as possible (they open at 6am!) to snag a table and order the incredible Huevos Tapatios– two eggs over easy with Mexican sausage served on a fried tortilla with both spicy and creamy sauces on top. At $8.95, it might be the best bargain in this whole town.
10. Milk & Roses, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
When a delightful backyard is the setting you’re after, you’ll have a hard time doing better than garden seating at Milk & Roses. With all the quirky hats and tattoos, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right in the middle of a GIRLS episode, but that’s part of the charm. Try the apricot pancakes or their righteous BLT.
Ovelia, MP Taverna, Il Bambino, Queens Kickshaw (get the smoked gouda-black bean-guava jam sandwich!), Cafe Triskell (best authentic French crepes in NYC)
Long Island City:
Sage General Store (Try the chicken chilaquiles or the Wisconsin Pizza with bacon, ricotta, caramelized onions and creme fraiche! )
Jack’s Wife Freda, Cafe Mogador, Ciao for Now, Clinton Street Baking Company, Gallow Green, Doughnut Plant