In a city as steeped in food as New York City, brunch has invariably become something more than a throwaway weekend tradition. It’s a religion and a sport, one where the intention might be to cure a hangover or merely jump-start a productive weekend. From now on, we hope you’ll spend the rest of your weekends motivating yourself to get out of bed, hop on the subway and have brunch at one of these 25 restaurants in New York City.
Relish the famed pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company
Over the years, the Lower East Side’s Clinton Street has become synonymous with pancakes: fat stacks of fluffy, golden-brown frisbees studded with chocolate chunks, bananas and walnuts, or macerated blueberries, drizzled with warm maple butter. And while pretty much every table boasts at least one plate of pancakes, the kitchen churns out nostalgic American comfort food: biscuit sandwiches, slabs of brioche French toast and customizable omelets. With a focus on seasonal and local produce, family dairies and cage-free eggs, you can feel good about what you’re eating, too.
Line your stomach with massive biscuits at Cookshop
Restaurant, American, $$$
Cookshop is the kind of neighborhood restaurant you wish was on your corner. Perched on 10th Avenue in the shadow of the High Line, Cookshop’s extensive brunch offerings run the gamut from sweet potato hummus crowned with poached eggs and yogurt to jammy crumb cake and massive warm biscuits. There’s plenty of cocktails to wash everything down, including four kinds of bloody marys, along with cold-pressed juices. During the warmer months, you’ll often find diners spilling out onto the outdoor seating, sharing pastry baskets and egg sandwiches under idyllic umbrellas.
Throw back dumplings and noodles at Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
Since 1920, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been serving up dim sum to locals and tourists who manage to find the place, which is tucked along the hidden, curved Doyers Street. The OG Chinatown dim sum joint feels a bit like a time machine to the past: red plastic chairs are strewn under white tables and the walls are lined with old black-and-white photos. While the food is no longer pushed throughout the space on carts, it still arrives hot and plentiful: shrimp dumplings, soft roast pork puns, noodles dotted with bits of meat, and sticky rice with Chinese sausage. Drink some tea – this is a tea parlor, after all – and finish the meal with some steamed red bean buns for dessert.
Cafe Mogador has been around since the 1980s, serving French-Moroccan fare on St. Mark’s Place. The funky, wrap-around space is outfitted with framed photographs and verdant palm leaves, and during the summer months, diners opt to eat along the sidewalk cafe. Sip on mimosas while you slice into the Moroccan benedict – which subs spicy stewed tomatoes for Canadian bacon – or malawach, a flaky Yemenite bread coupled with hard-boiled eggs, spicy tomato sauce, creamy labne and shug(hot sauce).
This Ukrainian comfort food paradise is open 24 hours a day – meaning you can order cheese-stuffed pierogi at 2pm or 2am and you’ll be equally rewarded with delightfully boiled or fried dough. The long-running institution has garnered newcomers and regulars from far and wide for brunch, withstanding long waits for blintzes, soaring stacks of pancakes, and eggs just about every way. Grab a seat at the counter or wait it out for a booth in the cavernous dining room, which is rife with platters of plump pierogi and raucous laughter.
Soul food is always the move at Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem hotspot, where gumbo shrimp and grits along with biscuits and gravy are gloriously paired with live gospel music on Sundays in Ginny’s Supper Club, the speakeasy downstairs. Save space to share Samuelsson’s famed sweets: hunks of cornbread swiped with apple butter, coffee cake dressed up with cinnamon-brown sugar streusel, and doughy brioche cinnamon rolls.
Gabrielle Hamilton’s teeny New American bistro on East 1st Street has long been a brunch destination. On weekends, wait times can quickly ascend into hour-long waits, but you’ll want to stick it out for the enormously dense Dutch-style pancake, baked until golden in the oven, and slathered with cream and seasonal fruit. Plus, there’s eggs benedict, coated with a layer of bright-yellow hollandaise, and a triple-decker Monte Cristo sandwich that’s stacked with ham, turkey and Swiss cheese then deep-fried. While there may only be a few tables strewn throughout the sunlit space, 11 different kinds of bloody marys come soaring out of the kitchen.
Housed in the Freehand Hotel, Studio is a bit of a secret. The cozy, all-day space is plastered with blue walls and comfy couches, hotel guests reading newspapers and locals popping in for a coffee. Studio’s menu leans towards North African with influences from the Near East: date and tahini flatbread, red beet hummus, milk toast swiped with cashew butter and bananas. Baker Zoe Kanan is the mastermind behind the wealth of baked goods – halva caramel buns, chocolate-coffee babka, sourdough croissants – which should be attacked alongside a cortado.
Feast on a real NYC bagel at Tompkins Square Bagels
Cafe, Pastelaria, American, $$$
Nothing delights a New Yorker like a bagel debate. Tompkins Square Bagels is a relative newcomer in the city’s bagel scene, but the bagel wizards here have quickly become a stalwart in the East Village. Both locations (2nd Avenue and Avenue A) are constantly shuttling bagels in and out of the ovens, guaranteeing warm doughy spheres throughout the day. Choose from a long list of sandwiches (think bagels swiped with pesto eggs, roasted peppers and mozzarella) or simply opt for a schmear of cream cheese and lox.
Jacob’s Pickles is worth the trip to the Upper West Side for the biscuit sandwiches alone: buttery biscuits brimming with gravy and eggs, honey chicken and pickles, and sausage and cheese. But the Southern cooking doesn’t stop there; feast on mac & cheese, collard greens and pancakes topped with fried chicken. There are the aforementioned pickles, too, and they’re not solely made from cucumbers; try pickled green beans, carrots and jalapeños.
Although the eccentric Kenny Shopsin passed away in 2018, his legacy still flourishes at the Essex Street Market. The quasi-diner in the indoor market offers a menu as maze-like as the streets of the Lower East Side. Stuffed pancakes (dubbed “slutty” pancakes) are filled with just about everything – from mac ‘n’ cheese to marshmallow fluff and banana brown sugar. Scrambled eggs arrive with their own stack of pancakes and crisped-up hash browns. And then there are things that would normally feel out of place, but at Shopsin’s just feels right: egg nachos, kati crepes rolled with brisket, and pucks of pancakes sandwiching maple bacon and poached eggs. Shopsin himself may no longer police the place, yelling at customers, but you can certainly imagine it.
Share cocktail pitchers during Indian brunch at Baar Baar
Hidden on a quiet stretch of East 1st Street, Baar Baar fuses Indian brunch with live Bollywood jazz music and cocktail pitcher specials on the weekend. Settle into the blue velvet banquettes for splayed-out paneer pinwheels, warm rounds of green pea and goat cheese kulcha, and Old Delhi fried chicken flush with mint and cilantro chutney. While you wait for your food, share pitchers of rum punch or red wine sangria with the table as the live music flows throughout the cavernous restaurant.
Perched on a sleepy Greenpoint corner, Chez Ma Tante weaves Brooklyn charm with low-key vibes. For brunch, the tightly edited, European-influenced menu initially became beloved for the pancakes. Think two massive, wonderfully charred pucks, crispy on the outside and gloriously soft inside, swiped with a pat of butter and a hearty pour of syrup. It’ll undoubtedly land on just about every table, along with dishes like salmon gravlax with sesame and creme fraiche, a delicate egg and sausage sandwich, and warm slices of quiche Lorraine.
Brunch at Olmsted is born out of the backyard garden
Restaurant, American, $$$
Snugly set on Vanderbilt Avenue, Olmsted focuses on crafting food out of the produce grown in its extensive backyard garden. On the brunch menu, you’ll find a mix of vegetable-forward fare (soft butternut squash bread, carrot kathi rolls brimming with falafel, shaved beet salads) as well as funky riffs on brunch classics. For instance, bacon, egg and cheese are jammed into egg rolls, while sticky rolls are swirled with apple strudel and milk jam. Duck eggs, scrambled with crispy sausage, are flanked with maple flatbread.
Long lines snake out the door at Tom’s (an old-school soda fountain on Washington Avenue), but that’s OK: employees ply the hungry with free orange slices and cookies while you wait. Everyone may be here for a different reason – to cure crippling hangovers or revel in restorative scrambled eggs – but the circa-1936 diner manages to always feel like family. The menu may merely resemble average diner fare, but it’s anything but. Come for the Danish pancakes, mottled with ricotta cheese, lemon zest and blueberries, and stay for the thick, blitzed milkshakes.
Take the Q Train to The Farm on Adderley for Burgers and Mansions
Restaurant, American, $$$
When the Farm (as it’s fondly referred to) opened in Ditmas Park in 2006, it filled a void for Prospect Park South residents who’d long been seeking a neighborhood restaurant to rival those on the other side of the park. Here, diners can often be discovered lingering in the quaint garden, noshing on seasonally influenced brunch items such as malted milk French toast with orange zest and pears; a roasted beet and potato hash, paired with a fried egg and corned beef; and a burger bookended by an English muffin. It’s worth the lengthy trip on the Q train, especially when you can walk off brunch in between Victorian mansions.
You may not make it to Sunday in Brooklyn on a Sunday, but that’s OK as it always feels like the weekend here. The bi-level eatery is decked out in bright colors and soaring windows, with an open kitchen on the first floor. Plates of pancakes – three thick rings dripping with hazelnut-maple praline – are shepherded out of the kitchen as often as diners snap photos of the Instagrammable space. For something a little less sweet, try the spicy chorizo hash, marbled with fried eggs and pecorino.
Buvette is Jody Williams’s poetic ode to French cafés. The teeny gastroteque exudes West Village charm, with its tin-stamped ceiling and bucolic garden in the back. In the French spirit, brunch means flakey croissants and spheres of brioche, steamed eggs layered with pink prosciutto and parmesan, and croque monsieurs and madames, flanked by a pile of cornichons. Expect waits on weekends – it’s walk-in only – but there’s perhaps no more bucolic place to wait than on tree-lined Grove Street.
This snug Fort Greene gem boasts a kitchen as small as an NYC closet, but it manages to churn out an impressive array of Israeli and Mediterranean small plates. Mop up bowls of whipped ricotta and sweet potato hummus with triangles of warm, za’atar-dusted pita, then slice into sufganiyot (Jewish doughnuts), shakshuka sprinkled with goat cheese, and hummus bowls crowned with lamb shawarma.
The owners behind MeMe’s Diner refer to the modern diner as a queer restaurant: a welcoming space for all. Brunch begins with a wonderfully cheeky amuse-bouche – small bowls overflowing with cheeseballs and cereal – and fun cocktails, like dark rum punch and pitchers of bloody marys. Larger plates are always full of surprises. You might find yourself digging into fried eggs slick with chili oil and greens, or a s’mores Dutch pancake swirled with chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, golden graham crackers and toasted fluff. It’s charming, no-fuss fare, and a reminder that food can simply be fun.
Okonomi is a dual space: at night, it’s Yuji Ramen serving steaming bowls of noodles, but during the day it’s a haven for delicately plated, polished Japanese breakfast. There’s no menu at the 12-seat Okonomi, just one set-price meal determined by the kitchen. When you arrive, you’ll make one choice: how you’d like the daily fish prepared (salt-roasted, sweet miso, sake, or dry kelp-cured). The rest is shuttled out of the kitchen on ceramic plates and it includes seven-grain rice, vegetables, miso soup plus a squat square of tamago (a Japanese omelet).
Creole-influenced soul food is shepherded out of the kitchen at Peaches Hothouse, Bed-Stuy’s constantly bustling brunch spot. In the wonderfully soul-food way, you can order hot Nashville-style chicken pressed in between slabs of white bread, or you can simply line your stomach with a giant iceberg salad. But if staying healthy isn’t really your thing, stick to the loaded baked grits (marbled with bacon and cheddar), sweet corn pancakes, and rounds of fried green tomatoes.
This Michelin-approved Mexican restaurant could almost convince you that you’re not in Greenpoint, what with the smattering of hanging plants and the wood-fired oven warming the whole place up. But Oxomoco is indeed on Greenpoint Avenue, pouring a slew of tequila and mezcal drinks for a boisterous brunch crowd. On the food side, it’s in your best interest to order the pombaza burger (juicy dry-aged beef topped with a tangle of smoked onions, queso asado and a fried egg), along with the weekend-only masa griddle cakes, dusted with Oaxacan chocolate, bananas and walnuts.
Brooklyn’s 5th Avenue may be rife with stroller-pushing Park Slope families, but the bustling avenue is also home to Miriam, a Mediterranean stalwart doling out puffed-up burekas and eggs whisked with parsley and cilantro. The menu is slightly overwhelming, so your best bet is to stick with the Mediterranean-influenced options, like green shakshuka and crispy falafel.
Queens Comfort is undeniably campy: the Astoria restaurant is plastered with tchotchkes and is just as obsessed with rainbow cereal as you were as a child. But the cash-only Queens hotspot has boasted long lines since it first opened in 2011, delighting customers with deep-fried mac and cheese balls, breakfast lasagna benedict and Cap’n’ Crunch-crusted chicken sandwiches. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s perpetually cheerful. After all, who wouldn’t want to throw back a couple of deep-fried french toast balls?