One of Chinatown’s most authentic restaurants, Nom Wah does tea the proper way. It has a great vintage vibe since it dates all the way back to the 1920s. Their drink menu also includes beer and wine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 pancakes: 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.
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).
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.