In a city where excellent food can be found on pretty much every street corner, picking just five top brunch restaurants is no easy task. Our list encompasses many regions of the city, from fashionable Chelsea to hip Brooklyn, while representing the city’s diverse culinary identity. Want a low-key spot to grab a simple but delicious meal? Try Cafe Orlin. Want groundbreaking cuisine from a star chef? Check out Prune. Looking for a wellness-focused meal to cap off a yoga class? Cookshop is the place to go. While it’s true it’s hard to go wrong in New York, these five spots are particularly worth scouting out.
For 33 years and running, this brunch spot has been an East Village favorite satisfying diners with low-key charm and relaxed, friendly service. The menu features traditional favorites interspersed with more surprising choices, including pumpkin pancakes and Middle Eastern dishes such as baba ganoush and tabouli. Do your meal up right by adding a brunch cocktail for a reasonable $6; selections include a peach bellini or – ideal for cold New York winter days – a hot toddy.
Brunch here is mostly about one thing: pancakes. Many locals claim addiction to the restaurant’s fluffy ‘cakes, stuffed with wild blueberries, banana and walnut, or chunks of chocolate, then topped with warm maple syrup. If you go in February, "pancake month" promises more flavors, from pumpkin seed to German chocolate. The pancakes are best paired with an order of sugar-cured bacon, which perfectly balances the sweet and salty. There are only 32 seats at this cozy restaurant, so expect a wait. But trust us: It’s worth it.
Prune’s chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, is a local star whose hit culinary book Blood, Bones & Butter was at one point set to become a film starring Gwyneth Paltrow. At brunch, Hamilton’s superb offerings include fresh ricotta with sun-dried figs and pine nuts, and a fried oyster omelette topped with remoulade sauce. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, complete with fresh flowers and servers dressed in pink T-shirts. And the extensive Bloody Mary menu brings the morning cocktail to new heights; ingredients include white anchovy and smoked chipotle peppers.
This Chelsea hotspot focuses on fresh, local, wholesome cuisine, from honey-braised beets to a grass-fed burger from the nearby Finger Lakes region. Other wellness-focused buzz words found on the menu include "free-range" (the turkey in a sandwich with pear, arugula and Monterey jack cheese) and "organic" (the mushrooms in a soup adorned with fresh mint). There’s even a healthy Bloody Mary option, complete with fresh ginger and kale.
No list of New York restaurants would be complete without an entry from Brooklyn, the rising star of the national culinary scene. Among many fine choices here, Buttermilk Channel stands out with its fresh, imaginative meals. Instead of eggs benedict, there’s eggs huntington, with a buttermilk biscuit replacing the English muffin. Instead of chicken and waffles, the restaurant serves a fried pork chop atop a cheddar-flavored waffle. Other unusual finds include hush puppies topped with green chilli and a grilled cheese sandwich packed with apples and double-smoked bacon. Try to grab a seat outside to take in the happening Brooklyn scene.