10 Best New York City Neighborhood Spots For A Delicious Weekday Breakfast
By Lisa Kahn
New York City contains a multitude of corner delis where harried office workers rush in to grab a shrink-wrapped bagel with a schmear and head on their way. But sometimes, it's good to stop and smell the coffee. In a hectic world, everyone deserves a more civilized morning repast every once in a while. There's something delightfully different--and perhaps a wee bit decadent--about an early morning rendezvous over a plate of bacon and eggs, a business confab over a basket of fresh-baked muffins or a serene hour scanning the day's headlines while someone else toasts your english muffin. And here's another important breakfast selling point: On any given weekday, you can savor a stack of steaming blueberry pancakes at Sarabeth's, a scramble of smoked salmon and eggs at Barney Greengrass, a buttery biscuit (or two) at Bubby's or a perfect golden croissant at Balthazar--all without battling a crowd of cranky, weekend brunch-demanding New Yorkers for a table. Nearly every neighborhood has a breakfast destination favored by locals and tourists alike. In no shape to choose a restaurant before your first cup of java? We've done the legwork for you. Here is 10Best's top picks for the best breakfast in town.
10 City Hall
Traditional American eats and well-presented dishes characterize this TriBeCa dining room, which tends to draw a cool mix of families, fashion-ites and folks from the neighborhood. The space boasts all the classy, "big city" style you could ask for, from bustling, energetic servers to the old school elements of its 19th century digs. As for the food, there are few better ways to start a morning than with a stiff cup of joe and one of City Hall's signature blintzes. For dinner, one of their NYC-themed "seafood towers" is a must-try. TRAIN: A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers St (212-227-7777)
9 E.A.T. Café
E.A.T., Eli Zabar's first shop, is still a showcase for his original ideas: salads made in small batches several times a day; overstuffed sandwiches on very thin, very good bread; and tender, flaky croissants. Known for exceptional breads and outstanding baked goods, this eatery offers only the best in early morning selections. Stop by day or night for a great meal, a cup of tea and a nosh, or to order a gift basket to wow friends and family or business contacts. This deli's loyal followers will tell you that the fare served here is well worth the Upper East Side prices. TRAIN: 6 to 77th Street. (212-772-0022)
Located in the Parker Meridien Hotel, this luxurious and unique restaurant offers outstanding brunch and breakfast dishes up until 3pm. Traditional selections include blueberry pancakes, omelettes, and bagels with lox. The more unusual gourmet options include items such as foie gras brioche french toast with asparagus and wild mushrooms, or chocolate decadence french toast with strawberries, pistachios and Valrhona chocolate sauce, crab cakes with habanero peppers, or duck confit hash. A nice selection of sandwiches and salads are available as well. Stainless steel and light-colored woods blend to form a peaceful décor that whispers of elegance and sophistication. TRAIN: B, Q, N, R to 57th St (212-708-7460)
7 French Roast Downtown
With the lively atmosphere of a Parisian bistro, French Roast pay homage to this most lively and cosmopolitan of cities. Both the downtown location and its sister spot on the Upper West Side offer great choices for an early morning meal when you have the time to savor tasty dishes like spinach and gruyere crepes or grilled steak and eggs while doing a bit of people watching from an outdoor table. The eclectic décor showcases charmingly mismatched furniture and serves as the perfect backdrop for the interesting collection of folks that gather here all hours of the day and night. TRAIN: F to 14th St (212-533-2233)
6 City Bakery
Supplied with the freshest ingredients from the nearby Union Square Farmer's Market, this wonderful American bakery scratches up scrumptious scones, magnificent muffins and other basic baked goods. The loft-like, balconied dining room is a great place for people watching, and the exceptional salad bar is a thing of beauty. But the restaurant's crown jewel is the horseshoe shaped bakery counter serving cookies, muffins and a chewy, salty and stretchy pretzel croissant. That pretzel croissant along with a sublime hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow will keep you going until dinner. TRAIN: L, N, R, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St-Union Sq (212-366-1414)
5 Barney Greengrass
Affectionately called "The Sturgeon King," Barney Greengrass definitely knows its fish. Housed in their current location since 1929, the faded wallpaper and worn linoleum only add to the charm of this well-established Jewish eatery known for delicious brunch and expertly packed sandwiches. Try the Nova Scotia Salmon, lox, whitefish or salmon salad or the famed Sturgeon with rich cream cheese on a bialy (the slimmer, onion-flecked cousin of a bagel). Giant egg platters come with a choice of smoked fish. Prices are steep but the portions are filling. Delivery until 4pm daily. TRAIN: B, C, 1, 9 to 86th St. (212-724-4707)
Hip New Yorkers will patiently wait for up to an hour for brunch at this two-level East Village restaurant, known for Southern favorites like fried chicken and the Build-A-Biscuit, piled with a choice of toppings including scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado and red-eye gravy. Fortunately, things quiet down considerably at dinner, when the menu offers comfort food faves like meat loaf and shrimp and grits. Peels makes its renowned doughnuts on Sundays only, but one bite of this delectable treat is worth the wait. TRAIN: B, D, F, M to Broadway - Lafayette St (646-602-7015)
3 Sarabeth's - West
Sarabeth's serves the kind of breakfast you might imagine everyone ate back in the 50's. But you'd be incorrect. If breakfast this delicious existed in most households, we'd all be eating it more often. Just the sound of the foods offered at Sarabeth's will make your stomach rumble. A great place for an early morning feast, this eclectic American eatery offers up goodies like pumpkin waffles, cranberry-pear bread pudding, creative omelettes, sticky buns and raisin scones. The casual atmosphere makes you feel right at home. Lines assemble quickly on weekends, so come early to get a spot. TRAIN: 1, 9 to 79th St (212-496-6280, 800-773-7378)
The motto at Bubby's is "Defending the American Table (Also, We Steal Recipes from Grandmas)," so it's no surprise that this always busy Tribeca restaurant's success is based on hearty portions of classic comfort food served up with a dash of Southern charm. Bubby's started out in 1990 as a pie company, but has now expanded to pleasing hungry weekend brunch crowds with pecan waffles, organic crusty cheese grits and freshly squeezed orange juice. The quirky décor looks like a 1940s train depot with a brass bar and wooden seats. Outside seating is available during the summer months. TRAIN: 1, 9 to Franklin St (212-219-0666)
A stunning brasserie straight off a Paris movie set, Balthazar is perennially packed with a hip and well-heeled crowd. Fortunately, breakfast is a somewhat quieter affair, as white-aproned waiters serve croissants, homemade donuts and pain au chocolat from the restaurant's superb bakery. More substantial fare includes organic eggs prepared a dozen ways as well as sour cream-hazelnut waffles, homemade granola and steel-cut oatmeal. Weekend brunch draws a who's who of media and finance industry elites for oysters and terrific Bloody Marys. TRAIN: 6 to Spring St (212-965-1414, 212-260-4555)
About Lisa Kahn
No matter where she's lived, Lisa Kahn has always called New York "home." Raised in Queens, Lisa studied journalism and consumed lots of premium ice cream in Boston. However, the manic energy of Manhattan eventually beckoned her back. Lisa has promoted New York travel for NYC & Company, The New York Times and Fodor's Travel Guides. An avid home cook, she has also penned food features for The Star-Ledger and is the editor of two grilling cookbooks. Lisa currently spends lots of time in Brooklyn scouring vintage stores and sampling the new restaurants springing up seemingly overnight on every street.
Read more about Lisa Kahn here.