Sure, you can find brunch in nearly every major city in the world, but it's New York that holds this tradition on a pedestal. While some may only consider it a convenient segue to recovery after a crazy night out on the town, others gush that it's the pinnacle of their week. It makes sense - after all, no other meal lends itself to so seamlessly to recounting the fun of the night before while simultaneously nursing yourself back to health, or catching up with friends without a looming list of weekday obligations.
As a visitor, you should take full advantage of New Yorker's passion and dedication to weekend brunch. Whether you choose to go luxe at French brasserie and celebrity hotspot Balthazar, or head to Queens for a taste of Southern comfort in the form of chicken and waffles at Queens Comfort, one thing is certain: you won't walk away disappointed.
In New York, brunch is serious business, an all day event filled with delectable treats, constant conversation, and depending on the mood, a launching off point for a whirlwind of connoisseur cocktails and coffee. Take some time to satisfy your cravings, but remember, anything beloved by New Yorkers usually requires a little patience and comes with a long line.
The Smith is kind of a go-to for New Yorkers. Though they take reservations (recommended, if you remember), it seems to be the place that just comes up on hungover mornings when you're texting plans from bed. To be fair, that's not a bad thing. The food here is delightful, and exactly what you'll need after a night where tequila sounded like a good decision. Rustic and airy, there's enough action to distract you from your pounding headache and prime your psyche for your next drink. As for the food, the world is your oyster (and an option on the menu) and the possibilities are nearly unlimited. (212-420-9800)
What Dudleys' menu lacks in size, it makes up for in deliciousness. Food here is vaguely reminiscent of what you'd find in Australia: think buttered avocado toast, or the Big Breakie, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, potatoes and toast. The corner space is also quite welcoming, with a clean crispness that makes you feel like you're somewhere inherently cool. Looking around at the Lower East Side hipster-esque crowd will confirm your suspicions. If you're in a hurry, Dudleys also does a mean coffee (sourced from Counter Culture) from their sidewalk-facing coffee window. The Aussie vibe comes through here as well: order up a flat white instead of your normal latte. (212-925-7355)
Cookshop is where you brunch when you're feeling a little fancy. This corner spot is bright and airy with high-ceilings and plenty of sidewalk seating if you arrive on the earlier end. The menu leans heavily on fresh greenmarket fare, with dishes like the huevos rancheros with three baked eggs and lime creme fraiche, or the Finger Lakes grass-fed beef burger. For the table, you'd be remiss in skipping the spiced apple beignets, stuffed with Di Palo's local ricotta and served with apple sauce. Afterward, stroll along the High Line through Chelsea, pausing to reflect on the incredible life decisions you've made that have led you to this point. (2129244440)
Queens Comfort burst onto the brunch scene in 2011, and immediately started pulling in foodie accolades from around the city. Among them is an award for best mac and cheese in the city - something we take very seriously here at 10Best. Along with cheesy deliciousness, the kitchen also turns out comfort food like it's going out of style. Think fried green tomatoes, pulled pork sandwiches and of course, the king of Southern comfort food: chicken and waffles. For those with an inclination toward spice, opt for the Atomic Fire Balls - deep fried mac and cheese bites with Sriracha and ranch. (718-728-2350)
Balthazar oozes a cool vibe that's impossible to replicate. Perfectly positioned on a Soho corner, this is the breakfast/brunch spot of the rich and famous. It's not uncommon to spot a celebrity, and of course, the food is divine. Billed as a French brasserie, the energy is something else entirely - not quite New York, not nearly Paris. Instead, it feels like its own little world, a hideaway for anyone who's in on the secret. Plan to take plenty of time for people watching while you delicately eat your soft-boiled egg or indulge in something more sinful like the sour cream hazelnut waffles. (212-965-1414)
The long list of inventive Bloody Mary's alone is probably enough to entice any seasoned bruncher to Prune. Featuring crazy combinations like Herradura Anejo tequila and chipotle peppers or fresh fennel and anchovy, taste-testing these elaborate cocktails could turn into an all day experience. But it's not just the drinks you should venture out for. Brunch itself is also quite impressive, and features faves like fresh ricotta with raspberries, figs, toasted pine nuts and honey, or the lamb sausage and oysters with stewed tomatoes and bread for dipping. Add the bistro-style interior with unfinished wood-framed mirrors and nearly blank walls to the equation and you've got yourself the perfect canvas for a successful brunch. (212-677-6221)
Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery
Lafayette - sister restaurant of other foodie faves, including The Dutch and Locanda Verde - takes the traditional American breakfast and gives it a high-end French twist. Eggs and hash browns become fresh farm eggs with pommes de rotisserie and benedicts get served on brioche, or perhaps with a petite salade. Regardless of the pronunciation, the food here is beautifully refined and served up in a luxurious, window-walled bistro on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Street. Come here if you're feeling the itch to jump on a plane and escape to an elegant Parisian playground before the clock strikes noon. (212-533-3000)
Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant
Heralded as the best brunch in the city by multiple media outlets and New Yorkers, Clinton Street Baking Co. holds up to the hype. Hungry locals and visitors travel from all corners of the city (and the world!) to eat Chef Neil's blueberry pancakes, served with warm maple butter. But that's not all that's on the menu. Just as delectable as the stacks are the morning egg dishes and omelets, made even more delightful as ingredients are sourced from local farms and neighbors. Conde Nast Traveller calls this quaint Lower East Side cafe "Mayberry in Manhattan." You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees. (646-602-6263)
Jack's Wife Freda
A popular dinner joint with the downtown crew, Jack's Wife Freda also dishes up a mean brunch menu that mixes Mediterranean influences with American favorites. Order up the rosewater waffle with Lebanese yogurt, or opt for the green shakshuka, baked eggs floating in a flavorful spinach sauce with a side of challah toast. On busy mornings, you may have to get a little cozy with your neighbors - though this small space is flooded with sunlight, it packs 'em in with family-style seating. But don't worry too much: that just gives you a chance to spy on everyone else's order before putting in your own. (212-510-8550)
About Andrea Duchon
Andrea Duchon was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.
When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll likely find her eating tacos while throwing darts and watching the Cleveland Browns.
Read more about Andrea Duchon here.
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