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.
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)
Oscar's at the Waldorf Astoria
Known as one of the country's top brunches, this truly decadent culinary display features numerous gourmet options laid out in Peacock Alley, the renowned lobby restaurant. Offerings range from cold dishes such as caviar and a seafood bar (lobster, crab, oysters, and more!) to hot dishes including made-to-order Eggs Benedict (which originated at the hotel!) and numerous carving stations. The array of specialty desserts includes favorites such as Red Velvet Cupcakes (another hotel original!) and Baked Alaska. Brunch cocktails (including the Bloody Bunny, a carrot take on the Bloody Mary) are also available. $125 per adult, $75 per child, plus taxes and gratuity (2128724920)
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
An all-day American bistro, Jack's Wife Freda 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)
Solomon & Kuff
With cocktail whiz Karl Franz Williams and a selection of 100 rums, some thought Solomon & Kuff (Rum Hall) was a modern-day speakeasy when it debuted in Dec. 2015. Now that Chef Christopher Faulkner is working his magic, the menu includes more than bar bites. Buttressed by his stints at Patroon, Melba's and Colors, Solomon & Kuff's lineup is peppered with West Indian influence featuring rustic dishes presented in a gastropub style. Even the name is spiked with history: named for the sons of a slave who secured his freedom and theirs. A dicey selection might include yucca fries complemented by a flavor-packed green chili aioli; Escovitch skewers paired with a decadent warm onion and pepper marmalade; and Jerked Japanese Eggplant drizzled with a rich red wine thyme vinaigrette. (212-939-9443)
Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant
Chef George McKirdy's passion for food is matched by his social consciousness: McKirdy has contributed his time and talent to many worthy causes such as the Tibet Funds Dinner honoring His Holiness the Dali Lama, Gods Love We Deliver, Share our Strength and Autism Speaks Out.
Now known as Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant, its fan base has grown to hosts of artists, writers, musicians who can often be seen at all hours huddling over tables in creative collaborations. Literary and musical open mics take place on Wednesdays.
From the start, Astor worked closely with the micro-roaster, Stone Street Coffee, located in Red Hook, NY. Together they developed a "house blend." Don't miss the frozen hot chocolate, the signature "gingerade," house brewed iced teas and a lightly salted lemonade.
While Astor has won burger competitions, no one seems to rate their superb egg sandwiches – maybe it is the house-baked Portuguese rolls, the hog case sausage or apple wood bacon and cheese but it is not ordinary. Breakfast is a feast here: croissants, stuffed French toast with fragrant Tahitian vanilla bean and orange zest and homemade granola with Greek yogurt. (718-606-8439)
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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