Best Brunch in New York

By Maria Lisella

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 find a bit of southern comfort at Melba’s in Harlem, head to Brooklyn to Buttermilk Channel or perch yourself at Alta Linea or High Line overlooking New York and New Jersey. 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.

10. Brasserie 8 1/2
Photo courtesy of Brasserie 8 1/2

Even the grand staircase at its location in the Solow Building will spin your head at this highly rated French dining spot called Brasserie 8 1/2. Yet prices are affordable for this Midtown west locale just steps west of Fifth Avenue: prix-fixe lunches cost $29 and dinner, $42, making it a high-quality, sophisticated option. The Sunday feature is an all-you-can-eat Buffet Brunch albeit a refined one. Priced at $34, kids under 10, $16; add $17 for Endless Mimosas and you have enough. Beyond the endless array of omelettes, a crepe station, seafood bar with ceviche, a carving table, the buffet definitely speaks to diners with a French accent. Salads are crisp, fresh and inviting, but do save room for dessert, at last count a dozen pies, cakes, and cookies topped the tables.

9. Alta Linea
Photo courtesy of Melissa Hom for Alta Linea

Alta Linea is the Italian-inspired restaurant by restaurateur and beverage expert Joe Campanale, located in the picturesque courtyard garden of The High Line Hotel, Alta Linea in Italian. Brunch is the latest addition to this fresh, new restaurant. Amid the new brunch favorites: olive oil pancakes with market berry compote and lemon ricotta or the Alta Linea Breakfast of fried eggs, crispy pancetta, potatoes, mixed greens or the Beets alla Panzarella or a simple frittata, Campanale spikes up the menu with vibrant beverage list of aperitivi cocktails such as spritzes and Negronis (frozen and otherwise) along with a hand-picked wine list of artisanal Italian wines.

8. Buttermilk Channel
Photo courtesy of

Brunch is a hefty and solid affair here: from Short Rib Hash, to Eggs Huntington and Warm Lamb & Romaine Salad, chances are, you will likely not be hungry until Monday. Famous for their buttermilk fried chicken – which is not on the brunch menu – you won't miss it. Try the buttermilk fried pork chop with cheddar waffles instead. The wait for a table can be considerable, but the atmosphere is communal, convivial and crowded. The bright interior and outdoor patio are jammed but the chefs and owners philosophy is: meals should be shared. Don't be shy, chat with your neighbors, while lusting after the pecan pie French toast.

7. Barney Greengrass
Photo courtesy of betsyweber

Affectionately known as "The Sturgeon King," Barney Greengrass is the place where fish want to be smoked. Housed in its current location on the Upper West Side since 1929, the faded wallpaper and worn linoleum scream old-school Jewish eatery, even as the crowds change, and elderly regulars are joined by carefully cultivated blondes pushing thousand-dollar strollers. Pay them no mind, and get ready for an old-fashioned, fishy feast. Try the Nova Scotia Salmon, lox or the famed Sturgeon with rich cream cheese on a bagel. Want to diversify? Consider a modest morning break with classic matzoh brie, or move on to the overstuffed pastrami sandwich, filled with peppery punch, or the hearty corned beef on rye.

6. Jack's Wife Freda
Photo courtesy of Jack's Wife Freda

Jack's Wife Freda dishes up a mean breakfast menu that mixes Jewish Grandmother via South Africa influences with American favorites. Order up the rosewater waffle with Lebanese yogurt, or opt for the green shakshuka, baked eggs floating in a tangy spinach sauce with a side of challah toast and house-cured duck bacon for non-pork eaters. 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. There are now two Jack's but they are equally popular.

5. egg
Photo courtesy of egg

If you ever ask yourself, "Do fresh and local ingredients make a better brunch?" Then Egg is the place for you. Explore this and other fascinating culinary question with Egg chef and owner George Weld. He serves up his balanced combinations of southern style comfort food. Composed of the very best farm-stand ingredients like Grafton cheddar, real Vermont maple syrup and heirloom tomatoes, richness meets just a touch of acidity with mouthwatering results. Enjoy the casual atmosphere created by wooden folding chairs, large open windows letting in fresh air and sunlight while stuffing your face with buttermilk biscuits, grits and country ham. Beer and wine only.

4. Melba's
Photo courtesy of Melba Wilson, owner of Melba's Restaurant

Born, bred and buttered in Harlem, Melba Wilson knew she wanted to stay close to home so she could nurture and provide an exquisite yet comfortable dining experience to the community that raised her. Melba's Restaurant opened its doors in 2005 and has come to be regarded as the premier comfort food destination in New York City. The eponymous restaurant was the vision of its founder, niece to Sylvia Woods, the undisputed queen of soul food in Harlem. Start with a "comfortizer" like the inventive spring roll of rice, black-eyed peas, collard greens and cheddar cheese. The classic chicken with waffles will also bring a smile as will those beef ribs with a side of Tres Mac & Cheese. Not a meat eater? Try the country catfish, pecan crusted tilapia. Brunch has never been oh-so-decadent as when you dive into the eggnog waffles topped with strawberry butter.

3. The NoMad
Photo courtesy of The NoMad Hotel

The NoMad is among the most chic hotels in New York and has become something of a destination in itself as the restaurant is rooted in the same traditions found at the chef's critically-acclaimed, Michelin three-star rated Eleven Madison Park. The setting can be in the romantically-lit lobby, all wine colored and dark woods or the well-lit Atrium an airy space more like a European courtyard. You'll see Eggs Benedict on the menu but they are anything but traditional â€" with crab, tarragon and of course Hollandaise sauce. By far, the chicken sandwich turns heads. Herby breast of chicken nestled in a fresh brioche with black truffle and foie gras sounds rich, but when the aroma arrives before your dish, you'll be very glad you invested in a $26 chicken sandwich.

2. Raoul's
Photo courtesy of Raoul's

This 40-year-old Soho institution is buzzing with a new brunch menu since last fall. This is not the place for dainty, fluffy egg dishes, in fact, the chef at Raoul's swore off Eggs Benedict from the start. The breakfast-lunch hybrid, the rest of us call brunch includes a souffle apple pancake and for many, the star of the show is Raoul's classic burger au poivre with fries and St.-Andre cheese for $23 where unlike at dinner are only available at the bar, about 25 or 30 are made at brunch. So get there early if this is what you crave on a Sunday morning. The Catskills Mountain Smoked Salmon and a farm egg is about the closest to a classic breakfast dish you will find here, but all is as fabulous as Raoul's is.

1. Tosca's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Tosca's Cafe

Chosen by many as among the best bottomless brunches. Tosca's Cafe is nestled in the Throgs Neck section of the East Bronx and it is worth crossing a bridge or two to get there for the Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet. New Yorkers don't often imagine that bouncing off the island of Manhattan and venturing north to El Bronx could have so many rewards. So, yes, At $31.95 per person, the menu rises from mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys to a fresh juice buffet, shrimp cocktail, calamari, clams on the half shell, an omelette station, smoked Norwegian salmon and of course standards like Eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, or opt for the chef's selection of pastas. In fact, you may not have to eat for the rest of the day.