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Weekend Dining: 8 Must-Try NYC Brunches

By James Mulcahy
January 20, 2014

When you wake up on the weekend and the only thing that will get you out of bed is a Bloody Mary and some eggs Benedict, these are the brunches you have to hit. The list below contains must-try midday offerings at a number of new restaurants, including an Asian-influenced menu in Fort Greene and an East Village spot that serves an ultradecadent pig belly sandwich on a donut. And if you're not in the mood for a Bloody Mary, don't worry: there will be mimosas.

  • Chang-Style Brunch: Momofuku Ssäm Bar

    David Chang's East Village icon launched brunch for the first time ever a few weeks ago and has been curing hangoers with steamed pork belly buns and pork jowl tacos (pig is a theme here, if you haven't already guessed). Even the signature Bloody Mary has pork in it, mixing up rye, sake apple and ham. The restaurant is also offering its large-format meals, available during brunch hours, so reserve ahead if you want to try Chang's signature whole pork butt or rotisserie duck feasts. 

    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM; 207 Second Ave.; 212-254-3500

  • The Bitchin' (and Boozy) Brunch: Golden Cadillac

    This East Village cocktail bar has dubbed their weekend offering Bitchin' Brunch, and the '70s-style bar has curated its menu using dishes from Gourmet magazines from that era. Dishes like Huggy Bearcakes - aka chocolate chip pancakes with honey butter - will be served alongside beverages like a Boogie Bloody, which is an extra-large tomato and vodka cocktail with shrimp and bacon in the mix.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM; 13 First Ave.; 212-995-5151

  • Good for Groups: Paulaner Brauhaus

    The large tables at this recently opened LES micro brewery and beer garden provide a sweet perch for parties of 8 or more, and on a recent weekend visit, the back dining room had plenty of space, making a great option for a last-minute outing. The brunch menu is loaded with sausages and sauerkraut and plenty of beer - including four kinds made on-site (sorry, no Bloody Marys). All the brewskies can be ordered by the liter. Nothing like curing one hangover by starting another.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 3 PM; 265 Bowery; 212-780-0300

  • When You're Looking to Be Bad: North River

    Traditional American food makes up the majority of the menu at this just-opened East Village eatery, but one brunch offering is unlike anything we've ever seen before. The Belly Donut - which is only offered late at night and during the weekend meal, is salt-cured pork belly that's glazed with soy, miso and brown sugar. Once it's slow-cooked for four hours, it's sandwiched between two halves of a - wait for it - coconut donut. For those of you who want to skip this monstrous creation (i.e. anyone who's not hungover), fear not: the menu is rife with standard options ranging from eggs Benedict to a burger.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays 11 AM to 5 PM; 166 First Ave.; 212-228-1200

  • Asian Influences in Fort Greene: Martha

    You might think this Fort Greene eatery looks familiar, even though the menu is completely new. The folks who run this restaurant started it off as The Brooklyn Sandwich Society, and it recently morphed into this more ambitious, New American restaurant that works a slew of Asian ingredients into its moderately priced fare. When you drop in for brunch, you'll find Chinese broccoli in the quiche and Korean chile mixed in a dish called sunny egg and spicy pork. The white tiles and natural light give the spot a homey feel that gives off a vibe that's more home kitchen.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays 11 AM to 4 PM; 184 Dekalb Ave.; 718-596-4147

  • A Crazy-Good Deal: Lexington Brass

    This Midtown East eatery isn't new, but while sipping on Bloody Marys the other day, we noticed one of NYC's best brunch deals beckoning from the menu. A standard but solid à la carte selection features goodies like steak and eggs, but if you're going to land here, you'd be crazy not to opt for the brunch tasting menu. You get four courses of sweet and savory dishes to share between two people and a full bottle of cava (mixers are also provided) for a price of only $55. Not per person - that's the full total - and if there are four of you, the register will ring it in at $90. That's enough to make this Midtown East venue into a prime brunch destination.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays 7 AM to 3 PM, though the tasting-menu deal is only available after noon; 517 Lexington Ave.; 212-392-5976

  • Service in a Snug: Whitman and Bloom

    This Murray Hill eatery bills itself as a "new kind of local," and the casual, publike feel provides the perfect setting for a no-stress weekend meal (aka no one is going to be popping bottles and dancing on banquettes here). Instead of banquettes, guests here sit in cozy snugs, a semi-private booth that hails from the pubs of Dublin and can fit up to six people. In addition to typical brunch goodness like smoked salmon and a burger, the restaurant offers a number of healthy dishes that should appeal to vegetarians - hello, chopped kale salad. And when you're ready for some sweets, check out the Cronut-inspired doissant, which is stuffed with marscapone cheese and dusted with cinnamon.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays, 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM; 384 Third Ave.; 212-725-4110

  • West Village Weekend Eats: Bleecker Kitchen & Co.

    Two key components of a solid brunch can be found at this West Village newcomer: an extensive menu and moderate prices. The charming space, which is decorated with repurposed wood and has the feel of a neighborhood coffee joint, serves a menu of classic American dishes, including a popular chicken and waffles. The average price of an entree is around $12, and the most expensive dish in the lineup is only $16. Drinkers can grab a stool at the venue's white-tiled bar, and teetotlers (or those who overdid it the previous night) will be glad to know that a selection of nonalcoholic cocktails is also available.

    Hit It Up: Saturdays and Sundays, 11 AM to 4 PM; 643 Broadway; 212-253-7467

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