Best Brunches in NYC

April 12, 2018
·
by Zagat Staff

Where to start your weekend in NYC.

Clinton St. Baking Company
Breakfast · Lower East Side · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

“Bring War and Peace” to pass the time in the brunch line at this LES bakery/cafe, which repays “daunting” waits with homespun Americana “made with love” (especially those “divine pancakes” ); a recent expansion may relieve the daytime crowds, though insiders hint “dinner is just as good.”
Cafe Cluny
French · West Village · $$$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

A “wonderful vibe” has evolved at this “quaint” West Village bistro, a bona fide “nabe fave” thanks to “appetizing” Franco-American cooking served in a “bright” space; since the weekend brunch can be a “free-for-all” , regulars say “arrive early.”
Locanda Verde
Italian · TriBeCa · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.1

“Energetic” is the word on chef Andrew Carmellini’s “grand-slam” TriBeCa Italian offering a “delectable” , all-day menu to a “swinging” clientele basking in its “trendiness factor” ; despite an “overcrowded” , somewhat “frantic” scene at prime times, reservations can still be “hard to get.”
Cafe Mogador
Middle Eastern · East Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

“Everything is delicious” at these “popular” Moroccan “standbys” that are especially known for their “unbeatable” brunches; “tight seating” and “long waits” are part of the deal, but “gentle prices” help, and Williamsburg's “cute indoor garden” is especially “charming.”
Queens Comfort
American · Astoria · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

“Get your comfort on” at this Astoria joint dishing up Southern “pig-out” fare in “simple” digs with a “wacky” , “chill” vibe; it's “cash only but cheap and BYO” – no wonder there are “lines on weekends” , especially for the “fun” brunch with a live DJ.
Blake Lane
American · East 80s · $$

Simple, colorful plates with locally sourced ingredients are served at this all-day, California-style eatery on the Upper East Side that’s big on bowls, salads and sandwiches. The softly lit space, designed with light woods, tiles and exposed brick, also offers wines and cocktails (with infusions such as turmeric and oolong tea).
Chez Ma Tante
French · Greenpoint · $$$

Boasting a strong Canadian influence, this American bistro (named for a Montreal hot dog joint) in Greenpoint offers raw-bar items, charcuterie and seasonal veggies and mains by alums of Café Altro Paradiso. Dark woods and white walls lend a simple, unassuming feel to the dining room and bar.
Diner
Diner · Williamsburg · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

“Handwritten menus” announce the daily roster of “consistently excellent” New American bites (including a “phenomenal” burger) at this “funky” local fixture in Williamsburg; set in a 1920s dining car and overseen by a “knowledgeable” crew, it has a “quintessential hipster” vibe that carries over to the outside seating area.
Rose Water
American · Park Slope · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

An enduring Park Slope “favorite” , this “charming” New American offers a “beautiful representation of the seasons” via “excellent” locavore fare, including a “delicious” brunch; the “tight” environs are “worth squeezing into” , and there’s a “gorgeous” patio in the summertime.
Colonie
American · Brooklyn Heights · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

“Vibrant atmosphere meets inspired menu” at this Brooklyn Heights New American, where a seasonal lineup of “exceptional locavore” dishes pairs with “top-notch” service in a space sporting a “lush garden” wall; it's an acknowledged “keeper” , though the “energetic” crowds and “tight” quarters can make it “hard to snag a table.”
Egg
Breakfast · Williamsburg · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.7

Known for “one of the best brunches in town” , this Williamsburg daytimer packs 'em in for “very good” , “simple” Southern dishes made with ingredients from its own upstate farm; there are “lengthy” waits on weekends, but given the “hip” crowd, at least there's good “people-watching.”
Five Leaves
American · Greenpoint · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 3.5

This all-day Greenpoint “staple” “remains a favorite” in “hipsterville” for “out-of-this-world” burgers, “incredible pancakes” and other “reliable” New American eats; despite often- “crowded” digs and occasional “attitude” , it’s pretty “perfect for brunch” – with the “long lines” to prove it.
Norma's
Breakfast · West 50s · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

“Lavish” breakfasts and brunches are the specialty of this Midtown American in the Parker Meridien, where the “memorable” morning fare arrives in “large, easily shareable” portions; no kidding, the tabs are “out of this world” (e.g. that $2,000 frittata) and it’s a “bit of a tourist factory” , but it's still a “highly recommended” experience.
Prune
American · East Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.3

An “innovator that’s stood the test of time” , chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s East Village “standout” serves a “perfectly curated” menu of “exceptional” New American dishes in “unfailingly professional” style; the only drawbacks are a “toooo small” room with seating “on top of your neighbors” and long lines for the “fabulous brunch.”
Aquagrill
Brunch · SoHo · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

A “mainstay” for “consistently excellent” seafood, this SoHo “institution” offers “perfectly cooked” fish and “super-fresh” oysters, plus a “fabulous” brunch; if the “low-key” dining room is “showing its age” , service remains “seamless” and the seasonal patio is a “delight.”
The River Café
American · DUMBO · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.5

“Is there a more beautiful setting in NYC?” swoon fans of this Dumbo waterfront “classic” whose “romantic” dining room offers “unbeatable” views of Manhattan, as well as a fairy-lit “Garden of Eden” just outside; “elegant” prix fixe–only American cuisine and “exceptional” service complete the “high-end” experience – for which an “expensive” price tag is “to be expected.”
Maialino
Italian · Gramercy Park · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

“Danny Meyer does things right, as usual” at this “love song to Rome” overlooking Gramercy Park, where “sublime” farm-to-table Italian fare and “stellar wines” come in “delightful” , “buzzing” digs via a “welcoming” pro staff; scoring a reservation can be “challenging” (though the “bustling” front bar welcomes “drop-ins” ), and while prices run “high” , at least “the tip is included.”
The Smith
American · West 60s · $$$
Food 3.9 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

“Don't expect an intimate conversation” at this “million-decibel” mini-chain that supplies “basic” but “appealing” American grub to “under-35” throngs out to “eat and be merry” ; “especially popular for brunch” , they're routinely “bustling” thanks to “good value” and “upbeat” vibes.
Uva
Italian · East 70s · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

“Beautiful food” and “beautiful people” collide at this “bustling” , “noisy” UES “date destination” delivering “delicious” Italian dishes and “wonderful wines” ; an “enchanting” back garden, “decent” prices and “attentive” service secure its standing as a “neighborhood favorite.”
Upland
American · Murray Hill · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

This “upbeat” Murray Hill Californian “lives up to the hype” with “accessible” but “modern and creative” Italian-inspired cooking; set in a “beautiful, large room” (try to “score a booth” ) with a “busy” front bar, it’s an overall “people-pleasing” choice, which explains why it’s “tough to get in” (the “tantalizing” brunch is easier).
ABC Cocina
Mexican · Flatiron · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.1

“Complex flavors” elevate the “imaginative” tapas at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “high-energy” Pan-Latin standout in ABC Carpet & Home, where the “beautiful” (if “noisy” ) setting is the backdrop for a “cool scene” ; reservations can be “hard to get” , but walk-ins can always pass the wait time “downing delicious drinks” at the bar.
Cookshop
American · Chelsea · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

Always “bustling” with everyone from “High Line–walkers” to “art collectors” , this Chelsea “favorite” keeps ‘em coming back with “farm-to-table” American fare that’s “creatively prepared” but “not pretentious” , and delivered by a “friendly, efficient” crew; its “pleasant” , “open” space “can get noisy” , so many “sit outside” when possible.
The National
American · East 50s · $$
Food 3.7 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.7

A “business lunch” standby, Geoffrey Zakarian’s “cozy” American bistro in East Midtown’s Benjamin Hotel serves “straightforward” American fare that ranges from “solid” to “meh” ; “scattered” service and “noisy” decibels don’t deter the weekday “crowds” (brunch is more “pleasant” ).
L'Amico
Italian · Chelsea · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.9

The pastas and wood-oven pizzas are “off-the-charts” at this “buzzy” eatery in Chelsea's Eventi Hotel where chef Laurent Tourondel offers a “solid” Italian-influenced American menu; since the “rustic” space is often “packed” , be prepared for “loud” acoustics and a “slow” pace.
Loring Place
American · Greenwich Village · $$$

Chef Dan Kluger, who previously led the charge of local, veggie-forward fare at ABC Kitchen, is behind this Greenwich Village American serving handmade pastas, wood-grilled dishes and pizzas made with house-milled flour and seasonal toppings. The setting has a serene feel with gray-stained oak, whitewashed brick walls and tables constructed from the 19th-century building’s original pine beams.
Hearth
Italian · East Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“Given new life” after an update to its menu and space, Marco Canora's upscale East Villager still “delivers” via “gutsy” , “market-driven” Tuscan-American plates with a “more healthful” bent; the “subtly redone” room has the same “lively” vibe, complete with a “caring staff.”
Jacob's Pickles
Southern American · West 80s · $$

Southern dishes, including biscuit sandwiches with buttermilk fried chicken, go with lots of different house pickles at this Upper West Side hangout. Beers, cocktails and root beer on tap round out the menu in a comfy setting with tall windows.
Estela
American · NoLita · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

You “can’t go wrong” at this NoLita “hot spot” from Ignacio Mattos, where the “beautifully executed” American menu includes “highly original” Med-influenced share plates; the “small” , “loud” space is “less than thrilling” and bills do “run up” , but scoring reservations is still a “challenge.”
Barbuto
Italian · West Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

The “rewards” are many at Jonathan Waxman’s West Village Italian, from the “simple” yet “delicious” menu starring his “legendary” roast chicken to the “vibrant” garage/urban setting; the “scene-oriented” crowd’s “punishing” acoustics are eased in warm weather “when the doors are up.”
Russ & Daughters Cafe
Lower East Side · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

Sit-down spin-offs of the LES appetizing store, these “modern” riffs on a “classic Jewish deli” serve “top-shelf” smoked fish and other “real-deal” “old-world” eats; the “spiffy” digs are often “busy” (expect waits, especially at brunch), and the certified kosher location at the Jewish Museum adds a take-out counter.
Sadelle's
Brunch · SoHo · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.3 · Service 3.9

The Torrisi crew has “rocked the brunch world” with this SoHo “scene” , an “ode” to “classic” Jewish appetizing appreciated for its “lux” towers of house-cured smoked fish, “fresh-from-the-oven” bagels, “to-die-for” sticky buns and more; the “airy space” becomes candlelit and “less crowded” at dinner, when the menu switches to seafood and European specialties.
Sylvia's
Soul Food · Harlem · $$
Food 3.9 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

A “true icon of Harlem” , this circa-1962 soul food “mainstay” warms hearts with “generous” helpings of Southern classics and a “rocking” Sunday gospel brunch; old-timers say it's “not what it used to be” but allow it's still “worth a visit” , as the “tour buses out front” suggest.
Vinegar Hill House
American · Vinegar Hill · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

On a “charming cobblestone street” in “remote” Vinegar Hill, this “comfortable” hideaway stands out with “inspired” seasonal New American fare and “solid” cocktails; the “pleasant” , rustic digs with a “fun garden” work equally well for date night or “casual” brunch, but reserve ahead or risk a wait.
Tartine
Breakfast · West Village · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.7

At this cash-only West Village bistro, “delectable” French basics and a “could-be-in-Paris” vibe come at an “affordable” price, helped along by the BYO policy; “long waits” are common, and since the “teeny” space can be “tight” , regulars try for one of the sidewalk tables.
Balthazar
French · SoHo · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.0

Keith McNally’s “legendary” SoHo brasserie “still delivers the goods” with its “magnifique” French fare ( “blissful” breakfast, “oh such wonderful” breads) and atmosphere straight out of “Belle Époque Paris” ; it’s “always buzzing” with “locals and tourists alike” , plus a “celebrity or two” , meaning the “tight quarters” can be a “madhouse” – but that’s part of what makes it “a New York classic.”
Lafayette
French · NoHo · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.0

A “gorgeous” , “expansive” space with “plenty of room to breathe” lures “beautiful people” to this “bustling” all-day NoHo cafe that’s a showcase for Andrew Carmellini’s “hearty” French cooking; insiders say it “shines best at breakfast” , though the front bakery is a “great pit stop” for “delicious bread” and “delectable” pastries any time.
The East Pole
European · East 60s · $$$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.9

“Downtown moves Uptown” via this "mostly healthy" Fat Radish offshoot that's “enchanting” Upper East Siders with its “farm-to-table-done-right” , British-accented New American fare and “original” cocktails served in airy, “hip” quarters; despite “pricey” tabs, it's generally “crowded” – especially at the “fantastic brunch" , while its Fish Bar location focuses on seafood and oysters.