The ABC’s of New York City Brunch

Ambiance, booze, and clockwork are the keys to the perfect Big Apple brunch
New York City
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New York City

A trip to the city that never sleeps wouldn’t be complete without a true brunch experience — one that goes beyond eggs Benedict. New Yorkers can be demanding when it comes to defining the perfect weekend brunch, so The Daily Meal is here to break down some brunch options by criteria; the more of these standards a place packs into one, the better.

Sometimes taste in décor is as important as the menu, as ambiance can add a flavor of its own. Some of the best in this category are rooftop restaurants or patios that let the city skyline provide the backdrop, or those places that have indoor gardens in the winter. The view, the neighborhood, and the crowd are all things to consider when looking for a place with great ambiance, whether you’re looking for somewhere lively and eccentric or warm and relaxed.

Where to find this: Try B Bar’s patio, the Gramercy Terrace rooftop, or Hundred Acres’ indoor garden for hanging plants, beautiful surroundings, and just as aesthetically pleasing dishes. These restaurants are guaranteed to brighten the morning and make any group feel comfortable. They offer true tastes of New York City and backdrops you’ll be Instagram-ing away.

What to order: B Bar has the standard brunch offerings with an array of both breakfast and lunch options, while Gramercy Terrace presents distinct trademark dishes with the convenience of a buffet option to mix and match pastries, fruits, eggs, and meats. Hundred Acres takes comfort food to a whole new level with a bread sampler to start, sharable plates like Jesus’ Meatballs with creamy grits, and savory sweets like gooey delicious cinnamon rolls.

You’re guaranteed mimosas, bellini’s, and bloody marys at most New York City brunch spots, and many restaurants set a base price for unlimited refills. A widely celebrated tradition, all-you-can-drink deals lead to loud and packed dining rooms with table hogs, but why not make half a day of it?

Where to find this: Essex offers three drinks with any brunch item for $22.95, Diablo Royale’s $25 brunch special includes drinks like sangria and mimosas, The Half Pint adds unlimited mimosas or bloody marys to any meal for $12, and Il Bastardo offers champagne as a $15 add-on.

What to order: Go for the screwdriver at Essex, red sangria at Diablo Royal, bloody mary at The Half Pint, and champagne at Il Bastardo.

Time is money in the big city and choosing the best bet for brunch comes down to reservation requirements, wait times, and menu time span. Some locals want a brunch menu that’s available as late as possible, usually until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., and everyone appreciates a short wait. Some of the city’s more popular digs can require reservations months in advance yet others know how to funnel tables through like clockwork each weekend. We recommend reading reviews and making reservations online ahead of time, but visitors can take advantage many locals' late start times and head out early.

Where to find this: Union Square’s Blue Water Grill is always full, but typically has reservation availability as late as the evening before and offers a central location, wide variety, and impeccable service worth waiting for if you don’t reserve. The Upper East Side’s Fetch has a reliable routine that’ll speed you through a wait you can spend having a drink at the bar. Last, Jane Restaurant downtown takes reservations.

What to order: Blue Water Grill’s farmers’ market omelette gets its ingredients from Union Square's weekly farmers’ market vendors. The resulting dish combines fresh and local to create a hearty, healthy meal. Fetch prides itself on its special scramble and burgers, and Jane’s salmon scramble and Benedict Jane are one-of-a-kind dishes that are worth a try.


Ashley Day is the The Daily Meal City Editor for New York.