So Good It’s Criminal: Brunch at New York City’s Vandal

The Lower East Side hot spot is an 'in' place for all the right reasons.
Interior Vandal NYC

Helaina Hovitz

Every brunch is magical at this Lower East Side hotspot. 

If you haven’t already been to Vandal, located on the Bowery in New York City, brunch is the time to try it out.

The food is dream-about-it-good, and the actual space itself is like one giant street-art installation.

I typically don’t buy into the hotel/club restaurant hype, just like I would never, on principle, wait on line for a cronut (to this day, I have not tried it).

But Vandal’s place in the neighborhood feels authentic, and the fusion of the cuisine, which sways between Asian, Latin, and American, works in almost every iteration of the typical dish from which is builds its foundation. Fortunately, it’s meant to be eaten, shared, and served tapas style, so feel free to order like a kid-in-a-candy-store.

Let’s start with the Hong Kong French toast. First of all, I will literally lose my mind for anything with red bean, especially sweet red bean paste. This has been the case since I tried my first scoop of red bean ice cream 14 years ago. Slathering it between two wedges of perfectly fluffy French toast, then topping it off with powdered sugar, a berry and syrup is basically just asking me to melt in my chair.

If you want to dance along the lines of the sweet spectrum but stay a little more savory—or salty—opt for the Asian style sweet pancakes, made with scallions, miso butter, and bacon.

Onto the next course: do not miss the jerk chicken tostones, served on a plantain and with habanero orange marmalade and the crispy bao buns made from brisket and served with crunchy Asian slaw and sesame. One thing to note about these bao buns: brioche may not seem like a likely choice to house the sumptuous ingredients inside, but it works. Trust me on this.

There are so many amazing items to try, but the last on my don’t miss list is the footlong NYC street dog, made with a Meat Hook Butcher Shop organic hot dog and topped with bacon jam, onions and cheese sauce.

Believe it or not, after all that, there is still desert. Watch out for the incredibly spicy kick of the Mexican-chocolate sauce served with the ring-toss shaped Churros—you may want to wash it down with the Irish Coffee milkshake shot, but since it’s pre-made with Jameson Whiskey, I couldn’t tell you how it is, but it seems to be a fan favorite. If you’re in the mood to stare at something pretty, go for the macaron ice cream sandwich, a pastel-saturated frozen Greek yogurt creation garnished with fennel, mint, and citrus zest nestled between two incredibly large macarons.

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199 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
$ $ $