Whether you live in New York City or are just visiting for the weekend, experiencing a typical NYC styled brunch should be near the top of your To-Do list. Rather than hopping aboard a double-decker tourist bus and watching New Yorkers eat from afar, get in on the action and head to a trendy brunch spot yourself. You’ll have a better view anyway, although after your third mimosa things may become a bit hazy.
Here are my Top 5 Brunch Recommendations in NYC:
ESSEX: This is probably one of the most popular brunch spots in Manhattan. Located in the Lower East Side, the dingy exterior is by no means any indication of what awaits you inside. The two level restaurant is large, colorfully vibrant, and the perfect setting for a boozy brunch with friends.
Unless their prices have changed recently, for $20 you get an entrée and three drinks (choose from bloody marys, screwdrivers or mimosas). Additional cocktails are $4 each, although sometimes the servers just re-fill your glass for free. Brunch hours are 11-4:40 on Saturdays and 11-8 Sunday.
My list of entrees worth trying:
- Lobster benedict: (add $3) – (served with mixed greens and home fries)
- Omelet of fresh spinach, tomatoes, sheep’s milk cheese & chives: (served with mixed greens and home fries)
- Challah french toast: with bananas foster sauce & fresh fruit
- Seared diver scallops: topped with potato pancake & poached eggs (add $2)
- Vegan Mexican Matzo Brei: with tofu scramble & soy cheese
NERO D’AVOLA: One of my first real brunch experiences was at Nero D’Avola in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Visiting the area during the day has a completely different vibe than if you went there on any given night. This is the top area for clubbing, so pretty much everything you see at night is closed during the day, and vice versa.
Nero is an Italian Restaurant that offers a boozy brunch deal for $29.99. That price includes your choice of an entree and unlimited mimosas, bellinis, champagne, bloody mary’s, or screw drivers. Technically you have to pick one beverage option and stick with it throughout your meal, but if your waiter was as awesome as mine he won’t care if you mix it up a bit. In fact, he was so attentive that everytime I returned to Nero for brunch, I requested him as my server. He made it difficult to count how many drinks I had consumed because he continually refilled my glass even when it was only half full.
Nero also has a DJ booth elevated over the main floor and they usually start pumping the volume around 2pm. This isan ideal spot for a quiet brunch (note: come before 2pm) or a fun afternoon with your girlfriends. Brunch is limited to two hours, although I remember one Sunday when I stayed for four. Brunch hours are from 12-4 Saturday and Sunday.
Recommended dishes to try:
- Chocolate-chip pancakes: with banana compote and maple syrup
- Parmacotto ham, swiss, and arugula omelette
- Eggs Benedict with roasted potatoes
PHILIP MARIE: West Village is Manhattan’s most sought after neighborhood. From its romantic cobble-stoned streets to the random hole-in-the-wall coffee shops that pop up on every corner, it’s hard not to have a love affair with West Village. Unfortunately, with all this appeal comes a price, and by price I’m talking money. When it comes to picking your weekend brunch spot, the village isn’t usually your top choice because it tends to be rather expensive.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. Philip Marie, a cozy American-style restaurant in the heart of West Village just so happens to have an amazing brunch deal. For two hours, you and your party can enjoy an entree and bottomless mimosas, bloody mary’s, coffee and tea for only $24.95. This is not only a steal for West Village brunches but a decent bargain for anywhere in the city. From my experience the host and wait staff are very polite and friendly. Philip Marie changes their prices every few months so call ahead if you want to know the exact brunch Prix-Fixe cost.
Recommended dishes to try:
- The Lumberjack: 2 Buttermilk Pancakes, 2 Eggs (Any Style), 2 Sausage Links & 2 Strips of Bacon served with Skillet Potatoes
- Veggie Lover’s Omelet: Zucchini, Eggplant, Squash, and Asparagus & Carrots topped with Cheddar Cheese
POCO: Last summer I found myself in Alphabet City, where I was meeting a friend for brunch at Poco. We were there on a hot August day and opted to sit in their shaded outdoor seating area decorated with funky animal-print cushioned sofas.
Poco is famous for their Lobster Mac–n-Cheese and after ordering this myself, I can see why. The shell pasta dish has manchego, asiago and Parmesan, topped with crunch panko. Need I say more? It’s definitely a best brunch deal in nyc.
Other entrees worth trying:
- Poco Benedict: crispy arepa, chorizo, manchego cheese and poached eggs, topped with pimentón hollandaise
- Two Eggs Any Style: served with your choice of apple wood smoked bacon or grilled chorizo
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich: with crisp apple, manchego cheese, apple wood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and roasted red pepper aioli on Pullman toast
Here are our favorite Poco specialty brunch cocktails, all $8.
- The Ultimate Margarita: made with Patron Rep and Citronge
- Ginger Mojito: fresh mint, lime and ginger peach infused rum topped with club soda
- Blood Orange Mango Mojito: cruzan mango rum, mint & blood orange
- Solerno Fizz: solerno liquer topped with champagne and orange bitters
REVEL: I came here for a large birthday party a few months back. There were about 20 of us total and either my friend was a popular regular or the staff is naturally generous because we were treated like kings and queens (mainly queens as I was the only straight girl in a sea of fabulous gays).
I opted for the ‘Straight up Burger‘ with gorgonzola cheese, which is served with a huge plate of French fries. It was possibly one of the best burgers I’ve had in NYC, and that is quite a feat. I also tasted the ‘Meatpacking Omelet‘ and the ‘French Toast.’ Both were good entrees with large portions.
Unless anything has changed, their Prix-Fixe brunch menu is $25 for an entree and 2 cocktails. I stuck with belinis and ended up having three, as the waitress started plopping them on our table after the first hour. I didn’t complain.
Here are a few recommendations based on dishes I sampled:
- Little West Omelet: fontina, cheddar, tomato & spinach, $13
- Meatpacking Omelet: bacon, ham, sausage and swiss cheese, $14; (add egg whites only) + $2
- Steak & Eggs: lean 7 oz skirt steak, 2 eggs any style and fries, $19
- French Toast: challah bread served with syrup, $12
- Straight-up Burger, $12 (add cheddar, gorgonzola or provolone) + $2; (add bacon) + $2
- Avocado Burger: avocado, pepper jack cheese, red onions, $16
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