As a resident New Yorker and a well-known food lover, the most common question I’m asked by friends and visitors is: “Where should we have brunch?” I always have to hem and haw, consult with friends and come up with a few suggestions. I’m terrified of sending someone to a place they wouldn’t like.
My friend Ehren is asked for restaurant recommendations so often that he has created an extensive spreadsheet organized by area that he simply sends to inquirers. Inspired by Ehren, I though I’d share my top picks for brunch in Manhattan (and even one in Brooklyn). Geographically, this list covers a wide area, so hopefully there’s something on this list for you no matter where you’re staying. (In no particular order)
1. Fat Raddish, Lower East Side – I felt transported to London, maybe Covent Garden. Andy and I had full English, my friend had the guacamole on toast. Just a delightful spot.
2. Good, West Village – We stumbled onto Good one morning when the restaurant we had planned to go to wasn’t open. Brunch food done well. Period. Get the hand-rolled orange sour cream donuts. They’re warm.
3. Diner, Williamsburg, Brooklyn – When two food-loving friends tell you in a one week that a restaurant is good, you don’t ask questions. You just go. We weren’t disappointed. Homemade scones, country breakfasts and lard on toast. Just loved it. They do great cocktails here too.
4. The Plaza Food Hall, Midtown East – Disclaimer: this place doesn’t really have brunch food, but it makes my list because it’s one of my favorite places to pass a weekend afternoon. From oysters to charcuterie to brick-oven flatbreads and sushi, this is the posh-est food hall of them all. And they have great wine by the glass and an inexpensive glass of prosecco that I love.
5. Spotted Pig, West Village – This is a cozy, yet roomy spot for brunching. It’s also English-feeling, but the menu is diverse. Very farm to table-y. They don’t take reservations and this popular restaurant is always pretty packed. Head upstairs for a drink at their bar while you wait; it’ll be worth it.
6. Tea and Sympathy, West Village – We are very partial to this British cafe. Be prepared to suck in. This place is no bigger than your granny’s tea pot, but the food and quaint English décor are well worth the squeeze. Homesick Andy will always get a full English breakfast. I’m partial to their mushrooms on toast and of course they make a great cup of tea.
7. Bar Boulud, Upper West Side – Go here and get their Croque Monsieur. Amen. And the Brioche French Toast ain’t bad either.
8. Popover Café, Upper West Side – This little café does great….popovers! I go for the sweeter items on the menu, Andy prefers “Eggs Popeyes.” It’s a bustling little hotspot. Kids and families are embraced here, not tolerated as in some Manhattan eateries.
9. Tipsy Parson, Chelsea – We took Mom here for Mother’s Day brunch and she loved it. Southern comfort food meets English fare here with a delicious menu that seems to straddle the pond. We loved the buttermilk-chive biscuit and the cheddar cornbread and recommend most anything on the menu.
10. Café D’Alsace, Upper East Side – Andy and I fell in love with this French café when we lived on the Upper East Side (which is generally quite a dead-zone for good restaurants). Their omelettes are about the best I’ve had, paired with great coffee and their crunchy, herby potatoes. Also love their lamb burger.
And that’s my list. If you end up going to any of these restaurants, please let me know what you thought. And if you have any suggestions for me to try, please write me an e-mail or leave a comment.