The Hot List

The Buzziest Brunches in NYC

Treat yourself to New York’s most underrated meal.

14 min read
8/17/2022
Cav Blog: Golda

There’s New York brunch, and then there’s New York brunch. We’re not talking about those bottomless mimosa spots that kill you with kindness (no disrespect). We’re talking about the buzzworthy, the epic, the places that convert Sunday morning into late afternoon. New York is full of restaurants that captivate on lazy weekends, and now Caviar has some of the best and the brightest. What if brunch could come right to you? What if all of the city’s best midday Sunday meals could arrive while you entertained friends (or yourself!) at home? We’ve rounded up the most buzzworthy NYC brunch spots, from the classic to the new and noteworthy. Here are our favorites. 

Cookshop

When it opened in 2005, Chelsea’s Cookshop — chef Marc Meyer’s revelatory spot that attracted every celeb under the sun — was the place to be for brunch. Nearly two decades later, that’s still the case. The chicken liver mousse, served atop focaccia toast with pickled market vegetables, is as cool as ever, and the Cookshop burger, boasting locally raised beef and aged cheddar atop a brioche roll and served with perfect bistro fries, is just as uncannily good as it was back in the good ol’ days. 

Freemans

Tucked into a petite alley in the Lower East Side, this nearly two-decades-old New York haunt proves that not everything good in the city disappears. As buzzy as ever, Freemans serves a brunch that’s worth traveling for (good news: you don’t have to!). The fried chicken and waffle is a savory take — a bacon-and-cheddar waffle served with chipotle honey and pickled jalapeños. And the huevos rancheros, a satisfying pile of refried beans, salsa verde, and queso fresco atop a corn tortilla, is the brunch you most certainly need in your New York life. 

Jing Fong

Jing Fong may have relocated from its original cavernous space in Chinatown (the original iteration opened in 1978), but the vibe remains the same: casual, top-notch food served speedily and with precision. Dim sum brunch does not get much better than Jing Fong. You can orchestrate an entire dim sum bonanza of your own at home, from har gow (shrimp dumplings) to char siu bao (barbecue roast pork buns) to silky roast pork rice noodle rolls. 

Golda

Bed-Stuy welcomed Golda, a Mediterranean-influenced daytime café, in 2017, and it remains of the moment, even a few years later. The signature egg sandwich, with muhammara, kashkaval cheese, and sumac-spiced onion served on an onion–poppy seed challah bun is a match made in heaven. But those who prefer something sweet should head directly to the labneh parfait, which marries layers of honey-vanilla labneh with a berry compote and housemade granola. 

Archer & Goat

Opened in 2019, this Harlem hot spot serves absolutely delectable food to start the day. The skillet lamb hash, with braised lamb integrated into a potato hash rich with peppers and onions, comes topped with two expertly fried eggs. The inventive A&G hot chicken sandwich includes a sweet and rich maple aioli and pickled strawberries. And the spiced French toast borrows from Middle Eastern cuisine, arriving with a date and pistachio crumble, glazed orange, and a dollop of rose whipped cream. 

Five Leaves

Long Greenpoint’s standard-bearer when it comes to brunch, Five Leaves continues to draw a midmorning meal-loving crowd. The Australian restaurant offers up peerless classics, like their French dip sandwich, made with shaved prime rib, grilled poblano peppers, caramelized onions, provolone, and an herbed jus. The spinach and feta roll is a classic, as is its meaty counterpart, the classic Aussie sausage roll. Don’t skip them, and don’t skip the housemade ricotta served with figs, fresh thyme, honeycomb, Maldon sea salt, and cranberry-pecan bread, either. 

Golden Diner

The Two Bridges neighborhood of Chinatown welcomed Golden Diner in 2019, and the restaurant took off like a comet, earning recognition from the James Beard Foundation. Marrying Chinese and American diner classics, dishes have a casual bent. The Chinatown egg sando is a must: soft-scrambled eggs, American cheese, and a hash brown patty on a sesame-scallion milk bun, with the option to add on bacon, sausage, or avocado. Need a drink? Make it a fresh “yuzuade,” or yuzu lemonade. 

Kopitiam

This second iteration of Kopitiam (the first was open from 2015 to 2017 before it closed due to a rent hike) opened in the Lower East Side in 2018, showcasing Malaysian food. The all-day menu is perfect for a sweet or savory brunch. Try the kaya butter toast with kaya jam (pandan-coconut) and butter, and the nasi lemak, the national dish of Malaysia. It’s fried anchovies, cucumber, peanuts, and a hard-boiled egg served over coconut rice with a side of housemade sambal sauce. 

Miss Lily's 7A Cafe

Jamaican food comes to brunch at Miss Lily’s, in the East Village. If you’re in search of the city’s heartiest brunch, this may well be it. The oxtail stew comes with natural gravy and rice and peas. Jerk-grilled corn is slathered in jerk-spiced mayo and coated in toasted coconut. And the West Indian curry vegetable roti is made even better with okra and a bright, piquant tamarind chutney. Wash it all down with a bottle of Jamaica’s famous Ting, a grapefruit-flavored soda that might as well be the country’s national drink. 

Edith's Eatery & Grocery

In Williamsburg, Edith’s Eatery & Grocery has been delighting brunch-goers since earlier this year. Jewish classics are given a new vitality at Edith’s. Instead of pastrami on rye, you can order the four-ounce house-smoked grilled pastrami steak with eggs, sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, and fennel. The fish plate is not just smoked salmon or pickled herring; instead, it’s a chef’s selection of house-smoked salmon, arctic char, and torched pickled mackerel served with pickles, crudités, cream cheese, and bagels. 

Win Son Bakery

Win Son Bakery opened in Williamsburg in 2019 and remains a buzzworthy destination for all foods required to start the day. The bakery combines Taiwanese and American concepts with irresistible options like the millet mochi donut, the BEC scallion pancake (the essential New York bodega bacon egg and cheese, but tucked neatly between two crisp scallion pancakes), and the fries, which are dusted with five spice and cayenne. 

Chanson Le Salon

Tribeca welcomed this exclusive-to-Caviar restaurant this year, and brunch is all the rage at the French-ish spot. The messy croissant is a favorite for a reason. It’s lavishly filled with Valrhona chocolate and covered with a messy-but-delightful chocolate ganache. Crêpes, ever the French standard, come with marinated blueberries, orange-infused whipped cream, and maple syrup. And do not pass go without ordering the Chanson burger with lettuce, Comté cheese, truffle-avocado mayo, and, naturally, french fries. 

Veselka

Open in the East Village since 1992, Veselka is New York’s crown jewel when it comes to Ukrainian food. Although there are many Eastern European specialties at this popular spot, the pierogies are of paramount importance. Order them boiled, fried, or uncooked. Order them filled with potato, meat, cheese, arugula, sauerkraut, or short ribs. Order them as part of the Essex duo, with a side of soup (classic meat borscht, cold vegetarian borscht, chicken noodle soup, matzoh ball soup). Order them with a side of meat cabbage. Order them by the dozen. No matter how you order them, they come with sautéed onion and sour cream. 

Pilar Cuban Eatery

Bed-Stuy’s Pilar Cuban Eatery opened in 2009, serving up Cuban specialties to a midday crowd. These days, you can order your Cuban brunch straight to your house, including the excellent pressed Cuban sandwich, crisp empanadas (filled with your choice of cod, chicken, beef, or spinach), croquetas (cod, ham, or potato-leek), and pan de bistec, a tasty version of a steak sandwich. To drink, order the Cuban classic: a delicious, light café con leche. 

Peaches HotHouse

In 2018, Peaches HotHouse brought Nashville-style hot chicken to the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. The chicken remains wildly popular. Try the HotHoney fried chicken, crispy and served in a honey-smoked ghost-chile pepper sauce alongside your choice of side. The crispy chicken sandwich, with red and white slaw, can be customized to suit your taste. Add pickles, lemon-pepper aioli, barbecue sauce, or blue cheese, and adjust the spiciness to reflect your palate. At brunch you can dig into the Jim Cade breakfast: two eggs any style served with French toast, bacon, and grits. Delish. 

Ursula

Opened since 2020 in Crown Heights, Ursula was — and still is — a critical darling, despite the fact that it was largely a takeout restaurant. But this buzzy spot has reinvented brunch, with items like their pineapple-glazed brioche donuts topped with chile-lime salt; brioche egg sandwiches overflowing with scrambled eggs, New Mexico green chiles, and cheddar cheese; and assorted breakfast burritos which come filled with everything from chorizo, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and cheddar to vegan pinto beans, hash browns, and those green chiles. To drink, cool down with a horchata tea latte, with its soothing notes of cinnamon and vanilla. 

The Butcher's Daughter

The first iteration of The Butcher’s Daughter, a health-driven café, opened in Nolita in 2011. Other outposts in other neighborhoods have since followed, and demand has continued to be high. You’ll want to order The Best Egg Sandwich: scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, marinated kale, harissa aioli, and a smashed avocado atop a flaky croissant. For something sweet, the ricotta toast is a perfect late-morning treat. Cashew ricotta topped with fresh berries and hot honey sits on chewy and toothsome house-baked sourdough. It doesn’t get much better. 

Dominique Ansel Bakery

When Dominique Ansel Bakery opened in SoHo, in 2011, the lines for the trademarked Cronuts — a cross between a croissant and a doughnut — snaked around the block. Now you can entertain your wildest brunch fantasies with Ansel’s decadent confections without the line. Cronuts come in packages of two, and the flavors change monthly (there are two flavors released each month). Pair them with the so-called Perfect Little Egg Sandwich: steamed eggs with herbs and Gruyère cheese, served warm in a mini brioche bun.

Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant

A Lower East Side brunching legend since way back in 2001, Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant is a New York stalwart. The pancakes with warm maple butter (you can order wild Maine blueberry, banana walnut, plain, or chocolate chunk) are among the city’s finest. If you prefer to keep brunch on the savory side, opt for the buttermilk biscuit sandwich with scrambled eggs, melted cheddar, and housemade tomato jam, and served with a side of hash browns. 

Sunday in Brooklyn

Williamsburg’s Sunday in Brooklyn, dedicated, in large part, to the art of brunch, opened in 2016. Today it remains a go-to for Brooklynites seeking superior top-of-the-day eats. The sky-high Sunday Pancakes (they’re trademarked) feature a hazelnut maple praline and brown butter and can be ordered in a single, double, or even triple stack. An egg and cheese sandwich is amplified by a gochujang aioli, cheddar, and optional sausage, bacon, or avocado; it comes on buttery brioche with crispy potatoes.

Agi's Counter

This Hungarian breakfast and lunch spot opened in Crown Heights in 2021, and the buzz is strong. A market fruit and yogurt plate comes with cold poached stone fruits, sugared pullman bread, and salted yogurt — a combination of textures and flavors that are simple yet expressive. Order the túrós batyu, too, a traditional Hungarian pastry filled with ricotta that is often served at breakfast. 

The Fulton

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ode to seafood, The Fulton, situated appropriately in the Seaport, opened in 2019 and has captivated diners with many meals — including its weekend brunches. An unassuming shrimp burger, made better by the addition of Sriracha mayonnaise, cucumber, and shiso, is a brunch charmer, as is the warm octopus and fresh mozzarella, with bright lemon zest, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. A sashimi royal offers the chef’s selection of whatever fish happens to be fresh and special; it’s well worth the splurge. 

Egg Shop

The first Egg Shop outpost was opened in SoHo in 2014 by husband-and-wife team Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis and chef Nick Korbee, and the enthusiasm for the brand remains. Hunger does not stand a chance against the El Capitan, a grilled flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, spicy pinto beans, corn, Jack cheese, sour cream, avocado, pickled onions, and jalapeños. For a more traditional sandwich, try the A.E.C.: avocado, scrambled egg, cheddar, jalapeño, and tomato jam on brioche. 

Tim Ho Wan

The first location of Tim Ho Wan opened in the East Village in 2016. (A second location in Hell’s Kitchen followed two years later.) The dim sum restaurant, known worldwide as an “affordable Michelin-star spot,” serves up Chinese classics, from har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) to baked barbecue pork buns. The steamed rice rolls filled with shrimp and Chinese chives are a necessary order, as is the crunchy and delightful Chinese broccoli with fried garlic. 

Bunna Cafe

This plant-based Ethiopian café in Bushwick made the jump from pop-up to brick and mortar in 2014, and brunch here is still the place to be. Enjoy the butecha, a vegan scramble that incorporates a ground chickpea stuffing made with onion, peppers, garlic, and ginger with kita, a thin flatbread served with Ethiopian food. The alicha yater firfir, or whole yellow split peas with crumbled injera, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and turmeric, is served cold and the perfect antidote to a hot morning. To drink, order a pureed fruit juice, and finish with spris, a layered puree of avocado, mango, and papaya, mixed with grenadine — dessert in a glass. 

Author

Hannah Selinger

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