The Big, Beautiful World of Brunch in Brooklyn

So MANY Places to Brunch

••• Brunch at Miriam's in Park Slope draws weekend crowds. Photo courtesy of Miriam's Restaurant

Brunch is a boom business in Brooklyn. There are so many great restaurants serving such a broad variety of dishes, it's hard to pick "the best."

So, here are some ideas to whet your appetite. But first, think about what neighborhood you want to be in for brunch, and whether you're bringing children — or want to nurse a hangover in perfect peace.

For Italian restaurants serving brunch, try Cobble Hill's Bocca Lupo where you can order smaller plates of tasty dishes.

If you want a full-bore Italian Sunday dinner, head to Michael's out on Avenue R in Midwood, or Queen Restaurant on Court Street.

Miriam's restaurant in Park Slope is such a favorite that there are regularly lines of expectant diners, waiting patiently for their chance to savor chef Rafi's amazing bourekas and creative middle eastern food.

Hankering for locavore, organic food in a comfy environment, where the decor is well thought-out shabby chic or retro-farmhouse? What could be more Brooklyn? Head toward Carroll Gardens' Buttermilk Channel. Or, arrive early to avoid the inevitable line at atmospheric Vinegar Hill House, (near DUMBO in the tiny historic neighborhood called Vinegar Hill) where the chefs excel in mixing textures and flavors, to delightful results.

Also in DUMBO, but with a less rarefied palate, is the very popular Superfine, a DUMBO staple that has a loud, fun bluegrass brunch, pool table, and full bar, all located in a renovated warehouse that's quintessentially DUMBO in style.

Brooklyn, despite having had very few French immigrants during its 20th-century melting pot heyday, has attracted a fair number of very good French chefs since the borough's 21st-century renouvellement as the epicenter of creative cookery. Head to Smith Street for several French takes on the brunch idea, starting at Cafe Luluc in Cobble Hill.

Alternatively, Le Petit Cafe in Carroll Gardens, closer to the BQE overpass, has an unusual decor, good coffee, is child-friendly, and serves memorable French toast. If all you want is a really, really good croissant, and a cup of good coffee, go to Almondine cafe in DUMBO. (And if you're entertaining children or want to re-live your own childhood, you can take a pony ride on historic Jane's Carousel nearby, afterward.)

For a carnivore brunch experience, one of the borough's best is Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens. And if schnitzel's your thing, then enjoy a German style brunch at Williamsburg's Loreley. Argentines are deservedly famous for their embrace of all things beef, and Brooklyn has a dearth of Argentine eateries. But El Almacen fills this gap, and their brunch will fill your stomach, too. New York's award-winning, no-nonsense steak house, Peter Luger, doesn't bother with brunch niceties; they serve what they always serve, aged-to-perfection steak, and while pricey, this is a memorable meal that's worth it — if you make a reservation weeks or months in advance.

For a brunch on-the-go, don't overlook Brooklyn Flea, despite its unappetizing name. This year-round vintage market hosts quirky vendors of excellent food, prepared and sold on-site in temporary booths whose impermanence might fool you.

The food here is carefully selected and good; where else can one find fresh oysters and too-cute-to-eat cupcakes in a flea market? Also, the seasonal Food Truck Rally event held in Grand Army Plaza on Sundays from spring to autumn sells excellent, small-batch, sometimes organic fare from brownies to fish tacos. It's not exactly a sit-down brunch, and you won't be able to order a Bloody Mary, but it's a fun weekend food experience.

For grazers, Smorgasburg, a large outdoor gathering of craft foods and chefs that's become a tourist event near Williamsburg's ferry dock, is a weekend brunch wonderland for the peripatetic eater. Go hungry.

Similarly, fans can find excellent Mexican food stalls on the ballfields of Red Hook in the summer, and a more curated selection, including a wine bar, at Brooklyn Bridge Park in the fine-weather months.

For a modest brunch with a view to make you marvel, go to Fairway's humble cafe in Red Hook near IKEA (accessible from Manhattan by ferry boat), pick up a fattening pastry and so-so cuppa, and go sit at a picnic table and make eye contact with the Statue of Liberty. It's a quotidian choice: afterwards, you can go grocery shopping.

Many Brooklyn brunch spots are family-friendly, particularly in the child-centric neighborhoods of Park Slope, Bay Ridge and Carroll Gardens. Head to Applewood in the Slope, and, for retro authenticity if not exactly healthful meals (it's more about nostalgia than food here), don't miss the re-opened Hinsch's Confectionery on 85 Street and 5th Avenue.

Brooklyn, unlike LA, doesn't have a ton of celebrity-blessed restaurants (aside from those blessed by their own celeb chefs), but the star-struck bruncher might head toward Williamsburg's Five Leaves, started by actor Heath Ledger before his untimely death.

As neighborhoods go, the most brunch-rich area is Williamsburg, where an early weekend breakfast is a foreign concept, and brunches start late in the day. (The people-watching is as entertaining as the cuisines are varied, though the hipsterdom of the 20-to-30-something-ish local crowd is diluted by a crush of tourists on Saturdays and Sundays.) Among the dozens of restaurant choices in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint nexus, what could be more appropriate for brunch than a joint named, simply, Egg?

If cost is no obstacle, and the brunching men in your party don't mind putting on a jacket, then hands-down the most elegant brunch in Brooklyn is at the River Cafe.

Finally, if you ask an old-time Brooklynite where to go for brunch, the chances are that many will just say Tom's. Tom's, now under management of the next generation, is a legendary Brooklyn family-run diner, where you'll get pancakes and eggs, and with luck a good dose of free advice or neighborhood gossip along with it. Unfortunately the place has been discovered, and it ain't what it used to be. But what is?

Brunch in Brooklyn, a moveable feast.