In New York City, brunch is a sacred meal. It's when families catch up, groups of friends exchange gossip, and loved ones enjoy each other's company over a spread of breakfast food, mimosas, Bloody Marys, and coffee. It's usually held on Saturday and Sunday between 11 p.m. and 4 p.m., but sometimes the affair lasts all day.
Many restaurants in New York City offer brunch. While some are boozy and cater to large groups, others are more intimate and focus on the food. Here is your guide to finding the best brunch spots in the city.
A chic restaurant that offers globally-inspired creations, Upland first became famous when President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came to visit in 2017. Now, it's still popular thanks to its incredibly good food.
Start your meal by ordering a pastry basket—which comes with a bacon cheddar scone, honey cake, and grapefruit pound cake—for the table. Then move onto one of Upland's creative menu items, like the Eggs In Hell, a dish made with tomatoes, oregano, and Fresno chili peppers.
If you're not in the mood for eggs, Upland also serves up pizza, fried chicken sandwiches, and "The Larry David," an everything bagel with smoked whitefish, capers, tomatoes, and cream cheese.
The restaurant can get busy, so make a reservation early. If you have to wait, sidle over to the bar and order a cocktail.
Don't let the long lines outside Buvette every weekend intimidate you: The wait is worth it. With exposed brick walls, chalkboards featuring hand-drawn maps of France, and a sign for the restaurant attached to a bicycle parked out front, this tiny French bistro in Greenwich can only be described as charming.
If you come here, a love for French food is a must. One of Buvette's signature items is the Croque Monsieur, a traditional French sandwich made with ham and Gruyère cheese. Other crowd-favorites include the saumon fumé (eggs served with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and capers) and steak tartare. You can also enjoy French wines and cocktails that are popular in France, like the Aperol Spritz.
Roberta's is generally known for its delicious pizza that brings people from all over the city to Bushwick—but a little-known secret is that it has a pretty amazing brunch menu as well. Just look at the restaurant's scrambled eggs: They are made with cherry tomatoes, basil, pecorino, and sunflower spelt. You can also find buttermilk pancakes served with crème fraîche and strawberry jam; bacon, egg, and cheese croissants; and duck hash on the menu. Pizza, of course, is a given.
The line to get a table at Roberta's can be long any day, so grab a beer at the bar and take it over to the huge lawn to pass the time. Return here after you’re done with your meal for another round.
When you first walk down the stairs into the subterranean café, it's hard to know what you're getting yourself into—but you'll be pleased to find it feels like your cool friend's kitchen, where you’ll be cooked delicious food and served with lots of smiles. From the steak and eggs to the smashed avocado toast and signature Harissa Honey Roasted Chicken Breast Sandwich, you can’t go wrong with anything at this no-frills brunch spot.
Get here early to snag one of the wooden tables before it fills up with the fashion and media crowd that loves to come here. If you have to wait, meander down Bond Street and hit up some of the nearby boutiques.
This New American restaurant in Long Island City has everything you could possibly want in a brunch spot. Its 60-seat dining room is both welcoming and casually chic (think whitewashed brick walls and a wood ceiling that’s been painted white). The ample outdoor seating allows you to enjoy the sunshine on a beautiful day, plus the large bar surrounded by plants adds a serene touch as you sip your cocktails.
And then there is the food. Try ordering the breakfast taco salad, which might be New York City’s best food invention. It's a fried tortilla bowl topped with a sunny egg, house-made chorizo, avocado, black beans, cotija cheese, and fresh veggies.
Sunday in Brooklyn tries to bring the best part of Sunday straight to your table: breakfast sandwiches, fried chicken, coffee, and Negroni cocktails. This neighborhood restaurant near Domino Park is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. In the summer you can sit in the open-air kitchen and see how the magic happens, or you can snag a table on the sidewalk and people watch as you eat. When it’s too cold to sit outside, warm up by the wood-burning ovens placed in every room. Don't skip ordering the hazelnut maple praline pancakes for the table. They are so good, you'll never be able to go back to regular pancakes again.
Red Rooster in Harlem is the brainchild of celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, who wanted to revamp traditional soul food with fresh ingredients. Named after the legendary Harlem speakeasy that attracted authors, musicians, and leaders throughout the 20th century, Red Rooster still draws in the same crowd by displaying locally-made art and hosting live concerts in the supper club beneath the restaurant. It's a cultural experience as much as a meal.
While dinner is not to be missed, Red Rooster takes it up a notch every Sunday by hosting a soul food brunch featuring Vy Higginsen's Sing Harlem Choir. You'll be rocking in your seat in between bites of world-famous cornbread, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and cherry pie French toast.
This East Village hotspot may have been founded in 1983, but it still screams cool and has lines out the door. The founder is known for whipping up Moroccan-inspired brunch specialties like the Moroccan Benedict (eggs Benedict with spicy stewed tomato sauce added in) and Malawach (Yemenite bread with a hard-boiled egg, grated tomato, schug, and labne cheese.) Plants, unique light fixtures, and lots of colorful fabrics lend a lively vibe to the atmosphere. While the interior is beautiful, grab a seat outside on a warm summer day and watch the East Villagers go by.
If you find yourself in Brooklyn, the restaurant also has a second location in Williamsburg that is owned and operated by the same family.
Russ & Daughters is the place to go for a quintessential New York City breakfast: a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion, and capers. Since it opened in the Lower East Side in 1914, the NYC establishment has been a shop where you can pick up your cured salmon to bring home.
Now there is a café next door where you can relax and dig into some seriously heavenly lox. This is a place where ordering too much food isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Don't skip the famous knishes filled with potatoes, caramelized onions, and mustard. If you're feeling brave, get an order of the chopped liver for the table.
Although Mother's Ruin is a famous cocktail bar in Nolita, it also serves brunch every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., so you don't have to wait 'till the weekend for the best meal of the week.
The menu might seem random. It lists crab cake Benedict alongside a Cajun wedge salad and breakfast burrito—but the one thread that ties everything together is that each dish pairs perfectly with cocktails. Since Mother’s Ruin changes the cocktail list weekly, you can always expect to find new things when you come here for a bite.
Miss Lily's brings the Caribbean to downtown NYC with home-cooked Jamaican food. Inside the restaurant it feels like you're on an island, complete with drinks full of tiny umbrellas, colorful fabric tapestries, and women wearing flower dresses and halter tops. The menu consists of authentic Jamaican recipes, including jerk chicken, Escovitch fish, oxtail, curried goat, and corn covered in jerk mayonnaise and toasted coconut. The best part of this brunch? If you order an entrée you get one hour of select unlimited cocktails, including the famous rum punch.
While the flagship location is in SoHo, there is a second outpost in the East Village named Miss Lily's 7A Cafe.
If you’re looking for a boozy brunch, search no further than The Shady Lady in Astoria. This is one of the few places in New York City that offers a happy hour on the weekend (Saturday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 11 p.m. to 1 p.m.) And that's on top of a bottomless cocktail menu where you can get unlimited Bloody Marys, mimosas, draft beer, or sangrias.
While you go there to drink, the food stands on its own. There are four different styles of macaroni and cheese (including one with smoked bacon, prosciutto cotto, and fontina.) If you're hungry, opt for the Freakin' Starvin. For $24, you get pancakes, eggs cooked any style, bacon, sausage, a biscuit, and a side of white sausage gravy. After all, brunch is too delicious for making decisions about what to eat.