The Best Brunch Spots in New York City

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*Back from a brief hiatus—new job, sporadic posts to come. But I’m still here and wandering the City. 🌃🚕

Brunch is, fairly objectively, the most quintessentially New York meal––with the possible exception of late night drunchie fueled binge eating street food on the curb. But that’s another post. The morning, or most often afternoon after a bender is often marked by a plate of pancakes and mimosas, in the beautiful chaos of a bustling New York restaurant. While the pandemic has changed just about everything, there are still plenty of places to fulfill a late morning craving for eggs benedict (or a burger––I’m more of a lunch at brunch kind of girl). After seven years in the City, here are my favorite brunch spots––

Bubby’s: A Tribeca classic, known for their amazing, super fluffy pancakes of various varieties (my favorite is nutella and berry, and there’s also a “pancake flight” if you can’t choose just one). They cost $22, which initially had me reluctant, partially because I found it kind of annoying they had the audacity to charge twenty-two fucking dollars for PANCAKES. But they are that good, and there’s a full menu of other delightful brunch-y classics.

Bubby’s Best Brunch NYC pancakes

Jack’s Wife Freda: Mediterranean-French-American fusion with fabulous, filling but never heavy brunch; super Insta-friendly and after many years in operation, still trendy. Menu is varied, and very satisfying. I usually have a favorite dish at restaurants, but it’s hard for me to pick just one or even two or three here. There are multiple locations, all of them airy and bright.

Jack’s Wife Freda Best Brunch NYC

Ruby’s: Brunch on the edge of Soho and the Lower East Side, similar to Jack’s Wife Freda but a little more earthy crunchy. Not excessively healthy though––personally I’m not super into health fewd and may die at fifty from a diet of Lunchables and Shake Shack, and I still lovvvveee this place. Burgers are dank, and I highly recommend the sweet potato fries with sour cream and sweet chili. Also very photo-friendly, and given the somewhat *basic* clientele you won’t feel uncomfortable standing up and snapping a flatlay.

Ruby’s Best Brunch NYC

Root and Bone: One of my favorite brunch spots, just as great any other time of day. It’s primarily a southern restaurant, in charming East Village fashion. Very cool in a low-key way, and the service is amazingly friendly. Southern hospitality in New York. Really, they’re outstanding and great at making suggestions if you don’t know what to order. I suggest the chicken and waffles, and mac n’ cheese. I also suggest reservations, because they’re quite popular and the restaurant itself isn’t huge.

The Bluebell Cafe: My go-to when I was at NYU, living in Gramercy. Feels like a Sunday morning, and is great for a hangover. Partially because the food is delicious, reasonably healthy all things considered and good for soaking up alcohol (I’m not sure if that’s actually how hangovers work, but that’s what it feels like). But the space also just makes you feel cleaner. It’s refreshing, busy but not overwhelming. And it’s well-priced for New York, especially for the large portions.

Bluebell Cafe Best Brunch NYC

Sunday in Brooklyn: This one, as the name would suggest, also feels like a Sunday morning. In the best way. Eggs are to-die-for, and the pancakes rival Bubby’s. They’re also very COVID safe, and have distanced booths. Sometimes the service is great…other times I’ve found them a little pretentious and obnoxious, which is kind of par for the course for a very trendy restaurant in Williamsburg. But seeing as I hate pretension and am too obnoxious myself to tolerate dickishness from others, I’ve occasionally come out of this place irritated. Definitely worth it though…because even though I’m annoyed, I’m also full of really, really delicious food. Make reservations, otherwise you’re unlikely to get in.

Sunday in Brooklyn Best Brunch NYC

The Flying Cock: Brunch is great, but dinner and drinks are just as good. Definitely a *cheeky* vibe, as the Brits say. There’s a very Insta-friendly sign in the restaurant that reads “stay cocky”. Pancakes are the most popular brunch item, but the appetizers are also really yummy, and unique. Drinks are generous and tasty too. Haven’t been in a few months, but last I knew they’ve got bottomless drinks for $25, which is a pretty awesome deal considering the average drink in New York costs around $15.

The Flying Cock Best Brunch NYC

The Smith: Another spot that’s equally wonderful for brunch, dinner, and drinks. There are several locations around the City. I’m most well-acquainted with the one on 11th and 3rd Ave, but I assume the service and food is the same at all of them. Really good for groups, great energy. It’s homey but effortlessly cool, and walks a line between a modern American bistro and a retro soda shop. Probably my favorite New York City chain. Their apple churro waffles are my favorite brunch item, ranchero scramble a close second. I’ve heard the raw bar is wonderful too (can’t comment first hand, I don’t eat oysters because they’re not kosher and the texture is repulsive to me). There’s something preppy and coastal about the place, in an old school, Gatsby-ish way. On that note, they have a drink called the Gatsby, and it’s only one of many delicious and generous cocktails on the menu.

The Smith Best Brunch NYC

Milk and Honey: My favorite brunch place and cafe for the year I spent marooned in Ditmas Park off the Q train. I would spend days there writing, with breaks for well-priced breakfast classics, flatbreads in the afternoon. Breakfast tacos are my favorite menu item––there’s a lot of stuff like that. New classics, twists on the old. The food is interesting in addition to being really good. Feels like summer, tastes like fall. It’s never heavy, and feels healthy even though much of it is most certainly not.

Milk and Honey Best Brunch NYC

Happy brunching!