Brunch in New York City, USA

Stuart Forster looks at places to enjoy brunch in New York City.

Brunch is a meal that New Yorkers have made their own. It’s become a weekend institution that sees friends and families gather to enjoy good food and each others’ company. If you’re visiting New York City plan it into your itinerary.

As the term suggests, brunch draws elements from both breakfast and lunch. Most people meet for brunch late in the morning but sittings in several New York restaurants continue well into the afternoon.

Even residents of a city that never sleeps—if we are to believe those famous lyrics of New York, New York, that iconic song popularised by Frank Sinatra—need the occasional lie-in, so meeting to dine early on a Saturday or Sunday simply wouldn’t do.

New York - the city that never sleeps. Coffee 24 hours a day? No wonder.
New York – the city that never sleeps. Coffee 24 hours a day? No wonder.

Brunch is a weekend institution

That’s when brunch comes into its own, “because you don’t have to wake up early,” says Surita, who works during the week as a receptionist in a busy mid-town restaurant. “I feel brunch is mainly enjoyed during the spring and the summer when you’re hungover or after a busy week. You get to sit outside and enjoy Bloody Marys and whatnot” she says and names Barkogi (957 2nd Avenue; tel. 212-308-8810), a compact Korean fusion restaurant and bar, as her favourite brunch venue. The waffles come highly recommended.

Thousands of New Yorkers pour into restaurants, particularly on Sundays, to meet over brunch. Of course, not everybody does it every week, but, like a good friend, it’s always there when needed.

Greenwich Village is a perennially popular brunch destination. Negril Village (70 West 3rd Street; tel. 212-477-2804) is an upbeat Caribbean restaurant that opens at noon and serves dishes such as curry goat stew and a unique take on the club sandwich, prepared with spicy Jamaican jerk.

Brunch with benefits. New Yorkers leave the stress of the week aside during Sunday brunch.
Brunch with benefits. New Yorkers leave the stress of the week aside during Sunday brunch.

Brunch over in Brooklyn

Ask around and you’ll soon uncover a multitude of tips for brunch across New York’s five boroughs.

Allswell (124 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn; tel. 347-799-2743) in a casual venue, a gastropub offering brunch until 4.00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

Crispy bacon and fluffy, sugar-dusted pancakes drizzled with maple syrup is a popular, traditional North American breakfast treat that many diners also enjoy dipping into during brunch.

The country’s Tex-Mex cuisine means you can find dishes such as huevos rancheros, eggs served with spicy tomato-based salsa on a tortilla. Brunch menus tend to be diverse. You’re as likely to see home-style granola and freshly prepared salads as you are tender roast meats.

Poring over the menu while sipping on a cocktail or slurping a freshly brewed coffee is part of the experience; nobody wants to be rushed into making a decision on a weekend. Brunch is a meal that’s best enjoyed in a relaxed mood and is something that shouldn’t be rushed. It sets the tone for a day of leisure and helps people ready themselves for the week ahead.

Some of the hot dishes served during brunch at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Some of the hot dishes served during brunch at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

British origins of brunch

Brunch, like baseball, may well be seen as a quintessentially American activity but there’s evidence both had their origins on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in Great Britain. Back in 1895, the term was used in an article published in Punch magazine to describe a Sunday meal for “Saturday-night carousers”.

Party-goers in the modern age continue to embrace brunch. Why? Some might say it’s because the booze flows freely. Enjoying a glass of bubbly or the kick of a cocktail is part of the experience.

For those who’ve partied into the wee hours or simply overindulged the previous night, brunch offers a means of recovery and, often, a hair of the dog. Of course, whether or not drinking alcohol really is the best cure for a hangover is a debate that continues to simmer, often as a topic of brunch conversation. The theory is regularly put to the test.

Seafood - eat it. The raw bar at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, USA.
Seafood – eat it. The raw bar at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, USA.

Brunch at the Waldorf Astoria

One of the best-known and most celebrated of the many Sunday brunch venues in New York City is the Waldorf Astoria (301 Park Avenue; tel. 212-872-1275). The first seating is at 10.00 am and the last is at 2.00 pm, in the hotel’s elegant Peacock Alley restaurant, beneath the gleaming Art Deco grandeur of the famous lobby, where a pianist performs on Cole Porter’s grand piano.

The buffet’s vast spread encompasses a raw bar with oysters and clams plus a selection of caviar. In addition to the usual brunch favourites, classic dishes such as succulent Beef Wellington, lasagne and roast pork feature.

As you might expect, Waldorf Salad is available. There are also seasonal fruits plus a chocolate fountain, into which berries can be dipped after skewering them on a wooden stick. Anyone with room remaining might be tempted by a honey-dipped roasted marshmallow.

Wherever you go to New York and whatever you choose to do, experiencing brunch is much a part of visiting watching a baseball game at Yankee Stadium or shopping in Macy’s.

Chef toasting a marshmallow during Sunday brunch at the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel
A chef roasts a marshmallow at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, USA.

More information

Find out more about the attractions of New York City on the official NYC Go website.

For more about the USA beyond New York see the Visit the USA site.

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.

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  • Daryl Jones

    January 8, 2018 at 18:26 Reply

    Brunch in New York City is yet another reason why I wish every day could be Sunday!

    • Stuart Forster

      January 9, 2018 at 11:11 Reply

      I need to hit gym or go for a run after each brunch, otherwise I’d pile on the weight. But, yes, it’s one of the highlights of a visit to the Big Apple.

  • David Jarrett

    January 11, 2018 at 03:31 Reply

    Next time you are in New York go to Brooklyn. It’s a happening part of the city and has some excellent eateries for brunch.

    • Stuart Forster

      January 11, 2018 at 09:37 Reply

      Thanks for that tip. I love spending time in NYC and aim to do that.

  • Cindy Enright

    January 12, 2018 at 19:02 Reply

    Try a meal in the Buttermilk Channel on Brooklyn’s Court Street. It’s a lovely, laid-back eatery serving a good selection of comfort food. Well worth a look on a weekend.

  • Christopher Mason

    January 15, 2018 at 21:00 Reply

    Keep the suggestions coming. I have tried a couple of these joints already.

    • Stuart Forster

      January 17, 2018 at 16:15 Reply

      Hopefully Go Eat Do’s readers will provide a few more…or I’ll return to New York City before too long!

  • Gerry Levine

    January 18, 2018 at 06:46 Reply

    I’m currently considering the options for this weekend. Love this post!

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