There is nowhere else Brunch has such weighted significance as in New York. Summer or winter, Saturday or Sunday it defines ‘weekend’ for most New Yokers. This gathering of friends or family at ‘their’ brunch place at ‘their’ table (in the corner or by the window) has an importance that far outweighs other meals.
If you are a native New Yorker it would be presumptuous to say anything about Brunch except ‘enjoy’! Everybody has their favorite place, drink and server. There are rituals that surround everything from the coffee, the booze you drink, what menu items are established favorites or what will be given a tryout. And of course there’s the conversation….all parts of the whole are brilliant, necessary and unique to each group. It’s a celebration, it’s a coming together, it’s brunch.
If you are a visitor to New York read the above and be wary. New Yorkers crowd into their favorite brunch places in their thousands so don’t try to join them, either in the long lines that queue outside or crammed inside with them as they pursue this weekly ritual. Work around the crowds or you will get trampled in the rush. Come early before 11.30am or later after 2.30pm. Don’t fight the timing people, if you do it’s all a big hassle and who wants to confuse the quiet, extended pleasures of a great brunch with hassle. Of course if you can snag a reservation somewhere, go for your life, that’s different, but there are many more great brunch places without reservations than with them, so good luck with that.
The essence of a good brunch is firstly the coffee, don’t even think about going somewhere where you can’t get good coffee, it defines the quality of the brunch. You have your freedom in the eats department. You can go the breakfast route or the more substantial meat+ route. Be innovative in your food choices, after all brunch is all about freedom to choose and it’s a meal you only have once a week.
Then of ocourse there is the booze. A word of warning to New York visitors, steer well clear of places that offer endless mimosas, bellinis or bloody Marys, unless of course it is your choice to get completely tanked. Let’s be realistic. Being the sober one in a roomful of people doing their drunk thing doesn’t usually have much to offer unkless you enjoy having people bash into you and yell half remembered songs in your ear. If you do not want go the drunk route choose a classy glass of chilled rose or champagne at your quieter brunch venue of choice and you’ve got the booze covered.
Now where to go. If you try and come up with a ‘best of’ list for virtually any dish or restaurant in NYC you can do it easily. Not with brunch, it’s all too personal and tribal. There’s so many factors involved. I offer Time-Outs list of 50 brunch places broken down into Boozy, Cheap, For Kids, Groups and Fancy because that takes care of some of the details and the list is long enough for you to have choice. See 50 Best Brunch Places In New York. Enjoy, a great New York Brunch is really, really something, don’t go home without having one.