NYC brunches worth the hype

By Skyler Bouchard

Photography by Getty

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June 2017

There’s never a shortage of must-try brunch spots in the Big Apple, but which ones are worth waiting in line for? Instagrammer and NYC food blogger, Skyler Bouchard, gives us the lowdown on the city’s real brunch stars.

The new kid on the block: Union Fare, Flatiron

The lowdown…

Union Fare is both a sit down restaurant and grab-and-go market. The dining room brunch menu hits all the right notes whether you’re looking to indulge or trying to be good. There are healthier options such as a brunch bowl and yogurt parfait; fun dishes like chicken and carrot cake waffles; or you can go with more “lunchy” choices, such as a harvest salad or breakfast mac n’ cheese.

People flock to this cute French cafe because of its quaint atmosphere, open garden dining and the beloved soft eggs

The details…

Brunch in the dining room is only served on weekends, but lucky for those of you who get a late start, they now serve 11.00 until 16.00 on Saturdays and until 18.00 on Sundays. Make a reservation to avoid wait times and lines, and if you're visiting on a whim, avoid peak hours 12-2PM.

Beat the crowds…

If you’re in a hurry or won’t be in town over the weekend, swing by the market on the other side of the restaurant and grab yourself a red velvet or birthday cake croissant from the bakery.

  • Dine in style at Union Fare.

    Luxurious private space

    Union Fare spans the size of a full city block and the building can cater for crowds for as large as 800 people – if you’re feeling generous.

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  • The best cup of Joe.

    Hot coffee fix

    Coffee at Buvette opens from 08.00-02.00 perfect for coffee cravings whatever time of day.

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  • Share a filling feast with friends and family at Pig & Khao.

    Crafty cocktails

    Once you’ve finished your bottomless feast at Pig & Khao, treat yourself to some unique cocktails such as the Bangkok Fire, featuring a Thai chili infused honey.

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The adventurist’s brunch: Shopsin’s, Lower East Side

The lowdown…

When I say this is the best brunch spot for adventurists, I’m talking about those of you who love a hole in the wall – Shopsin’s only has about 20 seats – and an unforgettable experience. In this case, an unforgettable experience is choosing from a menu with over 900 items of wild dishes like macaroni and cheese pancakes (a must!), 35 different stuffed pancake sandwiches, 190 soups, 34 “bread and breakfast” egg combos, and the list goes on until your eyes get sore from reading.

The details…

Rules are the name of the game at this no-nonsense eatery so be prepared. They won’t seat parties greater than four, and make sure everyone in your party is present before even trying to be seated. Don’t think about changing any items on the menu either, it’s a no-no. (e.g. don’t ask for extra cheese or more sauce). Don’t forget to study the menu before you go too. I mean it. The servers don’t waste time waiting for you to decide between those 900 items. If you take too long, you get the boot.

Beat the crowds…

Come on a weekday and avoid prime lunch hours (12.00-14.00) for the best chance of getting a seat.

The charming cafe: Buvette, West Village

The lowdown…

Buvette is one of those restaurants that makes you feel like a chic New Yorker, even if you’re not from here or remotely chic at all. People flock to this cute French cafe because of its quaint atmosphere; open garden dining and the beloved soft eggs.

The details…

The space is small, so the downside is that wait times are almost always high and the service can get pretty snooty. The upside is eating steamed eggs and prosciutto with Parmesan in a beautiful garden.

Beat the crowds…

Your best bet to avoid long wait times would be to go early in the morning (07.00-10.00) on weekdays for breakfast. On weekends, call ahead to ask about wait times and then get your newspaper and coffee ready because you may be waiting a while.

The NYC classic: Norma’s, Midtown

The lowdown…

Located inside the Le Parker Meridien Hotel, Norma’s has been around for almost 20 years. That equates to around two centuries in New York restaurant years. The reason it’s been able to stay open for so long is not only because of its prime midtown location, but also because of its decadent menu – boasting everything from a savoury foie gras French toast and banana macadamia nut flapjacks with brown butter sugar, to a $2,000 dollar omelette (yes, you read that right). That being said, Norma’s is definitely worth the hype.

  • Munch on something sweet and fruity with Norma’s Super Blueberry Pancakes.

    Part of something bigger…

    Norma’s is part of the Parker Meridien Hotel, which offers lavish suites, a fully-kitted gym, spa and even a top-floor swimming pool and panoramic views of Central Park. Book flights from London to New York from:£631 return

    Book flights

The details…

It’s open for breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday from 07.00 until 15.00 and on weekends 07.30-15.00, so this means you can still get your brunch fix even if you’re visiting during the week.

Beat the crowds…

Make a reservation, or if you’re coming last minute, avoid peak hours on weekends (12.00-14.00) so you don’t have to deal with high wait times.

Book a stay at Le Parker Meridien

The soul food spot: Queens Comfort, Astoria

The lowdown…

There are lots of chicken and waffle options in Manhattan, but the best comfort food is all the way up in Queens. Trust me, it's well worth the trip to Queens Comfort. We’re talking deep-fried French toast balls; deep-fried breakfast chimichangas and Cap’n Crunch-crusted chicken sandwiches.

The details…

As if the soulful brunch menu isn’t enough (they may as well have battered and fried the whole thing), there’s also a hidden doughnut shop downstairs, where sugar genius, Donut Diva creates unreal treats that’ll put you into a sweet coma. If you’re looking for the full brunch/doughnut experience, head to Queen’s Comfort on Sunday when the shop opens at 10.00. She’s only in the shop on Fridays and Sundays until she sells out.

Beat the crowds…

If doughnuts aren’t in the agenda for you, I still suggest going for brunch at 10.00 when it opens or after 14.00 when business is winding down. Also, swing by the ATM beforehand, it’s strictly cash only.

The boozy one: Pig & Khao

The lowdown…

Bottomless brunches are always tricky because usually, the quantity of mimosas is better than the quality of basic brunch food. But that’s not the case at Pig & Khao.

The details…

You wouldn’t think you’re craving Southeast Asian fare for brunch until you stumble in here and order yourself some longonissa sausage, sizzling sisig and powdered doughnuts with pandan custard. And of course, you get the option for two hours of bottomless mimosas or beer for an extra $15. It’s a party.

Beat the crowds…

Brunch ends at 15.30, so if you want to guarantee yourself a table, go early at 11.00. Or, if you have a party of eight or more, you can make a reservation. It’s great for birthday celebrations.