Brunch is a ‘thing’ in New York, and tables can be in such high demand that many don’t let you book, because they don’t need to. Queues can be out the door before opening, with a wait time of up to two hours in some of the more popular spots. Food is a massive part of any holiday, certainly mine, and with brunch being such a popular food endeavour I really wanted to get them right. Personally, I think we nailed it. We were both so happy with our food choices and the places we ate, that I thought I’d share them with you. Here’s the three brunch spots we loved in Manhattan.
Before I dive in, I just want to explain why brunch is something you should totally embrace in the USA. Visiting from the UK means that it’s actually very convenient, because you’re likely to be up really early.
Get a coffee and pastry as soon as you head out from wherever you can that’s open (we took advantage of Starbucks, Grand Central Station and a place called Sarabeth’s Bakery at the Chelsea Market), get a couple of hours sightseeing in, and you’ll find that you’re then really ready for something more substantial mid – late morning. Perfect brunch time as they all open their doors!
Clinton Street Baking Company
This was our first New York breakfast, located on the Lower East Side. It’s changed a bit since I last went there, and now has a little cafe section serving drinks and small snacks to go, and the main restaurant area around the front.
It’s one of the busier spots, where you can’t book and if you aren’t there for opening at 9am, you have to leave your name and number and they will text you when there’s a table ready. This should give you a clue as to how amazing it is when you do get sat down. It’s not overly posh, but it’s nicer than a cafe environment.
There’s a cute little juice bar called Ourika, and a cafe on the same street, but however hungry you are resist getting anything and save your appetite for the bakery.
When you finally get your table, take your time to browse the menu because it’s huge, and so naughty! Thick ice cream milk shakes, american style stacks of buttermilk pancakes with chocolate chip, banana and walnuts, or blueberry and syrup.
That’s just a very small insight into the pancakes alone, there’s also the brioche french toast also with banana, pecans and maple butter, eggs served all ways, smoked salmon, omelette’s and fried chicken with waffles.
American style breakfasts used to throw me, with their strange combination of meat with sweet dishes, and they have potatoes with everything, but you get used to it, and learn to love it.
I had to have the blueberry pancakes, and Kieran had the chicken with waffles. We also shared the french toast because it was too good to pass up on, but we couldn’t get near to finishing it. I also had a chocolate milkshake which was just incredible, and you get bottomless coffee too. For those who like their breakfast beverage spiked, you can choose from mimosas, bellini’s, bloody Mary’s and apple cider.
It’s so delicious, that I can see why people wait hours for that text to say their table is ready, so if you can really try to visit through the week. The brunch menu is all day every day, whereas some of the places I’ll go on to mention only serve brunch at the weekends. It’s a great one to start with, as it’s everything you could want for your first holiday breakfast/brunch.
In addition to their infamous brunch, Clinton St Baking Company also have a lunch and evening menu, with grilled sandwiches, tacos, soups, salads and cheeseburgers. Their website encourages visitors later in the day when the brunch crowds have subsided for a different experience. I’ve never made it but if the rest of the food is as good as those pancakes then it won’t disappoint.
Old Rose at The Jane Hotel
I will hold my hands up here and say that this one caught my eye on instagram because of how pretty it is! With the things I had planned for our trip, and a specific place in mind for the Sunday, I had the Saturday free to find us an amazing brunch place. My first place to look was instagram, where I’ve followed ‘newyorkcoffeeshops’ for ages.
They share some of the most adorable places for coffee, but don’t just base your decision off how cute it is. Go into their tagged photos where you’ll see locals and other visitors tagging their favourite places too.
Even though the pretty picture I initially saw was very inviting, the fact that it kept appearing in other peoples feeds and tagged photos made me think it must actually be a decent place to go for more than just its instagrammable decor.
I read through many brunch guides to Manhattan, but after carefully going through each menu, location and availability I stuck to my original find. You can book the Old Rose, as it’s part of a hotel, so I did just that and we went on the Saturday after a good few hours sightseeing tucked under our belts.
The Jane Hotel is located in the West Village, a very nice area of the city, not far from the High Line, the Whitney Museum, the Friends Apartment building and Greenwich Village. Right by the Hudson River it’s in a great spot, with plenty to see on your way there.
Old Rose is the Jane Hotel’s restaurant right from breakfast through to evening dinner, and it’s every bit as adorable as it looked on instagram. The giant black and white tiled floor, the high white bar, the ornate windows overlooking the river, and the quirky art on the walls, I loved it and it’s exactly what I had in mind.
It’s more sophisticated than a normal cafe, and despite being in a hotel I got the impression that most of the clientele are locals, which is a good sign.
Bottomless coffee was on the menu again, but this time I also got a spicy Bloody Mary and Kieran got a beer. Personally I always favour the more breakfast type food on a brunch menu, whereas Kieran goes more for the lunch option.
He got a pepperoni pizza, and I went for the eggs benedict served on an English muffin. We got some smashed and fried potatoes on the side too, which came with the most amazing dipping sauce.
I was in my absolute element here, people watching, great service, my coffee regularly topped up, and in a beautiful New York setting with excellent food. Everything you could want for your Saturday morning brunch.
The Spotted Pig
Just as I did when we were actually in New York, I’ve saved the best for last. I had been to the Spotted Pig before, and of all my past visits to NYC it’s the one place I would go back to time and time again. It’s just so good, for so many reasons.
Located in Greenwich Village, on the corner of Greenwich Street and West 11th Street, the Spotted Pig is probably the coolest place I’ve been to in New York, and in my favourite neighbourhood. Bleecker Street is close by, with the Magnolia Bakery, Louboutin down the road, and the type of incredible New York brownstone townhouses that most of us mere mortals can only dream of being able to afford.
The whole area is just insane, and especially around the Spotted Pig, a lot more chilled out than the tourist traps of other areas of Manhattan. Of course the tourists flock to the Magnolia Bakery, and you absolutely should too, but they’re pretty scarce as you delve into the neighbourhood and especially at the Pig itself.
You can’t book, they open at 11ish, and there’s always a queue. They won’t seat you until your whole party arrives, and it’s almost all locals. There’s a little bench outside which you can wait on, and I would get there about 15-20 minutes before opening if I were you.
Not only will it guarantee you a seat on the first round of seating, but it’s fun to watch all the expensive looking people walk by. It’s very much like Notting Hill, but a lot quieter, and there are so many French bulldogs about!
Inside, it’s quite like a British pub bar, but with a French cafe type seating arrangement. Tiny round tables line along the windows, with bigger tables through the back and upstairs. The whole place is decorated with pigs – ornaments, paintings, door stops, coat hooks, everything.
The menu is smaller than their main menu for brunch, but still has a decent amount of choice, including oysters, salads, soup, their famous burger and shoestring fries, french toast with banana and syrup, a dutch baby pancake with bacon and syrup, poached eggs with hash, and duck rillette.
They also serve bar snacks if you fancy something as a starter, we went for the devilled eggs, but theres also roasted almonds, olives, pickles and chicken liver toast. Even if you aren’t eating, you can sit at the bar and order these, it seemed a really popular thing to do as the bar stools were never empty.
For our main brunch dishes, Kieran went for the burger, I had the poached eggs and hash, alongside a pint and a Bloody Mary. All were just as delicious as I remembered, and our waitress made the whole experience so easy and relaxed. You can sometimes feel pressure in places in New York when there’s big queues of people waiting, and staff rushing around, but this is one place where you definitely don’t.
They don’t rush anything, the whole atmosphere is relaxed and they want you to enjoy your time there however long you take. We even ordered a bottle of wine to share when we had finished our food, and some more olives. We must have been there a good three hours. I’m so glad we went on the Sunday, as by this point we had seen and been to a lot of the tourist sights. This was our day to relax and live more like the locals.
We stayed so long that by the time we left we were definitely tipsy, and hungry again, so we had to stop by the Magnolia Bakery for a cheesecake. This was my favourite day of the whole trip.
These three places all contributed to how much of a great time we had in New York. I’d say they got better each day, but that’s my personal preference and all have such high quality food and service. With so much choice on food places in Manhattan it really pays to do your research, not just on instagram but everywhere you can, and read all the menus, and reviews of each place.
Here’s a couple of others that made my shortlist but that I’d really love to visit another time:
Jack’s Wide Freda
If you go please visit them for me and tell me how they are?!
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