Best Breakfasts and Brunches, NY Style

New York is at its most iconic in the mornings- bagels, coffee, a copy of the NY Times read during morning commutes. Leisurely weekend brunches. Breakfast at Tiffany's. Coffee buzzes through the veins of this city, a street cart egg sandwich or bagel with shmear is the morning fuel for masses of people rushing to work, and Sunday brunch has basically been elevated into an art form. For a city that never sleeps, we take our morning gruel seriously. Here is an a.m. list to make those mornings run a little bit smoother, both classic spots and newcomers to the breakfast and brunch scene.
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359 1st Ave, New York City, NY 10010-5611

In the constant wars and rankings of best NYC bagels, Ess-a-Bagel often finds itself at the top of the list, and with due reason. These hand-rolled rings of deliciousness are perfect. The small café on 1st Avenue and 21st street is nearly always busy and you can often expect a wait, but a bite into the crispy crust and wonderfully soft and chewy inside and you’ll understand what all the fuss is about. The place is known for its large selection of cream cheeses and add-ons, but go for the lox and cream cheese for a true New York experience.

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Russ & Daughters

179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

This family-owned Lower East Side establishment is a New York institution. A mecca of smoked fish and caviar, land of shmears and salads, this Old World boutique practically invented the NY icon of bagel and lox. An “appetizing store” opened in 1914 catering to Jewish immigrants in the LES, Russ & Daughters is a historical food landmark that remains largely unchanged and continues to sell such traditional items as pickled herring, bialys, and rugelach. This family affair has recently extended its emporium to include a café. The Russ & Daughters Café echoes the sentiments and aesthetics of the store located three blocks away, and provides a sit-down experience when take-away is not enough.

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Black Seed Bagels

170 Elizabeth Street, New York City, NY 10012

A newcomer to the NYC bagel scene, this little Nolita bakery has garnered the attention of discerning bagel-hounds and foodies with their hand-rolled, wood fired gems. The real kicker- these are Montreal style bagels, or a hybrid version of them. The rivalry over bagels between these two cities is a long-standing battle, and some might see Black Seed as an intruder on to the New York scene, but the quality and caliber of these bagels cannot be denied. Smaller, denser, and sweeter than their NYC counterparts, Montreal bagels are boiled in water that has been sweetened with honey before they are baked in wood-fired oven. Black Seed marries the two styles into a delicious symphony of chewy and soft, dense and air, sweet and salty. The shop features a beautiful wood paneled space and open kitchen for your viewing pleasure.

Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant

4 Clinton St, New York City, NY 10002

The lines might be long, the wait exasperating, but what’s all that for a bite of delicate and pillowy blueberry pancake perfection. Continuously voted the best in the city, these golden griddle cakes are light and fluffy, slightly sweet, crispy edged, and all sorts of wonderful- a luscious delight. The small restaurant on Clinton Street is a haven of comfort and a perennial brunch favorite, which in New York speak means- expect a two hour wait. The menu extends beyond the award-winning pancakes and is nothing short of stellar, with a mouthwatering buttermilk biscuit sandwich, savory omelettes, and chicken and waffles.

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144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

For a breakfast craving at any time of day, Veselka is the place to go. This 24-hours Ukranian eatery has been an East Village crowd pleaser since 1954, a cozy institution for late night piergogi, borscht, and potato pancakes. Their all day breakfast is a blend of classic staples and Eastern European specialties, so aside from midnight pancakes, waffles, and French toast, you can also indulge in blintzes, smoked salmon pierogi, and plum knydli. The weekend brunch menu expands upon the breakfast offerings and features the Salmon Latka Eggs Benedict, a house favorite.

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The City Bakery

3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

Behold the pretzel croissant. Long before the cronut took over the scene, this signature hybrid pastry with a cult following made City Bakery a destination. Though the breakfast pastry menu extends to a delicious selection of freshly baked muffins, scones, and biscuits, the pretzel croissant is the crowning glory of this Union Square bakery and café. Flaky, buttery layers and a harmony of sweet and salty have captivated the taste buds of loyal followers. Hot chocolate is another legendary favorite here at City Bakery and hailed as the city’s best- silky, frothy, and rich, served with a gargantuan house-made marshmallow, it is the winter beverage of choice. The killer combo of pretzel croissant and bowl of hot chocolate makes for a sinful breakfast of champions.

Doughnut Plant

379 Grand Street, New York City, NY 10002

There are a couple of serious contenders in the New York doughnut game, but dare I say that the Doughnut Plant is the crème de la crème. With such flavors as peanut butter and banana cream, tres leches, crème brulee, carrot cake, and seasonal favorites such as panettone, marzipan, roasted chestnut, and rose petal, these hand crafted, over-sized, rings and squares of goodness can easily become an addiction. The doughnuts are eggless and made with high quality ingredients and are divided into three categories: yeast, cake, and filled. And because doughnuts of such a caliber deserve to be consumed with coffee of equal quality, Doughnut Plant serves java from New York favorites Intelligentsia and Toby’s Estate.

Balthazar Restaurant

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

A classic masterpiece on the New York brunch landscape, Balthazar is a piece of Paris reincarnated on Spring Street. The Sunday brunch is epic, with such showstoppers (besides the clientele, which regularly includes A-listers) as sour cream hazelnut waffles, eggs bella donna, and a ratatouille omelette, a selection of hangover cocktails, and a bountiful baskets of freshly baked breads and pastries. However, weekends are crowded and brunch requires a reservation made much in advance. Weekday breakfast is Balthazar at its best- the eggs, the atmosphere, the bowls of cappuccinos, the elegance of it all. A dose of the Left Bank in the heart of Soho. The adjoining Balthazar Bakery is a nook of croissant dreams and baguette reveries, and a delicious option for a breakfast on the go.

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor

13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

When eggs and pancakes become tired and lackluster, there’s nothing like a dim sum brunch to bring a dose of fresh tastes and culinary excitement to your brunch game. Nom Wah Tea Parlor is the city’s oldest dim sum joint and a classic choice. Though renovated a couple of years ago, Nom Wah retains its vintage charm and feel, with red leather booths and checkered tablecloths that evoke years past. The food is fresh and delicious, all dim sum made to order. Order a bounty and indulge in a tasting table of egg rolls, dumplings, steamed buns, and scallion pancakes.

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42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014

It’s easy to fall in love with Buvette, as this charming gastrotheque delivers a delightful blend of elegance and comfort, Parisian allure and the coziness of home. It’s both Old World, and neighborhood go-to spot, perfect for any time of day. But there’s nothing like mornings in the West Village, and the breakfast and brunch menu at Buvette delivers. Beautiful breads and pastries are complimented by excellent La Colombe coffee, and delicious tartines, eggs, crepes, and croques are almost transportive. Settle into this sun lit space and enjoy a plate of steamed eggs with prosciutto or the Cr’q Madame. Buvette makes for beautiful mornings.

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120 West Third Street, New York City, NY 10012

This unassuming Greenwich Village hole-in-the-wall is the world’s first Oatmeal Bar. The signature oatmeal bowls (in the adorable “baby/mama/papa bear” sizing) offer a plethora of choices for both sweet and savory meals, from the classic comforts of brown sugar cinnamon raisin or blueberry maple walnut, to more extravagant inventions such as The Canadian with cinnamon roasted apples, cheddar cheese, bacon, maple syrup and sea salt, or the Truffle RisOATto, or the dessert S’mores bowl. There is also the build-your-own bowl option, with over 80 toppings to choose from, as well as an assortment of oatmeal studded pastries and treats.

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Two Hands

164 Mott Street, New York City, NY 10013

Coffee is religion for many New Yorkers, and a good cup of joe is easy to find throughout the city. Specialty roasters and serious coffee shops speckle the island and outer boroughs, but a new breed of java has recently invaded town- the Aussies have arrived. Two Hands is one of a handful of newcomers that has garnered a loyal following with their perfect flat whites and avocado toast. The café is a beautiful sunlit space that will not only satisfy your caffeine cravings, but fuel your morning with a scrumptious brekkie. Pair your expertly crafted cortado or latte with a baked egg roll, ricotta toast, or an acai bowl.

Last updated at Mar 01, 2016