Brunching is a serious business in New York. Everyone has a local where they know the staff and have the menu committed to memory. But crowds, wait times and the desire for something new can make brunchgoers restless. If you’ve found yourself ordering your usual one too many times, here are some distinctive alternatives that bring some new cuisines and fresh ideas to your Saturday or Sunday morning.
Alternative Brunch Spots in NYC
Mexican: Black Ant, East Village
Sure, Mexican doesn’t really qualify as unusual, but The Black Ant’s approach to traditional Mexican ingredients sets it apart, with head chef Mario Hernandez, scouring Latin America for new ideas and tastes. While the brunch menu features less grasshopper hash and grilled cactus than dinner—the “Black Ant Granola” is not what it sounds like—brunch options still include some interesting seafood options, such as the grilled octopus bacon roll, and poached eggs and lobster. And the sleek, dark interior is beautiful, as you dine under the watchful compound eyes of the painting of a giant ant.
Russian: Russian Tea Rooms, Midtown
Russian brunch in New York can be whatever you want it to be, from a literal fairytale experience to a vodka-fueled Brighton Beach boardwalk affair. It can also be a meal in the lavishly decorated Russian Tea Room, where the plush booths, elaborate chandeliers, and general opulence are a great setting to consume caviar and champagne (both of which are on the menu).
Thai: Ngam, East Village
Thai is not normally considered a brunch food, but judging by Ngam’s menu, that’s a mistake. The food meets every brunch expectation and then exceeds it with a Thai twist: pumpkin pancakes, papaya pad thai, and eggs & bacon with lime and chilli sauce all feature. The big sign with the word “Love” written in lightbulbs is a reminder of the proper spirit in which to eat brunch.
French / Senegalese: Ponty Bistro, Gramercy Park / Harlem
Opening a new Harlem location just last year, Ponty Bistro serves lovingly presented French-West African cuisine. Its brunch menu hews more closely to the eggs-and-sandwiches standard than dinner, but the merguez sandwich and the charwarma are brunch options you won’t easily find elsewhere.
New Zealand: Kiwiana, Park Slope
Chef Mark Simmons, raised on a New Zealand sheep farm, brings New Zealand brunching to Park Slope, which mostly seems to mean serving tasty things in a relaxed atmosphere. There’s a trans-Pacific sensibility to the ever-changing menu, with scones, lamb, oysters and ANZAC porridge combined with mimosas and yuca tater tots.
And if you’re too stuffed with food at any of these places to contemplate the subway home, book a ride with us.