Five Must-Try Brunch Spots in New York’s East Village

Enjoy an unrushed, sunlit morning meal with friends, pastry, eggs, coffee — and maybe even a cocktail — at these great East Village brunch destinations.

Out are the mornings (and afternoons) of bottomless brunches. In is the civilized brunch, one that pairs cooking far beyond toaster waffles with the finest fair-trade coffees Bushwick or Ridgewood or Sunset Park can roast up. From surprising neighborhood bakeries to James Beard Award-winning restaurants, these daytime dining destinations are worth setting a weekend alarm for.


Regulars have a cult-like devotion to Ali Sahin, the dry-witted chef-owner of this tiny storefront cafe. Admittedly, Sahin has achieved mastery of NYC’s breakfast favorite: the BEC. Across his many versions, served on still-warm brioche or croissant with pork belly or merguez or a rough and peppery chorizo, the only ingredient not made in-house is the egg. Order a breakfast sandwich and a seriously good coffee and sit in the dining shed outside to watch the neighborhood walk by. Pick up a baguette or knock-out loaf of rye before you leave. And consider becoming a regular.

178 E. 7th Street


Hearth, long the local’s destination for a splurge dinner, does brunch, too. As on his dinner menu, chef-owner Marco Canora takes rustic Tuscan ingredients and turns them into simple, perfect dishes. The menu changes with the week’s farm market selections, so expect some seasonal additions. The chef’s signature brodo provides a bass note to a Bloody Mary (you can opt for one without meat broth, too, of course). Order a big bowl of the ribollita with a poached egg or Fabio’s Famous Tomato and Egg, served bubbling in a small cast iron skillet, primed for sopping up with grilled bread. If you have room for dessert, a slice of the fruity olive oil cake topped with marmalade and crème fraîche is strongly recommended.

403 E. 12th Street
Veselka, at 144 2nd Avenue, has been a neighborhood staple since 1954. Photo: Brian Logan Photography/

Cafe Mogador

This absolute staple is as sunny, pretty, and full of artsy boho energy as when it opened in 1983. The cuisine is Moroccan-ish; the clientele fashionably-dressed (discreetly scan for celebrities with bedhead among the cafe’s beautiful people slumped over steaming cappuccinos). Mogador serves breakfast during the week until 4 pm (order Moroccan Eggs or Halloumi Eggs, both served with a side of chopped Middle Eastern salad and wedges of hot, puffy pita peppered with za’atar) and weekend brunch (the Moroccan Benedict with a side of merguez sausage is the classic but Malawach — Yemeni flatbread topped with a poached egg and warmed tomato then drizzled with labne and a peppery coriander green sauce — starts your weekend with a kick).

101 St. Marks Place


For such a small space (three blond-wood booths, a few tables beside the front window bench, and some stools at the counter), Smør manages to impart a lot of big Nordic tastes. Its brunch menu offers tasty egg plates and an avocado toast livened up by a welcome tang of pickled red onions, but the smørrebrød selection is where things get really interesting, palate-wise: the open-faced smoked salmon on rye comes with a dollop of lemon curd, for instance, and the Scandi-standard pickled herring toast is joined by a curried herring version that can convert purists. The weekday crowd feels more local than the one on weekends and the wait is quicker, but sipping a cardamom latte watching the world out the window is a bucket-list start for a great lazy Saturday.

441 E. 12th Street


An airy remnant of the neighborhood’s Ukrainian roots, Veselka has occupied this corner of East 9th Street and Second Avenue since it opened as a small coffee shop/candy store/newsstand in 1954. Though much expanded and modernized — a wall of windows, soaring ceilings, quirky murals by local artist Arnie Charnick, vegan and gluten-free menu items — Veselka hasn’t forgotten its history. The stools at the front counter still display real regulars reading real newspapers. Order brunch à la carte (pierogies, those stuffed pockets of delight, and a cup of borscht) or go for one of the brunch menu selections (like salmon and latke eggs genedict).

144 2nd Avenue

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