The ABC’s are dangerously close to my apartment, and every time I pass them on a stroll I think to myself, “I should really try this for brunch.” Normally, I talk myself out of the steep prices and continue on my way, but this particular morning I was on a mission to brunch with Jean-George.
Paul and I chose ABC Cocina and despite the restaurant being fairly empty, we were told there were no available tables unless we wanted to sit at the bar (dislike). There was also patio seating available, but it’s not the nicest atmosphere outside. Luckily, we were both content sitting in close quarters and the oversized communal table at the bar was vacant, so we claimed it all to ourselves.
It’s impossible not to notice the decor immediately, as the restaurant also serves as a showroom for pieces sold in its sister store, ABC Carpet and Home. Chandeliers and unique light fixtures adorn the dark grey walls, which are accented with cement barnacles and other clever touches. The tableware and miniature flower arrangements complete this expansive yet intimate space and I had fun picking favorites while we waited for our server.
A complimentary bread basket arrived first, which included an unusually moist house-made foccacia, Sullivan’s bakery sourdough, and organic olive oil. We were starving, so naturally we polished off the entire basket. I was impressed that it was the replenished in full for a second time without us asking.
We decided that our brunch needed some booze, so Paul ordered the margarita and I ordered the mango sangria, which was a new addition to the drink menu. I enjoyed my sangria, but the overly sweet mango made it tough to finish. The ABC Cocina margarita is an old friend thanks to my 23rd birthday celebration, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for tequila to start their day.
The menu is difficult to navigate without help from the waiter, with varying portions and courses. It’s mainly small plates, tapas style, with prices that are more in line with a regular-sized entree so it can be confusing at first look what your brunch strategy should be. It’s also light on breakfast options, with the waiter pointing us towards most of the dinner staples we’d had in the past.
First for food, we ordered the churro, which was generously dusted with coconut and sugar. This glorified funnel cake literally melts in your mouth, leaving a wonderful sugary apple aftertaste thanks to the accompanying apple dipping sauce. Obviously being doused in sugar made this right up my alley, and it was a favorite of the brunch.
Next up was the Huevos, which was the star of the show, and offered a nice balance of spice and flavor. Two sunny side eggs were served on a warm tortilla covered in a spicy sauce, and it was less hearty than your usual Heuvos as it’s bean-free. The standout was the side of refreshing bean salsa, which I heaped on every bite.
We had to pair savory with something sweet, so we also ordered the Mexican French toast, which was uniquely crispy and served with mangos. The fruit and the consistency made this dish more memorable than your standard french toast, but I didn’t think it merited the $17 price tag.
After all that, PK was still hungry, so he ordered a crunchy fish taco, which we found to be overwhelmingly spicy and doused in too much mayo sauce, making it messy and unmanageable for a taco.
The prices are exorbitant, and while most of the food was great, I have a lot more trouble spending that much on brunch with so many cheaper yet comparable competitors. Our cocktails cost a steep price of $15 dollars, which is completely unaffordable for anyone looking for a boozier brunch. Portions were small for the price, and I’d have trouble recommending this to friends who weren’t dining on someone else’s dime.
The Bitches say B+. If you’re looking for a fancier Mexican brunch with quality, unique dishes that won’t leave you unbutton-your-pants full, ABC Cocina is your place. However, expect much emptier wallets.
38 East 19th St.
New York, NY
ABC Cocina serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.