A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being surrounded by my best friends to ring in my 27th year. Three of my girlfriends from college, Natalie, Jaki, and Jackie, flew in from Chicago for an epic celebration out in East Hampton.
We had a few hours to kill on Friday morning before heading out East so obviously brunch was necessary to catch up on gossip and plot out our upcoming weekend shenanigans.
Our criteria was a weekday brunch, downtown on the West Side as we had a helicopter to catch right off the West Side Highway. This was harder to find than one might imagine. After a bit of research, I slapped myself for not thinking of Cafeteria, an acclaimed, flamboyant Chelsea diner, which serves breakfast fare until 5 p.m. daily.
Cafeteria was surprisingly bustling for 10 a.m. on a Friday and continued to fill up as we dined. It was really humid so we opted to eat indoors, but it’s to be noted that there are a number of small sidewalk tables as well.
The restaurant is spacious and bright inside, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling garage-style windows and plentiful white accents. It’s been open for 15 years, quite impressive for New York City, which makes sense because I found the decor slightly dated.
Cafeteria has an impressive cocktail menu with super spicy Bloodys and a variety of champagne cocktails, but our group opted out because we knew there was plenty of alcohol forthcoming for my birthday weekend.
Jaki sipped on a hot green tea while I went with a latte. I was pleased to learn that Cafeteria offers almond milk, which can be hit or miss with restaurants these days.
Cafeteria’s all-day breakfast menu features some tempting options such as lemon ricotta pancakes, croissant French toast, and truffled eggs, all of which are equally appetizing at 1 p.m. or 1 a.m. However, we all had a bit of self control and kept our brunch orders light. Birthday treats + a weekend in a bikini = easy on the brunch.
I ordered the avocado toast, which is actually considered a side dish at Cafeteria and priced accordingly. This was one of my top avocado toasts! The dish had a generous amount of avocado, a zippy flavor from the roasted red pepper flakes, and was perfectly complemented by a caramelized squeeze of grilled lemon.
Jackie ordered the oatmeal topped with almond slivers and berries. She enjoyed the consistency of the oatmeal, but was surprised by a mass of honey hidden in the center of the bowl. Overall, she commented that the honey made the dish too sweet for her liking and she would have preferred to add her own sweetener.
Jaki went with the maple almond granola served with fresh fruit, low fat Greek yogurt, and organic honey. The presentation was stunning and she loved the abundance of both fruit and granola. She lamented that typically restaurants can skimp on these key accouterments so she had nothing but praises for Cafeteria’s dish.
Natalie fueled up for the weekend with a build-your-own-omelet. She kept it light and selected avocado and spinach as her fillers. The omelet was tasty, but a tad thick for her liking; she would have preferred less eggs and more veggies. I’m a potato fiend and can attest that the home fries were delicious. Also, as a bonus, there’s no up-charge for avocado.
Overall, we enjoyed our food, but there weren’t any huge stand outs besides my avocado toast. To be fair, we did order like basic Bitches and didn’t try any of the more indulgent options, which I’ve heard knock it out of the park.
The Bitches say: B. A solid diner-esque brunch option, especially for weekday brunching. We appreciated a broad assortment of brunch staples on the menu and a fun, flippant vibe.
119 7th Ave.
New York, NY
Cafeteria serves brunch all day until 5 p.m., seven days a week.