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NYC Best & Worst Brunches of 2014

Best and Worst Brunches
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We’ve had quite the year in New York.

For starters, we launched our Manhattan site and we’ve flourished in a frenzy of brunching and Bitching ever since. We’ve networked with entrepreneurs almost cooler than us, shared bites with celebrity chefs, covered events we’d never have dreamed of attending five years ago, and reviewed some of the best restaurants in, quite possibly, the world.

We signed our first exclusive gym partner (thanks in advance for the abs, Pure Barre), and our first travel partner (thanks for our luxury steals abroad, TrueCurrency). We sweated and shivered through photo shoots to expand our fashion content, and we planned elaborate international vacations to expand our travel content. We’ve brunched at almost 100 restaurants and tried and reviewed all the new boutique fitness trends to burn off our French toast calories. Needless to say, we’ve been pretty damn busy.

We’ve invited you into our crazy New York dream and documented our experiences in 160 characters and Hudson-filtered photos, and we’re just a little bit sentimental by our 2014 accomplishments. To celebrate, we’ve reflected on all of our brunches and put together the best and worst of the year to help you plan away for next year.

We’re so grateful for your following and support, and hope you spread the Bitches who Brunch love with the rest of your holiday cheer. Read on for the Best & Worst of the year, and if you’re looking for the best of a specific dish, click here for the Best Brunch Bites of the Year. 

The Best

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Best Overall: A+s are a diamond in the rough. We rarely give them, even in our thriving food scene, because they represent a truly spectacular meal. The 4 A+s we did administer this year, however, were no-brainers. The winner of them all is Maialino, for defining what incredible brunch means in New York City and offers the kind of food that you want to share with all of the special people in your life.

Dimes Brunch

Best Cheap Eats: Dimes nailed it with an inventive, delicious menu and a relaxed, hipster heaven vibe; all under $13!

Lafayette Brunch

Best FancyPants Brunch: Lafayette will meet everything you’re looking for, whether it’s a group brunch, a date, or a place to impress your out-of-town friends. The memorable food and ambiance justifies the steeper prices; just don’t forget to order a pastry.

The Little Owl Brunch

Best Atmosphere: Little Owl is a magical, cozy little place that has secured a special place in our heart; it feels like home, but serves food fit for a Queen. Prepare for a wait worth our A+ rating and enjoy the West Village surroundings while you do so.

Clinton St Baking Co

Most Deserving of the Wait: The pancakes, among other things, are well worth the hype and even the wait at Clinton St Baking Company. Try the takeout menu if you would rather savor these delicious brunch offerings at home, but we suggest you have the full experience.

Colonie

Best Farm to Table Brunch: Go to Colonie for a wonderful brunch at a true food pioneer of the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. Emphasizing seasonal produce and local purveyors, you’ll feel right at home.

Sweet Chick Brunch

Best Weekday Brunch: Go to Sweet Chick for mouthwatering soul food and a relaxed Brooklyn-esque vibe. Plus, good weekday brunches are a rarity – we recommend camping out here on your next personal day.

Best Themed Brunch: The ambiance, service, and most importantly, the food at Miss Lily’s were authentically Jamaican and equally fun. Don’t worry, be happy, brunch on, Bitches!

Locanda Verde Brunch

Best Italian BrunchIt’s difficult to pick a favorite from the plethora of outstanding Italian brunch entrees we were served at Locanda Verde, and coupled with the trendy yet inviting atmosphere and the waiters who really knew the menu, this is a must-try. 

Best Newcomer: Root & Bone is the perfect new neighborhood spot for some comfort food and Southern hospitality. Don’t miss the biscuits and fried chicken; there’s even a take-out window!

Buttermilk Channel Brunch

Best Brooklyn Brunch: There’s many great reasons why fellow foodies escape the city for Buttermilk Channel’s brunch. Their comforting twist on classics, coupled with a warm atmosphere in a lovely neighborhood, makes the trip completely worth it.

reynard brunch

Best Hotel BrunchReynard is a relaxed restaurant despite being a trendy hotspot housed in a trendier hotel situated in the trendiest Brooklyn hood. Go for fresh and thoughtful seasonal fare that will have you bragging to your Manhattan posse about your awesome new Williamsburg brunch discovery.

Best Rooftop BrunchWe wouldn’t change anything about our lovely dining experience up on Gallow Green’s garden rooftop. Brunch is only served on Sundays during the summer months so you’ll have to wait a few more seasons to enjoy it again.

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Best Healthy Brunch: Northern Spy Food Co brunch leaves you full in a good way, is both taste-good and feel-good, and offers healthy, organic options that don’t break the bank.

Best Vegetarian BrunchCandle 79 is a lovely, healthy brunch with great vegetarian options for indulging your taste buds, but not at the cost of your waistline.

Spotted Pig Brunch

Best English Brunch: Full of English charm, The Spotted Pig serves extraordinary English fare and will make you feel like you’re celebrating something special, even for a status quo brunch.

Best Group Brunch: Poco is perfect for large groups, particularly in regards to price and atmosphere. The ambiance is no frills, but the music is loud and catchy. Come for the generous, bottomless pours from a friendly staff and filling food.

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Best Brunch Cocktails: Joseph Leonard brings a lot to the table, but the biggest standout is the memorable cocktails like the Bloody Mary with beer chaser and the Magdalena, a tequila cocktail saturated with Poblano pepper.

Best Drink Deal: Hotel Chantelle offers a lively bottomless brunch with creative French fare and cheap cocktails (like…$0.92 cheap), perfect for sunny afternoons with great friends.

Diablo Royale Brunch

Best Party BrunchDiablo Royale killed it with the cheap group party brunch and offered us a perfect venue for a lively boozy celebration with great Mexican food.

Best Bro Brunch: German brauhaus food isn’t exactly ‘Bitchy,’ but most of the dishes at Paulaner were tasty and perfect for a brunch with your man friends. If not for brunch, definitely check out Paulaner for great happy hour specials or to watch a game.

Gemma brunch

Best Place to See and be Seen: The sidewalk seating, baked eggs, and banana bread at Gemma made this experience noteworthy, with reliable rustic Italian brunch options and a prime people-watching location.

Best Bottomless BrunchEssex is perfect for a large, boozy party. You could find more refined food elsewhere for a quaint brunch date, but if you’re looking for a cheap bottomless option that doesn’t sacrifice on flavor, give Essex a shot.

Cafe Cluny Brunch

Best Bang for Your Buck Brunch: The brunch at Cafe Cluny made our top list in every category: memorable food, prime location, attentive service, and charming ambiance. Most importantly, you won’t spend like you would in most “A-grade” establishments.

Best Live Music: The combination of a celebrity chef and an off-the-path Harlem neighborhood has an instant cool factor at Red Rooster, and the food is pretty darn good. Brunch on soul food and listen to live jazz.

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Best Specialty Brunch DessertLet’s be honest, no one wants to admit to standing in a line for three hours for a donut, even one that’s half a croissant. A free Chanel bag, sure. A few thousand calories, wrapped up in pastry? Pass. Chikalicious’ Doughssant offers a better alternative to everything (but the calories), and is our go-to brunch dessert going forward.

Empire Diner

Best Diner BrunchEmpire Diner serves augmented classic diner food with a fancy twist, and we appreciate both the riffs on classics and the basics.

Best Deli Brunch: Russ & Daughters Cafe is a family-oriented, neighborhood restaurant featuring Yiddish classics that stay true to the original New York delicatessen. This is a perfect spot to take out of towners or homesick friends missing their Bubbe’s homemade meals.

Buvette Brunch

Best French Brunch: The French menu was much like the restaurant: petite, artfully curated, and well executed. Buvette is the kind of place you aspire to be known as a regular in, a feat we may achieve after such a delightful brunch experience.

The Worst

Worst Brunch Loss: We loved the affordable, delicious Southern cuisine at Peels in the East Village, and we’re so sad that it closed this year.

Worst Overall BrunchBrazen Fox is a great bar for beers and sports, but there are much stronger brunch offerings in the neighborhood.

Friend of a Farmer Brunch

Most Overhyped Brunch:  We had high hopes for Friend of a Farmer based on the ceaseless brunch line outside, but found it a bit over-hyped. The main dishes were tasty overall, but the small mistakes and inconsistencies added up.

Worst Place for VegetariansThe funky vibe and laid-back décor at The Cannibal seems more in place in the Lower East Side, which is a great add to the Murray Hill neighborhood. However, the sole brunch item was poorly executed and the service curt.

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Biggest Disappointment: Overall, Mercadito was a disappointment from the phenomenal dinners we’ve experienced in the past here. If you want a brunch that complements Mercadito’s special ambiance, order from the lunch/dinner items (i.e. the tacos), but don’t expect to be blown away by their lackluster breakfast.

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Worst Fall from GraceCookshop is certainly popular and bustling with energy, but the hour + wait didn’t match the food delivered. The brunch is solid but unremarkable, and we were expecting to be more wowed based on all the hype. 

Worst Service: The brunch dishes at Bread lacked flavor and imagination and the service was pretty much non-existent. Our waiter disappeared after we placed our order and we were forced to place any follow-up orders with busboys and bartenders for the remainder of the meal.

Macondo Brunch

Worst Bottomless Brunch: The food at Macondo wasn’t particularly impressive and the bottomless deal was confusing and riddled with fine print. Not only did the timed bottomless deal start at the moment of our reservation, we were only eligible to partake by selecting specific items from the menu. Plus, we were limited to three flavors, blackberry mint, orange vanilla, and guanabana elderflower, which frankly all sounded disgusting.

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2 thoughts on “NYC Best & Worst Brunches of 2014”

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  1. Root & bone should be on the worst brunch the service sucks and they clearly enjoy copying other restaurants instead of being original. Great list though.

  2. I have to disagree with “Ghostface killah,” Root & Bone always delivers amazing food and service in a great environment. As far as this list, I can see why the Cannibal would be a bad choice for a vegetarian, but as it being one of my favorite places in the city, I have to disagree with their service ever being “curt.” You may want revisit, and maybe not with a vegetarian.

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