When a few girlfriends are visiting New York, it usually calls for a bottomless brunch, at least in my circle of friends. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on some gab over a few hours of watery mimosas and fuel a fun-filled afternoon of exploring the city.
Sami and Bridget flew in from Palm Beach and Chicago respectively and left the brunch rezzies in our hands. We narrowed it down to a boozy deal in the Lower East Side and eventually landed on Macondo, located right on Houston. I’ve walked past the lively establishment during my weekly trek to Whole Foods Bowery and appreciated its nautical décor, but had never stopped in for the food or drinks.
We easily were able to snag a reservation for seven gals at noon on a Saturday, but due to some work emergencies, half of the party wasn’t able to make it in until around 12:45 p.m. To their credit, the staff at Macondo allowed us to be seated without the full party, but the $15 bottomless deal had to begin at the time of our reservation.
This sparked the downward spiral of Macondo’s bottomless brunch. There were so many rules! Not only did the timed bottomless deal start at the moment of your reservation time, you were only eligible for the deal if you ordered select items from the menu and you were limited to three flavors, blackberry mint, orange vanilla, and guanabana elderflower, which frankly sounded disgusting. If you wanted to go with the good old-fashioned orange juice and champagne variety, you must order a la carte for $12 per glass.
Our waitress explained this all in a very confusing manner so we eventually just threw in the towel and ditched our plans of a bottomless special. Our brains were maybe a little hazy from the night prior, but this was too much thinking for a weekend brunch. We ordered a few carafes of red sangria, which was quite tasty and refreshing, and some guacamole for the table.
The guacamole was chunky and well flavored, and we particularly enjoyed the seeds and fresh microgreens atop the dip. It was a nice variation on the traditional starter. We were also presented with teeny tiny cups of four different salsas, which packed a big punch for their minute portion size.
When it came to entrees, we were all over the board and ordered a variety of main courses varying from classic American brunch fare to Latin classics. Macondo’s menu includes small plates, eggs, burgers, and salads so we had plenty to choose from.
I had caved into my hunger and had a delicious sammie from Tompkins Square Bagels a few hours before brunch, so I stuck with something light. I ordered the granola with acai, Greek yogurt, nuts, and seasonal fruit. I was disappointed that the heaping portion of Greek yogurt overpowered the acai and I thought the inclusion of citrus slices in the bowl was a bit odd. I ate around the grapefruit and enjoyed the crunchy granola and tart yogurt.
Sami was served a gorgeous platter of eggs Benedict. This dish had a unique twist on the original as it featured smoked salmon, poached eggs, and saffron-lemon aioli on a corn arepa, rather than an English muffin. She remarked that the aioli was refreshingly light compared to Hollandaise and the dish was well balanced. Sami only managed to finish half of the entrée since the arepa was rich and filling.
Sondra, our token picky eater of the group, ordered the Manchego and mushroom omelet sans everything but the Manchego, so basically a cheese omelet. She was presented with a healthy portion of gooey cheese so she was a happy camper, although this dish was nothing special. However, plain cheese omelets rarely are, in my opinion.
Poor Molly had been working up a storm this weekend and understandably ordered some greasy comfort food, the chicken chilaquiles. She enjoyed the first few bites of protein, eggs sunny side up, tortillas in salsa verde, and cheese, but the dish quickly turned unattractively soggy and she discarded the remains.
There are two flatbread options on the menu and Andrea selected the seasonal dish, which contained roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, walnuts, Cotija cheese, and greens. She favored the fresh veggies, but lamented that the flatbread was loaded down with way too much cheese. I thought there could never be too much cheese, but after a few nibbles off her plate I agreed that the cheese took over the dish and masked the fall flavors of the accompanying toppings.
Potatoes are my favorite food in the whole world so Andrea and I also split an order of the patatas bravas. This menu item was a hit—the potatoes were crispy and spicy, and complemented by a thick drizzle of cheese, which formed a zingy dipping sauce. We easily cleaned this plate as we polished off the remainder of the sangria.
Meghan and Bridget split a variety of empanadas, which are available by the bucket at Macondo. Bridget expressed that as a vegetarian it can often be challenging to find filling brunch dishes outside of pancakes and waffles, and savored the hearty veggie empanada. The empanadas were a touch dry, but it was easily remedied by the accompanying chimichurri sauce.
Since we declined the bottomless deal, our final tab was a bit more expensive than we originally anticipated. We left with full stomachs and a bit of a buzz, so mission accomplished, but I was hoping to show my out of town guest a more impressive brunch.
The Bitches say C. Cute ambiance and great location, but the food wasn’t particularly impressive and the bottomless deal was confusing and riddled with fine print.
157 E. Houston St.
New York, NY
(Lower East Side)
Macondo serves brunch on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.