The Localist

How to Brunch like a New Yorker

To most, brunch is simply a meal that occurs in the morning, a combination of breakfast and lunch. But in New York, brunch is an event. If you want a true cultural experience of what it is like to be a true New Yorker, go out for brunch.

A few things you should know about brunch in New York…

  • Brunch occurs anytime on the weekend during daylight hours. I have gone to brunch at 4pm.
  • Brunch takes several hours.
  • One must dress for brunch. It’s a bit tricky since you don’t want to look too evening, but you want to look good. Any old T-shirt is not going to cut it.
  • Brunch involves copious amounts of alcohol, and this is important. Brunch is a celebration. It is claimed the party brunch originated in the French Rivera or in St. Tropez. I don’t know if this is true, but New York has certainly perfected the art.

My absolute favorite place for brunch is the Sunday brunch party at Beaumarchais in the trendy Meatpacking District. It is not cheap, drinks start at $17, but it is definitely an experience. Try and make reservations for 1:30pm, as this will give you time to enjoy the pancakes (above), which deserve to be savored, before the party really starts. Go any earlier and you will miss the fun, any later and you will never get a seat, though you can drink at the bar. At 3pm the curtains are closed, the DJ cranks up the already loud music and the party begins. Out come girls in their underwear to dance on the ledges, guests jump up on their tables, and I’ve even seen the hot bartenders strip down and get on the bar. Every time someone orders a bottle the whole bar celebrates.

The staff come out in costume with an accompanying song. For example, a girl may come out as Supergirl to the Superman theme (see above), the staff may chase each other as Ghostbusters, or bring out chests of alcohol dressed as pirates. Bottles range in price from $150-$12,000, and it’s not just the cheap stuff that gets ordered. The champagne is often sprayed instead of drunk. The ostentatious display of wealth you see here is really something else. The party goes until 6pm, which is perfect; you get to party, but still be in bed at a reasonable hour, ready for work the next day. Bagatelle, the originator of the party brunch, hosts a similar kind of party around the corner.

If you want to brunch party on a Saturday go to Lavo. These are the most raucous of the brunch parties, but be warned, they are expensive. If you are budget conscious, head to one of the many places that offer unlimited drinks. My personal favorite of those would be Paradou whose prix fixe is $29 with unlimited champagne. It’s known more for the buzzy garden party atmosphere rather than the food, though the food is reasonable.

If you brunch in Meatpacking, where many of the best boozy brunches are, you can go for a walk along the High Line, a raised railway line that has been converted into a park with stunning skyline views. Among the permanent greenery and water features are revolving art exhibitions. There is also great shopping in Meatpacking. Best shop before brunch, as the alcohol definitely makes you forget about your budget.

If you’re needing more inspiration, Time Out has a comprehensive list of where to boozy brunch:




Images. All photos by Talia Friedman (C).

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