Brunch Queen

“Brunch with no alcohol is just a sad, late breakfast”

So, there was a year of my life that I dedicated my weekends to going out for brunch. It was expensive and fattening, but I have no regrets. I love brunch. It’s such a fun meal. Not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, not too expensive. Such mystery, such excitement and of course my favorite two words: unlimited drinks. Like seriously? What’s better than that? Alright, here’s some of my faves.

Calle Ocho

45 W 81st St, New York, NY 10024

I love this place. I’ve talked about it before in my fave Spanish restaurant blog post. This place is amazing for brunch. It features an entrée and unlimited sangria brunch for around $20. Can not beat that deal. It’s located in the Excelsior Hotel on 8th Ave hence Calle Ocho. I’ve had several brunch items from here including the Cuban sandwich, chicken sandwich (torte de pollo), and the gallitos. The gallitos is a larger meal that serves 2 (says it on the menu). It includes the scrambled eggs, chorizo, guacamole, home fries and tortillas on a large platter. It’s delicious and fun to share. The first time I went my friend order the tortilla Espanola, which I think might not be offered on the menu anymore, but she raved about it. It is a Spanish frittata and it was served over a crab sauce. The food is amazing and so is the sangria and you should definitely make reservations (necessary) and check it out.

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Mandatory House Rules!
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The menu
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Punta Cana and Spanish Harlem sangria…delicioso!
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Tortilla Espanola
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Gallitos!

Tavern 18

26511 Union Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY 11040

I used to frequent this place regularly until it became so popular that I couldn’t even get in without a reservation. I like to believe my positive Yelp reviews put this place on the map, because before I would go and it would empty. I’m pro successful business though so it’s all good. I found this spot, because I was going to brunch in the city all the time and it was crappy weather one day and I wanted to stay local. I found Tavern 18 located in New Hyde Park, Queens. The first time I went and several times after there was no wait and not crowded, which honestly at first made me think it was going to suck, but I was not disappointed. I had the huevos rancheros while my friend got the vegetable omelette with shoestring fries. Their fries are thin and crispy like McDonald’s fries, except made with potatoes and not French fry shaped chemicals. You also have the option of ordering roasted potatoes. They also have 4 selections of complimentary cocktails (bloody mary, mimosa, screwdriver and white wine sangria). They have other cocktails, but you have to pay for each one. They are only about $4/$5 though. I find their mimosa to be the best of the complimentary. The best in my opinion is the mimosa. I don’t like bloody marys, their sangria isn’t that great and the screwdriver is either too much orange juice or too much vodka; never a happy medium.They offer a complimentary bread basket with bread and muffins. One is free, for any additional there is a charge of $4.  They served us drinks even after we finished eating which was cool. Most places rush you out, however this was before they were busy. Now there is a 2 hour seating.  I also ordered the penne primavera with chicken, which was pretty good and was a large portion. My friend with with the thai noodle salad with grilled chicken which was delicious. Way better than my dish. Another time I ordered shrimp tempura with fries which is one of their popular dishes. The sauce on the shrimp was a little too sweet for my taste, but overall it was good. I don’t come here anymore since one time I went for brunch and was told they had no availability. Turned me off. I did return for lunch one recently, but I’ll save that for my wings blog post 😉

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Complimentary bread basket
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Bloody Mary, White wine sangria
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Vegetable omelette with fries and toast
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Huevos Rancheros!
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Thai Noodle Salad with grilled chicken and avocado
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Penne primavera with chicken
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Shrimp tempura with fries
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The end of a good brunch

Soco

509 Myrtle Ave Brooklyn, NY 11205

This place was one for the books. I’m not a big fan of Brooklyn, but I schlepped here one day to check out this spot for brunch. I actually missed my reservations, because driving through Brooklyn is a living nightmare, but the host was accommodating and after a half hour we were seated outside. Considering there was a wait of so many people, I could have just gotten the boot. I wanted to try the red velvet waffled and buttermilk fried chicken dish. We got that, two orders of their mac and cheese and a free cornbread dish from a checking in on Yelp. Love you Yelp! (Elite ‘15). Everything was good. We were there on a Sunday, their $12 unlimited mimosa brunch is on Saturdays. Individually their drinks are about $13. Due to that and a rough night before, I opted out of drinking. My friend got a super spicy Bloody Mary. I wasn’t a fan, but she loved it. Usually I’m a little tipsy at brunch or straight up drunk so everything is delicious, but since I decided not to drink (bc I’m cheap) and I was hungover I was a little more critical than usual. The cornbread was exceptional though. Served with melted butter it was the best I’ve ever had. Three cornbread muffins were perfect for the three of us. Not too dry, not too corny (yeah I said that, I hate when I taste chunks of actual corn), it was definitely a hit. The outer layer of the Mac and cheese that was baked to perfection was delicious. I wasn’t crazy about the inner layer. The Mac was made with a lot of garlic and I can easily describe the inside as creamy garlic noodles. The main event, the red velvet waffle and buttermilk fried chicken was very good, but definitely overhyped. The waffle is good. The red velvet is more subtle than it appears which is good, because it’s not dessert. The fried chicken is crispy on the outside, but also a little bit dry on the inside. Next time I would come back on a Saturday for alcohol and try out the wings and other things I saw the people around me eating. Check it out! Definitely worth the trip to…ugh, Brooklyn.

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Brunch menu
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Bloody Mary (not a fan)
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Delicious cornbread muffins
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Red velvet waffle and fried chicken
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Mac and cheese please

Jane

100 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

You ever eat something and you can remember every single detail from that day, because the experience was so wonderful? That’s what happened to me when I went to Jane. The benedict Johnny changed my life. I used to search top brunch spots in NYC and Jane always came up and when I finally went, I understood why. It was absolutely packed when we arrived. My group and I went to another bar for 2 hours while we waited for brunch. The bartender there already knew what the deal was when we declined eating there, because apparently many people wait there. More business for them honestly, because we had several drinks while we waited. If it weren’t for pictures, I completely would have forgotten what everyone else ordered when we finally were able to go inside. My meal topped every ones. Jane features Sunday brunch which also features a separate lunch menu. Brunch comes with one complimentary drink, either “the best bloody Mary,” white peach bellini, passion screwdriver, rhubarb fizz or fresh squeezed juice. I chose the Bellini and everyone else chose something different. I recall one of my friends detesting the passion screwdriver and we ended up switching. It was alright, but mine was better. On to the benedict Johnny aka my favorite brunch item ever. It’s a perfect combination of corncake, maple chicken sausage, poached and egg and roasted tomato hollandaise served with home fries. I don’t even like eggs benedict, like I literally don’t enjoy that meal, but prepared that way it was delicious. My friends ordered the roast shrimp ranchero (sunny side up eggs with cheddar, black beans, and avocado), benedict jane (crab and crawfish cakes, spinach and tarragon hollandaise) and the salmon scramble (scrambled eggs with salmon). I’m pretty sure the latter isn’t available anymore. All in all, my dish was the best. I have yet to return to Jane, but I should. It was delicious.

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Benedict Johnny
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Benedict Jane
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Roasted Shrimp Ranchero
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Salmon Scramble (discontinued)

Justin’s

301 Lark St, Albany, NY 12210

I hit up this spot in Albany while visiting friends in my alma mater’s town. I had brunch with one of my bff’s who actually used to work at this spot. Located on Albany’s Lark Street it’s a small, but cozy bar/restaurant. We had mimosas and brunch while seated at the bar on a Sunday morning. I had the Justin’s 301which consists of two eggs any style (I got mine scrambled), french toast (which I found tasteless, syrup wasn’t provided and I didn’t bother to ask), bacon, and potatoes. It was pretty good overall. Typical breakfast. My friend got Joe’s one-eyed breakfast burger, a 4 oz. sirloin beef patty with applewood smoked ham, a fried egg, and cheddar cheese served with potatoes and fruit. Fruit being an orange slice. My friend was obsessed with her calorie packed, heart attack inducing breakfast burger and surprisingly finished it despite being a tiny little twig. The drinks were good and made brunch even more enjoyable. I haven’t had dinner there, just drinks, but the servers are sweet….to me b/c my friend used to work there. Owner also owns two bars across the street, Legends and DeJohns which are cool too. It’s not NYC and can’t be compared, but they’re fun spots if you’re with good people.

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Mamajuana Café

33-15 56th St, Woodside, NY 11377
Mamajuana is a dining and party venue that features brunch during the day and a Latin dance scene at night. I’ve never went at night, but I’ve had brunch and appetizers here and the food is good. The portions are large and not that expensive. The first time I went was for brunch for a birthday. For a set price of about $20 they feature an all you can eat Dominican style breakfast with mangu, salami, plantains, chicken, egg benedict, pasta, waffles, and more. They come around with mimosas and their signature jack punch. It’s a good time. The service was great and they hooked us up well with drinks. Check it out.

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Desayuno Dominicana…ya tu sabes
Thomas’ Ham and Eggery
325 Old Country Rd, Carle Place, NY 11514
Quaint diner on busy Old Country Rd in Carle Place, LI, NY. Fast, friendly service. Ordered hot chocolate with whip. Delicious. Ordered eggs with turkey sausage which came with home fries and toast. Should have added cheese, bc eggs were dry, but that was my own personal fail. My friend ordered the Texan omelette with bacon, sausage, peppers and onions and cheddar which also came with home fries and toast. Her omelette was delicious. We split apple and cranberry pancakes and had them made silver dollar style. Everything was delicious. Big amount of food. Definitely would return.
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B.K. Sweeneys

636 Franklin Ave Garden City, NY 11530

I always mention a place that isn’t that great. Just as a “if this place ever comes up, don’t go out of your way for it.” The meal was pretty mediocre to be honest. The place had unlimited mimosas, bloody Mary’s and screwdrivers. Their drinks weren’t that great, but since it’s free there was no point in complaining. I ordered eggs benedict and a roasted potatoes and a friend got a vegetable omelette with fries. The food was unremarkable. The service was decent. The drinks were okay. At the end of the meal we received a 15% coupon for the next 5 visits. Incentive to return, otherwise I probably would not go back.

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Atchafalaya Restaurant 

901 Louisiana Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

We were in Nola from Saturday to Monday. One of the things we made sure to do was have Sunday brunch. It was Father’s Day which we completely forgot. Not the holiday itself, but we did not take into consideration that the restaurants would be packed. My friend found this restaurant via Yelp (my usual role). It was located outside of the French Quarter where were staying so we had to take a cab there. There was a very long wait. It might have been 2 hours or more. They had a small live band performing jazz and alternative music which was entertaining. Seeing everyone’s food come out is what motivated us to continue waiting knowing eventually that would us. We were seated upstairs. The restaurant was fairly small, despite having an upper level. Our server was amazing. He was originally from NY (obviously). At the end of the meal we spoke to the manager/owner and told her what a great job he does.

On to the important part; the food. Myself and 2 of my other friends went with the fried chicken and biscuits while my other friend was torn between the eggs treme (scrambled eggs, boudin cakes, popcorn crawfish, hollandaise, crystal brunch potatoes) and the cochon du l’eggs (sunny-side up eggs, pulled pork, cornbread pudding, creole coleslaw, blackberry-cane syrup). She was deadset on trying crawfish so she went with the first one even though the latter seemed like a very interesting combination of flavors. We also ordered french toast for us to share. Everything was amazing. The fried chicken was light and boneless and the biscuits were soft. The french toast was in a banana foster rum sauce and was amazing. I tried the crawfish in my friend’s dish which is when the love affair began. Everything was delicious and I would definitely recommend going there if one should find themselves in New Orleans.

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Fried chicken and biscuits with scrambled eggs, eggs treme and french toast

Cafe Fleur De Lis

307 Chartres St. New Orleans, LA 70130

On our final day in New Orleans we had breakfast across the street from our hotel at Cafe Fleur De Lis. It’s a small cafe that specializes in BANGIN breakfast. The menu is filed with delicious diner style breakfast, but with a New Orleans twist. Like their Creole Country breakfast (Grilled Boudin sausage, 2eggs cooked any style, homemade biscuit and a bowl of grits) or Big Easy breakfast (2 eggs cooked any style, bacon, sausage, 2 pancakes and a toast served with hash browns or grits – aka heart attack on 3 plates). What really caught majority of our attention was the shrimp and grits. We read reviews of the restaurant on Yelp and one woman wrote a hilarious one focused on the shrimp and grits, “The Shrimp & Grits made me cry… more like weep… more like pass out to the ground, die, then go to heaven just to tell the Lord how good these Shrimp & Grits have been to me.” She was right though. It was amazing. The cheesy grits topped with the juicy shrimp. Literally to die for. The biscuit was good too, but a little hard for my taste. It was crunchy, not hard as in stale, but I would have preferred a softer flakier biscuit and it made the meal so much more filling. That’s just my personal opinion though. The meal was still amazing.

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Shrimp, grits, and a biscuit!

My friend ordered eggs benedict (basic), but it was served over biscuits instead of english muffins. She also ordered bread pudding which did not appeal to me at all, but she convinced us to try it and it was actually amazing. Melt in your mouth deliciousness. We also had strawberry and peach mimosas with our meals that we were able to take to go since we did not finish with all the great food. It was a great brunch experience. Definitely one for the books. Check it out if you’re in New Orleans.

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Strawberry and peach mimosas, shrimp and grits, egg benedicts and bread pudding
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