I Heart Brunch

For the Love of Brunch

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Coca Flatbread Highlights Brunch at Tio Pepe in the West Village

January 3rd, 2016 by Special K

As our readers know by now, we love mexi-brunch and we love the West Village. So how had we never been to Tio Pepe for brunch before?

A neighborhood institution, compared to most places in the west village, Tio Pepe has been serving Spanish cuisine since 1970. But Chef Jose Zamora who joined the restaurant a couple years ago has since infused Mexican and even French flavors into menu. As our readers know by now, we love mexi-brunch and we love the West Village. So how had we never been to Tio Pepe for brunch before?

We’ve probably walked past it dozens of times on West 4th, just west of 6th Ave where the streets start to get diagonal. This time we walked into the busy but not overly packed restaurant for brunch. You could feel the timelessness of the place with it’s simple chandeliers and lanterns on the walls, though it has clearly been updated throughout the years.

Tio Pepe, Interior at brunch

Tio Pepe, Interior at brunch

We started with table-side guacamole that is customized to your tolerance for heat. Ours was a bit mild even though we ordered it medium, but the fresh guac was still delicious and kept us satisfied until the main courses arrived.

The huevos rancheros was a rich mix of chunky tomatoes, flavorful beans, cheese and eggs your way on top of crispy tortillas. A basic, satisfying version of the classic Mexican brunch dish.

Huevos Rancheros, Tio Pepe

Huevos Rancheros, Tio Pepe

The real highlight here though is the Coca, essentially a Spanish flatbread pizza baked in their wood-fired oven. We hadn’t planned on getting a brunch pizza, in fact we were leaning towards the Chilaquiles, but the waiter was so enthusiastic about the Coca that we had to try it. And we’re glad we did.

The Coca flatbread included goat cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon topped with two sunny side up eggs. The dough had the perfect balance of crispness and chewiness. We could have even eaten this without the eggs, though the yolk added a delicious savory element to the otherwise sauceless pizza.

Coca brunch flatbread

Coca brunch flatbread, Tio Pepe

Tio Pepe, while not the type of place you’d rage at, also offers a $10 bottomless brunch for two hours of unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys in addition to any entree. Perfect for a pre-game to your Sunday Funday or a group birthday brunch, it’s a good value to satisfy those looking for a boozy brunch that won’t break the bank.

Insider’s tip: Make sure to request a seat by the window if you want some world-class people watching as you enjoy your meal.

Overall: 4/5 Hearts 

Website: http://www.tiopepenyc.com/menus/brunch/

Address: 168 West 4th St. (just west of 6th Ave), West Village, NYC

Brunch Hours: 12pm – 3:30pm Everyday


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More than Content with La Contenta Brunch in the LES

October 26th, 2015 by Special K
Alcohol, Bloody Mary, Eggs and Omelettes, Lower East Side, Manhattan, Mexican

Perhaps better known for their dinner, La Contenta in Manhattan’s Lower East Side actually has a pretty awesome and authentic mexi-brunch offering. That means you can still get a table relatively quickly, at least for the time being, compared to some of the other “hot” NYC brunch spots.

Located in a cozy space that could double as someone’s living room, La Contenta has a chill vibe that is perfect for a first date (or the hundredth), solo eaters, or catching up with a good friend. Though it has several tables, it’s a smaller restaurant so groups larger than four are probably better off elsewhere.

Bartender at La Contenta

Preparing Bloody Marias

It was just two of us and we opted to sit at the bar to watch the magic happen. The Bloody Marias were well worth the wait as we watched the bartender craft each with the utmost care. Savory and spicy, these bloodys were just the thing to start us off.

Bloody Maria at La Contenta

Delicious Bloody Maria

Speaking of starters, we immediately opted in for the handmade guac because you can never have too much guac. It was probably my favorite part of the meal, not because everything else wasn’t good but because the guac was so fresh and smooth and flavorful that I could have made it my entire meal. The freshly made chips were warm and crispy, yet delightfully flaky. I normally don’t care much about chips, but these were notable.

Chilaquiles at La Contenta


For entrees, there were some tough decisions. We went with the Chilaquiles and the Huevos Divorciados, a satisfying mix of fluffy eggs and melted cheese and homemade salsa. The chilaquiles were very good, albeit a little dry and could have used a bit more of the delicious tomatillo salsa. The Poblano Benedict and Torta de Milanesa de Pollo also caught our eye and those will likely top the list to try on our next visit.

Huevos Divorciados at La Contenta

Huevos Divorciados

If you’re in the LES (or looking for an excuse to be), we recommend checking out La Contenta— you’ll be more than content with your choice!

Overall: 4 out of 5 hearts

Website: http://lacontentanyc.com/

Address: 102 Norfolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington)

Brunch Hours: 11am – 4pm Saturdays and Sundays

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All That Jazz: Brunch at City Winery

July 20th, 2015 by Special K
Bloody Mary, Eggs Benedict, French Toast, Live Music, Soho, Unique Brunch

What is better than brunch? Musical brunch!

Brunch at City Winery is pretty awesome already, but on the second Sundays of August (9th) and September (13th) this summer, they are featuring PJ Rasmussen and the Boardwalk Jazz Band for a special brunch event. Their 21 piece ensemble, with 4 vocalists, plays original music with a simple mission: “Jazz is music to make the heart race, the blood pump, and the feet move.”

PJ Rasmussen and the Boardwalk Jazz Band

PJ Rasmussen (guitar) and the Boardwalk Jazz Band

This brunch is recommended as a date (or friend-date) spot or for a small group outing. The setting is casual, romantic and majestic all at once, and feels different from your typical restaurant given the entertainment. PJ Rasmussen and the Boardwalk Jazz Band put on an enjoyable show with great vocals that simultaneously provided a focal point and the perfect background for brunch conversation.

Oh, and the food? The food is pretty great too. We tried the French toast, which was doughy perfection—one of the top French toasts we’ve actually ever enjoyed. I savored each soft bite as it melted away in my mouth. The eggs florentine was great too, featuring runny yolk poached eggs and buttery hollandaise that was great with the roasted potatoes as well.French toast at City WineryEggs Florentine at City Winery

Breakfast not your thing? In addition to several breakfast options, the menu offers a range of lunch-friendly fare from tasty looking flatbreads to sandwiches like the half-pound “LaFrieda” burger and a Fried Chicken sandwich with spicy honey and avocado. For our next visit we’re anxious to try the Burrata with pickled peaches and arugula pesto as well as the Potato Pancakes with house-made apple sauce.

Although the food alone would be worth a visit, it’s the overall experience and light entertainment that makes this a special brunch to get away for a few hours and be transported to a jazzier place.

Overall: 5 hearts

City Winery
155 Varick St (at Vandam St)
New York, NY 10013

Jazz Brunch: 11am – 2pm
Featuring PJ Rasmussen and the Boardwalk Jazz Band
Sunday Aug 9th and Sunday Sep 13th

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The Bounty Adds Innovative Brunch Menu in Greenpoint

November 1st, 2014 by Special K
Biscuits and Gravy, Eggs and Omelettes, Eggs Benedict, Foodie Find, French Toast, Greenpoint, Unique Brunch

For a little while now, Greenpointers have flocked to The Bounty in the evening, earning the restaurant some rave reviews for dinner and cocktails. Ask those in the neighborhood about The Bounty and they’ll mention the fresh seafood or innovative new American menu, but brunch was never top of mind. That’s about to change.

Just off the G train on Greenpoint Avenue, The Bounty started offering brunch a few months ago, yet it tastes like they’ve been doing it for much longer than that. They’re still making tweaks to the menu as they find the right selections to offer brunchgoers, but our group tried a majority of what they had to offer and you really can’t go wrong with anything.

Whipped ricotta and pickled blueberries

Whipped ricotta and pickled blueberries

Start with the delightful whipped house ricotta with pickled blueberries to share. The thick, creamy ricotta spreads nicely on their homemade baguette and the blueberries add a surprisingly bright touch.

The menu has a little of everything, from traditional brunch fare such as eggs benedict/florentine to fresh baked biscuits & gravy with big chunks of meaty sausage or mushrooms, all of which did not disappoint.

Sunny fried rice

“Sunny” Fried Rice

Special shout out for the “Sunny” Fried Rice with smoked pineapple and the Rosemary maple crème anglaise French Toast. Whether in the mood for sweet or savory, both of these playful dishes push the boundaries a bit and succeed with unique brunch flavors that really work well together.

French toast with rosemary maple creme anglaise

French toast with rosemary maple creme anglaise

At I Heart Brunch, french toast has to be pretty special for us to take note, so The Bounty has certainly impressed so far. They are planning a seasonal brunch menu, so some items might not always be there, but we can’t wait to see what they’ll cook up next!

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 Hearts

Website: http://thebountybrooklyn.com/

Address: 131 Greenpoint Ave, New York, NY 11222 (at Manhattan Ave)

Take the G train to Greenpoint Ave

Brunch Hours: 10:30am – 4pm (Saturdays and Sundays)

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Hidden Gem! Bell Book & Candle for Brunch in the West Village

October 25th, 2014 by Special K
All You Can Drink Brunch, Eggs Benedict, Foodie Find, Pancakes, West Village

If you’re not paying attention, you might just miss out on a great West Village brunch spot. Bell Book & Candle, a subterranean eatery on W. 10th Street, has a following for dinner and cocktails but they also know how to do a great brunch.

BB&C’s philosophy is all about local, organic, sustainable, responsible procurement. In fact, the menu is highly seasonal and heavily influenced by what is available from their aeroponic roof-top garden.

Bell Book & Candle

You’ll find this this “hidden” gem by looking for a wooden sign painted with “BB&C” on it hanging off the side of a building. Look down and you’ll see a few steps leading you to the basement level where you’ll enter through the bar. Once you make it to their cozy dining rooms, their farm-to-table philosophy translates into a delicious brunch you can feel good about eating.

Heirloom salad with buttermilk bleu cheese

Heirloom salad with buttermilk bleu cheese

We started our meal with the day’s special salad, heirloom tomatoes (from the roof-top garden) topped with a homemade buttermilk bleu cheese dressing. The creamy dressing and bright flavors of the fresh heirlooms set the stage for the rest of the meal.

Offering a range of traditional breakfast and lunch items, BB&C also has a few smaller plates from their dinner menu  (like their famous lobster tacos) if you feel like mixing it up, though we stuck to the brunch stuff!

Blueberry buckwheat pancakes

Blueberry buckwheat pancakes

Steak and eggs benedict—high-quality steak and perfectly-poached eggs with a well-matched Béarnaise sauce—was a hearty and satisfying pick. On the sweeter end of the spectrum, we tried the blueberry buckwheat pancakes, which may have been more impressive—soft, fluffy, and full of fresh blueberry goodness, topped with real Maple syrup.

Steak and eggs benedict

Steak and eggs benedict

Everything was so good that we didn’t have room to try other items we’d heard were excellent like the BBC burrito and those aforementioned lobster tacos. And we won’t even get started on the dessert menu we had to pass up…

Looking for a boozier brunch? BB&C offers unlimited brunch cocktails (options include aperol spritzer, bellini, spicy mary, mimosa) for an additional $20.

Add a little adventure to your weekend and go find BB&C! The food is quite special, especially given how much of it is grown on-site. But we were most impressed with the consistent quality across different types of items—their chef knows brunch. So whether you’re looking for classy, boozy or somewhere in between, BB&C should be on your brunch list.

Overall: 5/5 Hearts

Website: http://bbandcnyc.com/

Address: 141 W. 10th St., New York, NY 10014

Brunch hours: 11:30am – 3:30pm (Saturdays and Sundays)

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