Jun 24, 2016
17 of Brooklyn’s Best Boozy Brunches
Boozy Brunch, everyone. You know it, you love it, and you will have it again starting tomorrow—and maybe Sunday, too. Whether you are seeing friends from out of town, eating your first meal in 20 hours because, last night, your dinner was just beer, or, you’d simply like to spend the vast majority of your afternoon immersed in two of the best activities known to man, i.e., eating breakfast-like food and drinking delicious alcoholic beverages, then mimosa- or Bloody Maria-heavy midday meals is where it’s at. And this is Brooklyn so we do that right. Here are a whole bunch of options that will turn your boozy brunch dreams into realities—not to mention satisfied stomachs and, potentially, a cure for your hangover blues.
Eugene & Co: As far as restaurants go, Eugene & Co is definitely one of our favorites in the whole borough right now (hint: try the biscuits and gravy for brunch!), but as far as straight drinking goes, it’s also quite a gem: A good range of reds, whites, and sparklings by the glass and bottle; classic, perfectly executed cocktails; a very decent beer selection; and a handful of dessert wines. But it’s really the vibe—dark wood, exposed brick, cozy banquets, hanging plants, always bustling but never packed, and incredibly friendly staff—that seals the deal for spending your boozy brunch there.
397 Tompkins Avenue, Bed-Stuy
Industry 1332: There is really no denying that this area of Bushwick is still pretty much a bar and restaurant wasteland, so it’s great to have a recent addition that offers solid Latin American food (including brunch!), wine, beer and—as of the last month—a liquor license. It also comes with a boozy brunch special: Saturday and Sunday until 4pm, well drinks are just 4 bucks. If the game is on and you’re feeling sporty, sit at the bar and hoot and holler at the big TVs, or if you’d rather not get in the hoot crossfire, you can still feel social by sitting at Industry’s gigantic banquet table in the back room. Or there’s always a cozy little two-top facing the floor-to-ceiling windows for an intimate summer night.
1332 Halsey Street, Bushwick
Cafe Ghia: There’s few cultural touchstones that have more cache right now than David Lynch’s beloved Twin Peaks series, and that devotion is on full display at Cafe Ghia. Try the Laura Palmer—a vodka, ginger, honey and lemon concoction—to get a full taste of their fandom. Or, stop by Wednesday nights for comedy and Thursdays for trivia. Oh, and this seems like it should go without saying, but their brunch—their biscuits! their burger! that potato bowl!—is to die for as well.
24 Irving Avenue, Bushwick
Bar Tabac: Every neighborhood’s got to have its classic, casual French bistro, and Bar Tabac has long held the designation on Smith Street. A great spot for casual weekday lunch—try the Croque Monsieur made with country-style bread, ham and Swiss cheese, served with fries, or an expertly prepared omelette with a side of mesclun greens—as well as a great date spot any night of the week, Bar Tabac excels at simple and delicious food. In terms of drinks, you’ll find the French version of “happy hour” here: the aperitif, featuring light and refreshing spirits like Cocchi Americano on the rocks, and supremely classic French drinks like the Kir Royale, made with crème de cassis and sparkling white wine. The wine list is French (duh), tidy, user-friendly, and affordable. Bring your mom, your second date, your coworker—it’s easy to have a good time. Brunch, especially, is a fun affair, featuring live music. Don’t miss the cheese plate.
128 Smith Street, Boerum Hill
Clover Club: One of the iconic bars of the mixology movement, this is a well-established, award-winning destination cocktail bar. You could have the most perfect Sazerac of your life here, prepared by an expert bartender wearing a smart vest, or try one of seven variations on an Old Fashioned. To experience the cutting edge approach here, opt for the Eastward-leaning Kafka on the Shore, featuring the Indonesian sugarcane spirit Batavia Arrack, shitake-infused Japanese whiskey, Cardamaro, Carpano Antica, and crème de cacao. All cocktails here are mercifully under $15, despite the bar’s renown. If you’re not feeling cocktail-y, there’s beer and wine, and an especially good selection of sparkling wines and Champagne. Food is satisfying and New American, ranging from oysters to salads to steak tartare to a scrumptious lamb burger. Brunch here is an delightful affair with a special menu of fantastic daytime cocktails—of course Bloody Marys, but also Collins and Fizzes, Sours, uber-sophisticated variations on the Mimosa, and more to keep you saucing long into the afternoon.
210 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
Frankies 457 Spuntino: A Carroll Gardens institution, Frankie’s is a benchmark in terms of really great food, excellent hospitality, beautiful décor, and perfectly made cocktails. It’s where you bring your first date, your second date, your family, and your cousin on his birthday, and where you can also sit at the bar alone and have a proper meal while reading a book on a Tuesday night. Signature cocktails are on-point, and you’d do well to start with a classic Italian aperitivo beverage made with Campari or Aperol, modestly priced at just $8; there are also a few signature cocktails, some of which are contemporary explorations of classic Italian drinks. The extensive and very good wine list is mostly Italian and showcases many lesser-known grapes like the light red Ruché, as well as unsuspecting regions like Sicily and Umbria. On weekends, brunch is served until 4pm; expect waits. Don’t miss the famous French toast, to be enjoyed with a side of thick-cut bacon.
457 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
Buschenschank: Come here after class, work, or a long gym session to cram yourself full of house-made pretzels and guzzle large mugs of beer at communal tables or on the spacious patio. Indoors, you’ll find exposed brick and reclaimed wood, and a working fireplace. Aside from beer garden favorites like pretzels, spaetzle, pickled things, and ‘wurst, there’s pizza from a wood oven. (German-Austrian and Italian food together might seem odd, but Buschenschank is inspired by the Alto-Adige region of northern Italy, where the two cultures collide.) Tuesdays for Trivia, weekends for brunch (German pancakes! Short Rib Hash!). Great for casually hanging out with a group, especially if people are coming and going throughout the night.
320 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
Strong Place: This popular watering hole has 24 beers on tap, a cute backyard with actual wooden picnic tables, and great food—all of which, together, make for an excellent boozy brunch. Strong Place runs a strong snack game. Order some fried chick peas or a plate of oysters and clams ($1 at happy hour), or some bone marrow and short rib croquettes that look and taste as fancy as they sound, or the small and hearty bowls of pasta. Lots of great vegetarian options, too. Food presentation is artful, even Instagrammable. Check the calendar for regular live music by local artists, and stop by on weekends for a chill beer-rich brunch.
270 Court Street, Cobble Hill
Lobo: For 13 years, Lobo has been a solid neighborhood spot for Tex-Mex and tequila. The flavored margaritas are just-sweet-enough and strong, the food is quick to come out and flavorful, and the vibe is low-key. Try the Loaded Nachoas, with homemade tortilla crisps, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, guac, and sour cream, topped with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, veggies, all for only $10, or fajita-style beer or chicken for a few bucks extra. Wash it down with a Michelada featuring Modelo Especial, or get a pitcher of Sangria for the table. Finish with a round of house-infused tequila shots. At brunch, the buttermilk pancakes are a must, with a side of bacon.
218 Court Street, Cobble Hill
Sisters: Sisters, as far as a still-living human can tell, is what a bar would look like in heaven. Design firm hOmE created a space flooded by natural light (a gigantic, 30-foot skylight draws the eye upward) and is anchored by a long, white marble snaking bar. Aim to sit there; it is a true delight. The serenity continues with a white latticed tile floor, pendant globe lights, and sandalwood paneling throughout. Daytimes are great for working (all that sun and plush plant life!) and the brunch scene is remarkably sunny (what with that giant sky light) and chill on the weekends: there is a to-die-for savory French toast (topped with tender pulled pork and a fried egg!) and all their egg dishes (including an excellent egg sandwich on a croissant or biscuit) come with a delicious and simple green salad—which you may then balance with any of their on-the-money house cocktails or beers on tap.
900 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill
Bar Matchless: Yeah, it’s cash-only, but Matchless has pretty good deals on hand, like its 2-for-1 Tuesdays, which applies to all well drinks and select draft beers. Plus, it’s impossible to be bored here, what with the presence of live bands, dancing, heavy metal karaoke and the like. The brunch is surprisingly decent: there’s savory, with lots of egg dishes and a quite satisfying huevos rancheros; sweet, with buttermilk pancakes and brioche french toast; or a combination of both (french toast sliders with bacon, egg, and cheese!). All of it is fairly priced (each hovers around the $10 mark), and if you sleep late, don’t worry: food is served daily until 3am.
557 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
Nights and Weekends: Latin-leaning drinks (think: rum, mezcal, tequila, pisco) are the thing to order here, as is pretty much anything from the food menu, particularly at brunch: There is a breakfast burrito and breakfast tacos; a Cubano sandwich, or a kale salad and creamy polenta—whichever direction you go, you will win, especially when you finish it with a de rigueur brunch cocktail, either their spicy Bloody Maria or a refreshing Michelada. Nights and Weekends is the sister spot to across-the-way’s perennially popular Five Leaves, but this smallish island (resting on the triangular median between Bedford and Nassau Avenues) exists in nobody’s shadow, and is a solid place to while away a sunny weekend afternoon as it inches toward night.
1 Bedford Avenue, Greenpoint
Bar Toto: This bar has existed since 11th Street was considered South Slope, so, today, Toto has become a veritable neighborhood institution. The charming Italian cafe is known both for their wrap-around sidewalk seating as well as their mouth-watering brunch menu, featuring regional comfort classics like baked eggs with prosciutto and grilled flatbread and ricotta pancakes topped with fruit compote. Inside, the pressed tin ceiling, original moldings and dark wooden bar give the space a ye olde Brooklyn feel, while the crowds are a healthy mix of college-aged newcomers, baby-toting brownstoners and South Brooklyn diehards. Oh—and we once spotted Bill De Blasio reclining in a corner booth, so that’s something.
411 11th Street, Park Slope
The Saint Catherine: Big, square windows span the entire exterior of this quiet corner cafe, making The Saint Catherine one of the top Prospect Heights spots for some grade-A people watching as you drink and eat. The staff is charming, the vibe is Sunday morning-style relaxed with plenty of room to spread out your New York Times. The menu is full of shareable comfort staples like homemade mac & cheese, antipasto plates and baked brie. Brunch is a highlight, with a full range of egg-based savory dishes, carbohydrate-based sweet ones, a solid Lox on Ciabatta, and all the classic brunch cocktails you could hope for (plus the quite refreshing Orange Aperol Sun: Aperol, champagne, and orange juice), plus rotating beers on draft. All of it combined make this walk up Washington Avenue well worth your weekend hours.
660 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights
Fort Defiance: Tucked away in the heart of Red Hook is Fort Defiance, the fastidious, brilliant brainchild of St. John Frizell. The bar and restaurant has evolved into something of a town hall, helping the neighborhood’s denizens weathers storms both physical and emotional, while retaining a cocktail program that rivals any of Manhattan’s most elegant speakeasies. For brunch, try any of their updated classics, like the New Orleans hat-tip Ramos Gin Fizz, and give it a nice hearty base: Huevos Rancheros, French Toast with mascarpone and blackberry syrup, or the classic All American: two eggs any style with bacon, hash browns and toast.
365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
This German Beer Hall is run, romantically, by a German couple with Black Forest roots. When they fell in love, they decided to bring their love back to Brooklyn in the form of food. There are lots of sausages, pretzels, fresh, lightly-dressed salads, and many gigantic liters and boots of beer. While their seven-day-a-week daytime menu is made of satisfying balanced dishes (meat or eggs paired with fresh greens), their brunch makes you remember why, in many important ways, the old world still does it better than the new: Black Forest Boozy Brunch offers 2-hour all you can drink Mimosas, Biermosas (think about it… you go it) or Bloody Marys fused, deliciously, to hearty German breakfasts. There is Bratwurst Gravy and Biscuits, Schnitzel, German pancakes (with Nutella and banana or raspberry preserves), or the real show stopper, German Breakfast: A German pretzel (Brezel), Croissant, German charcuterie and cheeses, a soft boiled egg, preserves, fresh fruit, and Nutella. Suffice it to say, Brooklyn, Germans know how to eat on weekends.
733 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
This Brazilian food and booze party in central Williamsburg has undeniable appeal in its above average, traditional Brazilian food, and its incredibly relaxed South American vibe. Weekday mornings at Beco offer quiet breakfasts, and dinner any day of the week is somewhat busier yet always delicious and festive. Still, Beco might shine brightest at Brunch: For just $16.95, the Prix Fixe menu is any entree served with an espresso drink and your choice of Bloody Mary, Pineapple Mint Caipirinha, Guava or Caja Fruit Mimosa, or Passionfruit Caipiroska. While no entree will end in buyer’s remorse, one of them will make you wonder where, for god’s sake, Brazilian food has been your whole life, and that is the Feijoada, i.e., “The national Brazilian dish”: a black bean and smoked meat stew with rice, sautéed collard greens, and orange wedges. The tenderness of the meat and Brazilian spices combined—and the general party atmosphere—will stick with you like a pleasant dream until night.
45 Richardson Street, Williamsburg
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