Illustration by Jeremy Nguyen
The hunt for a good brunch spot gets a bit more eclectic the further you travel into Brooklyn – the varying cuisines of the surrounding population is often reflected in each spot putting their own special cultural spin on this popular meal. Whether that means eggs at a popular Mexican spot or a Filipino-American version of waffles, you’re sure to find something new to taste when you venture one stop further on our “trusty” L train.
A recently opened spot from the owners of The Bodega, Heavy Woods mixes its rustic vibe with a coffee shop attitude, opening up early to let sleepy-eyed locals slowly filter in each morning for strong caffeinated beverages (Cafe Grumpy) and pastries from Ceci-Cela to help get through the day. At night, the bar turns into a drinker’s paradise with 14 craft beers on tap and a large selection of whiskeys, mezcals, and tequilas. On weekends, brunch comes courtesy of Tchoup Shop, who they’ve teamed up with to serve New Orleans style grub that, like most Cajun cuisine, will stick to your ribs and help you counteract the strong Bloody Mary you order from the tattooed, friendly bartenders. Keeping with the image of down-home, low-key eats, their fried-egg-and-bean-heavy dishes come in a thin tin plate, much like what you’d imagine your grandfather eating from in the army mess hall during WWII. While there are only four dishes on the menu, they all pack a punch, like “Escobar’s Green Chili Pork Biscuit” which pairs tender pulled pork with pickled onions and fried eggs, or “The Beaner”, a traditional New Orleans dish of savory red beans, rice, and fried eggs, topped with green onions and served with a warm, crusty biscuit. Oh, and make sure to ask for a side of sweet chili sauce to jazz up your meal. Since it seems like the brunch crowd has yet to catch on to this spot, you won’t have to jockey for position when ordering at the bar, especially since each dish comes in at a cool $10.
Ideal Meal: Taste New Orleans version of comfort food by starting your day with “Escobar’s Green Chili Pork Biscuit” and a small Bloody Mary ($7).
While Bushwick has a plethora of tasty yet cheap Mexican fare, sometimes finding an authentic spot that stands above the rest feels like picking a favorite child. Luckily, two-year-old Mesa Azteca makes the choice easy, combining inventive Mexican fare with a fun, lively atmosphere. Co-owner Joe Hernandez aims to please, offering live jazz on weekends, throwing holiday parties (like this month’s Cinco de Mayo), and changing his menu to reflect the always evolving neighborhood. He’ll soon be offering a new $7 unlimited mimosa brunch special (for 90 minutes), which you can pair with a brunch menu that has everything from eggs to pancakes to tacos to burgers. While the blue corn pancakes with banana and cinnamon syrup sound tempting, stick with the tried-and-true classics like the eggs benedict replacement, “Huevos Azteca” ($9.95), which pairs spicy chorizo with poached eggs and jalapeno hollandaise. Or try the chilaquiles with green tomatillo or red guajillo sauce ($9.95), adding in two eggs any style ($2) for a complete meal. Spice fiends should ask for the habanero or green chile sauce to add a kick to their already flavorful dishes. Now that the warm weather is here, you can eat in the garden area outside or sip on a killer michaeladas ($7) with a spicy salt rim or a sweet-and-spicy jalapeño margarita ($10), as the fountain softly bubbles in the center of the garden.
Ideal Meal: Try chilaquiles in tomatillo sauce ($9.95)or the papadzules, a dish of scrambled eggs rolled in a corn tortilla and topped with pumpkin sauce ($9.95). For drinks, the michaeladas ($7) are hard to beat, but the margaritas are tempting ($10) and come in flavors like cucumber-jalapeno, spicy mango, and watermelon.
Opened last summer by Barcey’s Coffee owners Christine and Ron Guillen, they’ve revamped their menu for a post Mother’s Day début, with the goal of following a more farm-to-table approach and working with local purveyors. Not content with just updating their menu, they’re also changing the look of the interior with touches like new Asian-inspired murals across the walls. Their dinner menu includes a variety of Asian specialties, but for brunch they’ve decided to focus on serving up Americanized Filipino comfort food. This means you’ll be starting your day with Asian spices, ginger, garlic and soy…a combination that’s sure to wake you up. Most of the dishes combine sweet with salty, evident in dishes like their eggs any style, which pairs fried eggs and garlic fried rice with a fresh tasting tomato salad and slightly sweet strips of cured pork. An aptly named “Hangover Plate” ($12) offers stomach-lining Asian specialties like cured sweet-and-spicy pork shoulder, their ubiquitous garlic rice, bird’s eye chilies, and fried eggs. Illustrating the mixing of American and Filipino influences is their take on chicken and waffles ($12), which features a tangy Japanese-fried chicken, fluffy waffles, and a slightly citrusy ponzu sauce – a great combination although it would be a bit better if it came with real maple syrup.
Ideal Meal: Order two eggs any style ($8.50) for a well-rounded breakfast and find refreshment with the Asian lime lemonade ($3.50) which gets its special flavor from the use of kalamansi, a citrus fruit native to the Phillipines.
With its name proudly painted down the exterior, Barcey’s Coffee is hard to miss despite its sleepy location on a suburban corner of St. Nicholas Ave. Inside, this low-key coffee shop is reminiscent of a college campus java joint, with a scattering of mismatched chairs and tables, a cozy corner couch area, flyer-covered bulletin board and walk-up counter ordering. Local art is often displayed on the walls and, in a nod to the ever-evolving neighborhood, they offer a number of vegan and vegetarian options. The crowd is a mix of doctors from the nearby hospital, laptop-toting freelancers, and longtime locals looking for a caffeine fix. While they always offer a menu of sandwiches, baked goods from local bakers, and coffee drinks, on weekends, there’s also an expanded brunch menu. Despite the appearance of crepes, the menu is anything but highbrow, offering easily prepared options like Greek yogurt with fresh fruit ($7) or waffles with fruit and honey-butter ($10). A breakfast burrito is paired with a slightly tangy yet creamy corn salsa and their version of huevos rancheros tops two tortillas with corn, black beans, poached eggs and avocado. Depending on the day, it can seem like the cooks are phoning it in (watery eggs, corn that tastes like it came from a can), but the coffee is always strong and hot, and the atmosphere is warm and friendly.
Ideal Meal: Wake up with a small mocha latte ($3.50) or cappuccino ($3.25) and then dig into the huevos rancheros ($10) or breakfast burrito ($9).