110 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn
Weekends, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
On a still-uncluttered block of Bedford Ave. just south of McCarren Park, The Bedford is serving our new favorite Billyburg brunch. Chef Jason Giordano is an experienced private chef, which may be why his dishes feel like they were whipped up by dear (and unusually culinarily adept) friends the morning after you woke up in their home after an evening of uncivilized catching up -- they even start serving coffee at 8 a.m., for early risers. His breakfasts aren't the huge, day-busting mounds of protein and starch that you've come to expect. Even the Monte Cristo, which comes with housemade pickles, is a manageable size (though best approached with knife and fork). You can add to your brunch a $5 seasonal fruit bellini, mimosa or the excellent Lovely Day cocktail: not-too-sweet thyme lemonade spiked with vodka and prosecco.
5 Front St., Brooklyn
Weekends, noon-3 p.m.
At the feet of the Brooklyn Bridge, past the hordes of suffering tourists waiting in line for Grimaldi’s, is a shady backyard filled with chili-rimmed margaritas and Mexican cokes. Gran Electrica, DUMBO’s neighborhood handcrafted taco spot, is gradually adding to its brunch menu, which as now includes cactus-and-egg tacos and blue corn huevos rancheros in addition to a full lineup of tacos. During hot weather, the mariscos are especially nice. Try the Aguachile: ceviche-style scallops marinated in a puree of jalapenos, herbs and cucumber.
Be sure to start with a spicy cocktail, like the Margarita de Toronja Picante, which mixes housemade habanero-infused tequila and jalapeno syrup with fresh citrus juices. The Bloody Maria is sweetly smoky and served with a cuke spear.
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The highlight of the menu is the four salsas that come with the tacos: sparklingly fresh preparations of classic salsas roja and verde, a fiery chili arbol and a smooth, roasted sesame pipian. After you’re done, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park to stroll off your margarita buzz.
510 W. 52nd St.
Weekends, noon-4 p.m.
We are truly spoiled in New York. Not only do most of our formerly tough neighborhoods have cozy wine bars, but some of these wine bars serve an excellent quiche. Ardesia in Hell's Kitchen has rolled out a new brunch menu that incorporates some of the five boroughs' best local fare, including pastries from Brooklyn's Bien Cuit Bakery. They also cook up hot breakfasts and a warm-cool spinach salad topped with fried artichoke hearts and a perfectly poached egg.
After falling in love with the neighborhood, owner Mandy Oser aimed to create "a place where wine is completely unintimidating." In addition to the daily wine selection written on a giant slate wall, Ardesia serves five wine-based brunch cocktails, including the Lillet Fizz: a cool, dry eye-opener made with Lillet Blanc, prosecco and grapefruit bitters.