How to Brunch Your Way Around the Big Apple

By Whitney Tressel
April 24, 2013
The view from brunch at 230 Fifth in New York City.
Courtesy 230 Fifth

Sex and the City may have originally brought it fame, but the exalted event dubbed "brunch" has continued to be a metropolitan mainstay. More than ever, our vacations are planned around our meals—museums, shows, shoppes, and even hotel locations accommodate where we plan to eat during our vacations. As budget travelers, there is nothing like getting the most bang for your buck while elevating your experience, especially for the most important meal of the weekend. We've rounded up five places that let you brunch your way around the world without ever leaving New York City.

Just around the corner from the West Village's bustling Bleecker Street stems a curious French-inspired gastroteque by the name of Buvette. Known for its wine collection and small plate style, Buvette serves up a brilliant brunch complete with les oeufs "any style," classic croque monsieur, and an array of fresh and flakey patisseries. In the summertime, request a spot in the back garden patio, but for chilly afternoons, cozy up by the front window for top-notch people watching that rivals Paris itself.
Brunch small plates range from $7-$10; 42 Grove Street;

Café Mogador has been in business since 1983, a rarity in the cut throat New York City restaurant scene. After thirty years strong (and around 1,560 brunch weekends!), this Saint Marks Street hot spot is worth the wait, as its line admittedly queues quickly. Classic western mains meet Middle Eastern musts creating egg dishes with hummus, harissa, tabouli, and haloumi. The Village Voice still praises Café Mogador as the "Best Moroccan" among other Mediterranean restaurants, and its brunch offerings definitely have something to do with that adoration.
Try the housemade merguez sausage for $5; 101 Saint Marks Place;

Cleverly named after its two Viennese expat owners, Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, Alphabet City's Edi & the Wolf puts a new wrinkle in an already saturated scene, raising the bar for brunch. While the prices land around typical New York City fare, many choices are sharable, such as the schnitzel and the spätzle that boasts a mound of wild mushrooms, brussel sprouts, and fava beans. Don't miss out on this New York Magazine deemed famous brunch cocktail: Rhubarb Strawberry Mary, made with the Austrian-produced white wine Grüner Veltliner.
Prix fixe includes an entree, kaffe, juice, and croissant for $18; 102 Avenue C;

United States
Ask any local and they would likely never associate the 230 Fifth rooftop bar with brunch. The draw here is not necessarily the scrambled eggs and toast, but the breathtaking view of America's iconic Empire State Building and her skyline. Viewing the striking structure against a bright blue sky, while holding a Royal Mojito in a palm tree-laden garden can make any meal grandiose. Open fifty-two weekends a year, 230 Fifth follows a strict "rain or shine" policy providing not only heat lamps but signature hooded robes for the chillier days.
Classic omelettes start at $11 but the view is priceless; 230 Fifth Avenue, 20th floor;

The East Village's Esperanto boasts a ten dollar prix fixe meal that includes bottomless hot coffee or tea, one fresh mimosa or spicy bloody mary, and a mega-portioned traditional Brazilian dish. If you're feeling savory, indulge in the huevos loisada—poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce on a potato shrimp pie. For your sweet tooth, choose the tropical french toast, but be sure to ask for the fresh papaya as your favored fruit topping.
Prix fixe brunch for $10.95; 145 Avenue C;

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Bodie Island Lighthouse Opens to the Public

Ready for some exercise? The 214 steps to the top of the Bodie Island Lighthouse are waiting. The North Carolina icon—one of only 12 lighthouses in the U.S. that are more than 150 feet tall—is now open to the public for the first time since it was built more than 140 years ago. A $5 million renovation repaired unreliable stairs, a broken and dirty 19th-century Fresnel lens (which includes 344 glass prisms), and rusted iron work, reports the Associated Press. The reward for making it to the top? Views of the Atlantic Ocean, Pamlico Sound, and the marshland around Bodie (pronounced "bah-dee") Island. The project was spearheaded by the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, founded the 1994 by a local couple who started the society with their own money. The $5 million in renovation funds came from the National Park Service, and work stopped in 2010 when more serious structural problems were found by contractors and corrected. The Bodie Island Visitor Center is about a 15-minute drive from Nags Head, part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Guided tours will run through Columbus Day from 9 a.m. to 5:45 pm. daily ($8 adults, $4 seniors, free for children 11 and under—but children must be at least 42 inches tall and accompanied by an adult). Other nearby attractions include Jockey's Ridge, which is the largest sand dune on the East Coast and popular with hang gliders, and the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. Where to stay: Ramada Plaza Nags Head Beach is right on the beach. 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC,, doubles from $183. TALK TO US! We want to know: What's your favorite lighthouse in the U.S.? What is it that you love about it?


Spring Food Festivals You Must Taste to Believe

Admit it. The words food and festival make your mouth water. I know, I know. You're picturing yourself balancing a plate of, say, gulf shrimp with a nice cool glass of local chardonnay. Add a balmy Southern breeze in your hair and you've pretty much got a perfect afternoon. Here, four of our favorite American food festivals coming up in May, served with a heaping side order of affordable hotels. Bloomin' Barbecue & Bluegrass (May 17 to 18). Sevierville, TN, has a lot going for it. Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and a short drive from Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Dollywood, the town is also host to an annual BBQ and bluegrass blast. Here, you'll meet barbeque cook teams who have been featured on the Food Network, free bluegrass concerts (including the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition featuring finalists from around the U.S. competing for a Nashville recording session), and witness an epic cook-off involving more than 2,800 pounds of meat that includes pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and ribs. Where to stay: La Quinta Inn & Suites Sevierville (2428 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, TN,, doubles from $89) is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, and offers a free breakfast. New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May 22 to 25). You already know this town knows how to throw a party. Now celebrating its 21st year, the NOWFF will include wine dinners hosted by more than 30 NOLA restaurants, the Royal Street Stroll through the French Quarter, and wine tastings from more than 175 wineries (including food pairings from local chefs). The event will also include the 7th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, whose winner will represent the state in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, plus seminars about international cuisine. Where to stay: Holiday Inn French Quarter—Chateau Lemoyne Hotel (301 Rue Dauphine,, doubles from $167) has a prime central location near Bourbon Street. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (May 30 to June 2). The organizers of this fest in Midtown Atlanta like to say "the South never tasted so good," and you'll catch their enthusiasm quickly when you immerse yourself in a lavish extended weekend of learning experiences (cooking and cocktail demos, tasting seminars, and panel discussions), tasting experiences (chef-curated tasting tents serving Southern meals, snacks, sweets, sandwiches, and wines and spirits), plus evening dinners and other events. With an advisory council of more than 60 award-winning food pros from 14 Southern states and the District of Columbia, this festival has an additional "southern" angle—it celebrates the food of other southern regions of the world, including Southern Europe, South Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico. Where to stay: Westin Peachtree Plaza (210 Peachtree Street,, doubles from $173) is in central Atlanta, near its Museum of Design, Centennial Olympic Park, and a short distance from the outstanding Georgia Aquarium. Taste of Cincinnati (May 25 to 27). America's longest-running culinary festival, dating back to 1979, this Memorial Day weekend bash celebrates the Cincinnati area's great restaurants and attracts 500,000 foodies each year. More than 40 locals restaurants typically participate, and in the weeks leading up to the event there is a Best of Taste Awards competition in which menu items are previewed and judged. This year's offerings are in the works, but last year's winners included Shrimp & Crab Dumpling with Noodle (deemed "Best Damn Dish" of the year), Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Banana Cream Pie. Where to stay: Wingate by Wyndham Cincinnati (4320 Glendale Milford Road,, doubles from $92) is located in the Blue Ash business district. TALK TO US! We want to know: What's your favorite food festival?


Boston Is Open in Wake of Marathon Explosions

Following the explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday, the city of Boston is open for business (including Amtrak train service and flights to Logan International Airport). However, those of you currently visiting Boston, or with imminent travel plans to visit, will, of course, be directly affected by the explosions, which killed three people and injured at least 140. While the safety and well-being of everyone affected by yesterday's events is of greater importance than anyone's vacation plans, we do want you to know: The area around Copley Square is a crime scene and will likely be closed to visitors for several days, according to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. That means no access to Copley Station, the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, the Shops at the Prudential Center, the Copley Place mall, the Hynes Convention Center, and the Boston Common garage. (USA Today reports, however, that drivers will be able to retrieve parked cars from the garage.) Boston Common is now a staging area for law enforcement. Many airlines are waiving flight-change fees for Boston travel, and many local hotels are waiving cancellation fees—contact airlines and hotels directly for more information. If you are in Boston for the Marathon and are without lodging, visit for a Google doc to match visitors with available places to stay. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and everyone affected by yesterday's events.


Where to Find Free Yoga This Summer

Yoga classes can really add up—I've seen prices as high as $35 per class here in New York City. Luckily, there are a number of free events that take place in cities around the country every summer to help everyone take a breather. If you happen to be in the New York City area on Friday, June 21st, don't miss Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga. Join thousands of other flexible friends in an enormous crowd of New Yorkers and visitors alike, all trying to find their inner peace in one of the busiest, loudest, most crowded places on earth. The event takes place all day and you can score freebies like gift bags and yoga mats (given to the first 1,500 participants). Stick around between classes for soothing musical performances, free giveaways, raffles, and a fashion show by popular yoga clothing company, Athleta. Wanderlust: Yoga In The City, an annual event stretching across four U.S. cities this year, is hosted in popular parks and other areas with beautiful views to look at while you practice your poses. San Francisco: Sunday, May 12th, at Little Marina Green from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.Register online for the 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., or 3:30 p.m. class. Chicago: Sunday, June 2nd, at Butler Field in Grant Park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.Register online for the 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. class. New York City: Sunday, June 9th, at Pier 63 in Hudson River Park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.Register online for the 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. class. Los Angeles: Sunday, June 30th, at Santa Monica Pier from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.Register online for the 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. class. If all else fails, wait for September when it's National Yoga Month, and the Yoga Health Foundation offers one free week of classes at your choice of more than 2,200 participating studios around the country. Register online this year starting August 1st, and redeem your certificate anytime between September 1st and October 30th. Please note that while these events are free and open to the public, you do need to register for a spot through the appropriate website. Space at the Wanderlust: Yoga In The City events is limited to the first 1,000 people who sign up, while more may be accepted for Solstice in Times Square. Remember to wear sunscreen, bring your own yoga mat, and pack plenty of water.