There are few cities in the country that facilitate boisterous drinking better than New York: last call doesn’t come until 4 a.m. or later, and by that hour the idea of facing a slow subway ride or calling an Uber usually loses out to just staying put at your stool. Luckily, NYC is as awash in great brunch joints serving restorative, alcohol-absorbing comfort food cures as it is in the gin joints that got you into this mess in the first place. We’ve singled out ten of our favorite over-the-top hangover helpers to get you back into form—and ready for another cocktail.
Located in the historic Essex Street Market, diner counter Shopsin’s is known for its massive menu—about 600 items and counting—of zanily named comfort food mash-ups. There’s the Slutty Cakes, peanut butter- and pumpkin-laced Aunt Jemima pancakes, and there’s the Chutzpah, a “sandwich” made by stuffing chopped liver and egg salad between two crisp latkes. Wildly creative chef-owner Kenny Shopsin has a lot of chutzpah himself: known for his curmudgeonly attitude and strict rules (no parties larger than four; no substitutions), he’s a gruff personality with a streak of mad-scientist kitchen genius. Shopsin is deservedly famous for his mac ‘n’ cheese pancakes, surprisingly addictive griddle cakes whose batter is laced with elbow noodles and shredded cheddar. He uses two of the pancakes as buns to sandwich a variety of fillings, from BBQ pork to pastrami hash and scrambled eggs, in a syrup-optional one-two punch that will surely vanquish even the headiest hangover.
April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig, The John Dory) is better known for her thoughtful nose-to-tail cooking and refined sensibilities than she is for Elvis Presley-style junk food. But at the Breslin, her handsome dining room located inside the Ace Hotel, Bloomfield goes big for brunch diners with this jaw-droppingly indulgent version of an ordinary children’s snack. Brioche is stuffed with bananas and peanut butter and soaked in Maker's Mark and sugar. Deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar, this sweet sandwich will send you into a food coma.
Crisp fried chicken is the house specialty at this elevated soul food spot that pairs elegant, grease-cutting champagne with the down-home soul food staple. This isn’t any ordinary fried chicken: Birds & Bubbles sources top-quality, Amish-raised birds from D’Artagnan. At brunch, seated under exposed brick at the dining room’s narrow banquette or out back in the spacious, relaxed garden, there’s no need to choose between chicken and waffles with “Birdies in a Blanket,” chicken tenders that are fried not once but twice, to lock in all those juices. After two trips through seasoned flour and a journey into the fryer, the crisp strips are dipped in a loose waffle batter and emerge from their second hot oil bath super light and fluffy. Served dusted with cinnamon sugar, an ideal pairing would be a rose champagne from the restaurant’s list of over 40 sparkling wines, or, in winter, a toasty, yeasty brut champagne.
Sweet, sticky pancakes and greasy home fries are wonderful hangover cures in their own right, but sometimes, the only fix that will do is red meat. At Egg Shop, the dining room is neat and brightly colored, and a big chalkboard over the narrow, diner-style griddle kitchen advertises yolk-heavy specialties such as the Pepper Boy, a soft scramble set inside a green bell pepper half and crowned with a super crisp criss-cross of maple-cured pepper bacon. But for the overindulgent and iron-depleted, the Steak and Egg beckons with meaty slices of grass-fed tenderloin stuffed inside a soft French hero slathered with caramelized onion aioli and topped with chimichurri, pickled jalapenos, and, of course, a sunnyside up egg.
Fans of the venerated temple to Jewish appetizing—that’s lox, smoked sable and all the other schmears you can fit on a bagel—rejoiced in 2014 when this handsome sit-down opened on Orchard Street. Pretty much everything Russ & Daughters serves is brunch fare, but the “Lower Sunny Side”—two crisp potato latkes served with sunnyside up eggs and plenty of gaspe nova smoked salmon—makes an extra-nice bed for soaking up any leftover booze.
Shaksouka is one of the world’s best hangover cures, a fact well known to overzealous fans of arak, the traditional Middle Eastern anise seed liquor. A simple, comforting Israeli dish of eggs baked into a rich tomato sauce, the shaksouka at Nolita’s Balaboosta is served with grilled sourdough and arecommended add-on of spicy lamb sausage. The restaurant’s chef, Tel Aviv native Einat Admony, is a legend in the world of Middle Eastern cooking, and her house-made merguez, with lamb sourced from old-school Soho butcher shop Pino’s Prime Meats, deftly displays her artistry.
The West Village is packed with diminutive slivers of restaurants, but Bleecker Kitchen & Co. isn’t one of them: corner-located and unusually spacious for the neighborhood, the bright, glassed-in space has 60 seats, though it can be a challenge to find an unoccupied one come Sunday morning. The restaurant’s French toast offering is known city-wide, and for good reason: it’s like every childhood breakfast fantasy rolled into one (deep-fried!) dish. Thick, rectangular portions of pain de mie are soaked in a rich custard, rolled into corn flake crumbs and flash-fried, then served with a fluffy peanut butter mousse and grape compote.
Spicy, cheesy Tex-Mex grub isn’t just the perfect partner to an ice-cold beer, it’s also an ideal antidote to a few too many. At Javelina, NYC’s of-the-moment southwestern spot, the chilaquiles are the dish of choice for groggy day-after revelers: crisp tortilla chips layered with scrambled eggs, shredded cheese and brick-red ranchero sauce or green tomatillo salsa, with optional add-ons like shredded brisket, refried beans and potatoes that are sure to fortify you for your journey back to bed.
This West Village oyster bar hosts a packed weekend brunch that’s likely to showcase the restaurant’s focus on seafood. Jeffrey’s puts out a very respectable eggs benny, served over fried green tomatoes, sauced with a pimento hollandaise, and crowned with arugula, roasted red peppers and sweet blue crab meat.
Since time immemorial, hungover New Yorkers have been stumbling from bed to the nearest bodega and soothing their frayed nerves and churning stomachs with the classic, supremely satisfying corner store delicacy, the bacon, egg and cheese. No NYC hangover cure list would be complete without a nod to the sandwich, but why settle for a roll when you could eat a buttery biscuit? At Jewish-inflected comfort food spot Jacob’s Pickles, Queens native Jacob Hadjigeorgis elevates the B.E.C.: the bacon is nitrate-free; the eggs are sourced from a Sullivan County farm; and the cheese is aged Vermont roll. And, yes, it’s all served up on a towering, fluffy Southern-style biscuit. Try picking that up at your local bodega.