Stress-Free Brunch Options on the Upper West Side

By Heidi Patalano on April 25, 2013 9:58pm | Updated on May 3, 2013 9:23am

UPPER WEST SIDE — Brunching could be considered a competitive sport in this highly residential upscale neighborhood where long lines, cranky children and thrown elbows are all par for the course on a typical Sunday.

But the stress of brunch doesn't have to leave you reaching for a stiff Bloody Mary.

DNAinfo.com sifted through some old favorites and new gems to bring you a few special brunch-spot suggestions.

ADULT FRIENDLY

Ouest — Different people want different things from a brunch. For some, a family-friendly location is most important. Others prefer a celebratory atmosphere to go with their eggs and mimosa.

The mellow set can safely turn to Ouest, a 12-year neighborhood veteran, for a calm and peaceful daytime weekend meal.

“Not that we don’t love kids, but it’s decidedly a more adult type of environment,” Ouest owner Tom Valenti said. “There are plenty of places on the Upper West Side that are lively and raucous. This is a little bit more for maybe the slightly hung over set that don’t want a lot of noise on Sunday morning.”

Ouest offers a two-course prix fixe option for $29, which includes scones, bread, muffins and tea or coffee.

OUTDOOR OPTION

Gabriela's Restaurant and Tequila Bar — Mexican is always a tasty option for brunch and at Gabriela’s it’s affordable, too. With a $13.95 prix fixe option, diners can enjoy a fruit salad, Mexican corn bread, entrée and a choice of mimosa, sangria, frozen margarita, bloody maria, orange juice or coffee. Manager Moises Galarza says that among the savory dishes offered, the chilaquiles verdes o rojos dish is a resounding favorite.

“Chilaques are very popular — it’s a traditional Mexican dish with fried tortillas served with a red sauce or green sauce, scrambled eggs and sour cream. It’s a delicious brunch item,” he said.

In the spring and summer, customers are also particularly attracted to the eatery’s sunny patio, which fills up quickly, especially on the weekends.

LOW-KEY LOCATION

Dovetail — Just across the street from the American Museum of Natural History, Dovetail is the perfect place to start a day of cultural enrichment. The veggie-centric Sunday brunch menu offers a $32 prix fixe option, which includes a bread basket, canapés and desserts in addition to an entrée.

The chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant, John Fraser, serves up restaurant favorites like the crab Benedict, with poached eggs and a spicy hollandaise, and the French toast, served with apples, bacon and vanilla maple syrup. And despite the highbrow reputation, diners say this is an unpretentious spot for your low-key Sunday meal.

NOTABLE NOSHING

Fishtag — Celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Psilakis may be busy opening a new Greek spot in Queens, but his Upper West Side digs are as carefully attended as ever. The fish-centric menu focuses on health and flavor: upon request, any protein on the menu can be grilled with olive oil and lemon and served with a warm salad of braised bitter greens, olives, tomatoes and a potato confit. An $18 prix fixe option is available for brunch, as are a few riffs on classic dishes, such as the smoked trout hash served with patatas bravas and the ricotta pancakes.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

The Smith — The Upper West Side location of this mini chain by co-owners Jeffrey Lefcourt and Glenn Harris has quickly become a brunch haven both for the sophisticated set and families alike. The raw bar and specialty cocktails like the blood orange mimosa and Passion Punch keep the former satisfied, while the vanilla bean French toast, mac-and-cheese and deluxe burger are tempting for palates young and old. But the relaxed atmosphere is one of the restaurant’s most winning features — that and the baked eggs.

“Guests are loving our brunch,” executive chef Harris explains. “We get comments about our offerings, our creativity, our vibe and guests are going nuts over the new Sicilian baked eggs."

SUSTAINABLE AND CONVIVIAL

Community Food & Juice — Wander a little further north into Morningside Heights and you’ll find a brunch spot that means what it says when it calls itself Community. At long tables, separate parties sit elbow to elbow to enjoy healthy, organic and sustainable comfort food. The brunch menu pays particular attention to specific dietary needs: diners can choose gluten-free versions of many of the dishes. Unique veggie-centric entrées include the celery root potato pancakes, smothered with crème fraiche and caramelized apple sauce and the bowl of beets, topped with an orange balsamic reduction, whipped goat cheese and toasted pistachios. Wash those down with a wasabi prairie mary, a sunshine screw, pear bellini or one of their many other signature cocktails.

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