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Brunch With a Dominican Twist is an Uptown Treat

By Carla Zanoni | October 5, 2011 7:30am | Updated on October 5, 2011 10:51am
French toast is served at "La Estufa," in Inwood on Oct. 2nd, 2011.
French toast is served at "La Estufa," in Inwood on Oct. 2nd, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

INWOOD — Five years ago, there was one meal you could not eat uptown — brunch.

But now the breakfast-lunch hybrid that was once the preserve of downtown is prominent  on Inwood menus with distinctive egg dishes, specialty drinks and outdoor eating options.

Inwoodites have welcomed a new way to enjoy the weekend and, as with all things in this part of the city, restaurateurs are finding new ways to put that uptown mark on a lazy weekend favorite.

Locals who know where to go can find delicious and different deals from Dyckman Street to Indian Road and everywhere in between, whether it’s bottomless drinks and a lively street scene, or live music and a neighborhood hangout where everyone knows your name.

Mamajuana Café
247 Dyckman Street, between Seaman and Payson avenues, 212.304.0140
Brunch: Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The original Dyckman Street café has been serving up brunch for fans that live near and far.
Named after the Dominican alcoholic herb elixir, Mamajuana Café has had a devoted base of fans returning for its renowned brunch service since opening nearly seven years ago.
Brunch specials include an appetizer, main entrée and unlimited drinks for $18.95.
Favorites include Cuban black beans with rice, eggs benedict, steak topped with three eggs, or the very popular skirt steak with Argentine chimichurri sauce and the Dominican side dish mangu, a mashed sweet plantain.
Mimosas and Jack Daniels punch flow freely with the special between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
"The food is amazing and it’s so much fun,” said Tina Piancano, 23, admitting that the crowd draws her in as much as the food and liquor. “In just three hours I get to see everyone I’ve missed all week long.”

Indian Road Café
600 West 218th Street at corner of Indian Road, 212.942.7451
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Live music, interesting brunch items and a warm vibe packs in locals and visitors every Sunday. The last restaurant on the northern tip of Manhattan is jam-packed with diners every Sunday for its brunch service, drawn in by the sound of live music, the smell of roasted coffee beans or the alluring tones of conversation and laughter at this neighborhood joint. 
Locally ingredients from upstate New York farms, from Manhattan eateries such as Balthazar and from Italian shops on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx make up most of the menu.
Favorites include the breakfast burrito, packed with scrambled eggs, refried beans, pickled red onion, avocado and cheddar cheese. Others opt for a Cuban pressed sandwich or a hearty Trucker’s Breakfast, which includes scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, sausage, home fries and toast. Traditional cocktails run $8 each.
And the restaurant’s location overlooking Inwood Hill Park, the last natural forest in Manhattan, is unbeat north of Dyckman Street.
"Even though we're in Manhattan it feels like we're somewhere else,” Ardice Cotter, 24, said while eating brunch with friends. “It's quiet, people are always friendly and the park is right across the road.”

La Estufa
5035 Broadway, 212.567.6640
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Organic, natural and flavorful food at a low-key restaurant draws the crowds at La Estufa every weekend. The traditional menu includes omelettes, fruit salads, sweet potato pancakes, paninis and savory or sweet crepes, featuring bananas and Nutella. Most items are made with organic ingredients.
The eclectic Italian-American cuisine served in an exposed brick interior provides a cozy experience for diners, whether visiting with a date or children and family.
“We’ve needed a relaxed place like this for years,” Inwood resident Susan Meyers, 35, said of the nearly four-year-old eatery. “It’s a staple during the week and during the weekend.”

5009 Broadway, between West 214th and 215th streets, 646.837.6891
Brunch: Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Known primarily for its fusion sushi entrees and prominent nightlife, Hashi has quietly been serving up a brunch menu with live music in the afternoon followed by a DJ. 
For diners who prefer savory meals to sweet, a chef whips up a specialty menu each Sunday, featuring steaks and eggs cooked any style, and a deal for sushi lovers, which includes any two “classic” sushi choices on the menu for $9. 
Mimosas made with guava, peach bellinis and drinks made with Chambord sell for $5 a pop.

Café Tabaco y Ron
501 W 214th Street on corner of Tenth Avenue, 212.567.7170
Brunch: Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m

Under the roar of the 1 train along Ninth Avenue sits one of Inwood’s best steak house secrets.
“I don’t want people to know about this place, I’ve never eaten so good and I want it all to myself,” said Washington Heights resident Paola Jimenez, 26.
$15.95 buys diners an appetizer, entrée and a choice of a mimosa or bellini.
Many order Huevos Venezolanos, Venezuelan-style eggs with onions, peppers, cilantro, plantains and avaocado or a more traditional three-egg omelet with vegetables. But the true gem is the Huevos y Churasco, eggs served with chorizo, skirt steak and yucca fries.

Sweet Praise
4996 Broadway, between Isham and and 212th streets, 212.567.5009
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Inwood’s most recent addition, Sweet Praise serves up traditional brunch fare in a bistro setting.
Favorite brunch items include a crab omelet, fresh toast with fruit salad and eggs with mangu.
Although the main dishes are popular, many who come to Sweet Praise flock to the space for a cup of their joe, which is ground moments before it is drip poured into individual coffee mugs.
“The coffee is amazing,” said Washington Heights resident Helen Mullen, 37, who raved about the beans from Blue Bottle Coffee Company, the coffee’s producer. Sweet Praise is only one of a few New York companies to work with the microroaster. “You can really taste the difference.”
Inwood Local (formerly named Ouva)
4957 Broadway, between West 207th and Isham streeets,
Brunch: Saturdy and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Inwood’s first wine and beer garden broke new ground with its interesting brunch menu in early September, including an apricot preserve omelet, sautéed mushrooms on toast, cereal-crusted French toast with rum flavored cream cheese and a cream of wheat tartlette with rhubarb compote. 
Although the new items are beginning to whet culinary appetites, the 50 different craft and microbrews and large assortment of wines served by waiters wearing "olde tyme" hats in the outdoor garden in the backyward are still the main draw.
"I couldn't wait for them to open and now I don't ever want them to leave," said Marcus Bello, 29.
An assortment of brunch cocktails sell for $4 until 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Garden Café
4961 Broadway, between West 207th and Isham streets, 212.544.9480
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For many, the first Inwood restaurant to offer a brunch menu, is the standard for all other operations in the area.
The laid back atmosphere, community vibe, local musical performances and a charming outdoor seating area throughout the year bring a steady crowd to the traditional bistro-style eatery owned by the same restaurateur that operates Inwood Local (above) and the Parkview Diner on Dyckman Street.
Favorites include French toast made with a hint of orange from Grand Marnier and maple syrup, spicy huevos rancheros and cinnamon buckwheat pancakes. Fans also rave about the creamy lattes served up in bowls so big a visitor could easily lose a day sipping the frothy goodness.

Beans & Vines
4842 Broadway, between Academy Street and 204th Street, 212.544.2326
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Normally packed with writers, freelance artists and people looking to while away the week, weekends draw in small crowds looking for a special spot to eat their brunch at this coffee and wine establishment.
The small and intimate eatery offers coffee, wine and tapas and a traditional brunch menu, and bills itself as “Old Soho meets Inwood.”
The purveyors serve up an international menu unexpected in uptown Manhattan; Italian espresso, French croissants, and southern crab cakes with smoked chipotle cream cheese all feature.
The brunch menu also includes huevos rancheros, spicy scrambled eggs with vegetables and Spanish tortillas (the potato and egg quiche dish).
“The staff is amazing and the food is delicious,” said Inwood native Mike Vasquez, 28. “It’s so nice to have a downtown-feeling place like this, that doesn’t feel pretentious, that’s so close to home.”

223 Dyckman Street, between Broadway and Seaman Avenue, 212.544.0001
Brunch: Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a 90 minute limit for diners. 

For those looking for a party scene with their huevos rancheros, Papasito is definitely the spot. Located on Dyckman Street, the Dominican food-infused Mexican restaurant serves mangu, French toast and skirt steak with eggs.
Those looking for a heartier meal can also choose from a buffet option that includes omelets, waffles, sausage, bacon, potatoes, beans, fruit, croissants, dessert and drinks for $18.95.
Drinks include mimosas, bellinis and tequila sunrises and brunch service often features live Mariachi music as well.
“It’s a great way to spend your afternoon,” said Bronx resident Carlene Bellagio, 28. “The food is great and so is the people watching.”

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