New York City. A place bursting with so many diners, cafes and coffee shops that deciding where to have breakfast during your trip is almost impossible. Not to mention the fact that even a few days visiting NYC feels like you’re hurtling towards bankruptcy, with all the amazing shops, experiences and food that the city has to offer. Not to worry: I’ve tracked down a few great options for a delicious and budget-friendly breakfast in the Big Apple, all located in great spots from which to explore the city.
Jack’s Wife Freda
Jack’s Wife Freda might just be the best breakfast I’ve had in New York. I’m a huge sweet tooth, and their Rosewater Waffle was insanely good, not to mention the honey syrup that came with it.
The menu is varied, with options for both carnivores and herbivores, all beautifully presented and very instagram-friendly. The cafe itself also has a great vibe, and is a comfortable place to stay and relax for a while after your plates have been cleared. Coffee is provided by American coffee favourite Stumptown Coffee Roasters, meaning that those in need of a caffeine hit with their morning meal won’t leave disappointed either. With prices for breakfast plates starting at $10 pre-tax, this is at the pricier end of this list, but I would say the quality of the food and ambiance in the cafe make it well worth a visit (and it’s still a fair amount cheaper than a lot of breakfast & brunch spots around the city!).
There are two locations of this all day cafe, one on Carmine Street in the West Village, and their original address on Lafayette Street in Nolita. The cafe does accept reservations, but only for parties of more than 6 people, and due to its popularity with both locals and visitors, a line can quickly build up on the weekend. When I visited the Lafayette St location on a weekday morning, I was able to instantly snag the covetable corner booth, but when I walked past on the weekend a couple of days later I did see a fairly long line had formed, so I’d definitely recommend popping by on a weekday if you can.
You can find more information about each location, opening times and menus on the Jack’s Wife Freda website. You can also browse their Instagram feed here – be warned, do not do this on an empty stomach!
Little Collins was a last-minute find when, on our recent trip to New York, my girlfriend decided that she needed a nice, healthy breakfast which didn’t include any cheese or any sugar (we’d been in the USA for a few days, and the change from her usual scrambled eggs-based breakfast was taking its toll). I did a quick google search, and found a site which proclaimed that Midtown cafe Little Collins did one of the best avocado toasts in the city, and that you could request it with an egg if you wanted to. Perfect.
Little Collins is named after a busy street in Melbourne, a nod to the Australian coffee and brunch scene. The cafe is tiny, with only a few seats and a constant rush of regulars popping in for their morning shot of caffeine. Luckily, a lot of people seem to take their coffee to go, so on the weekday morning when we visited we were able to grab a table without too much fuss. The cafe were happy to add a generous side of scrambled eggs to the avocado smash which we’d originally come for, and the breakfast menu had a lot of other tempting options, both sweet and savoury. I chose an item called The Sweet Uncle Fred, which was a toasted slice of banana bread topped with ricotta, fresh berries, honey and toasted almonds. Essentially, a slice of heaven. Yum.
As well as the prices being very reasonable, with both of these dishes coming in at under $10 each, the cafe also served up some of the best coffee we had during our stay. Little Collins is the first cafe in New York to use the Modbar, a very aesthetically pleasing alternative to a regular espresso machine where the counter is topped by what look like a series of large taps, used by the baristas to produce shots of espresso. The Modbar made the small cafe seem much larger, as there was no barrier between the baristas and customers, but rather a space for interaction. The Counter Culture coffee that the Modbar produced was incredibly smooth, and we ended up finding time to revisit the cafe later on in our stay for another taste. Delicious.
The cafe is located on Lexington Avenue, around a ten minute walk from the SE corner of Central Park, and very close to the shopping meccas of Bloomingdale’s and Barney’s. In short: a great spot to fuel up before starting your day. Breakfast options change slightly on the weekends, but the cafe is open daily. You can find more information about their menu and opening times on their website, or check out their Instagram for some cute posts featuring the adventures of their little blue cups.
For something different…
For something a little more unusual than the standard breakfast & brunch menu you might expect to find in a city like New York, head to Oatmeals in Greenwich Village. This cafe describes itself as ‘the world’s first all-oatmeal cafe’, serving up a number of Signature Bowls: takes on oatmeal dishes ranging from sweet to savoury, the classic to the innovative. As well as the menu of pre-designed bowls, there is the option to build your own, choosing between a wide variety of toppings and drizzles to make your own bowl of oatmeal heaven.
The oats at the cafe come in three portion sizes, the adorably named Baby Bear at 8oz, Mama Bear at 12oz and Papa Bear at 16oz. With prices under $8 for the largest sizes, this is a really great value option for a filling and warm breakfast in Greenwich Village, especially on a cold day! When I visited I had a bowl called ‘The Hot Date’: my oats were topped with dates, pecans and granola, plus a sizeable dollop of peanut butter and a drizzle of honey. The Mama Bear portion was just right, and the oatmeal was delicious – I can’t wait to make my own version of this at home.
The decor in the cafe is really well put together, with lots of oatmeal-related decorations, and a proud display of press pieces about the cafe in the window. The staff are friendly, and as well as the oatmeal bowls the cafe also offers a range of oat-based pastries, as well as coffee and tea from Porto Rico Importing Co. based on nearby Bleecker Street.
This is one of only a handful of all-oatmeal based cafes in the world (I reviewed one in my guide to Nørrebro, Copenhagen!), and is well worth a visit if you are a fan of oatmeal (or porridge as we say in the UK!) and want to try something quirky and unusual while visiting NYC. Check out their website for more info on the cafe, or if you fancy a good old scroll of their Instagram feed, you can find that here.
For a classic…
Your local bagel place
Yes, this is a vague recommendation, but I think it’s one of the best breakfast options in the city. Wherever you are staying, there are bound to be places nearby that make fresh bagels each day, serving them up with your choice of spreads and toppings. Not only is this a crazy cheap breakfast option – at my local spot when I last visited I could get a huge PB&J bagel for the grand total of $4 – but the bagel is an NYC classic. There are articles online detailing the very best bagels in New York, but honestly, I found that if your local was busy first thing in the morning, you could trust that the bagels would be pretty damn good.
A couple more options worth a quick mention…
A great option for those who don’t like to eat much in the morning or prefer a grab and go option to a sit down meal, Amy’s Bread is an NYC bakery serving up a range of delicious morning pastries alongside the rest of their all day fare. With a number of locations around the city, it’s a really convenient spot to grab a croissant or a Danish, keeping breakfast prices low but stomachs (and sweet tooths!) happy. I visited the Bleecker Street branch in the West Village and tried their Pistachio Croissant Twist, which was both huge and delicious. You can find out more about their locations, opening times and menu here, or get a visual feel for what’s on offer by stalking their Instagram feed.
The Butchers Daughter
I visited the West Village location of The Butchers Daughter (there’s another in Nolita, as well in LA!) after seeing a couple of bloggers rave about it online, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the breakfast here on the whole. This is partially due to the price, which was higher than the above brunch style options, and partially due to the quality of the food and service, which I felt to be a little lower than we had found elsewhere. However, if you don’t eat animal products, the cafe offers a lot of choice as not only is everything on offer vegetarian, most is also vegan. The cafe itself is also beautiful, with plants draped everywhere you look, and it does seem to have gathered quite a following, so it could just be me who was a little underwhelmed. To check out the menu and see if the cafe seems to be somewhere you’d like to visit, have a look at their website here. Their Instagram account provides some amazing interiors inspo as well as pictures of their food!
I hope you liked this rundown of some of the best breakfasts in New York City! Let me know if you do try any of the recommendations from this article by commenting below or by getting in touch via Instagram or Twitter.