A Brief History of Brunch + A Few of Our Fave NYC Brunch Restaurants

Eggs Benedict, fresh bread baskets, bottomless mimosas, some gentle jazz standards to set the Sunday mood — these are the ingredients we’ve come to associate with the classic American brunch. What are the origins of this most famous of merged meals? How did brunch culture flourish in New York City in particular? And why is brunch both so loved and loathed? We explore both in this brief history of brunch and highlight some of our favorite NYC brunch restaurants below.

Brunch, Actually

The word is synonymous with Mother’s Day, bridal and baby showers, any weekend occasion that calls for a glass of bubbly (or few). But there was a time, at the dawn of the twentieth century, when brunch was a new addition to the culinary vocabulary. In an 1896 edition of Pennsylvania’s New Oxford newspaper, a new “fad” was introduced — a “repast at 11 o’clock a.m.,” between breakfast and lunch, that was on its way to becoming a weekly post-church ritual across the country. Shouldn’t the Lord’s day of rest include a nap-inducing feast … and one less meal to prepare, after all?

From Ellis Island to Studio 54 to Sex and the City: How New York Became America’s Brunch Capital

And then came a wave of immigration and, with it, a whole new cultural landscape in America’s cities, notably in New York. Today, everybody knows the cliché about how Jews go out for Chinese food on Christmas. But what was New York’s increasingly large Jewish population doing back in the day, while the rest of the city’s huddled masses were in church? Looking for places to nosh, of course. (Dim sum in Chinatown is still a weekend favorite.) That is one theory for why brunch became a tradition here. Another is the city’s vibrant nightlife. Tourists, club kids, well-heeled single women seeking a hangover cure after one too many Cosmopolitans — these and other late risers want to have their pancakes and eat them, too! In the so-called City that Never Sleeps, a whole new midday dining experience, from the greasy-spoon to the grand ballroom, was born.

Happy Hour or Hangry Time?

But brunch, like many aspects of New York life, can be complicated. Restaurant owners love serving brunch because it’s big business. Residents dodging the influx of bridge-and-tunnel brunch-seekers? Not so much. “Brunch is for jerks,” claimed one New York Times op-ed writer, only to be taken down in a New York magazine missive entitled “It’s Time to Shut Up About Brunch.” Ranting about the indignities of brunch — it’s expensive and elitist! No stroller parking! — can be an activity in and of itself. No matter which side of the argument you fall on, one thing is for sure: People are passionate about brunch. And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Skip the Lines and Brunch Away with Some of Open Table’s Favorite NYC Spots

Streetside loitering is a rite of passage for New York’s brunchers. What better way to build your appetite than standing for an hour with the Sunday paper (on your smartphone) or at the bar, right? Actually, we suggest you beat the wait by reserving a table ahead of time at some of these best-loved brunch venues in the area!

Cherche Midi
Love the food but want to skip the fracas at Balthazar? Take the flâneur route over to the Bowery and dine on all the best French brunchables — pot du fromage, steak frites, a glass of kir royale to name a few — this chic, energetic bistro has to offer. Make a reservation at Cherche Midi.

NYC Brunch Restaurants

Dirt Candy
Forget the facon: A creative menu filled with meat-free options — the Canadian Cracker alone is worth the cost of admission — elevates this eatery of earthly delights to ‘must-go’ status for vegetarians (vegans, too). Worried what your omnivorous friends will think? Mention the Jealous Mary (made with green tomatoes!) and let their FOMO do the rest. Make a reservation at Dirt Candy.

NYC Brunch restaurants

The Odeon
To call it “storied” is an understatement. So iconic of the ‘80s that it appeared on the book jacket of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, this downtown fixture exudes cool but it is a family-friendly neighborhood joint at heart. The expansive — and not too expensive — menu is one-size-fits-all. Great for solo dining, too. Make a reservation at The Odeon.

NYC Brunch Restaurants

Café Clover
Banquette-style dining, a table setting at the bar, the outdoor terrace — this is West Village charm defined. An emphasis on locally-sourced vegetables is a plus for those with healthy appetites … literally. Make a reservation at Cafe Clover.

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Make Mother’s Day Delicious: The 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America 2016 #OpenTable100

100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America 2016

In celebration of Mother’s Day, the most popular day to dine out for brunch, we’re excited to reveal the 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

From restaurants serving traditional dishes and lavish buffets to those making fried chicken and waffles and plant-forward fare synonymous with brunch, the complete list features winning restaurants in 26 states and Washington, D.C., and includes Balthazar in New York, Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach. New York, arguably the birthplace of brunch as we have come to know and love it, comes out on top with 20 winning restaurants, followed by California with 16, Maryland with nine and Illinois with six. Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. boast five apiece, while North Carolina and Texas have four each. Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia all have three winners, and Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon have two each. Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington state are also represented.

American fare, which is closely associated with local farm-to-table ingredients, is extremely popular at the winning restaurants, as are French and seafood-driven menus. However, a variety of cuisines are present including dim sum, Creole, Hawaiian, Latin/Spanish, Low Country, Mexican, and vegetarian. Check out some of the tastiest brunch dishes from the winners in our slideshow below.

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Just in Time for Mother’s Day: The 75 Best Brunch Restaurants in Canada

Best Brunch Restaurants in Canada

With Mother’s Day around the corner, we’re excited to make it easier for Canadians to find the perfect place to celebrate mom with the 75 Best Brunch Restaurants in Canada. The awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 275,000 restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for approximately 1,700 restaurants across Canada.

The 75 Best Restaurants for Brunch list includes award winners from five provinces. Twenty nine Ontario restaurants, 18 Alberta restaurants, 14 British Columbia restaurants, ten from Québec and four from Manitoba made the list.

In addition to naming the 75 Best Restaurants for Brunch in Canada, OpenTable today released two sets of data on the Mother’s Day habits of Canadians. One set of findings is based on an online survey of 1,568 Canadians conducted between April 18, 2016, and April 21, 20161, while the other is based on reservations made for Mother’s Day 2015 in Canada through OpenTable.

Mother’s Day Canadian Online Survey Findings
Based on an online survey of 1,568 Canadians conducted between April 18, 2016, and April 21, 2016, OpenTable found that:

  • Forty-seven per cent of Canadians who celebrate Mother’s Day will dine out to celebrate this year, on the second busiest dining day of the year across the country.
  • Thirteen per cent of Canadians who celebrate Mother’s Day and dine out try different cuisines/restaurants in their own neighbourhood, while another 13 per cent surprise Mom with a different restaurant every year.
  • Compared to Canadians aged 35 and older, millennials (18-34 years old) who celebrate Mother’s Day are most likely to find at least one part of the day stressful (70 per cent versus 52 per cent). As well, among Canadians who dine out, millennials are most likely to read reviews before selecting a restaurant for Mother’s Day versus Canadians 35 and older (17 per cent versus four per cent respectively).
  • The most common stress experienced by Canadians who celebrate Mother’s Day is finding the perfect gift for mom or an activity that will make mom happy (25 per cent), followed by coordinating schedules so everyone can celebrate together (10 per cent).

OpenTable Canada Findings
Based on Canadian diner reservation data from Mother’s Day 2015, OpenTable found that:

  • Canadians love brunch on Mother’s Day. According to OpenTable diner data, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for brunch reservations. It’s also one of the busiest Sundays of the year to dine out, with three times more reservations booked as compared to an average Sunday.
  • Canadians are procrastinators. Sixty-four per cent of Canadians wait until the week before Mother’s Day to make their reservation. Fifteen per cent of Canadians book their table on Mother’s Day.
  • Mother’s Day is a family affair: It’s the largest group dining day of the year, with an average reservation size of four guests.
  • Canadian OpenTable diners are adventurous on Mother’s Day. In 2015, 78 per cent of Canadian diners made a reservation on Mother’s Day at a restaurant that they had not booked on OpenTable before.

The 75 Best Brunch Restaurants in Canada are amassed from more than 275,000 restaurant reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners who dined at Canadian restaurants between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then sorted according to a score calculated from each restaurant’s average rating in the “brunch” category.

Based on this methodology, the 75 Best Brunch Restaurants in Canada according to OpenTable diners are as follows (in alphabetical order):Continue Reading

Enter OpenTable’s The Mother of All Brunches Mother’s Day Giveaway

Mother's Day giveaway

Treat the mom in your life to a delicious meal — enter for a chance to win OpenTable’s The Mother of All Brunches giveaway.

To enter, follow @OpenTable on Instagram or Twitter. On Twitter, share a photo or the name of mom’s favorite restaurant with the hashtag #savorbrunch, and on Instagram, similarly, simply share a photo mom’s favorite restaurant or comment on our post with the restaurant’s name or handle/tag using #savorbrunch for a chance to win one of five $200 OpenTable or AMEX Gift cards we’ll be giving away, starting Monday, May 2, 2016, through Friday, May 6, 2016. One entry per social network per person each day allowed. Be sure to follow us on the social network you use for your submission so we can contact you via direct message if you’ve won a prize.

And, don’t forget to make a restaurant reservation for you and  your favorite mom for Mother’s Day! To make the day even more delicious, find a table at one of 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America 2016.

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