Best NYC bottomless brunches under $35

Brunch is easily my favorite meal — I mean, bacon, eggs and champagne?! Count me in!

The only thing better than brunch, is bottomless brunch. There’s no better way to get your day-drink on, while simultaneously curing a hangover. And when it comes to boozy brunch, New York City does it like no other place in the world.

I’ve cumulated a list of my all-time favorite (and affordable) brunch spots in the city — they’re in order from cheapest to most expensive (“most expensive” being $35).

Hope you enjoy, and let me know if I missed any other brunch gems!

Carroll Place – Greenwich

Price: $27.00 for entrée + bottomless mimosas
When I first went to Carroll Place, it was only $20 for bottomless! Though they raised their prices, it’s still one of the best brunch spots because your mimosa glass is never empty, and they have delicious wood-fired pizzas.

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San Marzano – East Village

Price: $27.00 for entrée + bottomless mimosas
The nice thing about San Marzano is that you can order lunch instead of brunch if you wish, so there are a ton of options. Also, amazing pasta is a plus.

Tre – Lower East Side

Price: $27.95 for entrée + bottomless mimosas or champagne
I’ve celebrated my birthday here, which was perfect because of its location in the LES. There are a ton of bars to bar hop after an Italian, carb-loaded meal at Tre.

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Docks Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill – Murray Hill

Price: $28.00 for entrée + unlimited Bloody Marys or mimosas + coffee + mini muffins + fruit salad
On top of all that is included in the brunch deal, this place also has live jazz! Also, oysters.

Calle Ocho – Upper West Side

Price: $29.95 for entrée + unlimited sangria
The first brunch I’ve ever had in NYC was at Calle Ocho, and this place really set the bar high for me ever since. Best selection of sangria (4 whites and 4 reds) and the best complimentary bread (also served in a variety). Make a reservation because this place can get booked.

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PMF Pardon My French – East Village

Price: $29.95 for entrée + unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys
This place gets lit for brunch. Solid food/drinks, hot waiters in suspenders, and the cutest outdoor seating area. What more could you want?

Philip Marie – West Village

Price: $29.95 for entrée + unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys
Another solid brunch spot, with outdoor seating for people-watching while you enjoy your meal/mimosas. This place also has brunch almost every day of the week (Tues-Sun).

Blind Pig – Gramercy

Price: $30.00 for entrée + unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys
Unique food selection, so there’s something for everyone. BBQ pulled pork sliders and chicken & waffles were both delish.

Café Cortadito – East Village

Price: $31.95 for entrée + bottomless tropical mimosas, red/white sangrias, champagne mojitos, champagne margaritas, Bloody Marys or house beer
If you love variety, and Cuban food, Café Cortadito is your new favorite brunch spot. They have the biggest selection, plus your meal is served with mixed greens and black beans.

Lasagna Ristorante – Chelsea

Price: $32.95 for entrée + unlimited mimosas, Bellinis, screwdrivers or Bloody Marys + coffee or tea
Okay, all other brunch places need to take notes from Lasagna Ristorante when it comes to the mimosa juice-to-bubbly ratio. They pour a whole bottle of Prosecco in each pitcher. Also, free garlic bread.

Agave – West Village

Price: $32.99 for entrée + bottomless mimosas, wines or frozen margaritas
This is a tequila bar, so I definitely recommend the frozen margaritas here, especially if you’re sitting outside on a nice day. And order the lobster benedict.

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Poco – East Village

Price: $35.00 for entrée + bottomless mimosas, sangrias or Bloody Marys
Spanish, tapa bar that quickly turns into a fiesta during brunch. I did my birthday here once too, and it was poppin’. Good music, food and vibes.

Fonda – East Village, Park Slope, Chelsea

Price: $35.00 for entrée + choice of unlimited frozen hibiscus rosalitas, margaritas, mimosas, Bloody Marys or beers
This place is legit. I’ve been here for dinner as well as brunch, and both times was a success. Get the rosalita (house cocktail w/ hibiscus).

Vamos! Tacos & Tequila – Gramercy

Price: $35.00 for entrée + 5 frozen margaritas or sangrias
Though this place isn’t exactly bottomless, 5 of their margs will get you feeling nice for sure. If you finish 5 (each at $7), they comp your meal.

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Happy Brunching!
Joyce aka Brunch Queen

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Weekend trip to the Catskills

I lived in New York City for half a decade, but never made it to the Catskills until my recent trip to visit New York. I realized I’ve definitely been missing out on what the Catskills, and Upstate New York in general, had to offer.

My friends and I talked about going all the time, so we finally made it happen. We took a long weekend (Friday – Monday), rented a soccer mom van, packed it full (6 humans + 1 dog) and hit the road.

The trip up is only 2.5-3 hours, depending on traffic. Not bad for a weekend/3-night trip, especially because I love a good roadtrip (hot cheetos and 90’s hip hop are a must).

Once we made it to our adorable Airbnb cabin (click for $40 off your first stay!), we made dinner and started researching which hikes we wanted to do. We browsed hiking review websites to compare different hikes in the area, and landed on two: Poet’s Ledge and Kaaterskill Falls.

Poet’s Ledge

If you’re like me, and you’re not an avid hiker, I do not recommend this hike. The hike takes about 4.5-5 hours (not including time spent at the top), and is a steep incline most of the way. I thought I was going to die, and had to take several breaks in between. It probably didn’t help that it was 90 degrees, with close to 90% humidity. But somehow, I made it to the top!

Below is the view from the top of Poet’s Ledge:

Kaaterskill Falls

This hike is much more up my alley — it’s more rocky, but much easier and shorter than Poet’s Ledge. Plus, the payoff of the 260-ft waterfall is way more worth it!

You can continue hiking from this point all the way to the first layer of the waterfall.

Fun fact: At 260 feet, Kaaterskill Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in New York (and all of the East Coast for that matter).

On our way back to the city, we took a pitstop to explore Hudson because we all heard great things from the locals there. The downtown area is adorable, and Warren Street is lined with the cutest shops, restaurants and art galleries. Definitely worth checking out.

Where in the Catskills have you wandered to? I’d love to hear about other spots or hikes for next time I go!

xo,
Joyce

Chinatown food tour

Chinatown has some fascinating history. I lived there for 4 years and I was still discovering fun facts and hidden gems every day. It’s hard to keep up though — it feels like there’s a new restaurant or dessert shop opening up every week! But through the turnovers, a handful of my go-to spots have thankfully stuck around.

During my last trip to New York, I spent a whole day in Chinatown, eating my way down memory lane. Follow along below, and take the tour yourself if you want to explore Chinatown through food 😉

First stop: rice rolls

You’re probably wondering, what in the world is a rice roll? My fellow asians should know this, or anyone who’s been to dim sum before. It’s basically a thin roll made from a wide strip of shahe fen (rice noodles), filled with shrimp, pork, vegetables, or other ingredients.

The best place to get these rice rolls (and I may be biased here, but my friends agree) happens to be on the street I lived on, Henry Street! I had to Google what the place was called, because I never knew the name, but it’s called Sun Hing Lung Co.

For a whopping $1.50 ($2.00 if you add egg), you can get a full-on breakfast or hearty snack. And you know the place is legit, because there’s always a line of locals ordering large bags of noodles or stopping for a snack.

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Next up: Joe’s Shanghai

Joe’s Shanghai is probably the most hyped place in Chinatown — for good reason. Their soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) are the best you’ll ever have. People say these dumplings are even better than the ones they’ve had in Asia!

This explains the huge crowds outside of their Chinatown location (original location is in Flushing). If you go during the week at an odd hour, you should be fine.

Aside from the soup dumplings, the rest of the items on the menu are just average if you ask me. I usually just stick to the crab & pork soup dumplings (8 per order), and a side of scallion pancakes.

Pro tip: they already include the tip for you on your check! My friends and I realized we’ve been paying double the tip for years.

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A super snack from Super Taste

I mentioned Super Taste in my previous blog post, but it’s that good I have to mention it again (also it was part of my food tour).

I learned about Super Taste through a friend, after already living in Chinatown for a few years. This makes me wonder what other gems I missed?!

The restaurant can be a bit hard to find because it’s so small — just look for a red awning and a giant poster of baos on the window.

What to oder: steamed dumplings (10 for $3), spicy beef noodle soup ($6.50), and pork baos (3 for $5.75). If you live in NYC and love the dumplings, take a frozen bag home (50 for $10)!

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Meat over rice at Wah Fung

Wah Fung No 1 Fast Food was one of my go-to spots for a cheap meal in Chinatown. The char siu (BBQ pork) is the best I’ve ever had. I usually get that and chicken over rice and veggies — all for $6! You can get a smaller portion for $4.50.

This place is also small, and almost always has a line out the door, but it moves fast. Once you grab your food, you can eat at the park across the street for a genuine Chinatown experience.

Pro tip: ask for the green garlic sauce, for extra flavor.

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Save room for dessert at Soft Swerve

If you like soft serve, you will LOVE Soft Swerve.

You’re going to want to walk off all the dumplings and goodness you just ate anyway, so make your way towards Lower East Side down Allen Street (which has a some great wall art and people-watching).

With fun toppings and flavors, like black sesame and ube (my personal favorites), everyone finds something they love at Soft Swerve. Also, the flavors aren’t too sweet or overwhelming like other places.

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That wraps up my Chinatown food tour! Which, by the way, would cost under $40 if you order everything I mentioned (and half that if you split with another person).

Hope you enjoyed, and let me know if I should check out any other spots in Chinatown next time I’m in town.

Bon Appétit!
Joyce

Top 10 budget-friendly things to do, eat & drink in New York City

The best way to travel is with a local. You learn so much more about the city that way, and gain real, raw experiences that are memorable and priceless. Maybe that’s why I get an email or text almost once a week for recommendations from my friends (or friends of friends) of what they should do while visiting my old stomping grounds, New York City.

If you’ve been to New York, you know there are countless things to do. It’s actually overwhelming, even for me, but also amazing. New York has no bounds when it comes to niche activities and events (for example, the annual hot sauce expo).

This was tough, but I’ve narrowed my 5+ years of experiences in NYC to this list of my top 10 in each category (with the budget-friendly traveler in mind):

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To eat:

  1. Gaia –  little underground Italian cafe with the best paninis and pastas imaginable
  2. Lucali – best pizza and calzone in New York, hands down; also it’s byob
  3. Coppelia – 24hr diner; get the nachos and lomo saltado
  4. Super Taste – best dumplings in Chinatown; also try the spicy beef noodle and baos
  5. Tasty Hand-pulled Noodles – perfect on a cold day; order the dumpling noodle soup
  6. Prince Street Pizza – best pizza you can get by the slice; get the grandma slice
  7. Russ & Daughters Cafe – must get the lox bagel
  8. The Halal Guys – must go to the original location, not sure why but it tastes best 😉
  9. Jack’s Wife Freda – Mediterranean brunch; try the green shakshuka
  10. Amy Ruth’s – two words: soul food; and make sure to check out some live jazz while you’re in Harlem!

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To drink:

  1. Whiskey Tavern – was my go-to spot for cheap and delicious drinks and food; everyone who works there, from the owner to the chefs, are awesome humans
  2. Local 138 – great dive bar for happy hour and jams
  3. Verlaine – lychee martinis for $6 til 10pm, everyday
  4. Clockworks – dive bar with surprisingly good (and strong) frozen margs
  5. Welcome to the Johnsons – super dive bar with basement living room vibes
  6. The Tippler – hidden gem with amazing cocktails underneath Chelsea Market
  7. Frying Pan – bar on a boat, perfect for a nice day; try their sangria
  8. Dear Irving – chic speakeasy with unique cocktails
  9. Angel’s Share – another speakeasy, in the back of a Japanese restaurant; so good
  10. Press Lounge – rooftop bar, so a bit pricier, but worth the stunning views of the city

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To do:

  1. Central Park – fun during any season; rent a bike there on a nice day
  2. The MET – my favorite museum, can spend all day here; donation-based
  3. MoMA – modern art; free on Fridays from 4-6pm
  4. Booze cruise – best summer activity; can find deals for big groups too
  5. Times Square – locals hate it, but you gotta see it at least once (at night of course)
  6. High Line / Chelsea Market – park and market with tons of shops and eateries
  7. Top of the Rock – best view of the city and Empire State Building
  8. Brooklyn Bridge Park – walk across the bridge to the park with views of the skyline
  9. Free kayaking – few piers do this, but my fave is the one in TriBeCa (Pier 26)
  10. Staten Island Ferry – free ferry with amazing views of Lady Liberty and downtown

Phew! And that concludes my list of top things to do, eat and drink in New York City. Hope you enjoyed, and please let me know in the comments section if you checked out any of these recommendations and what you thought. I’ll be posting more about the Big Apple and other cities I’ve visited, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading!

xo,
Joyce