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Brunch/Lunch this Sunday - East Side

I know many variations of this question have been asked, but I'm having a hard time finding the 'right' place. I haven't lived in New York for a few years, and I have no idea if any of the many new places are any good.

I'm meeting some friends (about 4-6 of us) for brunch this Sunday. Everyone lives in Gramercy or the Upper East Side, so it needs to be somewhere on the east side between 14th and 96th streets.

This doesn't have to be the best meal of my life, but I'm looking for somewhere with a good brunch or lunch menu that either a) is easy to get reservations at or b) will not be mobbed on a Sunday at noon. Hopefully with entrees under $20.

Something Greek / Mediterranean or Mexican / Latin American would be great, but any cuisine would work. I love brunch at Pylos, but it's too far downtown for this get together.

Thanks for any advice.

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  1. Casa Mono is usually quiet for weekend lunch. Their OpenTable says they'll take six people at 12pm this coming Sunday.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Casa Mono is on the same block as one of the friends we're meeting, but I think it's a bit more high end than we're looking for. I have to drag a few late sleepers out of bed for this, so I'm looking for something pretty casual.

      Thanks for the suggestion, though.

    2. Riverpark, sit outside if the weather permits
      Ethos Meze has a nice inexpensive brunch
      Toloache has amazing Mexican food

      1 Reply
      1. Smorgas Chef on Park at 38th might work for you. They have brunch standards (egge benedict, waffles) and some less common choices (Gravlaks sandwich).

        4 Replies
        1. re: Elizabeth E.

          Thanks... the menu looks great, but is it in some sort of Scandinavian office building or something? What's the atmosphere like?

          1. re: nyc_to_ma

            Yes, it's in Scandanavia house. We've been by to look at the menu and space which both look good. Never eaten there.
            The atmosphere is minimal but pleasant sort of like the furniture.

            1. re: nyc_to_ma

              It *is* an office building, n_2_m, and can't help but feel like the lobby of one -you'll be eating in a cold, hard space (ok, that part's authentically Scandinavian). I've never done brunch there, but during the week, the food is good enough but nothing to write home about. And it's self-serve cafeteria style then; maybe they do table service for brunch, but I doubt it somehow.

              If you're in that exact neighbourhood, the jazz brunch at the Kitano (about 10 paces north of the Smorgas) or the dining room at the Morgan will already have 10 degrees more warmth than the Scandinavia House.

              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                I had lunch there just last week and it is NOT self-serve cafeteria-style.
                I have been pleased with the food. They own an organic farm in the Catskills and source their produce and meat from there.
                Ambience is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I'd say it has the feel of a restaurant in a museum, rather than an office lobby, reinforced with Scandinavia House's adjacent gift shop. Large trees and tablecloths make the space feel warmer (again, to me).

          2. Ilili has a great brunch, for $28 it includes coffee or juice, plus a drink, a main dish and a side (loved the foul medamas)

            1. Blue Smoke had always been a fun picker-upper for a group brunch/lunch on weekends. It's not in your preferred cuisine list, but I'll throw it in anyway.