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Brunch/Lunch this Sunday - East Side

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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. re: Motosport

        Thanks - Toloache might work.

      2. 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.

              1. Thank you all for your suggestions so far. I'm being super picky or maybe looking for something that doesn't exist, but none of these are really calling to me. They're all really close, but not *the place*.

                I think the big problem is that my friends will be looking for breakfast-y food, but I have some food intolerances (gluten and eggs), so I also need something with good entree salads or something else I can eat. Mediterranean and Mexican tend to work well for me, which is why I suggested them.

                I was thinking Resto or Salvation Taco, but there's not really anything for me on the menus. Has anyone been to Kipsey's? Otherwise, I'm leaning towards The Smith or The National, but I've been to both many times.

                There has to be something else that I'm missing!

                Thanks for your help with my impossible request...

                3 Replies
                1. re: nyc_to_ma

                  El Rio Grande or Dukes

                  1. re: nyc_to_ma

                    If those menus look good i would recommend to call and ask "would you be able to make the blahblah burrito as a salad or plate since i can't have gluten", you may be pleasantly surprised. Salvation taco is a favorite of mine lately

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Salvation Taco is one of our local favorites too!!

                  2. You may also want to look at the Andaz, on Fifth across from the NYPL. Very nice vibe, casual room, and broader menu than the normal brunch place.

                    http://newyork.5thavenue.andaz.hyatt....

                    1. You should also consider Artisanal (I adore their weekend brunch menu). Artisanal is located on East 32 Street between Park Ave. & Madison Ave.

                      1. Not my favorite, but Craftbar? Breakfast and lunch brunch menu plus they can accommodate any allergy. You shouldn't have a problem getting a reservation.

                        1. Hi all -- just wanted to update that we ended up at Punch on Broadway & 21st yesterday. It was empty when we arrived at noon, but was about half full when we left. The food was all very good and it worked out very well.