Add soul to your Sunday with gospel brunches
A gospel brunch at Sylvia's (Brian Harkin).
Brunch is a New York City institution. But with its long lines, watered-down mimosas and oft-burned hash browns, the tradition can start to feel a little, well … stale.
If you really want to spice up your Sunday morning routine, check out one of these brunches, complete with their very own foot-stomping gospel shows.
2110 Seventh Ave., at 125th St., 212-280-2110
This unique 12,000-square-foot restaurant and performance space opened in September to much applause — especially during its popular Sunday gospel brunch. “We’re able to bring the good news of fine dining and inspirational music together under one roof in the very heart of Harlem,” said owner Joe Holland. The three-course pre-fixe Sunday gospel brunch ($29.95) is a must-try, featuring haute-soul cuisine by chef Kenneth Collins and music by well-known gospel acts including Pastor Alvin Freeland and Jade Trini Goring. Note to diners: Dishes like fried chicken and BBQ short ribs arrive in huge portions, but save room for the red velvet cake served with delicious ginger ice cream.
The price of brunch covers the gospel show, but call ahead for performance times.
BB King Blues Club
237 W. 42nd St., btwn Seventh and Eighth aves.,212-997-4144
Never mind the touristy address near Times Square — this well-known music venue also offers a fun, all-you-can-eat Sunday gospel buffet brunch featuring performances by the famous Harlem Gospel Choir. Every Sunday at 12:30 and 2:30pm, the choir takes the house down, while diners snack on Southern treats such as baked yams, cornmeal-crusted catfish, and Memphis-style BBQ. Forty dollars (in advance) covers the buffet-style brunch, gospel performance, and all taxes and tips, making it a bargain for tourists and locals alike.
17 W. 125th St. near Fifth Avenue, 212-876-9300
A variety of gospel singers, including Helen Slade, entertain the crowds on select Sundays at this Caribbean eatery in Harlem, made famous on the hit TV show, “Throwdown With Bobby Flay,” where the famous chef challenged the restaurant’s fried fish escovitch (and lost). There’s no cover for gospel performances on Sunday, but you’ll want to budget an entire afternoon to really enjoy the show, along with island-influenced dishes such as jerk chicken, curried goat roti and blackened catfish. Sweet potato pie ice cream makes for a sweet finish. Most performances start at 3 p.m. and last several hours — call ahead for the music schedule.
328 Lenox Ave., btwn 126th and 127th sts., 212-996-0660 Cooking up soul food classics such as smothered chicken and candied yams since 1962, ithis beloved Harlem eatery offers a packed, no-cover gospel brunch on Sundays, from 12:30-4 p.m. While the mimosa-fueled crowd can get a bit rowdy (busloads of mostly foreign tourists arrive every week for Sunday brunch), the terrific live performers and fine food make Sylvia’s a must-visit for gospel brunch, even if you have to wait in line.