Taking the kids to Manhattan or Brooklyn for a cultural outing -- or a shopping expedition -- or both -- is interesting for them and you, so why not make a whole day of it and start off with brunch?
Challah French toast with fresh strawberries is one of the brunch specialties at Westville Dumbo in Brooklyn. This six-location local mini-chain, founded in 2003, specializes in fresh products — you can easily build a meal from the Westville Market sides, which range from cauliflower and tahini to green peas with bacon to garlic mashed potatoes. Popular brunch items include the challah French toast with fresh strawberries and maple syrup; and the egg scramble, which comes as a plate or a sandwich — when asked for your choice of toast, pick the Portuguese muffin, which is sweeter but also larger and a bit denser than its English counterpart. The rotating brunch specials often include the California Benedict, in which eggs lay atop hash browns and are paired with avocado. Speaking of the latter, of course Westville serves avocado toast — it was such a crowd-favorite special that it’s been promoted to the regular brunch menu. Westville is at 81 Washington St., Brooklyn, 718-618-5699; westvillenyc.com
Right underneath the High Line, Chelsea Market is the granddaddy of New York’s food halls. Weekend crowds don’t encourage meandering, though, so it’s good to go with a destination in mind. The location offers many choices for eating with children, including Los Tacos No. 1. Above, Cate Lillie, 9, and her sister Bekah Lillie, 5, from San Francisco, show off their tacos. An outpost from a popular Philadelphia restaurant, Dizengoff NYC has a limited appeal at first glance: The specialty is fresh-made hummus and a little goes a long way, right? But a closer look reveals terrific variations as you can get your hummus topped with items such as fava beans, avocado, toasted pine nuts or a meat of the day. And there is more, like shakshuka, a flavorful Middle Eastern concoction of eggs poached in tomato sauce that’s become ubiquitous on brunch menus all over town. Higher up on the price scale and perfect for a celebratory brunch is Rana Pasta, among the fanciest restaurants at Chelsea Market. As the name indicates, the specialty is pasta, which you also can buy in bulk — the bright colors should delight kids of all ages. Brunch hits include French toast made with pandoro (a tall, star-shaped cake similar to the better-known panettone) and the Rana Benedict, which can be ordered with prosciutto Chelsea Market is at 75 Ninth Ave. in Manhattan, 212-652-2110; chelseamarket.com
Black Seed Bagel
Best bagel shop for non-New York-style bagels: Black Seed Bagels. When Noah Bernamoff of Mile End Deli and Matt Kliegman of The Smile’s new spot first opened, people would line up for an hour or more wanting to taste what all the fuss was about. It turns out the hand-rolled, wood-fired Montreal-style bagels and fancy toppings like tobiko caviar and smoked bluefish have found a fervent following. A second outpost has since opened in Hudson Eats. Black Seed Bagels is at 70 Elizabeth St., 212-730-1950, blackseedbagels.com
5 Napkin Burger
Scrambled eggs fill a brunch burrito at 5 Napkin Burger in Manhattan. Conveniently located near the Broadway theaters, Five Napkin Burger’s Hell’s Kitchen branch (it’s actually the original one) makes for a perfect pit stop before a matinee, especially since the prices are more reasonable than you’d expect in Midtown West.Unsurprisingly, this place does a mean burger: The Original involves Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions, and it’s a delicious mess. The obligatory brunch choices are well executed: Eggs come in a platter with your choice of meat, classic Benedict-style, or scrambled with chorizo in “brunch tacos.” Pancakes? Of course! With blueberries or chocolate chips. Waffles are paired with fried chicken and maple syrup, for those who can’t decide between sweet and savory. 630 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036; 212-757-2277; 5napkinburger.com
Russ and Daughters Cafe
Russ and Daughters Cafe's halva ice cream. Run by fourth-generation owners Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper, Russ & Daughters has been selling halva for nearly 60 years at its locale on Orchard Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. While delicious on its own, the confection is even better in a sundae, which the duo serves at their spinoff cafe, topped with salted caramel sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Other brunch options include the French toast, made with chocolate or cinnamon babka; bread accompaniment for the fish boards includes bagels, of course, but also bialys, a sterling two-tone pumpernickel and shissel rye (a dense version of rye bread loaded with caraway and nigella seeds) that also pops up with the lox, eggs and onions platter. Russ & Daughters Cafe is at 127 Orchard St., Manhattan; 212-475-4880, ext. 2, russanddaughters.com
Although this place is famous for its mussels, and does specialize in seafood from Prince Edward Island, Flex Mussels also offers five options for brunch, including classic with white wine and Thai with a coconut broth, a big draw for the weekend crowd are the savory doughnuts. Another savory twist on a classic is the jalapeño-Cheddar waffles. Egg fans should find satisfaction with the Shelly Benedictowitz (eggs and smoked salmon on a potato latke), huevos rancheros, baked eggs in tomato sauce and good ol’ bacon and eggs. Flex Mussels is at 174 E. 82nd St., Manhattan; 212-717-7772; flexmussels.com.
Spring Natural Kitchen
Eating out can be tricky when you have dietary restrictions. Fortunately, the Upper West Side’s Spring Natural Kitchen on Columbus Avenue — conveniently equidistant to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Museum of Natural History — makes it easy, with numerous options for vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten-free. Most products are organic and/or locally sourced, and brunch can be as virtuous or as sinful as you want it to be. Yes, there is a “green power” salad with marinated tofu, kale and artichokes, as well as a Niçoise salad made with poached salmon instead of tuna. But the French toast is made with cinnamon-raisin bread, there are dark-chocolate buckwheat pancakes, and a hefty croque-madame involves smoked ham, Swiss, challah bread, béchamel sauce — and an egg on top of all that melty goodness. Spring Natural Kitchen is at 474 Columbus Ave, Manhattan; 646-596-7434; springnaturalkitchen.com