What To Do When You're Broke: 13 Deliciously Cheap Brunch Spots In NYC

by Gigi Engle

If there's one thing we New Yorker's know about in this city, it's that brunch is taken very, very seriously. But taken even more seriously than the food is the cocktails that come along with brunch.

Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm, nearly every New Yorker can be seen sitting at an outdoor café with a mimosa in hand, enjoying some eggs well into the afternoon.

In New York, you don't screw around with brunch. The problem is, when you're in college and on a depressingly low budget, you have serious limits on what you can afford.

Brunch can be an elusive and out-of-reach activity for you, that is, unless you know where to look. At $8 to $12 a pop, you can't possibly go boozy brunching just anywhere. That's why we've come up with the 13 best brunch spots in New York for when you're broke and in college.

Sláinte, dear slave to higher education! May the 10 pm hangover be with you!

Calle Ocho

This awesome Cuban place would never seem like the kind of establishment to be frequented by thirsty college students, but do not be tricked by the glam decor. It is, in fact, an amazing spot to not only stuff your face, but to also get your drink on.

Offering complimentary sangria with your entrée, and you and your friends are sure to have the most fun. Go for the empanadas; they're delicious and light, yet filling and savory.

Location: Upper West Side, 45 W 81st St, New York, NY 10024


Kittichai is one of the trendiest South Village brunch spots in New York. For $23, you get an entrée and unlimited mimosas or bloodies.

The Asian five-spice French toast with Thai basil and fruit compote may sound complicated, but trust me, it's like heaven for your taste buds (and the ultimate cure for any ratchet hangover).

Make sure to make a reservation ahead of time, as they tend to fill up quickly, and the last thing you want to do is curse the brunch gods in addition to your headache.

Location: South Village, 60 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012


Scallywag's may win for most unassuming, kickass brunch spot in all of New York City.

Its awkward midtown location and lack of outdoor seating would make it the last place you would expect to find an amazing spot to munch and chug. Disguised (but not actually disguised) as a normal Irish Pub, this place lets you add on $12 to any main course and drink your face off.

The adorable, Irish waitresses will let you sit there from 11 am to 4 pm because the Irish know how important it is to drink excessively in the middle of the day.

They also play amazing 90s music (I love you, Aaron Carter!). Get the classic burger with Gruyere cheese; it's arguably the best burger I've ever tasted.

Location: Midtown West, 508 9th Ave, New York, NY 10018


This adorable little spot is a super laidback, fun place to come with friends and get drunk.

Whatever you choose off the menu is $16.95, and if you add $6, it's all-you-can drink. They also have really fun live jazz on Sundays, so you and your friends can kick back, throw back and have yourself a merry little brunch time.

Have the surf and turf eggs benedict for a real experience in reasonably priced decadence. A piece of filet, lobster and hollandaise? Sign me up, please.

Location: Greenwich Village, 99 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014


For $27.95, you can choose any one of Agave's phenomenal brunch specialties while drinking as many mimosas and bloodies as you can swallow in an hour and thirty minutes.

Though there's a time limit, their service is noteworthy enough to ensure that your glass will never be empty. Personally, I can't be tempted away from the huevos rancheros. With savory pork and beef, it's the quintessential combination of meat and eggs.

No matter if you're hungover or feeling spry, you will walk out of here feeling like Superman (or Superwoman).

Location: West Village, 140 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

Queens Comfort

One acronym sums up exactly why Queens Comfort is a splendid place for your weekend brunching: BYOB.

Yes, my friend, you can bring your own booze to this heaven on earth for the desperately hungover. This reasonably priced little spot also has some of the best comfort food you may ever taste.

All of the portions come in quadruple sizes, so you and your buddies can share a variety of tasty liquor sponges. Go for the salty pork benedict.

Location: Astoria, 4009 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103


Looking for the opposite of relaxed? Looking to keep the weekend going with dancing, loud music and plenty of food? Cue what I like to call, the disco brunch.

The best part about this brunch is that you can go for free if you know the right people. Knowing a promoter is common knowledge when it comes to the club scene, but only a select few have the in with the promoters who also provide brunch the next day.

Those mass texts suddenly just became more bearable, huh? Going to Lavo is like going to a club in the middle of the day. All the girls are in sky-high heels and everyone is dancing on chairs.

If you're looking for a mid-day dance party, this is the place for you.

Location: Midtown, 39 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

Il Bastardo

For $39 for an entrée and unlimited drinks, Il Bastardo may seem a bit pricey, but the food is so good that it's worth the splurge once in a while.

It also has the perk of being very conveniently located to most of the west side trains on Manhattan, making trekking there with a hangover worth the price.

Help yourself to their frittata with caramelized onions and zucchini. It's a Spanish pie with no regrets.

Location: Chelsea, 197 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011


Honestly, Rayuela would still be a winner without its two-hour, $15, unlimited sangria meal addition, but it sure is an added bonus.

The Latin food is very reasonably priced, and that's just what you need when you're looking to sit, relax and enjoy your sunny weekend (and possibly to destroy your hangover).

Order the arepa con huevos, which consists of a sweet corn arepa topped with sunny-side-up eggs, chorizo and tetilla cheese sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Location: Lower East Side, 165 Allen St, New York, NY 10002 

Day and Night

Another disco brunch arena in which you can push your blood alcohol level to the max, Night and Day is a perfect location for your brunch antics.

Once again, knowing the right people is key to enjoying this kind of mega-crazy wonderland. If you go with a promoter (or if you know someone who knows a promoter or owner) you'll get to dance, drink and eat for free.

Just make sure you go home and take nap before hitting Meatpacking later on!

Location: West Village, 25 Little W 12th St New York, NY 10014

The Sparrow Tavern

The Sparrow Tavern doesn't offer a bottomless brunch special, but don't stop reading! Even if you only have one, get yourself a spicy bloody mary because those bad girls are fierce!

Combine that with their smoked salmon omelet and nothing in your life will ever be the same.

Location: Astoria, 24-01 29th St, Astoria, NY 11102

Cascabel Taqueria

Sometimes you just don't want eggs when it's 2 pm, and that's okay.

At this adorable Mexican place you can have some of the most delicious tacos and guacamole that I've ever tasted, and trust me, I know my guac and tacos.

For $15, you can add on all the brunch cocktails you want -- scratch that, need -- for as long as your little heart desires. Its breezy outdoor seating makes for thoroughly delightful people-watching because we all know the Upper West Side has its fair share of crazies.

Get some guac to share for the table and the steak tacos for your main course. You can thank me later.

Location: Upper West Side (Near Columbia), 2799 Broadway, 
New York, NY 10025


Essex is super trendy and looks far more expensive than it actually is. For $23.95, you get your choice of three bloody marys, mimosas or screw drivers. Go for a classic with the huevos rancheros.

There's nothing like some black beans and eggs to really get your day going (at 2 or 3 pm). The lively atmosphere and cool location make for a great brunch experience.

Location: Lower East Side, 120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

Photo Credit: Kirill Was Here