Brooklyn brunch is sort of a New York staple for the young and hip. And one fantastic spot to enjoy a fantastic breakfast while people-watching and enjoying a mimosa or some excellent coffee is The Diner, located right at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn.
At first glance, the restaurant barely looks like it’s open for business—though on nice weekends, the outdoor seating is jam-packed with the well-dressed and well-coiffed (and occasionally heavily tattooed). But when you do make it inside, the dark, small hot spot is bustling. Most of the waitstaff is tattooed and dressed to the nines (so much so that my running gear made me feel a little awkward, though no one else seemed to notice).
Families sit interspersed with young couples and rowdy groups of friends, but it never seems overly noisy inside. Despite the name “The Diner,” this isn’t your typical diner with two-eggs-and-toast. Rather, the food is a bit more high end: think mouthwatering blueberry pancakes with hazelnuts and homemade blueberry compote with real maple syrup or omelettes with tomatoes and goat cheese and organic spinach plus some wackier options like fried green tomatoes. It’s standard diner fare, just a bit… more.
And while it’s a bit pricier than a normal diner meal, it’s worth it. The aforementioned pancakes are light and fluffy, and in the perfect portion for after a short workout (order the side of sausage if you’ve had a longer ride or run pre-brunch!). The maple syrup is real, as I said, and they’re not stingy with it like some places are.
If you’re feeling celebratory, the bar is open early and the Bloody Marys are excellent, but if you’re not up for liquor in the morning, the coffee is equally tasty, and the perfect wakeup call/complement to the pancakes.
Want something smaller? The Sour Cherry Turnover and the Coffee Cake are both great choices when available—but they aren’t always around, and you can see the specials handwritten on receipt paper that they hand you along with the ultra-simple menu that includes options like “pancakes” “country breakfast” and “frittata” with no details—the special list shows exactly what you’ll be getting.
Brunch is from 10-4 on weekends and seating is first come, first serve, but as long as you have a small party, there’s rarely a massive wait. Come early or be prepared for a bit of a wait if you have a bigger party though.
They’re open from 11 until midnight on weekdays, and it’s a great funky date place if you want a grittier New York experience without sacrificing good food.
In all, it’s a great spot to stop after a ride, especially if you need to cross the Williamsburg to get home—great on nice days, since you can eat in the outdoor seating area and keep an eye on your bike. And with its position right by the Williamsburg Bridge, you can walk off breakfast by heading over the bridge and popping into the East River Park on the Manhattan side.