Kitchenette. "Get here before 10, it turns into a zoo then," a waiter advised when we called to ask about reservations. This country-style cafe and bakery just south of Harlem near the Columbia University campus is a mob scene on weekend mornings, and for good reason: With its apple-green wainscoting, pressed tin ceiling, antiques-strewn dining room and cool sunflower sculptures on the walls, the place couldn't be more welcoming. The breakfast offerings are equally down-home: grilled cornbread with fried eggs and melted cheddar ($8.50), corned beef hash with eggs and homemade country wheat toast ($9.50), and a stack of silver dollar pancakes with bananas, chocolate chips and granola ($9.75). The southern cheese grits and huge, flaky biscuits are the real deal. And if that still doesn't do it for you, stop at the bakery for homemade jam, muffins and other goodies to take home.
1272 Amsterdam Ave. between 122nd and 123rd streets, 212-531- 7600 (also 80 W. Broadway at Warren Street, 212-267-6740), www.kitchenettenyc.com. Weekend break- fast entrees $6-$10.50.
At Barney Greengrass, even late risers can load up on NYC's finest: bagels and lox.
(Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)
Nolita House. What makes us even happier than finding a new Lower East Side brunch spot with no wait is one that serves up a heavenly breakfast pizza topped with wafer-thin potato rounds and whipped eggs ($9; the chef graciously held the sausage). An incredibly friendly staff (how do they stay so smiley?!) also delivers endless cups of coffee, complimentary bloody Marys and a weightless omelet with white asparagus and devilish rosemary-dusted french fries ($9).
It's a nice-jeans-and-scruffy-hair, Sunday-papers-for-the-asking-at-the-bar, Coldplay-on-the-dial kinda place. One suggestion: If you're staying until you crack the crossword, grab a window seat or the rounded alcove to the right of the door.
47 E. Houston St. between Mott and Mulberry streets, 212-625-1712, www.nolitahouse.com. Brunch entrees $9 to $11.
Prune. Prune is the kind of restaurant that chefs love. It's small and unpretentious, and each night it serves such unfashionable offerings as sweetbreads, marrow bones and cabbage. But at weekend brunch, Prune plays to the crowds, who line up in their stiletto boots and $200 sunglasses as early as 10 a.m. to get one of the 30 seats.
It's cramped, but one of Prune's signature bloody Marys will help soothe your spirits, as will brunch favorites, including spaghetti carbonara topped with bacon and a generous dusting of black pepper ($10), a toasted caraway seed and sour cream omelet ($6) or a Monte Cristo sandwich of ham, turkey and cheese served with a side of fried eggs and red currant jelly ($10).
54 E. First St. between First and Second avenues, 212-677-6221. Brunch entrees $10-$18.
-- Jane Black, Anne Glusker, Anne McDonough and K.C. Summers