Maya – NYC

AESTHETIC VIBE (1)

Maya is a Mexican tapas restaurant located on the Upper East Side. You can feel the Latin vibes through the decor, menu and even the warm hospitality from the staff. This a a great spot if you’re looking to venture out from the normal brunch menu of chicken and waffles and steak and eggs. Maya’s boozy brunch was a fresh take on a Saturday tradition.

 

 

MENU OPTIONS (1)

The best thing about Maya is that it is both bottomless brunch drinks AND bottomless food for a flat rate of $49. Sounds amazing right? The mimosas come in four flavors- strawberry, mango, passionfruit and guava. All flavors were great but passion fruit was my favorite by far. If you’re looking to have another drink after brunch, the Maya margarita is to die for!

 

FOOD (1)

Only thing I love more than endless mimosas, is endless Mexican food. I love Mexican food; so naturally this place was a dream. I loved that Maya had such a variety of food. We had everything from empanadas, to Mexican donuts, to salmon. The dish that stood out to me the most was the “Maya dog,” a bacon wrapped hot dog with chipotle rouille- it was absolutely delicious. As you can image, after a few cocktails, it really hit the spot.

 

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I’m always nervous of going out to eat with large groups. To be frank, I fear that I’ll see the bottom of my mimosas because the waiter is (understandably) overwhelmed managing the large group. Maya completely took away that fear, our server was prompt and ready with the pours. The plates continue to come for the whole two hours too. Overall, the waiter was extremely attentive to the needs of the table.

Overall Rating (1)

 

3 Star Rating

Three Cheers! Maya is easily a three cheers in my book. After going, I raved about this spot to anyone who would listen. Maya has mastered great drinks, great food, and great service. I can’t wait to return for more Maya dogs and margaritas!

Maya has brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am- 4 pm. 

 

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HalfSmoke – DC

AESTHETIC VIBE (1)

The decor and set-up of the restaurant reminds you of some the favorite things about your childhood. The restaurant harps on the idea of, “don’t grow up it’s a trap,” and maintaining that fun element of being a kid.They give the menus in Lisa Frank binders, serve some of the meals in vintage lunch boxes, and bring your check in VHS boxes.

Also, there is a free photo booth near the bathroom where you can take photos and GIFs of yourself, as well as games scattered all over the restaurant. The place has multiple flat screen televisions playing all the hits from TLC and New Edition to Ja Rule and Ashanti, so by the time your mimosas hit you’re singing along to all the throwback jams.

Half Smoke truly commits to their 90’s aesthetic. Though the decor clearly caters to millenials, it also gives a very family friendly feel. During my Saturday afternoon brunch, I saw ages ranging from 8 years old to 80 years old. So if you’re looking for an adult, grown and sexy vibe, this is not the place.

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MENU OPTIONS (1)

Half Smoke’s brunch menu is so attractive due to the fact that it is available ALL DAY, and bottomless mimosas come FREE. The purchase of a brunch entree gets you free bottomless mimosas for an hour. The menu featured some of the brunch standards like a burger, eggs benedict, and french toast. They had put a creative twist on some classics like fried chicken and a red velvet funnel cake, as opposed to chicken and waffles.

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FOOD (1)

As a Black person, one of my cardinal going out to eat rules is, “Never order mac and cheese!” We know that the chefs cannot make macaroni and cheese like our grandmas, moms, and aunts can, so it usually ends up a waste of time. Most of the time, I look at a picture on Yelp,  break my rule and order mac and cheese anyway. This is one of the times I was not disappointed. Obviously they can’t touch my grandma, but it was still good and very filling. It was baked well and topped with (real) bacon bits.

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Service (1)

The time constraints on the bottomless mimosas were something new for me, normally two hours is standard, but I was open to it. Get drunk in one hour instead of two? No problem. Unfortunately, our waiter was extremely slow on the refills making this difficult to achieve. He basically left us two pitchers and left us alone. Then proceeded to bring us our check once the hour was over, never inquiring if we wanted more to drink (which we did). I still left brunch a little tipsy, solely based on the fact that my waiter was rarely to be found.

Overall Rating (1)

2 Star Rating

Two Cheers! I was not too pleased with Half Smoke as a brunch place. I enjoyed my food but an hours worth of mimosas that were rarely filled up was a major disappointment. For $18, I cannot complain too much because I guess I got what I paid for.  I have been to Half Smoke for happy hour, had their food and other cocktails, and enjoyed my experience, but I probably will not return again for brunch. I’d rather pay $15-20 and go to a brunch that will not let me see the bottom of my glass.

P.S. Their frose (frozen rose) is a must!

HalfSmoke offers free bottomless mimosas with the purchase of a brunch entree all day, Friday-Sunday. 

Essex – NYC

AESTHETIC VIBE (1)

The interior feels like the inside of an old factory or warehouse with white exposed brick, a line of windows and extremely high ceiling. Essex offers multilevel seating, but no matter if you’re upstairs or down stairs you’re in a great spot. Expect to hear a mix or techno and pop hits blaring through the speakers.

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Essex has a pretty extensive menu with 20+ brunch options. Pricing varies depending on the number of guest in your party: under eight- $34.95 and over eight guests- $42.95. In addition to an entree, brunch includes your choice of bottomless mimosas, screwdrivers, bloody Mary’s, or all three (brunch drinks are interchangeable).

 

FOOD (1)

Anytime I see lobster added to a classic dish, I’m sold. I’ve had both the lobster eggs Benedict and the lobster mac and cheese. Essex does not skimp with the lobster either; both plates came with a healthy serving. The lobster mac was particularly delicious. I’m always skeptical of any mac that isn’t home cooked, but this one did not disappoint.

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Service (1)

I can’t sing enough praises about the service at Essex. They are extremely accommodating. Essex also is great for large groups. After waiting almost three hours for a table at another restaurant, I called Essex for a last minute table for 12. Not only did they have a table ready for us, but they also greeted us with mimosas at the door— I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

Overall Rating (1)

3 Star Rating

Three Cheers! Essex is my go-to brunch spot. Not only are the staff super kind, accommodating, and attentive, but the food is great too. If you’re looking for a great vibe, but don’t necessarily want to do a full blown party brunch, head down to LES and get a taste of Essex.

Essex brunch is every Saturday from 10 am- 4:30 and Sunday from 10 am – 7 pm.

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Woodland – NYC

AESTHETIC VIBE (1)

The decor is rustic with exposed brick, oak tables, and metal chairs. The basement is very clublike, with dim lighting and a dance floor while upstairs has floor to ceiling windows. In the summer there is a back patio that offers more seating.

Woodland is a staple for young, Black, millennials in the city because of its vibes. There’s a live DJ spinning hip hop, R&B, reggae and soca. Once everyone has a couple mimosas and the music is blaring, expect to see people getting out heir seats to twerk, whine, and two step. Once you’re finished eating, you can head downstairs and go into full party mode.

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MENU OPTIONS (1)

Woodland offers typical brunch plates like Steak and Eggs, Egg Frittata, and Chicken and Waffles. They also have Caribbean inspired plates like Jerk Shrimp and Grits and Ackee & Saltfish Spring Rolls. Bottomless mimosas will run you $20.

FOOD (1)

I went with fried calamari with jerk aioli to start and had chicken and waffles for my entree. The calamari was perfectly cooked and the jerk aioli took it to the next level. The fried chicken was nicely seasoned and the waffle has hints of cinnamon; a nice take on a classic. Overall the food wasn’t bad. Most party brunches’ food is lackluster, so the food being tasty was a pleasant surprise.

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Service (1)

If you’re going to Woodland, expect to stand outside for no less than 45 minutes waiting for a table, and if you get there after 1 o’clock, you probably won’t be seated. Woodland does not take reservations, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to make friends with the people in line with you. Once you make it to the door, you’ll be greeted by rude hostess with bad attitudes. If you actually get in, I will say that mimosas are truly boomless. Woodland has perfected the “boozy” part of boozy brunch.

PS: Expect to wait extremely long in line again for the bathroom. At least they’re consistent right?

Overall Rating (1)

Two Cheers

Woodlands is a great spot for brunch-beginners and those visiting New York. It’s a great spot to go for a one stop party and brunch. I recommend going during the summer, so you can fully experience Woodland!

Woodland has brunch every Saturday 12P- 5P, and Sunday 12PM – 6PM

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Pinstripes – DC

AESTHETIC VIBE (1)

Decor wise, Pinstripes does not have anything too special to offer. They give very traditional restaurant feels, and have the space to accommodate a lot of larger groups. Also, there were lots of families there, probably due to the fact that there is bowling alley.

MENU OPTIONS (1)

For a person who enjoys breakfast food and does not mind buffets, Pinstripes has a lot to offer. The buffet features a waffle and omelette station, fruit and pastries, salads, flatbreads, pasta, a variety of meats and desserts. They have everything necessary to craft a filling and satisfying brunch.

FOOD (1)

I swear every single time I tell someone, “I don’t do buffets,” they respond “No this one is good, I promise.” I am not sure why people keep insisting that their buffet suggestion will be the exception, because it’s not. It was my friend’s birthday, she wanted to do a brunch buffet, so of course I went. Food quality was definitely better than most buffets, but I did not like all the random food I was forced to eat. Granted, I am a picky eater who does not enjoy breakfast food so this is probably a personal thing. My plate was filled with fruit, shrimp cocktail, Tuscan chicken pasta, and chocolate covered strawberries, which is not the best pairing with mimosas.

Service (1)

Because Pinstripes is a buffet, there is little to expect from the wait staff. The only worry our waiter had was to keep our glasses full, which he was perfect at. Sometimes, a party of six (that drinks a lot) can struggle with having a waiter that does not fill up glasses quickly enough, but that was not the case here.

Overall Rating (1)

2 Star Rating

Two cheers! Despite the fact that I did not personally love my brunch plate, I have no complaints about Pinstripes. Will I make the suggestion to go back? Probably not, I still hate buffets. Regardless, they have a variety of food, the service was great, and most importantly I left feeling good! Pinstripes makes sure that you get every penny’s worth of the $36 you pay for bottomless and the brunch buffet. To top things off, they have a bowling alley and bocce ball so you can play a game after you finish your food.

Pinstripes has Sunday buffet brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $36 with bottomless mimosas.