Jazz brunches, old-school bakeries, stacks of blueberry pancakes—good things come to those uptown. At the tip of Manhattan, Inwood is the city’s northernmost neighborhood, which is just fine for its residents that want to keep it to themselves. Green spaces abound, the pace is slow, the vibe is casual and cozy and breakfast options are aplenty. Whether you want to head uptown for long leisurely, or need a place that welcomes freelancers seeking strong coffee, Inwood has a breakfast spot for you.
538 W 181st St.
On the corner of 181st and Audubon you’ll find the unassuming Esmeraldo Bakery. If the line isn’t stretched out the door, chances are you’ll still need to push your way in, as Esmeraldo has the capacity to hold no more than six or so people. It would easy to go overboard on the baked goods here, but you must try the bizcocho dominicano (Dominican cake), a simple white cake filled with pineapple jam and topped with suspiro (meringue frosting) and to drink order avena, a warm, rich concoction made of oats, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest.
600 W 218th St.
Proudly located on the very last corner of Manhattan, Indian Road Cafe is a favorite of brunch goers and the Sopranos (more on that later.) Owners Jason Minter and Jason Berger source as many of the ingredients as possible from farms in the Hudson Valley and the kitchen turns out brunch classics that include blueberry pancakes, French Toast and biscuits and gravy. The family-friendly place draws crowds on the weekend but they also serve breakfast Monday-Friday and when you sit down at a table you’ll be sitting on a chair that came from the set of Sopranos which Minter used to work on.
As soon as the weather starts to get warm, locals flock to the patio at this spot near Good Shepherd Church. Trees and umbrella-covered tables offer shade on warm days while jazz plays in the background. Even during the colder months though the warm interior and laid-back vibe of the cafe provides a respite and the breakfast options of simple, yet classic American fare including pancakes, omelets and French toast make it a go-to.
Grab one the hard to get seats at this modern bakery and watch as the pastry chefs whip up treats that include blood orange macarons, caramelized croissants, chocolate eclairs and more. All of the desserts are made in-house.
Beans and Vines
The wide ranging menu at this cozy coffee and wine bar is part of the charm. You can can take your pick of everything from French croissants to spicy scrambled eggs to crab cakes and, they’re all very good. During the weekdays the spot is often crammed with the area’s freelance writers, which is no wonder considering how inviting the interior of exposed brick and dark wood is.