New Yorkers fucking love brunch. Not only do New Yorkers love brunch, but they love to drink cocktails aggressively while they’re at it. It’s a quintessential part of NY culture, to go out partying ’til 4 AM, wake up disturbingly hungover the next
morning afternoon and rely on the old hair of the dog trick to get through the torturous pain that comes with a brutal hangover. And that’s why All You Can Drink brunch was born, to solve this distinctly New York-y problem, but not all AYCD brunch spots are alike.
Some brunches are super expensive, others have mediocre-to-poor food, others have crappy generic cocktails, and others are just too damn crowded to tolerate. When I’m in the mood for an awesomely excessive AYCD brunch, my go-to is Yerba Buena on Perry Street in Greenwich Village.
This upscale Latin American restaurant isn’t huge but they cram a ton of people into that compact space. It’s often crowded, but it’s never uncomfortable. The menu is loaded with interesting Latin American twists on brunch standards but the key here is to partake in the two hours of unlimited cocktails with your meal for an additional $15. I know a $15 surcharge doesn’t necessarily sound like a great deal, but all of the cocktails at Yerba Buena are really strong, flavorful, and well-made and the waitstaff is really on top of making sure you’ve always got a fresh drink in hand for the entirety of the two hours.
I’m a sucker for spicy, savory cocktails so I started off my boozy brunch with the Michelada Picantina made with Dos Equis Lager, Tapatio hot sauce, and lime juice with a tajin spiced rim. This drink was executed really well and in my eyes was a perfect rendition of the drink I hold so dearly. It was spicy, limey, and served as a really refreshing way to start the meal.
From there, we moved onto a few rounds of Brazilian Bellinis which were made with Leblon cachaça, passion fruit juice, and sparkling wine. Ordinarily, I don’t go for champagne-based drinks or champagne at all… ok, ok, sparkling wine… but I decided to stick with the group’s mass order and have a few of these. Again, very nicely made and they served their purpose well before we moved onto some other brunch cocktails.
We then had some Pisco Guajava cocktails. These were made simply with pisco, guava juice, and lemon juice and were so freaking good. Normally, I shy away from sweet drinks, but this cocktail was boozy and the sweetness was balanced really well. I couldn’t resist but have a few of these as well. Yeah, we all got pretty shit-faced at this bunch.
But we did eat food along with our cocktails too. This was brunch after all and the other half of the hair of the dog method involves filling your belly with hearty, greasy, or spicy food. As soon as we had arrived at our table I ordered a basket of Watermelon Fries for us all to share. Yeah, you heard me right. WATERMELON FRIES. This doesn’t sound like it should work, right? Well it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to try to believe.
In my opinion, no visit to Yerba Buena is complete without a basket of these absurd fried creations. The inside somehow retained its firm structure beneath the thick, crispy, breaded and fried crust and the flavor was bizarre but wonderful. Again, you’d never ever expect the combination of watermelon and ketchup to work but somehow it all just does. And really, really, well.
For my main brunch course, I gave their Cachapa Benedict a go. Those who read WinstonWanders often know that I’ve become pretty obsessed with these kinds of Latin American specialties. Of course I loved this dish, it’s got my name written all over it.
I always appreciate when brunch spots do something a little out of the ordinary with brunchy classics like Eggs Benedict and they really kicked it up a notch here. This dish took a griddled sweet corn cake and topped it with melty asadero cheese, two properly poached eggs, a generous layer of smoky and salty Serrano ham and slathered the whole thing with a ridiculous Yerba Buena-aji amarillo hollandaise sauce. That sauce was absurdly good and really tied the entire rich, bold, hearty, flavorful, satisfying dish together.
So, if you’re looking for amazing twists on classic brunch dishes with unlimited, expertly-made cocktails, I’d highly recommend making a reservation at Yerba Buena. Everything is always great, but promise me that no matter what you order, you won’t skip the insanely delicious Watermelon Fries. You’re gonna regret it if you do.
Got another great AYCD brunch spot in NYC I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.
1 Perry St. New York, NY 10014