Brunch isn’t just a meal; it’s an event. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the go sometimes, but brunch is one of those optional, spoil-yourself indulgences where boozy beverages and a few close friends are practically a requirement. If you’re from a small town, you might not have too many go-to brunch places in your backyard. But for those who live in cities or areas with large downtowns, the brunch options can be endless—which begs the question: How do you choose the best spot?
I recently enjoyed a late-morning meal at Jersey Social in Jersey City, New Jersey, right across the Hudson River from New York City. And let me tell you—this place knows how to do brunch. (I visited Jersey Social as a guest; my entire meal was compensated, though all thoughts are my own.)
1. Find a place within everyone’s price range
Brunch is meant to have fun and catch up, whether you’re dining with your best friends, your partner, or your family. But since brunch often involves multiple people, it’s important to keep everyone’s price range in mind. (I once attended a New York City brunch where the mimosas were $18 each—not my style.)
Though you might want fine dining, it doesn’t mean everyone can afford it. Pay attention to the prices of both the dishes and the drinks—I know from experience that overspending takes away from the enjoyment. Look for a restaurant with menu items that are mostly between $12 and $25. During my brunch at Jersey Social, I sipped on mimosas that were a modest $8 each. Or, for a boozier option, there was a 2 for $12 deal—a steal compared to those Manhattan prices.
2. Make sure there is a dish for everyone
While price is important, options are, too. Every friend group has the notoriously picky eater—not to be rude, but don’t worry so much about them. Focus instead on anyone in the group who has specific dietary needs that should be met. If necessary, make sure the menu has at least a couple of vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free options.
Options such as waffles and French toast are ideal vegetarian dishes (such Jersey Social’s delicious French toast with berry compote, pictured below), but not for vegans—make sure everyone can dine with ease wherever the brunch is held. If the menu says gluten free options “available” but doesn’t list them, call ahead to see exactly what this means.
3. Keep your party size in mind
Not all restaurants are suitable for all sizes. If you’re only dining with one other person, you pretty much have endless options, though you might want to choose somewhere with less noise to make sure you two can have casual conversation without yelling. For larger party sizes, though, make sure the restaurant can accommodate everyone. Some smaller spaces don’t always comfortably hold a party larger than six. If you’re unsure of how many people are coming, make a tentative reservation at a brunch spot that has room for larger party sizes. Then, the day before, confirm with the restaurant what your actual party size will be.
A spot like Jersey Social has high ceilings and large windows to give it a big, open feel, and the table and booth options mean diners can either feel secluded with a smaller group or have more room with a larger one. If there’s a spot in your area that can accommodate small and large parties, that might be the way to go.
If you’re in the New Jersey area, Jersey Social was truly a delicious option—affordable prices, amazing food (with fried pickles and Parmesan truffle fries as optional sides; what could be better?), and a modern-yet-comfortable atmosphere. Visit them for brunch on Sunday or dinner and drinks Tuesday-Saturday.