F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.; 6 at Bleecker St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Delancey St. to 14th St., First Ave. to Broadway
This Bowery restaurant is notorious for its busy brunch, and there's a reason why so many New Yorkers endure the hour-long wait-time. The food is hearty without being heavy, and the open, double-decker space is conducive to both big groups and solo diners. Despite the crowds and poor organizational skills of the hostesses, the restaurant is calm once you sit down due to open windows, comfortable booths, and two (relatively) low-key bars lined with stools. It feels like your quintessential cool-kids New York dining experience, but not in a bad way. The all-day lunch/brunch menu is a crowd-pleaser -- the signature item is Build-A-Biscuit, which you can make your way with toppings like scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, and a tasty red-eye gravy. The restaurant has a Southern bent (there's an excellent fried chicken), but it also offers more tropical dishes like the popular Gobblecado sandwich (with smoked turkey, avocado, chili mayo, and cojita cheese), and beer-battered fish tacos. For those who want to start their day on a lighter note, the Spa Eggs with sautéed spinach and goat cheese are delightfully creamy, and a red quinoa salad with roasted squash, kale, pumpkin seeds, and apple cider vinegar is so flavorful that it doesn't matter that it's packed with super foods. Though brunch is the restaurant's signature meal, it's also worth stopping by any time of day for a superlative pastry. The buckwheat-lemon Peels muffin is an ideal sweet-savory mid-day snack, and if you see a doughnut, make sure to grab it. At dinnertime, Peels gets considerably less crowded and expands its menu to include homey fare like meatloaf, vegetable pot pie, and shrimp and grits. It's homemade comfort food at its best. And if you really don't feel like getting out of your pajamas to enjoy chowder and monkey bread, Peels has an efficient delivery and take-out service, too.