Brunch in New York City is a very personal thing. Some people will only eat bagels and lox, others want full-fledged British breakfast, while still others can only have a bowl of granola before 3 p.m.
The one thing that unites New Yorkers is the desire to get bang for their buck. And, when dining at Yerba Buena, that is what the diner gets.
The Lower East Side branch of Julian Medina’s trendy Latin American eatery is tiny. There is a downstairs room, but the upstairs is miniscule. Not cramped, but very cozy, while somehow remaining hip. However, the excellent waitstaff does everything it can to make your stay comfortable, from removing cumbersome coats for you to providing an additional table for extra dishes.
Sangria is offered in unlimited pours for one hour for only $12. Unlike the usual sangria that is a weak, sweet drink with zero detectable alcohol (yet the uncanny ability to give a massive hangover), this sangria impresses. Fragrant with Grand Marnier, there are herbal, cinnamon notes throughout the drink, which is grounded by the earthy red wine.
Guacamole here is very citrusy, without too many mix-ins to distract from the buttery richness of the avocado. Served with a sprinkling of cheese and thick tortilla chips, this is a delicious, albeit pricey, appetizer.
The huevos rancheros are so complex and well-prepared that they can only be described in a bullet point list:
Eggs: Cooked perfectly, with thick, runny yolks and creamy, just-gelled whites.
Tortilla: Thick and crisp, adding crunch and gently absorbing the flavors from the eggs, salsa, and beans.
Queso fresco: Mild, delightfully stringy.
Black beans: Cooked al dente, with the perfect amount of chew. Sweet with onions, hearty with cumin and other spices, earthy and incredibly meaty.
Salsa: At first, it is mild and sweet. Then it is savory with garlic. Finally, there is the unmistakable high, fruity note of cascabel chiles that leaves the tongue tingling and the lips slightly burning.
Chef Julian Medina is obviously devoted to producing nuanced, high-end versions of well-known Latin American and Mexican dishes. Yerba Buena impresses with trendy atmosphere, delicious food, and excellent prices.
And that is a brunch time combination that any New Yorker could get behind.
23 Ave. A, Suite A
New York, NY 10009