Make your brunch even more memorable by adding a dose of music — gospel music, to be exact. The restaurants listed below dish out excellent eggs, wonderful waffles, and great grits, along with a side of terrific tunes. These are our picks for the best gospel brunches in the city. By Jessica Allen.
$44 (in advance) or $47 (at the door) gets you lots of good stuff at the weekly gospel brunch at B. B. King Blues Club and Grill, including an all-you-can-eat buffet of southern favorites and entertainment from the Harlem Gospel Choir. (The brunch is offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) But you won’t just passively observe: patrons are often expected to participate by standing, shouting, and clapping along to the inspirational tunes. On Saturdays, the club hosts a Beatles brunch.
Downstairs from Red Rooster (see below) is Ginny’s Supper Club, a restaurant and bar styled to evoke the speakeasies so popular during the Harlem Renaissance. Every Sunday the lounge offers a gospel brunch complete with a buffet. As you eat, you’ll be entertained by Vy Higgensen’s Gospel for Teens Choir, an award-winning singing troupe. The choir offers teens the chance to learn gospel, and helps ensure this valuable art form stays viable in the 21st Century.
Red Rooster, Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s tribute to Harlem, welcomes Boncellia Lewis to sing gospel and spiritual favorites during brunch every other Sunday (check the calendar to confirm dates). Served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the brunch menu includes blackened catfish and mac & greens. Interested parties take note: the restaurant doesn’t take reservations for its gospel brunch, so get there early. Also: dress like you mean it. Save the sneakers and shorts for Saturday.
One of the most popular restaurants in Harlem, Sylvia’s was opened in 1962 by Sylvia Woods and her husband. While both are gone, the restaurant, specializing in soul food, remains in family hands (it’s now run by the Woods children and grandchildren). This institution does an especially brisk business during brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, the latter of which features live gospel music. Try the shrimp and grits, hot cakes, or red velvet waffles and fried chicken.