Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 03 April 2014
Poco and NYC’s Wildest Boozy Brunch

A Restaurant Review
33 Avenue B at East 3rd Street, East Village
Getting There: 6 to Bleecker Street; F to Broadway-Lafayette Street

Any short list of the City’s best boozy brunches will have East Village tapas restaurant Poco at or near the very top. Though securing a reservation is surprisingly easy considering the restaurant’s burgeoning popularity, be advised that the brunches here are not necessarily equipped for the finicky foodie. The restaurant has one main agenda during the weekend afternoon hours from 11:30am to 5:00pm and that’s to make sure that for an hour and a half and for just $28, you leave their restaurant with a full on buzz. Their endless pours of mimosas, bloody marys, and sangria demand no less.

The scene at dinner is vastly different than the jam-packed boisterous crowd that you’ll find spilling over from the ground level dining area to the stuffy (but perpetually fun) basement during the frenzied brunch. That’s because Poco also fancies itself as a full on tapas restaurant serving small bites like “Bacon Wrapped Dates” ($9), “Poco Sliders” ($12) and “Croquetas” ($10-$11) for their guests. Happy hour here delivers a particularly terrific value meanwhile with items like $1 oysters and $6 tapas dishes until 8pm, making Poco an ideal visit for after work hours.

But if you’re a first timer to the restaurant, then visiting for their boozy brunch is an absolute must. Just be prepared for a whirlwind of an afternoon. We arrive for an early afternoon seating and the place is already completely buzzing. The first floor is packed to the gills with large parties, waiters whizzing around the tables with drink pitchers and music bumping out into the street. Once our party arrives, we are whisked downstairs to the basement which smells a bit like we’ve just shown up late to a party that’s been going on for quite awhile but somehow, this perfectly suits our expectations as the staff wastes little time in filling our glasses with sugary pours of mimosas and sangria. At this point, Poco is running their brunches like well-oiled machines. We waited nary a moment for our half-empty glasses to be quickly refilled and our orders seemed to arrive just minutes after placing them. But to the place’s credit, they were more than generous with allowing us to remain at our table far past the designated ninety minutes and the drinks continued to be poured by the friendly servers downstairs.

As for the food itself, our brunch meal was certainly passable. We ordered “The Cure,” considered a traditional Mexican hangover remedy, topped with mounds of pulled chicken (add $2) but were essentially served a plate of tortilla chips. Though the chicken was serviceable, the tangy green salsa verde coupled with two runny fried eggs meshed together just fine. Far superior though was the “Lobster Benedict” (add $2) which was served on a crispy arepa bed with a creamy pimento hollandaise sauce that covered the hunks of pink lobster meat. Sided by some crispy breakfast potatoes, the dish was tasty despite being quickly washed away by each swig of mimosa.

Surrounding us downstairs was the beginning (or the end) of a bachelorette party and behind us a group of twenty guys and girls that dropped at least two glasses by our last count. When possible, sitting upstairs is clearly a more ideal option with the natural light from Avenue B trickling in and the ability to people watch abundant at all times. But at just $28 all-in, it’s hard to find flaws in Poco’s brunch game. The drinks are fairly strong and entirely delicious, the setting is a wild one, the service is absolutely exceptional and the food does its job in filling you up just enough to continue to put back those drinks. Make no mistake, brunch at Poco is a festive party and while you might not be able to handle it every weekend, it’s an experience worth repeating for any New Yorker looking for an outright good time.

Rundown of the Meal

Brunch* – Each item includes 1.5 hours of unlimited Bloody Mary, Mimosa & Sangria

Lobster Benedict (add $2)*

“The Cure” (add $2 pulled chicken)

*Meal Highlight

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