These days, New Yorkers are making plans based on a video game, and Saturdays are spent sprinting around the city, searching the best places to play Pokémon Go. But even the most accomplished Pokémon Go trainers need to eat sometimes. Lucky for them, there are plenty of places in New York City where people playing Pokémon Go can go to have their brunch and catch ‘em all, too. You just have to know where to find the best brunch restaurants for playing Pokémon Go. The dream is a restaurant located near a Pokéstop so you can keep collecting those sweet, sweet Pokéballs every five minutes while you’re enjoying your meal.
And though some restaurants are dropping Pokémon lures in their stores in the hopes of attracting customers, as well as Pokémon, if you’ve ever played Pokémon Go, you know that lures are meaningless unless there are rare Pokémon around. So you also want the ideal Pokémon Go restaurant to be close to the places where rare Pokémon are found. That means you easily transition to hunting for Pokémon, post-brunch, or, if you’re really lucky, catch a Pikachu or a Clefairy stroll onto your table mid-meal. You also have to get the timing right—if these Pokémon only show up after midnight, you can’t expect to find them at brunch, after all.
That’s how I came up with the parameters for this list of the best brunch restaurants for playing Pokémon Go in New York City—a restaurant located near a Pokéstop, according to Yelp’s new Pokéstop filter, that is also within a few blocks of sightings of rare Pokémon during regular brunch hours, as reported by members of the Facebook group Pokémon Go NYC in this incredibly extensive user-generated spreadsheet.
I can’t really speak to the type or quality of the food at these brunch joints, since that wasn’t part of the rubric, but I can guarantee some mildly successful weekend hunting for now. Just don’t get trampled in a swarm of fellow trainers, OK?
Calle Dao—Abra and Dragonite
The psychic Pokémon Abra has been spotted in Bryant Park in the mornings, and Dragonite have been seen in the mid-afternoon, so hit up Calle Dao, a fusion of Cuban and Chinese cuisine. The restaurant also has a bottomless brunch option, if you’re looking to get turnt up before your Pokémon hunt.
Maman NYC on West Broadway, in Tribeca, serves up a rotating, full-service brunch that’s partially inspired by the south of France. It’s also within walking distance of the Clefairy that have been spotted in the mornings at City Hall.
Dratini is considered an “Epic” Pokémon because it’s so hard to find. But if you brunch at Tanner Smith’s for brunch, you can stop by Fischer Park Plaza, where these rarest of dragons have been spotted in relative abundance.
Black Barn—Gastly and Voltorb
If you’ve got a thing for ball-shaped Pokémon, like Gastly and Voltorb, you’ll want to check out Madison Square Park. Enjoy brunch at Black Barn, located just north of the park, making it a perfect place to fuel up before racing back out to catch these Pokémon.
Alice’s Tea Cup—Bulbasaur and Charmander
The park near the American Museum of Natural History has become known as a hotspot for lots of rare Pokémon, including Bulbasaur and Charmander. If you’re looking for a fun place to refuel that’s out of the sun, sit down for a cup of tea and scone with clotted cream at Alice’s Tea Cup, an Alice In Wonderland-themed tea shop.
Rock Center Cafe—Gyrados and Psyduck
Sure, the Rock Center Cafe at Rockefeller Center is kind of a tourist trap, but there are some surprisingly rare Pokémon in those parts—like Gyrados and Psyduck.
Smorgasburg in Prospect Park—Jigglypuff
According to fellow Pokémon Go trainers, Jigglypuff are running all around Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Make the most of your time there by grabbing some food at Smorgasburg on the weekend.
Jack the Horse Tavern—Squirtle
Brooklyn Bridge Park is another hotspot for rare Pokémon, especially Squirtle. You could grab some food at one of the stands in the park, but if you want to sit down and take some time to recover, go to Jack the Horse Tavern for a classic Sunday brunch in nearby Brooklyn Heights.
Rumor has it that if you go to the Shake Shack on West 44th Street and 8th Avenue, early in the morning, you may run into a Pikachu. After you’ve caught your new best friend, reward yourself with a ShackBurger and a frozen custard, because you’ve earned it, you Pokémon master.