Remember when eating Cocoa Puffs for dinner made you feel like a genuine badass as a kid? Well, that nostalgia never went away for many of us, which is why Midnight Brunch is the new thing for diners bored of the same old, same old mealtimes. From New York to San Francisco and everywhere in between, foodies are breaking the chains of oh-so-old-school mealtimes.
These aren’t just folks seeking out late-night or 24-hour restaurants that happen to serve breakfast. Instead, Midnight Brunches are pre-planned events, typically with some kind of ticket purchase or curated invitation, plus an innovative prix fixe menu, in locations like art galleries. The intention is to aggregate like-minded people in a fun, unique setting, where the social aspect (and menu) of brunch are explored in a swankier, nighttime arena.
As one might expect, attendees are largely made up of millennials, partly because this generation is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting events, and fortunately still have the kind of youthful energy that can keep them going past sundown. Many of these millennials are looking for an alternative to the traditional bar scene, which can be oh-so-predictable, and where’s the fun in that? Bars typically don’t serve french toast, either, so there’s another win for the Midnight Brunch.
We’ve taken a look inside the rising trend of Midnight Brunches to find out exactly what makes this concept so delightful.
New York, New York
For Midnight Brunch founder Emily Cavalier, the concept of gathering together in a brunch fashion late at night occurred to her when she realized there was no other time for her to entertain friends. Once she realized many of her peers shared the same struggle, it became clear that making this idea a reality wouldn’t be a bad way to go. Their website describes the event as, “a mashup of luxury and the underground,” with the aim of connecting, “culturally literate residents and adventurous eaters … in a fun and elegant environment.” We would be lying if we didn’t say this doesn’t sound decidedly New York, but after all it does take place in New York. And what better place for this concept to kick off than in the city that’s never sleeping (presumably because they’re too busy night-brunching)?
San Francisco, CA
Across the country we have San Francisco’s variant on the Midnight Brunch, which involves less secret passwords and more Eventbrite ticket signups. Though unaffiliated with New York’s Midnight Brunch, the concept shares many of the same attributes, including being a late night meeting place for millennials to gather over delicious food and drinks. Executive Chef Scott Peterson brings restaurant experience from all over San Francisco, and culinary expertise from around the world, which make his Bay shrimp beignets and French toast bananas foster all the more tantalizing, because what’s more delicious than the best of breakfast just before bed? The event is headed up by one Mustafa Khan, purveyor of some of the City’s most interesting and notable affairs, such as Silicon Valley Fashion Week, Daybreaker early morning sober dance parties, and the Sunday’s Finest secular church services. Suffice it to say he’s the only making sure San Francisco stays weird.
Even Texas isn’t immune to the carnal draw of eating breakfast late at night. Though the last time this particular event happen it was in 2015 during SXSW, it’s safe to say Austin is on board with the idea. Everyday People hosts a monthly midnight brunch back in – you guessed it – New York, but they set their event to the tune of 90s R&B. Hopefully Austinites are rallying behind the clear need to continue this tradition beyond SXSW, because I can’t be the only one craving a late night Cowboy Breakfast Sandwich. Until then Texans might want to consider snooping around Dallas’ Ida Claire, as they have a Midnight Brunch that really kicks it up a notch with bacon gravy biscuits, sweet potato duck confit, chicken and waffles. Nothing is more brunchy or more Texan.
College students are getting in on this trend, which has to be a good sign – they are our future, after all. In fact, this midnight brunch seems to be a longstanding tradition within the college, a chance for overworked academics to pause and get together over breakfast in the dead of night. The concept isn’t so unique from the more well-known coastal brunches: the school keeps the cafeteria open late so professors can serve somewhat more traditional breakfast foods (pancakes, eggs, bacon) to students, who use the opportunity to dress up, boogie down, and let loose (before heading back to hit the books). It may not be the most chic brunch out there, but it certainly cements the concept as a good one.
New York, New York
We end this exploration by bringing it back to where it all started – in New York, though this is perhaps the most unique of all the midnight brunches. Once a year, Tribeca’s 24 hour diner called Bubby’s seats over 100 Muslim diners for a pre-dawn breaking of the Ramadan fast. This midnight brunch was originally organized by lawyer Rafia Ali, who explained, “I love Bubby’s and I love brunch, so I decided to have a brunch in the middle of the night.” Again the principle remains the same, no matter who the guests are – midnight brunches make for a wonderful time and place to socialize, have fun, and most importantly, eat. In this case, the chocolate-chip pancakes are the prize winning menu item — proof that breakfast is good at any time of day.