UPDATE 2013 – Foreign and Domestic no longer serves Sunday Brunch.
There are so many places to eat well during typical brunch hours around Austin; places serving breakfast all day, places open 24 hours and the like. This post will focus on restaurants with a dedicated brunch menu. If your favorite brunch spot doesn’t appear here, don’t be offended, just feel free to add yours in the comments. I’m only including places where I have actually eaten and can recommend.
When Sunday rolls around, my go-to brunch spot is Foreign and Domestic, and my favorite thing to order is the Fried Chicken Biscuit. This North Loop neighborhood restaurant (also one of my very favorite dinner spots) makes delicious fried chicken, served atop a cheddar biscuit, topped with a dollop of lemon marmalade, an egg and red eye gravy. The brunch menu also includes Chanterelle Mushroom Soup, Gioia Burrata Cheese with Peppers, Arugula Salad, Quiche Lorraine, Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Tofu and Egg Scramble, Fried Green Tomato BLT, Bacon Wrapped Tongue Pastrami Monto Cristo, “Cincinnati Style” Waygu Beef Chili, and Hangtown Fry (Oysters, Pork Belly, Watercress, Potatoes.) Don’t let the flying pig on the side of the restaurant fool you, Chef Ned Elliott is a genius with vegetables. There are vegetarian and gluten free dishes here. Prices are reasonable from $6 to $13 an entree. Beer and wine. Brunch Sunday only.
Foreign and Domestic, 306 E. 53rd
South Congress Cafe is a very popular brunch spot, and serves brunch every day of the week. I find their menu to lean more heavily on the lunch side of brunch, with a variety of soups and salads available, although there are three Eggs Benedict and three Omelette options. They also have Migas and the very popular and unique Carrot Cake French Toast. After that the menu turns toward lunch, with a Burger, Meatloaf, Blackened Tuna Tacos, Chicken Marsala, Pork Asada and a Brisket and Sausage Plate. I prefer the Migas and Omelettes, although the Carrot Cake French Toast is a “must try” if you like brunch on the sweeter side. Plates range from $8 to $16. Brunch Every Day.
South Congress Cafe, 1600 South Congress
Another favorite brunch spot is FINO. Dine in or al fresco on the large covered patio if the weather is nice. FINO has a dedicated brunch menu that includes Small Plates, Salads and Soups and Brunch entrees. My two favorite bunch entrees are the FINO Benedict, Poached farm eggs, Pimenton Hollandaise, Serrano Ham, Spinach over a Potato, and the Prawns with Cheese and Scallion Grits, with Shishito Peppers, Garlic and Poached Farm Egg. The menu also includes House Made Waffles, Scrambled Farm Eggs with House Cured Salmon, Tortilla Espanola and perhaps the best Nicoise Salad in town. You can also order items a la carte, such as Farm eggs, House Cured Bacon, Chorizo, Morcilla Sausage, Manchego Biscuits. Prices range from $9 to $16 an entree. Full Cocktail menu. Brunch Sunday only.
FINO 2905 San Gabriel Street
Olivia is another very popular brunch spot. Olivia does a great job at sourcing its ingredients locally and the food is great to boot. Farm eggs provide the basis for omelets, as well as Olivia Benedict with Braised Flatiron Beef, Quiche de Jardin, Eggs Florentine, and Red Flannel Hash, the basis of which is house made corned beef. In nod to all things Southern are Hoe Cakes with Walnut Toffee Crumble, Vanilla or Citrus Almond Syrup, “Picnic Style” Fried Chicken, Shrimp and Gouda Grits, Willie Nelson Chicken Fried Steak and the “SOS 2012″, Blackened Kobe Tips, Toast, Cream Gravy. The chicken is so good, Chef James Holmes opened a second location, “Lucy’s” and built a menu around it. The menu items here range from $9 to $18. Beer and wine. Saturday and Sunday brunch
Olivia, 2043 South Lamar
Contigo is a newish hot spot East of I-35 that serves a great brunch. Based on a ranch in South Texas, the restaurant has a large comfortable outdoor dining area, which can’t be beat on a sunny day. On a recent visit, I ordered the Baked Eggs which were served with a side of Arugula and Brussels Sprouts leaves. It was a simple preparation, and it was delicious. We also split a Cheese Danish and Pecan Cinnamon Roll. The danish was the flakiest pastry I’ve ever had and it was amazing. At our table, the biggest hit was the Beef Tongue Hash. Other available items include Eggs Benedict, House Cured Salmon, Quiche, Flapjacks, Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy, Beet and Potato Salad, Pozole, Rabbit and Dumplings, Burger and Fries. Entrees range from $8 to $15. Full Bar. Brunch Sunday only.
Contigo, 2027 Anchor Lane
Max’s Wine Dive offers what it calls Gourmet Comfort Food. Fired Chicken and Waffles, Pumpkin French Toast, Gingerbread Pancakes, Braised Duck Tacos, Badass Breakfast Burrito with housemade Chorizo, Fried Egg Sandwich, Kobe Burger, Max and Cheese, their version of Mac and Cheese, Drunken Bread, Cheese Grits and Pulled Pork, Mushroom and Sweet Potato Hash, Frito Pie Omelette, Yogurt with Fruit, Smoked Salmon Cobb Salad, and Bloody Mary Salad. You can order your Mimosas or Sangria by the glass, carafe or pitcher (if feeling ambitious.) You really can’t go wrong with anything on this menu, in my opinion. Prices range from $8 to $15 an entree. Max’s is another restaurant that supports local farms and lists them on the menu. Brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Max’s Wine Dive, 207 San Jacinto
La Condesa offers a wonderful Mexican brunch on Sunday, consisting of its version of traditional Mexican dishes, and Mexican street food. Huevos Rancheros, Huevos Condesa (with raised-right rotisserie chicken) Huevos Chilangos (with wild boar chorizo), Huevos Ingleses, Chilaquiles Divorciado (with salsa verde and salsa roja) and Huevos Y Carne Asada, grace the breakfast side of the menu. If you are feeling more like lunch, Flautas con Pollo, Tacos Del Dia, Pescado a la Plancha, Hamburguesa, B.L.A.T., or La Cubanita Condesa will fill you up. There are also a couple of soup and salad options for the less adventurous. La Condesa has some of the best salsas in town, in my opinion. House made Horchata and Agua Frescas are delicious, or opt for a Bloody Mary or an Orange Marmalade Breakfast Margarita. Chef Ortiz is another of our chef’s who sources from local farms. Entrees are $8 to $14. Brunch Saturday and Sunday.
La Condesa, 400 W.2nd
One of the most elaborate brunches in town (and most expensive) is traditional interior Mexican brunch buffet at Fonda San Miguel. This spot will make you feel like you are on vacation in Mexico, with its saltillo tiles, fabulous bar and waiting area complete with parrots and loads of ambience. The buffet is laid out in traditional Mexican bowls filled with Cochinita Pibil, Chicken Mole, Pork Pipian Verde, Chile Rellenos, Chiliquiles, Ensalada de Jicama con Melon, Ensalada de Espinica, Guacamole, and Escabeche. While I usually enjoy a Mimosa or glass of Prosecca with brunch, Fonda’s Mango Margarita is my favorite in town. There is typically a large selection of desserts available, from traditional flan to Tres Leches Cake, Cajeta and Pears. $40 not including drinks. Full Bar. Brunch Sunday only.
Fonda San Miguel, 2330 North Loop
Lambert’s, in the historic Schneider Brothers Building downtown, bills itself as upscale BBQ, (although some purists object to this description), and has an interesting and very hearty brunch on Sundays. The buffet portion of the brunch includes Fruit & Berries, Potato Salad, Jicama and Cilantro Slaw, Deviled Eggs with Caviar, House Smoked Salmon, Breakfast Sausage, Apple Smoked Bacon, Cheddar and Roasted Poblano Grits. The second component of Brunch is the Butcher Block, with Prime Rib, Brisket, Berkshire Pork Ribs, Biscuits, and Mac and Cheese. Also included in the brunch price are the egg dishes, for which you are presented a menu. It includes 2 Eggs Any Style, a Petite Omelette with Cheddar, Goat Cheese, Carmalized Onions, and Chives, Benedict, Hanger Steak Benedict, Brioche French Toast, Smoked Brisket Hash, Blueberry Pancake. And, if you aren’t already in a food coma, there is a serve yourself dessert table, which includes assorted fried and cream pies. I am a fan of the BBQ here, although not traditional Texas style and the Petite Omelette is so good I try to recreate it at home fairly often. Full Bar. $30 not including drinks. Brunch Sunday only.
Lambert’s, 401 West 2nd Street
One of the oldest and most historic buildings in town, houses another great brunch spot, Moonshine. Also served buffet style, with different serving tables in different rooms, brunch includes Migas, Green Egg Scramble, King Ranch Casserole, Grilled Sausages, Corned Beef Hash, Green Chile Cheese Grits, Cornflake Fried Chicken Tenders, Chicken Fried Steak Tenders, Sprial Ham, Tamale Scramble and Brisket Sliders. Here you can dine inside or out. $16.95, not including drinks. Full Bar. Brunch Sunday only.
Moonshine, 303 Red River Street
Stubb’s BBQ‘s Gospel Brunch is a unique way to spend a Sunday brunchtime meal. The menu features buffet style, Brisket, Sausage, Smoked Chicken, Spinach Enchiladas, Fried Catfish, Buttermilk Pancakes, Bacon, Garlic Cheese Grits, Biscuits, Gravy, Beans, Home fried potatoes, Nopalitos, Fruit Salad, and Assorted Muffins, Pies and Cakes. Not my favorite BBQ in town, but a fun brunch. Head on downstairs with your plate and a custom Bloody Mary, from the Make-it-yourself Bloody Mary Bar and listen to some good old live Gospel music. The bands change from Sunday to Sunday, but you can check the music menu on the website. $18.95 with view of band, $16.95 w/out view of Band, $8.95 kids 10 & under. Cocktails, beer and wine. Brunch Sunday only.
Stubb’s BBQ, 801 Red River
If you are dining with the family, and want to kick it old school, Chez Zee might be for you. It’s a family friendly place north of downtown, with a piano player on Sundays and twinkle lights throughout the restaurant. This North Austin neighborhood spot has too vast a Brunch menu to repeat it all here, including nine Benedicts and seven different Omelettes. The Creme Brulee French Toast is delicious if you prefer a sweeter dish. The Breakfast in Bread French Toast is loaded with fruit, pecans and honey. There are Steak and Eggs, Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Tacos and my regular order, the Zee Migas. You can order a la carte items or opt for the “Lunch for Brunch” side of the menu featuring Quesadillas, Crab Cakes, Salads and Sandwiches. There really is something for everyone at Chez Zee, including a kids menu. Full Bar. Prices range from $5 to $19. Brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Chez Zee, 5406 Balcones Drive
Z Tejas has long been a meeting place for brunchers on Saturdays and Sundays. Billed as “New American Cuisine,” the brunch menu is what I consider Southwestern fare. Expect lots of green chiles and black beans. The menu has many classic brunch items, but with a twist. The Eggs Benedict here are poached eggs atop cornbread, with Jalapeno Bacon and Chipotle Hollandaise. The gravy portion of Biscuits and Gravy is green chile gravy, served with two eggs. I like the Chorizo Pork Scramble Skillet, which is seasoned potatoes, scrambled eggs, Cheddar and Jack cheeses, Green Chile sauce, with Bacon Gratin and Chipotle. Barbacoa Beef Breakfast Enchiladas make for a hearty meal. For folks who like sweeter offerings mid-morning, there are Sweet Pancakes with a choice of fillings, or Stuffed French Toast stuffed with raspberry cream cheese, with prickly pear syrup, topped with whipped cream. Every meal begins with a choice of muffins. Prices range from $7 to $14. Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s are $4. Brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Z Tejas, 1110 West 6th Street, 9400 Arboretum Boulevard, 10525 West Parmer Lane
The theme at Frank is Hot Dogs, Cold Beer. Specializing in house made sausages, this porktastic place also makes signature cocktails. Brunch here often starts with a Bloody Mary with a strip of bacon in it. Chase that down with a side of Pearl beer, and call it a Red Headed Stranger. Word to the wise, the Bloody Mary is very filling on its own. The last time I had one, I barely had room left for my Bubba Gump dog. The brunch menu starts with The Franktastic Four, a combo of any of a list of items from Eggs, Bacon, Fried Spam, Jackalope Sausage, Hash Brown Casserole, Grits, Oatmeal, Corn Pudding, Biscuit, Fruit, Granola, Yogurt, Flapjacks, Toast, Banana Bread and Bierock. If you don’t want to mix and match your own plate, choose from Chicken & Waffles, Texas Benedict, Shrimp & Grits, Pig & Eggs, Steak & Eggs, Makers Toast, Corned Beef Hash, Boudin Cakes, Flapsticks, Chili-cheese Souffle Omelette, Frank Cobb salad. The Omelette of the Day rotates. Prices fall into the $7 to $15 dollar range. Brundh Sunday only.
Frank, 4th and Colorado
Further afield, but in no way inferior is Jack Allen’s Kitchen, just West of the Y at Oak Hill. Dine inside or out on the ample patio. Order your eggs, biscuits and gravy and pancakes at the table, then head to the buffet, on which you’ll find Chicken Fried Chicken, Chicken Fried Pork, Migas, Enchilada Casserole, Green Chile Pork and Eggs, Fresh Tomato and Basil Pie, Jalapeno Sausage, Mama’s Sunday Chicken. Chef Jack Gilmore works with local farmers for the sourcing at the restaurant, and is a fixture at the local farmer’s markets every weekend. Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Sangria are $3.50. Brunch is $14.99 a person or $5.99 for 12 and under. Brunch Sunday only.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen, 7720 W Hwy 71
Trio at the Four Seasons offers a Sunday Brunch Buffet with a Made to Order Omelette Station, a Carving Station, Assorted Breakfast Meats, Sushi, a Seafood Station, Salads, Breakfast Pastries, and fresh Fruits with Yogurt, muesli and nuts. The food at Trio is outstanding, but for me personally, this is a special occasion brunch, at $48 per person, $20 for kids. Brunch Sunday only.
Trio, 98 San Jacinto
TRACE at the W Hotel gets it’s name from its philosophy of tracing food to its source. Trace employs a forager who shops at local farms, and farmer’s markets and works with local purveyor’s to keep the menu as local as possible given the scale of the restaurant. The Sunday Brunch at Trace includes locally made Charcuterie, Bacon, House made Sausage, Seasonal Fruit, Ancon Mills Cheese Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, Biscuits, Salads, Soups, Smoked Salmon, Buttermilk Pancakes, Corned Beef Hash, Croque Monsiuer, Farmer’s Breakfast, Omelettes, Shrimp and Grits, Breakfast Burger, Brisket Sandwich, Veggie Burger, Fried Chicken and Waffles and for dessert, Cinamon Roll Bread Pudding and Drunken Doughnuts. $8 to $14 for consciously prepared cuisine. Brunch Sunday only.
TRACE at the W Hotel, 200 Lavaca
Green Pastures has been around since the 1940s, in a historic building with victorian appointments. Dining here is a treat, beginning with their famous Milk Punch. I believe this decadant drink is melted vanilla ice cream and rum. It is delicious. The expansive buffet at Green Pastures, usually takes several trips to the table, first for cheeses, salads, deviled eggs, cold smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail, then back again for the hot entrees. Before you even get to the carving station, there will be hot fish dishes, eggs benedict, breakfast meats, chicken dishes, vegetables, skewers of pork with an asian flair, you name it. The carving station is typically Prime Rib. Hot soft rolls are on the table when you get back from the Buffet, and they are so good I once asked for the recipe. If you still have room for more, your next trip will be to sample a wide assortment of dessert items, little pies, truffles, cakes, shortcake with fruit, custards, its all there. Before you depart, take a stroll amongst some of Austin’s oldest Oak Trees and keep an eye out for the peacocks who make their home there. $36 per person (includes milk punch) Brunch Sunday only.
Green Pastures, 811 W. Live Oak
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Photo credit for Fonda San Miguel, to Austin Food Journal