A Bunch for Brunch

Not Quite Breakfast, Not Quite Lunch

Gospel brunch at Stubb's BBQ
photograph by Kenny Braun

Here in Austin, weekend mornings will usually find a definitive assortment of hometown types -- old hippies, slacker/musicians, aspiring screenwriters, West Austin yuppies, salamander-protecting environmentalists, perpetual students, computer nerds, and real estate developers alike -- out on the town for a leisurely mid-day meal. Whether it's migas with incendiary hot sauce, an elegant old South buffet or crisp croissants and imported coffee, we Austinites are serious about our brunch. If for some unfathomable reason, you can't find a restaurant open for brunch on any given weekend, there are now bakeries, bagel stores, and coffee shops on alternating corners all over town. Yawn, stretch, roll out of the house with a copy of the Chronicle or The New York Times under your arm and find a spot to do brunch!


Sunday Brunch


Green Pastures Restaurant

811 W. Live Oak, 444-1888
Brunch buffet, 11am-1:45pm.
$21.95; reservations suggested.

Brunch at the lovely old Grande Dame of Austin restaurants is a quintessential Southern dining experience not to be missed. Sip milk punch on the sunny veranda while listening to the tinkling of the grand piano. Be careful not to fill up on cheese wafers, boiled shrimp, and assorted salads before you ever make it to the giant polished silver chafing dishes filled with entrées and vegetables and the standing prime rib roast. Then the veritable groaning board of desserts awaits on the antique sideboard. Before you realize it, the whole afternoon will have slipped away.


Fonda San Miguel

2330 W. North Loop, 459-4121
Brunch buffet, 11:30am-2pm.
$19.95; reservations suggested.

Sample many of the authentic Interior Mexican specialties that have given Fonda San Miguel a well-deserved national reputation over the last 20 years. This fiesta brunch has been served at the James Beard House in New York and was featured at an International Association of Culinary Professionals Convention luncheon in 1995. The tequila selection is first rate, the tortillas are made fresh by hand and the fascinating, extensive Mexican folk art collection contributes to the distinct impression that you've somehow managed to squeeze in a trip to Mexico in the middle of a lazy Austin Sunday.


Zoot

509 Hearn, 477-6536
Brunch menu, 11am-2pm.
Reservations recommended.

While the brunch is a relatively new addition here, it is equally as good as Zoot's highly regarded dinner offerings. Try Zoot's twist on the traditional Eggs Benedict ($10.95) -- a base of huge homemade buttermilk biscuits layered with a spicy red flannel hash, topped with perfectly poached eggs bathed in a tangy orange hollandaise. We're anxious to sample the Pan-seared Trout Salad ($9.95) with the poached vegetables and Nicoise olives, and the Fresh Berry Flapjacks ($6.95) with thick slices of crisp bacon. Baskets of fresh baked items from pastry chef Mary Perna complement every dish.


Sfuzzi
photograph by Kenny Braun

Sfuzzi

311 W. Sixth, 476-8100
Brunch buffet stations,
10:30am-3pm.

$15.50.

The sunny dining room here has long been one of our favorite Sunday spots. Our first stop is the Antipasto buffet for the house Caesar salad, sweet melon slices wrapped in salty prosciutto, and insalata caprese. Next up would be a made-to-order omelette, then we'll belly up to the pasta bar or pay a visit to the carving station. Of course we have to make periodic trips back to our table to nosh and enjoy the frozen bellinis.


Manuel's

310 Congress, 472-7555
Brunch menu, 11am-4pm,
live jazz accompaniment, noon-3pm.

It's only right that a restaurant in the site of a former jazz club (Piggy's) would serve up a light, tasty Interior Mexican brunch to the musical accompaniment of some of Austin's best jazz musicians. The superb Gorditas ($5.95) here are made with a non-traditional potato and fresh corn masa and served with a lean homemade venison and black bean chorizo. The fluffy chile and cheese omelette ($5.50) has a legion of loyal fans and co-owner Jennifer Koury's migas ($4.95) recipe has long been a favorite of Texas Monthly restaurant reviewers.


La Zona Rosa

612 W. Fourth, 472-9075
Gospel Brunch Buffet, seatings at
11am &1pm, $9.95

La Zona's Gospel brunch with the Asylum Street Spankers has been very popular since its inception. Hungry music lovers line up to be serenaded by a band that really knows how to put on a show. The all-you-can-eat buffet features mostly Tex-Mex items (chilaquiles, breakfast tacos, migas) but there is also French Toast, loads of fresh fruit, an assortment of fresh pastries and a selection of yogurt and granola for those who don't speak Tex-Mex.


Stubb's BBQ

801 Red River, 480-8341
Gospel Brunch Buffet, seatings at 11:30am and 1pm, $9.95

Reservations at this BBQ joint in an historic Austin building named for the legendary BBQ purveyor from Lubbock will get you a seat downstairs in front of the gospel band of the week. We opt to sit upstairs near the buffet -- the band sounds just fine from there too. The fare here is strictly Southern comfort food such as biscuits and gravy, grits, hash browns, scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage, pancakes and syrup, fruit and cereal. However, it may be the only brunch buffet in town that also includes BBQ offerings: smoky brisket and chicken with beans and Mr. Stubb's famous namesake sauce.


Cafe at the Four Seasons
photograph by Kenny Braun

Cafe at the Four Seasons

99 San Jacinto, 478-4500
Prix-fixe brunch menu, 10:30am-2pm.
$30; reservations suggested.

The New York Times recently described the Four Season's as "Austin's answer to the Chateau Marmont; cock an ear toward the next table and hear a deal being struck." The opportunity for star-gazing will only be an added benefit when you relax in the comfort of this beautifully-appointed room overlooking Town Lake to enjoy chef Elmar Prambs' excellent cuisine. The dining room captain and his staff live to see customers satisfied.


Cafe Armageddon

2015 Manor, 478-4857
Brunch buffet, 11am-3pm, $7.75

What we like about the brunch buffet here is though Cafe Armageddon has a much more casual atmosphere, it reminds us of the Sunday country club buffets of our childhood: giant, hot biscuits with good cream gravy; quiche; sautéed vegetables and roasted potatoes; ham, bacon, and sausage; platters laden with fresh fruit; and an omelette station manned by the "Omelette Boy" who turns out good small omelettes. They've added some vegetarian stir-fries with wheat roast and tofu just to remind us that we're still in Austin, and they offer a "Bottomless Mimosa" ($4.50) in case all you have to do on Sunday afternoon is nap.


Chez Zee

5406 Balcones, 454-2666
Brunch menu, 9am-3pm.
Reservations suggested.

Northwest Austin's favorite weekday power breakfast spot also does a brisk weekend brunch business. It's not surprising that an eatery renown for it's scrumptious desserts would have a brunch dish like Creme Brulée French Toast ($7.95), a huge wedge of buttery brioche soaked in rich egg custard and baked crisp served with whipped cream and syrup. Egg dishes, salads, and breakfast burritos fill out the popular brunch menu. Even if you sit on the front patio, you'll still be able to hear the pianist on the baby grand in front of the well-stocked pastry case.


Saturday & Sunday Brunch


Old Pecan Street Cafe

310 W. Sixth, 478-2491
Brunch menu Saturday,
11am-3pm; Sunday, 9am-3pm.

Austin's first restaurant to serve crepes and quiche (circa 1972) still offers them on a brunch menu that ranges in price from $4.95 to $8.95. Along with crepes, you'll also find omelettes and very good Eggs Benedict. Many of the brunch dishes arrive with a thick, delicious slice of their signature Budapest Coffee Cake. If one slice is not enough, as is often the case, individual slices may be ordered for a mere $1 each. Enjoy coffee and dessert while you ease into the day, observing Sixth Street's rich pageant pass in front of the windows.


Driskill Hotel

604 Brazos, 474-5911
Brunch menu, Saturday and Sunday, 6:30am-12:30pm.

The Driskill Grill is located at the hotel's Seventh Street entrance in the Upper Lobby and serves an a la carte menu for breakfast/brunch. It could just be the perfect place to dine when you wander back to the hotel at sunrise following a night of SXSW musical debauchery. We suggest that you eat hearty, sleep well, and live to carouse again at nightfall.


Granite Cafe

2905 San Gabriel, 472-6483
Brunch menu, Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am-3pm.

The Sunday brunch here was so popular, they recently began offering the same deal on Saturdays. Prices on the a la carte menu range from $4.50 to $10 for breakfast dishes, migas, French toast, and a selection of their wood-fired oven pizzas. We especially enjoy sitting on the Granite's sun-dappled deck, snacking on the Specialty Bread Plate from pastry chef Shannon Swindle.


East Side Cafe

2113 Manor, 476-5858
Brunch menu, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-3pm, reservations suggested.

Brunch is just one of the many reasons we wish we could move into this downtown oasis with its own huge garden and attached specialty store. While the entire lunch menu is also available, we prefer to sip Poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice, $2.95) and peruse the reasonably priced brunch menu. Among our favorites are the Eggs Florentine ($6.25), two perfectly poached eggs on a bed of creamy spinach topped with an exquisite hollandaise sauce and served with the best, fluffiest cheese grits in town; and the Apple Almond Waffle ($5.50), a crisp Belgian waffle topped with whipped cream, sautéed apples, and toasted almonds.


Skyline Grill (Now Closed)

801 S. Lamar
Brunch menu, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-3pm.

We're particularly partial to this cozy little house with pleasant decks because it's in our South Austin neighborhood and the prices are so reasonable. So far we've managed to sample the Classic Eggs Benedict ($6.50), the Spinach & Wild Mushroom Omelette with Goat Cheese ($5.95), and the Country French Toast ($4.50) made with thick, crusty slices of Bread Alone Sourdough. All the entrées come with potatoes or cheese grits, sourdough toast or enormous homemade biscuits. They'll keep the $2 Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and Screwdrivers coming.


Brunch at Romeo's
photograph by Kenny Braun

Romeo's

1500 Barton Springs Road, 476-1090
Brunch menu, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-3pm.

Brunch is a relatively new addition to the format at this Restaurant Row Italian eatery. The menu has a sort of multi-ethnic flavor about it: Romeo's offers both a vegetarian and a meat Fritatta ($6.95); Italian Eggs Benedict ($7.95) served on focaccia with chipotle apricot preserves and a lemon alfredo sauce; migas ($6.95) and French Toast (4.95). The specialty drink selection here is impressive and they have a huge beer selection to boot.


Updated 2/2/98

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