Gospel music is firmly rooted in the background of many Texans. It frees the spirit while it gets the toes tapping. Throw in a few cocktails and some Southern brunch (or way Southern, in the case of Maria's), and you have the perfect combination of spirits and spirituality. Here are four spots in town that do it righteously.
Maria Corbalan's shrine to trippy folk art and fantastic Mexican food features the Gospel Brunch every Sunday, "hippie church" for the locals, a mainstay of Austin's Bubbaland elite. Music might be the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers, or it could be roots or reggae. Whoever is playing, it's guaranteed to be soulful and the ideal backdrop for a communion of beer and breakfast tacos. Count on some free flowers for your hair, killer margaritas, and the smoothest Seventies spiritual groove. The patio fills up early, so don't be late.
Stubb's has been supporting area gospel musicians for years, and its Gospel Brunch is an institution. This is gospel like granny used to listen to, with rotating bands like the Shields of Faith, the Gospel Stars, or the Bells of Joy. Close your eyes, and you could be in a revival tent. The buffet features items such as grits, migas, fried catfish, Stubb's barbecue, and pecan pie. The "make your own Bloody Mary bar" is a huge plus. At $18.95, it sure isn't cheap ($16.95 without a view), but consider it a tithe for the week.
Eddie Wilson's Southern cafe and museum to the Armadillo World Headquarters hosts a hopping gospel brunch every Sunday, and the amazing music might be stone-cold gospel with groups like the Durden Family Singers or the Bells of Joy or country-ish gospel with acts like Brennen Leigh or George Ensle. For $10.95, you can also belly up to the buffet with omelets, migas, grits, biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Worship in one of the friendliest sanctuaries in town.
Once you've done gospel brunch, you're primed for a different kind of music and worship: Chicken Shit Bingo at Ginny's Little Longhorn every Sunday from 4 to 8pm (all through March, featuring the golden-throated Dale Watson). No cover; cheap, ice-cold longnecks (cash only); free chili dogs; and Austin's most eclectic and friendliest crowd. Guess which square the chicken graces with her "deposit," and you win. Get there early; trust me.
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