In 2014, the Chronicle Food team set forth on an adventure. Fueled by Bloody Marys and armed with forks, we bravely sampled omelettes and hash, migas and mimosas until we identified 17 of the most glorious ways to spend our Sunday Funday. But two years is an awfully long time in brunch years. All of the players on our first list are still open, and we still recommend trying them all. But while we remain fans of classics like Banger's, El Naranjo, and Swift's Attic, a new generation of restaurants has popped up on our must-brunch list. Luckily, the new trend is for restaurants to be open for both Saturday and Sunday service, so you'll have twice the time to catch up.
Some people prefer their brunch to be basic, but they are probably the same folks who made Meghan Trainor a thing. Those of us with more taste or who prefer something a bit more creative appreciate that chef Joe Anguiano has his own take on brunch classics like a potato churro blini topped with smoked Tasmanian trout or a Duroc pork hash swimming in salsa verde. Beverage director JR Mocanu's drinks are equally innovative. Order the Sif's Song, tomato- and caper berry-infused aquavit served with a simple syrup of thyme, sea salt, orange peel, and black pepper.
Barely a month old, Sway's Thai-inflected brunch is already drawing crowds. Familiar favorites are completely transformed by chef Martin Wilda's adventurous palate. Chicken and waffles are served with a green nahm jihm and maple-lemon butter, biscuits and gravy uses bacon powder and crispy basil leaf, and a simple mussel omelette gets some spark from sambal. The cocktail menu has a few tricks too, reinventing the mimosa with hibiscus and grapefruit, and turning the michelada into a cucumber tomatillo masterpiece.
The Hill Country is a beautiful place to brunch, but the Lyft ride would cost a mortgage payment. Luckily, Jacoby's is just as scenic. The brunch pulls from Texas' culinary heritage – duck confit migas with queso and ranchera salsa; schnitzel with country ham, poached eggs, smoked Gouda gravy, and arugula; and chicken-fried steak and waffles. Don't miss the pastries, like a cranberry-and-pecan scone and the best blueberry bread this side of your grandma's house.
Although chef Shane Stark's menu has plenty of hearty foods to coat a hung over belly (we especially dig the Low Country Benedict, a perfect biscuit topped with a crab cake and Old Bay hollandaise), his lighter dishes allow us to pretend we are making healthy choices while downing our third michelada. The raw bar is a must, of course, serving a bright hamachi crudo, blue crab, oysters, and more. But there's plenty of surprises, like a sunny grilled Little Gem lettuce salad with white anchovies, or a playful version of angels on horseback with pork rillette, raisin, and pecan crème fraîche.
Music is part and parcel of this Rainey newcomer, so it's no wonder that their brunch features live local jazz. Chef Frank Mnuk hits all the right notes with a down-home fried potato tot hash with braised pork ribs; a red quinoa breakfast salad with kale, blueberry, and radish; and a corn skillet with Benton's ham and mustard greens. Bar operations chief Jennifer Keyser keeps things humming with drinks like the Mellow Yellow (yellow Chartreuse, Dolin blanc, lemon juice, soda, and agave) and the Sunday Bloody Sunday (Vida mezcal, seasonal sangrita with a chile-lime salt rim).
Few menus in town celebrate the vegetable as much as Michael Paley's California-inspired offerings at No Sé. Dishes like avocado toast with a soft boiled egg, upland cress, and aleppo-pickled carrots, or poached eggs, green garbanzo curry, quinoa, and bok choy aren't so heavy that you will have to skip barre class. But we recommend you indulge a little. Pastry chef Amanda Rockman will make you swoon with apple frangipane croissants and crust kouign amanns. You can always tell your gym partner that you got a flat tire – just make sure you don't post to Instagram.
If you are looking for more of Rockman's decadent baked goods, go next door to Central Standard. Her cinnamon roll is what you always wished Cinnabon tasted like and her cake donuts are worth risking a sugar crash. Paley's fare here is a little heartier than at his South Congress Hotel sister restaurant. The shrimp and grits are studded with pancetta and butter; an omelette includes fried oysters, bacon, and Parmesan; and the Benedict is served on a potato latke. Don't leave without ordering something from the vast raw bar, featuring everything from Maine lobster to Middleneck clams.
If you like to end your brunches in a waddle instead of a sprint, we can think of nowhere better to overeat than Prelog's. On Saturdays, enjoy a trans-European prix fixe from chef Florian Prelog, with items ranging from Niçoise salad to bacon and leek quiche. On Sundays, dig into a royal buffet including grilled vegetables, prosciutto and melon, coq au vin, flounder with brown butter, cheeses, and crêpes Suzette. For an extra Jackson (and maybe the cost of a cab), get down with bottomless bubbles and mimosas.
Juliet's lush patio is one of the best ways to while away an Austin weekend. Start the day with a brisk swim in Barton Springs Pool, then warm up with one of chef Jacob Weaver's Italian starters like Egg in a Hole with 'nduja gravy or a salmon crudo with fried capers. For the main event, we can never decide between the gulf shrimp and polenta made with a rich shallot burro bianco or the brunch risotto with peas, pancetta, parmigiana, and poached eggs (we like the alliteration too).
There is nothing expected about chef Eric Silverstein's brunch. A simple Benedict is amped up with brisket; steak and eggs pairs perfectly with kimchi; and sweet potato hash is spiced with Fresno chiles. The Loco My Moco is pure comfort – a beef patty topped with caramelized onions, fried egg, rice, and an addictive beef-dashi gravy. Those with a sweet tooth will love the subtly-flavored French toast topped with miso caramel, coconut whipped cream, and seasonal fruit.
Fine, dim sum isn't exactly the same thing as brunch, but even the most Austin-y Austinite can sometimes get sick of migas. The star of the show here is chef Ling Qi Wu's cult Shanghai soup dumplings, but there's plenty of supporting players: delicate shumai filled with Tenderbelly pork and shrimp, crispy chicken and taro egg rolls, and Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. Cozy up with a selection of hot teas, including so-hot-right-now pu-erh, or down one of Wu Chow's takes on the mimosa, with chrysanthemum tea instead of orange juice.
Chef Nicholas Yanes' contemporary Italian brunch is pure dolce vita. The frittata gets zip from a tomato emulsion, and Meyer lemon and goat feta make roasted trumpet mushrooms uncommonly bright. And for our money, the whipped Dijon used with grilled fingerling potatoes has more sex appeal than Marcello Mastroianni. Don't skip out on pastry chef Kirsten Bellah's pastries (the honey-dipped doughnut holes are bellissima) or the Giancarlo, No!, a refreshing reviver of gin, Aperol, grapefruit, and soda.
Copyright © 2019 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.