I recently read an article on another web site that is quite fond of labeling every list they do of the best of this and that with the word ESSENTIAL. The topic was Sunday brunch and I was amazed at the places that they deemed to apparently be nonessential.
So here’s my list, compiled with great affection, by a food writer with 15 years of Austin dining experience.
I have never dined at a restaurant that offers as consistently excellent an array of great dishes than Trio at the Four Seasons Hotel. Despite a high price point it is always packed because it’s so damned good. The nigiri sushi and the plump boiled shrimp and crab with cocktail sauce are great places to start. There are usually fresh baked mini blueberry and oat bran muffins that are delicious.
Salads abound and I particularly love the pasta version.
The Eggs Benedict are always splendid, the omelet station spot on and there are a variety of delightful entrees. Of course Mimosas are in ample supply. Now this is a brunch that’s “essential”.
2. Cafe Blue.
Chef Ben Nathan and his gang in the kitchen have ramped this spot at the Galleria to essential status.
The crowing achievement of the Cafe Blue brunch is the Lobster Eggs Benedict. Big chunks of Maine Lobster tail float in the the hollandaise sauce and the taste is ethereal.
The Bananas Foster French Toast is another one that’s difficult to pass on. And we certainly don’t want to ignore the Cajun Shrimp and Crawfish Omelet either. All so good.
When Tom Gililand and Miguel Rovago first opened the doors of this place back in the 70’s they instantly revolutionized Mexican cuisine in Austin.
The brilliance of Chef Rovago was apparent in every unique dish: coastal, interior, Mayan and things way beyond Tex Mex.
Then they opened a Sunday brunch and it still absolutely kicks ass. To this day it is the best Mexican brunch in the city. The Huraches and the Toro de Bontanas are just some of the must-try items. Book early!
4. Chez Zee
The weekend brunches at Sharon Watkins stellar restaurant off 2222 are legendary.
The Migas, covered with a delicious Queso, are irresistible. The Aztec Corn Chowder may be one of my favorite soups in the city. And the Creme Brûlée French Toast may be the largest star on the firmament.
Oh and did I mention the Buttermilk Pancakes?
While Chez Zee may be a lynchpin for the proverbial ladies who lunch it is much more than that.
Everything at this amazing restaurant is calorically challenged. Not a place for dieters. That being said, when it comes to flat out delicious grub, Gordough’s is hard to beat.
The Big Cheez blows me away. Imagine fresh Mozzarella cheese wrapped in donut dough and deep fried. Add some butter and cilantro buttermilk dressing. Amazing.
Or perhaps the Count Gordough Cristo which is another yearly indulgence I allow myself. Turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, onions and roasted red peppers wrapped in donut dough and again, deep fried. Elvis would have loved Gordough’s.
And then the Dirty South which features chicken fried steak, a potato pancake and cream gravy atop, of course, a gigantic donut.
Gordough’s is as creative as they come and a perfect spot for a weekend brunch.
6. Dai Due
While not technically a brunch, they serve up a delicious melange of breakfast and lunch items on Sunday till 3pm. Good enough for me!
Start with the amazing Dai Due breakfast which consists of brown rice, onions, green beans, roasted peppers,okra, zucchini and kimchi topped with a once-over egg. Absolutely delicious. Also the Sourdough Pancake with macerated peaches, Mexican cinnamon bacon butter, and because this is Austin, some more bacon! And again, it’s delicious.
Dai Due deserves every accolade it’s received. See if you don’t agree.
7. Wu Chow
For me, nothing works for Sunday brunch better than a good dim sum. C.K. Chin and Stuart Tomajan have a great one downtown at Wu Chow.
My first bite at Wu Chow was the Scallion Cake. When made well this Chinese tradition is a delicate purveyor of taste and texture.
The Shanghai Soup Dumplings simply cannot be missed. Nor can the Tenderbelly Pork and Shrimp Shumai. The flavors here are rich and nuanced, as a good Shumai should yield.
And the Shrimp and Leek Cakes are equally hard to turn down. In fact most of the carts that pass your table at Wu Chow’s dim sum weekends should be stopped and the wares sampled. It’s that good.
Aside from rapidly conquering the world of comfort food in Austin and Round Rock, Jack Gillmore and company have also managed to put on a great brunch based on the same comfort theme.
The buffet offers chicken fried pork tenderloin, seriously good Jalapeño sausage, a wonderful dish called Mama’s Sunday Chicken, green chile pork and eggs along with eggs as you like them and tasty little dollar pancakes that can be ordered from the kitchen.
The brunch at JAK runs until 2pm on Sunday. Last time I was there I sat across from Paul Qui. Nuff said.
While it has a Saturday brunch I would list Olamaie if it had a Tuesday brunch. The food is amazing with their modern spin on the old South and chef Michael is a wizard. Kim’s White Button Mushrooms and the Country Fried Corn Bread are two of the most incredible dishes I’ve ever tried.
10. Hoover’s Cooking
Have you ever tried a Hoe Cake? It derives from the pre Civil War south when field hands literally made corn meal cakes and fried them on the side of hoes normally used to till the soil.
The Hoe Cake at Hoover Alexander’s Sunday brunch may be the closest thing to perfect in this city that I’ve ever tasted. It is simply a work of art and yes, love.
And the rest of the dishes ain’t half bad either. His homemade beef sausage rocks. And so does he!