Houston 2020: Today’s Best Brunches

houston-2020-todays-best-brunches
Photo courtesy of Eunice Restaurant

It’s 2020, y’all. As we embark on this new decade, take a look at some of Houston’s “bests” today. Enter Houston 2020, a new series highlighting 20 local things and places that are at the top of their “A” game, helping to define the city at this very moment. The listings aren’t ranked, and in some cases, will be broken down by category.

Brunching is a way of life here in Houston, so it’s a good thing we have so many incredible brunch options to choose from. 2020’s best includes old-school institutions with charming atmospheres, boozy brunch spots where the Champagne flows and the people-watching is on point, and modern neighborhood cafes that are downright delicious. These are the best of the best brunch offerings in Houston today.

Look out for future listings, from Today’s Best Breweries and Date Nights to the Best Performing Arts Companies.

Houston 2020: Today’s Best Brunches

Most Charming Brunch Atmospheres

  • Backstreet Cafe in River Oaks – Set in a creaky house and rocking things like a picturesque courtyard and the occasional live jazz, this elegant Houston institution (under the direction of award-winning chef and local hero Hugo Ortega) has no shortage of charm. Starters like fresh-from-the-oven orange chocolate brioche buns and pillowy buttermilk biscuits (plus some eye-opening morning cocktails) set the tone for a great meal, while brunch entrees offer a range of tastes, with Southern, Gulf, Creole, and Mexican influences. Enjoy shrimp and stoneground grits, skirt steak and eggs, bucatini with spicy crab, and smoked chicken & potato hash.
  • Field & Tides in the Heights – Chef Travis Lenig works his magic by both land and sea at this cozy neighborhood spot, which rocks a farmhouse-style bistro and quaint side patio. Head here to sip Juleps and Bloody Marias and dine on everything from braised octopus and pimento cheese fritters to pork belly hash and chocolate chunk French toast.
  • Lucille’s in the Museum District – At his charming neighborhood haunt, Chef Chris Williams pays homage to his great grandmother, Lucille, via Southern staples with modern riffs. Hit the live jazz brunch to dig into fried green tomatoes, hot cake stacks & wings, oxtail omelets, and fried catfish & grits; and eat out on the shaded patio area on nicer days.

Best Boozy Brunches

  • a’Bouzy in River Oaks – Join the “in” crowd at this chic, bubbly-fueled party spot, which is perfect for both bottle popping and people watching. Here, you’ll pair your Champs with sophisticated brunch plates, starting with shareables like the morning pastries basket, duck fat pommes frites & eggs, and “croissant service”, as well as heirloom tomato galette, braised pork hash, and stuffed salmon with shrimp risotto.
  • BCK in the Heights – This offshoot of Bosscat Kitchen & Libations (another worthy brunch contender that sits over in Highland Village) offers over-the-top, playful takes on nostalgic eats. Dig into Bananas Foster French Toast with toasted marshmallow fluff, Frito Pie Scrambles and the chorizo “Sloppy José”, and ham, egg & cheese Breakfast Sammies; and wash it all down with flamin’ hot Marys and build-your-own mimosas.
  • Max’s Wine Dive in Montrose and Washington – It’s all about fried chicken and Champagne at this wine dive and gastropub. Sip some Champagne (or build your own mimosas) and get your bird in the form of jalapeño-buttermilk wings & waffles, honey butter chicken biscuits, fried chicken & Champagne cobb salad, or Southern fried chicken plates with home fries, collards, and Texas toast. You’ll also find bigger-than-your-head plates like the R.V.P. (that’s red velvet pancakes with lemon cream cheese frosting) and the Chicken Fried N.Y. Steak.
  • Weights + Measures in Midtown – Don’t be surprised when you find a packed house at this part-restaurant, part-bakery every weekend; locals know a good thing when they taste it. Start with brunch cocktails like the peach Bellini or fiery Michelada, then hit the spot with things like spiced apple pancakes, housemade “doughknots,” salmon cake Benedict, and brioche French toast with fried chicken. Looking to share? Try pizzas like the Morning Cracked Egg with pancetta or the unexpectedly delicious Roasted Carrot.

Best Neighborhood Brunch Spots

  • The Classic on Washington – Brunch starts with matzo ball soup and pelmeni dumplings at this modish all-day diner, which sits perched on the eastern edge of Memorial Park. If you’re feeling something sweet, try the challah French toast or Johnny cake with whipped cream and berries. Savory numbers include butcher’s cut steak & eggs, blackened local catch, huevos rancheros with barbacoa, and a spicy chicken sandwich. Enjoy it along with yuzu mimosas, smoked Tabasco bloodys, and nitro cold brews.
  • Indianola in EaDo – From Agricole Hospitality (the minds behind gems including the Heights’ Coltivare and Revival Market, Montrose’s Night Heron, and EaDo’s Vinny’s and Miss Carousel) comes this refreshing modern-American eatery, which offers globally-inspired plates, a killer spicy Bloody Mary, and kids menu, to boot. At brunch, dine on Moroccan sticky buns, crispy duck rice, pupusa eggs benny, and morning plates with all the fixin’s—buttermilk pancakes, fried eggs, Fatback bacon, turkey sausage and potato hash, charred onion and tomato relish, cultured butter, and maple syrup for drizzling.
  • Superica in the Heights – Hit this contemporary Tejano spot to quench your morning thirst with micheladas or horchata and naranja agua frescas, then get your Tex-Mex fix with plates from red chile chilaquiles or chili gravy-smothered tamales and eggs to wood-grilled skirt steak with eggs sunny-side and triple-stack hotcakes with whipped butter and buttermilk syrup (pro tip: add some smoked Tejano sausage, too).
  • Squable in the Heights – One of Houston’s hottest newcomers of 2019 got even hotter when it began offering Sunday brunch. Squable comes from industry vets Bobby Heugel (Anvil) and Justin Yu (Theodore Rex), with Mark Clayton and Drew Gimma being the genius behind the kitchen. Definitely start with some house bread (in the form of pistachio buns, chicken fat biscuits and more) before moving on to delightful things like homemade yogurt, soft scrambles with caviar and crème fraiche, confit egg yolk carbonara, and disco fries with cheddar, pickles, and chicken drippings. Burger enthusiasts won’t want to miss “lè brunch burger,” in which its famous raclette-smothered French cheeseburger gets the addition of lardons, egg, and dijonaise.

Most Unique Brunch Experiences

  • Hugo’s in Montrose – Dining at Chef Hugo Ortega’s namesake restaurant is a Houston rite of passage, and while it’s excellent all the time, the Sunday brunch buffet is pure pleasure. That’s when you’ll find a bountiful spread of Mexican eats, featuring classics like ceviche, carnitas, chilaquiles, lechon, chile relleno, and tamales, plus an indulgent dessert buffet (Saturday offers a la carte brunch options as well). Pull off the Brunch Triple Crown and hit the Sunday buffet at sibling establishments Xochi (Downtown) and Caracol (Galleria), too.
  • Fung’s Kitchen in Chinatown – Weekend brunch is dim sum-style at this cult favorite Chinese restaurant. You’ll have to be ready to wait in a line to even enter the parking lot, but once you score your spot inside Fung’s colossal dining room, you’ll be treated to a steady stream of Hong Kong-style eats from roaming carts—steamed dumplings and buns plump with shrimp, pork, red bean and custard, sticky rice and crispy noodles, fried egg rolls, tofu and chicken feet, and all kinds of sweet puffs, cakes, and desserts. Fill up on your favorites, sip some tea, and fill up some more.
  • UB Preserv in Montrose – Chef de Cuisine Nick Wong helms the kitchen at this happening sequel to the late Underbelly (a Chris Shepherd-backed affair). And on Sundays, Wong’s worldly dim sum brunch draws fans near and far. Hit it to share plates of smoked boudin siu mai and boiled pork dumplings, lamb tartare with paratha, smoked brisket chow fun, and Tex-Mex favorites like beef enchiladas and queso blanco. Finish with Pastry Chef Victoria Dearmond’s stunning cà phê sữa đá carrot cake and dulce de leche pie.

Most Baller Brunch Affairs

  • Brennan’s of Houston in Midtown – Tracing its roots back to 1967, this Creole fine-dining spot is a Houston institution (and a sister restaurant to the world-famous Commander’s Palace in New Orleans). Decades later, it remains one of the best restaurants in town; in part thanks to its luxurious prix fixe brunch. Dress to impress and dine on choices such as Brennan’s classic turtle soup, Matagorda Bay wood-grilled oysters, citrus roasted duck crepe, steak and eggs with Béarnaise, and bananas foster flambéed tableside. Ramos gin fizzes and brandy milk punch make for the perfect bayou-side accompaniments.
  • Eunice in Greenway Plaza – This striking, contemporary brasserie marries European influences with Southern charm. Brunch brings wonders from shareable hearth-roasted oysters, blue crab tartine, and hand-pulled burrata with Cajun caviar, pepper jelly, and biscuits; to main acts like jumbo Gulf shrimp & green chili grits, pecan butter and banana pancakes, grilled hanger steak béarnaise, and a simply delicious cheeseburger with b&b pickles. Marry all of that with a boozy cocktail or three.          
  • State of Grace in River Oaks – You can start with deliciousness like the giant, cream cheese-frosted warm cinnamon roll, buttery biscuit with shaved ham and jam, and Texas Blue crab hushpuppies at this modern American stunner. After, you’ll move onto bigger plates from an “everything bagel” Dutch baby and carne guisada & eggs to a “clam shack-style” lobster roll or throwback “El Felix” enchilada; and drinks from the espresso-infused-rum cocktail Southern Snow to the mezcal and chile-smooched Smoking Quarter.

Best Fast-Casual Brunches

  • The Kitchen at The Dunlavy in Buffalo Bayou Park – One of the most beautiful spots to grab brunch is at this chandelier-lit glass treehouse, overlooking Lost Lake right in Buffalo Bayou Park. Take a leisurely stroll along the bayou, and refresh with herbed French omelets, smoked salmon tartine, ricotta pancakes with blueberry jus, jamon and brie baguettes, and short rib sandwiches with kitchen pickles. And lattes, smoothies, mimosas, and sangria, of course. Note: the restaurant announced plans to move to a full-service model sometime in 2020.
  • Pondicheri in Upper Kirby –You’ll want to start with the Morning Thali at this popular Indian street food spot; that’s a traditional Indian variety plate that gets packed with things like spiced lamb keema, saag, uttapam (a South Indian dosa), morning oats, fried egg, and potato cake. The fast-casual darling also boasts eats from breakfast frankies and green dosa to masala fried chicken and brioche French toast. Hit the upstairs bake lab on the way out and grab some cardamom and chai-spiced treats to take home.
  • Vibrant in Montrose – Those looking for nutritious brunch options should book it to this health-minded café. Head to the counter to order matcha lattes, cappuccinos with housemade coconut or pumpkin seed cashew milks, and eats from buckwheat pancakes and sweet potato hash to smoked salmon with morning greens and breakfast tacos on almond flour tortillas. And don’t forget to hit up the pastry case for eats like root veggie muffins and almond and buckwheat flour chocolate chip cookies with tahini.