Around Austin, folks are typically content to start the day with a breakfast taco or two, but some days call for more substantive nourishment. Whether they've just rolled out of bed after a night rocking out to live music, or they're fresh from exercising along Ladybird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, Austinites are a brunch-loving bunch. Luckily, the city has an array of brunches worth lingering over—some old classics that have been around for decades, and some that have come with the city’s more recent expansion. You'll find all the flavors the city is known for: Tex-Mex, barbecue, home cooking and chef-driven creations, including some inventive takes on comfort-food classics. Heck, if you hit the right brunch buffet, you can put them all on the same plate. So take your time. People watch. Have a mimosa or Bloody Mary. And, above all, enjoy Austin at its laid-back best. Here are five of my favorite places to enjoy the week's best meal.
The most famous dish here is called SOS 2014, after the military slang for "Stew on a Shingle." (At least that's the polite version.) But at Olivia, steak tips, gravy, and eggs on toast become amazing. Other standouts: biscuits and gravy, and fried chicken dotted with jalapenos. Pomegranate-juice mimosas are the perfect counterpoint to all that richness. (Reservations recommended.)
Fonda San Miguel
A perennial brunch favorite in Austin since 1975, Fonda San Miguel has an atmosphere of colorful, old-school elegance and a generously laden buffet. But I'd still go if the walls were drab and there was no food other than the velvety, addictive corn pudding, which induces the sweetest of dreams in post-brunch naps. (Reservations recommended.)
Every Sunday, this barbecue restaurant and live music venue serves up its Gospel Brunch at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. seatings of spirit . The singers are the real deal, and the ample buffet features both barbecue and breakfast fixings. And can I get an “amen” for the make-your-own-Bloody Mary bar? (Reservations recommended.)
Speaking of Bloodys (a subject almost as dear to my heart as gravy), at Frank they come garnished with a big slice of bacon. The full Sunday brunch menu—including chicken and waffles and chicken-fried wild boar—is served till 3 p.m. “Brunch for Drunks,” with a limited menu, continues until 5.
South Congress Café
You're on vacation—you can brunch on Tuesday if you want to! And if you do, South Congress Café is always there. Consistent and popular since 2003, this spot is good any time of day, but gets special credit for not trying to limit the magic of brunch to weekends.