Buttermilk pancakes. Biscuits and gravy. Eggs Benedict. Bloody Marys. Every weekend, Austin diners shake off their bedroom comforters, flock to neighborhood eateries, and indulge in decadent mid-day brunches. Unlike your typical weekday breakfasts comprised of bland oatmeal, plain egg scrambles and store-bought cereal bars, brunch is a delicious, drawn-out affair.
Places like Kerbey Lane Cafe, Fonda San Miguel, Chez Zee, Magnolia Café and Juan in a Million have earned cult-like followings for their delicious brunch offerings, but in recent months a handful of Austin restaurants have unveiled exciting, new brunch menus that rival these longtime favorites.
Whether it’s reinterpreting breakfast classics, showcasing creative ingredients or crafting tantalizing dishes, these five restaurants are shaking things up in the Austin brunch scene.
Why it's worth trying: In case you've forgotten, which you probably haven't, Asian-centric cuisine from restaurants like Sway, East Side King at Hole in the Wall, Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Lucky Robot have produced some of the most talked about bites around town. And if you don't jump at the chance to try a Japanese-inspired brunch, you seriously need to upgrade your palate.
What to eat: Nomnomiyaki or Lucky Cakes
Our Tokyo brunch menu proved to be one of the more challenging pieces for us. Traditional Japanese breakfast involves a lot of fermented soy paste, raw salmon and buckwheat noodles. Not exactly how the average Austinite wants to spend their weekend morning!
On the brunch menu, I started with the nomnomiyaki. Savory and spicy, this grilled Japanese street food staple has braised pork belly cooked inside it, two over-easy eggs, sliced avocado on top and is drizzled with Sriracha, tonkatsu sauce and spicy mayo. It's the bomb, and something you can't find anywhere else.
Another big win for us has been the lucky cakes. Through some creative culinary magic, I was able to give these pancakes that tanginess and elasticity of traditional Asian steamed buns, but with the sweetness and density of good ol' 'I'm gonna go home and take a nap' pancakes. To balance out the sweetness, a scoop of savory matcha green tea whipped cream is served on the side. – Mason Evans, Executive Chef of Lucky Robot.
Why it's worth trying: The Peached Tortilla is one of the city's most respected mobile food concepts, and just a month ago, the Asian-fusion eatery started serving brunch during the weekend at farmers markets around town. Eric Silverstein, owner of The Peached Tortilla, is known for executing unique menu items like Japanese-style burgers, and his new breakfast additions are yet another accomplishment of his.
What to eat: Bacon Jam, Egg & Cheese Sliders or Brisket & Jam Grilled Cheese
When you bite into the bacon jam, egg and cheese slider, it tastes like you are eating an entire meal. You get the salty sweetness of the bacon jam, the yolkiness of the fried egg and the melted cheese all in one bite. It's perfect as a Sunday brunch street food. I am obsessed with bacon jam and think it goes well with anything; however, I believe it plays best with brunch or breakfast items.
We have also gotten into jams as of late, and the brisket and jam grilled cheese pairs our slow cooked brisket with our house-made onion jam. The item has been a hit with both the late night and brunch crowd. This is a real comfort food for our patrons. I think grilled cheese sandwiches invoke childhood memories; this, however, is definitely a more grown up, sophisticated grilled cheese sandwich. – Eric Silverstein, owner of The Peached Tortilla.
Why it's worth trying: The brunch menu at Swift's Attic reads like something you'd order at the Mad Hatter tea party: Antelope steak frites & eggs? Foie gras PB&J pancakes? The breakfast dishes have no inhibition, and that's what makes Swift's Attic's brunch menu stand out amongst the rest.
What to eat: Foie Gras with PB&J Pancakes or Seared Diver Scallops
The foie gras with pb&j pancakes is a dish we've been playing around with since before we opened, and it just never really had a home until brunch came along. It's ridiculously decadent with peanut butter pancakes, house-cured bacon, blueberry preserves and Vermont maple syrup. It reminds me of the time I spent in culinary school in Vermont.
Another dish I really like is the seared diver scallops with toad in a hole and bacon mornay, yet another very rich dish that's perfect for anybody looking to drown a hangover. – Matt Clouser, executive chef of Swift's Attic.
Why it's worth trying: Austin has its fair share of international restaurants around town, but I couldn't point to one Russian restaurant worth trying until The Russian House opened last year. The restaurant's new buffet brunch is decadent and extensive, featuring an array of Russian breakfast staples.
What to eat: Syrniki or Khash Soup
I'd recommend the syrniki, which are sweet, fried quark pancakes made with fresh cottage cheese, kneaded into a dough with flour and served with jam, condensed milk and sour cream. These are so good, light, filling and perfect for a late breakfast.
I'd also recommend the khash soup. Yes, it does sound pretty weird to serve hot, garlicy soup in the morning, but khash is a breakfast soup. It's cooked by boiling bovine shanks for hours until the tendon falls off the bones and the water becomes a thick broth. It's the best for hangovers, and it's 100 percent compulsory to have with vodka. – Varda Salkey, co-owner of The Russian House.
Why it's worth trying: One word: Beignets!
What to eat: Seared Duck or Cured Salmon
Our brunch is definitely New Orleans-inspired with beignets, eggs Benedict and seared duck and grits. The seared duck, accompanied by Anson Mills grits, jus and green onion, is one of my favorites. It is a Louisiana dish I've been eating my whole life. My dad makes wild duck and grits every Christmas. All the boys go out early Christmas morning for the duck hunt and come back to make breakfast. It's typically accompanied with bourbon milk punch and champagne.
For our dish at Épicerie, we use Muscovy Duck, which is much more tender and less gamey. My other favorite brunch dish is the cured salmon. We get fresh salmon every Thursday and cure it for thirty-six hours with salt, sugar, dill and lemon. To plate it, we slice it thin and serve it with house-made English muffins. It is accompanied by all the traditional sides: capers, egg, onion and cream cheese. It's clean, light, delicious and pairs well with a mimosa or white wine. – Sarah McIntosh, owner/chef of Épicerie Café & Grocery.