Picture perfect

These 7 artful Austin brunches are the picture perfect start to the West Austin Studio Tour

These 7 artful Austin brunches are the picture perfect start to WEST

Forthright brunch
Fuel up for gallery hopping at downtown's Forthright. Forthright/ Facebook

Culturally minded people that we are, one of our favorite springtime activities is spending the day hopping between art studios and galleries during the West Austin Studio Tour, which runs May 12-13 and 19-20. But before we see the best of Austin's art scene, we first need to see some masterpieces on the plate. No day of art is complete without a leisurely brunch, where we can linger over a mimosa and plan our route.

These seven Austin restaurants are go-to spots for heavenly hashes and elegant eggs — and they all just happen to be near stops on WEST. They aren’t all located in West Austin (take that up with WEST organizers, who cut a wide swath through the city for their annual event), but each are an artful way to start your morning, no matter where you live.

Better Half
You spent the better part of the week selecting a shirt that says “I subscribe to Aesthetica Magazine," so you might as well go to someplace where people can see it. This West Fifth Street hot spot is the current it place to eat hash browns and down bloodies, but don’t mistake it as just a place to see and be seen. Dishes like the Greens & Grains bowl with smoked mushrooms, tamari broth, and crunchy puffed wild rice are the real deal. 

Cafe Josie
Few Austin restaurants have had the staying power of this Clarksville classic, where an all-you-can-eat brunch can be had for only $25. Choose from morning mainstays like shrimp and grits, a Benedict with smoked pork hash, and buttermilk pancakes drizzled with pecan praline syrup. Or wake up with Asian-inspired plates like cold lo mein noodles or gochujang Korean fried chicken. Either way, you can’t lose.

With a mostly white interior, this downtown retreat has the feel of a stark SoHo gallery — all the better for admiring the artful placement of pepitas on your avocado toast. The cult dish here is chicken and waffles served with maple syrup and salted caramel butter. But our inner Donald Judd appreciates the minimal splendor of the organic chia pudding: just chia seeds, fresh berries, maple syrup, and coconut milk.

The Funkadelic
The eclectic vibe at this new Sunset Valley hangout sets the right tone for a day of admiring brushstrokes. The broad menu traverses the globe, bringing international flavor through ebelskivers (Danish pancake puffs), a huevos rancheros tostada, a take on latkes with bacon and goat cheese, and pupusas with beef machada. Still, we can’t resist the dishes inspired by our own backyard, like funnel cake fritters with a side of zingy raspberry lime compote.

This haute downtown barbecue spot specializes in classy comfort, reworking all-American fare like deviled eggs, Cobb salads, and Egg in the Hole. Although all are worth consideration, none have us talking as much as the breakfast Frito pie — a visionary version topped with chopped beef, queso, chèvre, pico de gallo, and a perfectly poached egg. Pair it with a Creole Bloody Mary to really strike lightning.

Viewing art may not burn that many calories, but anyone who has ever tried to marathon through 50 studios in one day knows you can't do WEST without a good foundation. Start brunch at this South Lamar hideaway with a Flat Track roast before carb loading with a sweet potato and goat cheese biscuit slathered with chorizo gravy. Need a protein punch? Order the nutty quinoa bowl with kale, avocado, roasted carrots, soft-boiled egg, and hummus. You’ll feel virtuous even if you do order a second mimosa.

Sure, Eggs in Purgatory may seem like the title of college art film, but this South Austin favorite's take on Middle Eastern shakshuka inspires the most glowing of critiques. The formula is tweaked with kale, parsley, and capers, plus a slice of grilled sourdough toast to soak up all the tomato sauce up. Order it with a sea buckthorn and grapefruit mimosa if you are a true brunch auteur.