A'Bouzy | Becca Wright
Food & Drink

The Best Brunches in Houston Right Now

Updated On 02/15/2018 at 04:53PM EST
Hugo's

Hugo's & Caracol & Xochi

Montrose/Galleria/Downtown

Extravagant Sunday spreads showing off the flavors of Mexico
On Sundays, Hugo Ortega’s trifecta of heavy-hitters offers up insanely good interior Mexican (Hugo’s), coastal Mexican (Caracol) and Oaxacan (Xochi) brunch buffets that are worth every single one of the 3,000+ pennies you spent on it. Sure, you could go Saturday and order a la carte, but then you couldn’t refill your plate with all the ceviches, chilaquiles, rellenos, tamales, crudos, camarones, carnitas, tres leches, and churros that you possibly can before your pants spontaneously combust.

Max's Wine Dive

Montrose/Washington

Best for fried chicken with a side of Champagne
It's hard to say no to the question "Want some fried chicken and Champagne?" Thankfully, MWD has two locations at which you can say yes. If you’re all about chicken, get it in a honey-butter Benedict, atop jalapeño buttermilk waffles, or in a salad with applewood-smoked bacon and Champagne dressing. Max’s also makes what may be the best fried egg sandwich in town: a colossal creation of three fried eggs, bacon, a blend of Parmesan, Gruyère, provolone, and white Cheddar cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and black truffle aioli on buttery griddled sourdough bread. Get it with a side of chicken thigh.

Weights and Measures

Weights and Measures

Midtown

Because breakfast pizza is never not a good idea
Excellent locally roasted coffee & espresso + full bar + in-house bake lab = the best brunch of your life. Bring your late-morning A game to this cool-kids spot, lest you want to be in the back of someone's Snapchat looking like Gollum while you smash things like house-smoked salmon & truffled eggs, fried chicken & cake donuts, and cracked egg pizza.

Backstreet Cafe

River Oaks

Third Coast-style brunch with a charming backdrop
An advance reservation is an advisable (if not required) move for this bistro and garden. The offerings include morning items like killer migas and brioche French toast, plus more lunch appropriate things like wood-grilled local shrimp & grits and short rib risotto. Go for a dish off the seasonal menu, a pan of fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits to share, and a couple of expertly crafted cocktails to “cure” your hangover.

Courtesy of Shannon O’Hara

Brennan's

Midtown

An extravagant brunch with New Orleans swag
There are times when brunch calls for cheap Champagne and literally anything that includes bacon, and then there are times when brunch calls for a ballin’ three-course feast that makes you feel like you own an oil company. That’s where this jazzy (no, for real, there’s a jazz band) NOLA classic comes in. But you don’t have to own an actual oil company to afford it. Seasonal riffs on creole dishes commingle with Southern staples like eggs Brennan, shrimp & grits, and whiskey-lacquered quail, all of which you’ll want to pair with Marys, punches, and fizzes. If you have a few extra monies to get rid of, add on the crazy seafood tower; then invite us next time.

Beaver's

Beaver's

Galleria

Put on your most comfortable pants with elastic waistbands
When you need something completely gluttonous to rock you out of last night’s poor life choices, this super-cool icehouse is where you go. The Squealin’ Mary -- made with bacon-infused vodka, a bacon sugar-salt rim, and candied bacon accoutrement -- is a damn good place to start. So do that, then get into the seriously excellent mix of brunchy and non-brunchy eats, like the house chorizo & cheddar-stuffed poppers, BBQ brisket breakfast burritos, seafood mac, duck pastrami Reubens, and a bunch of other equally enticing stuff.

Down House

Heights

A neighborhood go-to with a spot-on Bloody Mary
This cozy neighborhood spot is the kind of place where you can bring your girlfriend or your grandma... that is, if your grandma likes crushing Bloody Marys with beer and burgers with duck eggs & kimchi. OK, maybe just bring your girlfriend here.

Julie Soefer Photography

State of Grace

River Oaks

Best for Southern eats and all the oysters you can eat
When you can order a brunch based entirely off starters, you can consider the place a win. Ford Fry’s globally and coastally inspired modern lodge is just that. Assuming you have friends, bring some so you can split warm sticky buns, country ham deviled eggs, and grilled Gulf oysters. The main event runs the gamut, from huevos divorciados to a gorgeous Dutch baby pancake baked in the hearth. Some “rodeo” milk punch and an expertly prepared house Bloody Mary ensure you finish the meal out like the rock star you are.

Phaedra Cook

Kitchen 713

Washington

Big brunch classics get a global smooch
It’s all about Southern comfort at this soul food kitchen... with a global smooch, of course. After shuttering its East End location, Kitchen 713 moved into a bigger and better space, and got a liquor license. Hit Saturday and Sunday brunch for house-cured salmon hoe cakes kissed with za'atar, Thai jewel omelets, and fried chicken & biscuits with a side of eye-opening beverages, like the charred grapefruit paloma or a fig and bacon-infused bourbon number.

Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors

Highland Village

Best for coffee talks and Instagram tablescapes
If you want a cozy brunch where you can enjoy a conversation and coffee, put this Adair family neophyte on your radar. It sits right between two shopping meccas, Highland Village and River Oaks District, making it perfect for a mid-afternoon break. Get smothered biscuits & gravy, smoked salmon and avocado toast, or “brunch up” a burger with bacon, eggs, and Hollandaise. Then tack on mimosas by the pitcher or hit the fully loaded Bloody Mary cart.

Field & Tides

Field & Tides

Heights

As it turns out, surf and turf works at brunch, too
F.E.E.D. TX and Liberty Kitchen alum Travis Lenig debuted his own concept to great fanfare. Start with a Corpse Reviver or mimosa tasting flight while you dig into seasonal, locally sourced meals that are as fresh as they are downright satisfying. We’re talking sloppy sandwiches, burgers with belly bacon, buttermilk biscuit stacks, and pimento cheese fritters. Oh yeah, we said fresh... there’s stuff like local greens and roasted beets, too.

Ashley Davis Photography

Snooze, an AM Eatery

Montrose

Best brunch for inducing a pancake coma
With one location in Montrose and a few more planned, this Denver-born chain is taking Houston by storm. Despite being open since the summer of 2016, the Montrose location has an out-the-door line week-after-week -- but at least there’s free Boomtown coffee while you wait. Locals flock for cheap pancake flights and hollandaise-coated everything, from eggs Benny to corned beef hash. Drinks are equally as enticing, with morning concoctions like the Bangkok Bloody Mary (with Sriracha and fish sauce) and the Snoozed Fashioned (a coffee and whiskey mix). The best part? You can unofficially “brunch” seven days a week.

Becca Wright

a'Bouzy

Montrose

Best brunch for bubbles and people-watching
With a trendy crowd and a Champagne-fueled concept, a’Bouzy is a no-brainer when it comes to weekend brunch plans. For starters, there’s the expansive 250+ list of bubbles, with prices from $12 to over $2,000. Then there are the amazing plates to go alongside -- think duck fat pomme frites and eggs, deconstructed bouillabaisse, and fried chicken and waffles in which the drumsticks get marinated in a mixture of buttermilk and, you guessed it, Champagne.

Jenn Duncan Photography

Better Luck Tomorrow

Heights

An under-the-radar brunch experience with crazy good cocktails
BLT may be known for its craft cocktail prowess (it’s a Bobby Heugel spot, after all), but the neighborhood hangout also boasts a completely underrated weekend brunch. The venerable Justin Yu is one of the mind’s behind the food, offering playful takes on comfort foods from custard french toast with Angostura creme fraiche to cheesy, gravy-laden hangover-curing hash browns. Pair the dishes with hot buttered rum or a refreshing tomatillo bloody; or take advantage of the break-even wine program (Sundays only), when 3-ounce pours of a high-end, exclusive bottle are available at cost.

Ralph Smith Photography

The Pass & Provisions

Montrose

Best place for a Saturday and Sunday brunch (finally)
Now that The Pass & Provisions has finally agreed to open up its doors to the masses on Sundays, the dual-concept stunner can finally join the ranks of this list. Brunch is at Provisions of course -- the more casual half of the trendy space -- and it comes in hot with a seasonally refreshed menu and fresh juice cocktails. Start with a beer-backed P&P Bloody Mary infused with black garlic and yuzu kosho, a noble companion to your six-pack of oysters, and continue the friendship with plates like sausage biscuits & gravy, bubbly smoked butternut squash pizza, or mustard Bearnaise-drizzled short rib hash. And before you clean your entire plate, know that there is a Mexican chocolate cinnamon roll for dessert, which you should 100% make room for.

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Houston's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
H ouston’s had a rough year. But that’s not to say we haven’t banded together and shown the world what it means to be #HoustonStrong AND brought home our first World Series title in the process -- shout-out to Altuve! And while we’ve fared through the hardships, there were plenty of phenomenal things happening in background, especially in the culinary world. More specifically, the return of an old favorite, a hot concept from a Top Chef, and one restaurant that will be changing faces every year. Here are the Houston hot spots you’ll want to be eating at going into 2018.
Mauro Luna

Field & Tides

Heights

Gulf Coast fare paired with delicious cocktails and a yard to hang in
This 11th Street newcomer from chef Travis Lenig (formerly of Liberty Kitchen) plays to the tastes of the Third Coast, with both by-land and by-sea offerings in a warm and cozy setting. The space is small, so you may encounter a slight wait on busy nights; but fear not, there’s a yard and cocktails to keep you occupied. When you’re ready, you’ll want to start with a few appetizers -- pimento cheese fritters and sambal-glazed fish collars -- before moving onto the big guns, like confit duck leg with dreamy corn pudding and caramelized scallops over flawless shrimp and crab risotto. Brunch fans will also want to revive themselves with zippy house Bloodys and slow-roasted pork and pancake stacks on weekends.

Aqui

Montrose

A Top Chef alum brings reenergized Asian food to Houston
Top Chef and JBA winner Paul Qui’s first Houston project arrived to quite a buzz this summer, for good reason. Though the striking roof and high-ceilinged space gives off a bare yet tranquil vibe, the food is anything but, with bold, bright flavors dreamed up by Qui and chef de cuisine Gabriel Medina (a hometown hero known for stints at Kata Robata and Soma Sushi). Travel to Southeast Asia via kamayan or “hand-to-mouth” bites like the Singapore hot chili crab and fried bao. Order yourself a few “perfect bites” -- literally bite-sized puffs, cakes, dumplings, and toasts made for one, and/or bring some friends to share tom yam noodles, grilled octopus adobo, and the star of the evening: a succulent, crispy skin lechón served with Filipino pork liver sauce.

Kimberly Park

Killen's STQ

Galleria

A meats expert adds seafood to the lineup and will make you re-think that steak
Smoke and steak combine at this relaxed space from acclaimed local chef Ronnie Killen, which took over the former Bramble space near the end of 2016. Earlier this year, Killen tapped Graham Laborde (previously of Bernadine’s) as operations chef for all Killen’s restaurants, which added some serious seafood savvy to the barbecue and steak focused kitchen. Book your reservations in advance and gear up for a meal that will no doubt loosen your belt a few notches... but you know, in a classy way. We’re talking pecan-smoked pork belly glistening in habanero-cherry sauce; Creole shrimp over grits cake; the choicest wood-fired rib-eye and NY strip; and the pièce de résistance, a silky/smoky bacon tres leches bread pudding.

Kitchen 713

Washington

A reopened soul food joint is back and better than ever
Once a tiny, bare bones restaurant housed in EaDo, Kitchen 713 closed in 2016 to find new digs (and get a liquor license). At the turn of the year, it emerged bigger, better (it got that license), and somehow, even more satisfying. It’s all about pure, unadulterated soul food, here... though you’ll find way more than just one the city’s best takes on shrimp & grits. Chef and co-owners Ross Coleman and James Haywood take inspiration from around the globe, bringing their take on soul food to the highest level. Dig in to fiery and smoky Caribbean jerk ribs, catfish tikka masala that’s at once light and rich, and a stupendous New York strip. Also, since this is the South, weekend brunch means fried chicken, mac & cheese, and biscuits, obviously.

Julie Soefer Photography

One Fifth Houston

Montrose

For five years, this restaurant will change its concept every year. Go now.
From Underbelly chef-owner and champion of all things Houston, Chris Shepherd, this concept is literally changing up its game once a year for five years. First up was One Fifth Steak, which gained fans aplenty under the careful direction of the incredibly talented chef de cuisine Nick Fine. Now, Shepherd, Fine and Co. have turned their attentions toward love languages and the cuisines that represent them. One Fifth Romance pleases with dishes that can probably make anyone fall in love -- mussels escabeche, duck heart Bolognese, truffle chicken roulade, and orange-anise croquembouche. Just don’t forget to make your reservations now, as the tides will turn once again in August and September.

Ohn Korean Eatery

Chinatown

An Asiatown legend opens the neighborhood’s hottest new spot
Mike Tran has quietly been taking over Asiatown, winning over locals with favorites like Mein, Tiger Den, and the newly revamped Night Market. The same attention has been paid to what just may be his coolest venture, Ohn. This time, a clubby K-Town vibe adds sex appeal, while the kitchen dishes out shareable plates that are downright addicting as hell. Sip late-night soju straight from a watermelon keg and complement it with kimchi fried rice, jeyuk bokkeum (spicy pork stir-fry), sweet and hot twice-fried Korean chicken, and corn cheese -- a cheesy riff on creamed corn that is an absolute must for the table.

Jennifer Caswell

Oxbow 7

Downtown

Elevated bayou food in an unexpected location
Gulf Coast chef Bryan Caswell already had seafood (Reef), barbecue (Jackson Street BBQ), and Tex-Mex (El Real) under his restaurant umbrella. And now, along with his wife, Jennifer, he has a modern concept in Downtown’s Le Meridian -- one that vows to change what you think you know about bayou fare. Refined techniques and touches enhance what the kitchen describes as “elevated bayou cuisine” -- East Texas caviar service with house potato chips, creme fraiche and ghost pepper caviar; crispy duck egg with duck confit and basil oil; and even Caswell’s take on bun rieu, a traditional Vietnamese crab stew that gets poured tableside. Aside from elevated small plates, the restaurant also plays to the hotel crowd with double cheeseburgers and build-your-own breakfasts.

Potente

Potente

Downtown

The only Italian steakhouse you’ll need to know in Houston
With a piping hot location across from Minute Maid Park, this highly-anticipated concept from Astros owner Jim Crane hit a grand slam (!) when it nabbed chef Danny Trace (of Brennan’s fame) to helm the kitchen this spring. Potente oozes sophistication, with a dark and luxe interior that evokes a modern villa, top-notch service and superb wines, and high-end Italian steakhouse fare that pays respect to local ingredients. Dine on a beautiful branzino hit with burgundy grapes and romanesco; impossibly silky burrata caprese, dressed up with things like confit cherry tomato and smoked sea salt; and cacio e pepe upped with black truffles shaved tableside.

Mark C Austin

Riel

Montrose

Southern food from a Canadian chef and a constantly changing menu
All hail Manitoba-born chef Ryan Lachaine (Underbelly, Reef), who fires off worldly dishes straight from Riel’s showstopping open kitchen. Said dishes offer some familiar tastes from our French Canadian neighbors, like the artful Montreal smoked meat and rye, and sticky toffee pudding with foie gras torchon. That said, the ever-changing menu is just as likely to feature influences from Houston’s culinary melting pot, from Vietnamese fried oysters and Gulf redfish karaage (with its tail intact), to a beautiful corn gnocchi dusted with cilantro, lime, and cotija fondue.

Jenn Duncan Photography

Theodore Rex

Warehouse District

Simple but spectacular plates with a menu that will change due to chef’s “boredom”
In a shock felt around the city, 2017 brought the closure of our beloved Oxheart, a year after chef Justin Yu won James Beard’s Best Chef Southwest for his highly revered veggie-centric tasting menu. But it wasn’t always Yu’s plans to be confined by tastings, so he shut down his spot inside the historic Erie City Iron Works building and re-birthed it entirely. With a new, playful look, new chef de cuisine (Jason White) and new a la carte menu, Theodore Rex sets the tone for a new kind of dining -- one that mesmerizes with simple plates of pan con tomate and farm potatoes dripped in chicken in the same way as it does with mains like collards-steamed grouper and Texas wagyu with fermented radish. Note: The menu will change often due to “availability, quality, and boredom,” so come expecting the unexpected.

Xochi

Xochi

Downtown

A hometown hero is dishing out Oaxacan cuisine after winning his first James Beard award
With a James Beard Award under his belt, chef Hugo Ortega is storming out of the gates. That’s thanks in part to the deserving chef’s latest concept, the sleek Oaxacan paradise set on the ground level of the gorgeous Marriott Marquis (the one with the Texas-shaped lazy river). Equally as gorgeous are Xochi’s impeccably composed plates -- a showstopping labyrinth of moles, from the deep and earthy to the smooth and mellow; house-made masa preparations showcasing endless varieties of corn and topped off with wood-roasted octopus, roasted pork rib, and chorizo ismeño, and impossibly good homemade chocolate desserts from Hugo’s pastry chef (and brother), Ruben. Drinks come from the masterful Sean Beck, who’s built a thoughtful library of agave-focused cocktails and interesting wines to pair with it all.

Morris Malakoff

Yauatcha

Galleria

Upscale dim sum that’ll have you prying your friends off the couch every Sunday
It’s fitting that this Michelin-starred London import is housed in the Galleria’s luxury "jewel box" building. Every plate coming out of the kitchen is a gem, both in a breathtaking, aesthetic way and a more figurative “give me that now!” way. This is not your typical Chinese dim sum teahouse -- Yauatcha offers a more contemporary tasting experience, and although that comes with an uptick in price, we’re guessing you’ll find shelling out the extra cash totally acceptable. Bring friends and sip tea while ogling over the restaurant’s delicate and artful preparations, from crispy duck rolls and scallop shui mai with tobiko caviar, to seasonal chocolates and patisserie.