Food & Drink

The Best Brunch in 15 Houston Neighborhoods

Published On 08/17/2016 Published On 08/17/2016
Helen Greek Food & Wine
Helen Greek Food & Wine | Shannon O’Hara/Helen Greek Food & Wine
MKT Bar

Downtown

MKT Bar

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You may be surprised to find Downtown’s hottest brunch spot inside a specialty foods store, but you shouldn’t be (because need we remind you? This is Houston). MKT Bar amps up the brunch game by carrying a four-pack of waffle options, from seasonal fruit and the classic Brussels-style to Hill Country fried chicken-accompanied numbers and black pepper-spiced waffles covered in braised lamb. House favorites like the MKT queso and warm apple baklava make for a near flawless start and finish.

EaDo

Tout Suite

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One of the best coffee programs in the city? Check. Scratch-made quiche and croissants, Vietnamese steak and eggs, and a cake made entirely out of crepes? Check, check, and ch-ch-ch-ch-check! This cool and casual hangout shines all day long, but your dining experience will go totally bonkers during lazy weekends. Bring a crew so you can do a tapas-style, mix-and-match brunch that meets the expectations of those Instagram shots you’ve been drooling over.

The Original Ninfa's

East End

The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation

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When a family-owned spot has been considered a local favorite since 1973, you know they're running the game. So you should totally go run your own game with Mama Ninfa’s Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex classics, which do Houston’s staple cuisine justice with seasonal and local ingredients and from-scratch techniques. Treat yourself to an absolute feast complete with dusky red chile pork posole, huevos rancheros, and fried Texas quail with stinky goat cheese grits. The stalwart recently hired booze expert Alba Huerta as a bar consultant, so don’t miss the cocteles to round it all out.

Galleria

Caracol

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With Hugo’s and Backstreet Cafe under their collective belt, restauranteurs Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught are no strangers to brunch. Which is why coastal Mexican sensation Caracol was a weekend destination from inception. You can go a la carte on Saturdays, but the spread on Sundays is serious enough to consider breaking open that piggy bank. You’ll need $37 (plus tax and tip and stuff) and an appetite for deliciousness. You’ll also need some phone battery so you can Snap all the cocteles and ceviches, enchiladas and empanadas, and chilaquiles and chile rellenos sprawled out before you.

Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

Liberty Kitchen

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With hangouts like Cottonwood and Petrol Station already popping off for years, the GOOF area got another big name spot with the third Houston location of F.E.E.D. TX’s Liberty Kitchen. Housed in the original Gerland’s Grocery (check out the wine fridge repurposed from the grocer’s old coolers), this one is inspired by Culinary Director Lance Fegen’s “surfer wanderlust.” Aside from rocking a massive open oyster bar, that means you’ll be getting super-fresh coastal food that makes for a super-rad brunch. Get crispy oyster deviled eggs, smoked salmon omelets, and Fegen’s take on Hawaiian poke, which you can personalize to your liking. Land lovers fear not: there’s options like bacon jam pancakes and “real cowboy” chicken & cake donuts, too.

Bernadine's

Bernadine’s

Heights

This coastal Treadsack restaurant knocks it out of the park with a roster of outside the box brunch dishes and fantastic cocktails dreamed up by tincture queen Leslie Ross. Start with sweet tea cotillions or house Bloodys with pickled shrimp, then go for the uber-luxurious I-10 seafood platter, a palette cleanser prior that will ease you right into NOLA-style BBQ shrimp toast & eggs, peanut streusel pain perdu, and crazy-good head cheese hot brown.

Dish Society | Kimberly Park/Dish Society

Katy

Dish Society

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At Dish Society, you can feel pretty fantastic about smashing fat buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken gloriously smothered in gravy. Because those biscuits are made fresh, that chicken is cage-free, and the gravy, well it’s damn-fine. The farm-to-table restaurant puts an emphasis on the farm, with a focus on locally raised meats and agriculture produced in or around Houston. If you don’t care about any of that, their brunch plates are awesome, and they have a Karbach cocktail called “Bromosa” that will make any morning spent in Katy better.

Weights + Measures | Becca Wright/Weights + Measures

Midtown

Weights + Measures

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You probably never realized you needed a dukkah-spiced carrot and Redneck cheddar wood-fired pie in your brunch rotation, but it turns out you do. You can thank the impressive team at W+M for that one, and the crafty tenders behind the equally impressive in-house bar, Love & Squalor, for keeping you quenched while you take it down. But don’t stop there, because the brunch offerings include house-smoked salmon toast, fried chicken and donuts, and ciabatta French toast. Just make sure you look cool, as this Midtown favorite draws a trendy crowd on weekends.

Snooze

Montrose

Snooze: an AM Eatery

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It took this brand new Denver import absolutely zero time to sweep Houston’s morning scene, as anyone that tried to brave the out-the-door lines during opening weekend can attest. You’ll likely still encounter a wait, but the breakfast-all-day spot offers free Boomtown coffee while you do so, plus you’ll have a chance make some deals on a pancake split for the table. Better yet, get a pancake flight with blueberry danish, peanut butter cup, and pineapple upside down cake stacks to share along other AM all-stars and excellent lineup of boozy pick-me-ups, like their not-to-be-missed, borderline-genius Breakfast Pot Pie. Get it with a Bangkok Bloody Mary, which fits right into the Houston scene with a splash of lime, Sriracha, and fish sauce.

Museum District

Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen

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The Sunday Jazz Brunch at this Third Coast standby will take you right to Bourbon St, except without all the mess and with actually good smells coming wafting through the dining room. Get dark rouxed gumbo and court-bouillon just like your mawmaw made, and house-made boudin Benedict and Bloody Marys just like your mawmaw didn’t make but you wish she had. The legendary music livening up the joint is just an added bonus, because if NOLA taught us anything, it’s that everything tastes better with booze and blues.

Helen Greek Food & Wine | Shannon O’Hara/Helen Greek Food & Wine

Rice Village

Helen Greek Food & Wine

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This Hellenic haunt’s Sunday brunch menu may be small, but it packs a Mt. Olympus-sized punch. All crispy-edged, cherry-topped, and vanilla-laced, the semolina pancakes are TDF; and the local lamb and egg breakfast sandwich a stunner not to be passed by. For best results, add on a buttery greens-and-cheese pie and sugary, deep-fried donut holes that come kissed with fennel and whipped Greek yoghurt. Then wash it all down with a sparkling wine cocktail or Negroni through a Hellenic lense.

State of Grace | Julie Soefer Photography/State of Grace

River Oaks

State of Grace

Address and Info

Whoever invented the idea of brunch starters, can we just say thank you? With that in mind, we’d also like to thank Chef Bobby Matos and the team behind Ford Fry’s globally and coastally inspired lodge, for their warm sticky buns, butter biscuits, and freshly made kolache. You’ll want all of those, but save room for the main events, which run 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 properly.

Pondicheri

Upper Kirby

Pondicheri

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If you haven’t had a taste of everything cardamom-kissed and cinnamon-spiced from this Indo-fusion street eats spot, you have been brunching wrong this whole entire time, you guys. Since that would suck, remedy it by hitting up the fast-casual cafe or upstairs bake lab to get a taste of the good stuff, which comes in the form of masala scrambles, chocolate brioche buns rolled in saffron sugar, and a traditional Indian variety plate called the Morning Thali that you can’t not get.

Washington

MAX’s Wine Dive

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Fried chicken and Champagne. It’s what’s for brunch. At least it it should be at this local darling, which just so happens to offer everything honey-buttered, syrup-drizzled, and chicken-fried during their seven days a week brunch. The menu reads like a playbook of Texas-sized favorites from all of the MWD locations, from San Antonio’s short rib Hangover Hash to Washington Ave’s wings and corncake number, Jake Cakes & Wings. Every monstrous plate is best put down with a bottle of champs and orange/grapefruit juice accoutrement.

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

Woodlands

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

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What started as an upscale grocery store has blossomed into a mini Woodlands empire, with a white-table-cloth bistro, fast-casual kitchen, and eight-course chef’s tasting dinner under its belt. But it’s that charming bistro you’ll want to hit for brunch, when it offers both lunchy affairs and morning pick-me-ups. Kick things off with small plates of house brioche stuffed with pork belly and bacon jam or even charcuterie if you so choose, then go absolutely ham on thing like flank steak & egg fajitas, duck confit eggs Benny and stacks of buttermilk pancakes with coffee butter and whipped maple syrup. There’s also an ALL DAY dessert menu, and we’ll just leave it at that.

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1. MKT BAR 1001 Austin St, Houston, TX 77010 (Downtown)

Live music, pizza, brunch, booze -- there aren't many desirable things in this world that MKT bar doesn't have. Creative takes on American (read: Southern) staples like crispy chicken and waffles, braised lamb tacos, and ground chuck cheeseburgers will have you stuffed, but you'll make the room for a couple drafts from the Lone Star state or a bottle of something sparkling.

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2. Tout Suite 2001 Commerce St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

This 7,000-square-foot draws a busy yet quiet lunch crowd via scratch-made pastries, entree options like Vietnamese steak and eggs, and a coffee program curated by none other than Greenway Coffee’s David Buehrer, making it easily one of the best in the city. Including espresso-based classics, the lineup runs the gamut from flat whites and nutty cortados to a creamy ca phe sua da, which is also available by the bottle.

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3. Ninfa's on Navigation 2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003 (East End)

The fajitas at the original Tex-Mex outpost on Navigation earn their cook the title of Mexican fare experts. Alongside the fajitas, staples like mole enchiladas, Oaxacan-style pork tamales, and jalapeño-stuffed Shrimp Diablo (not to mention the head-sized frozen margaritas) take some serious culinary chops, which means these dishes go far above and beyond Houston's other Tex-Mex eateries.

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4. Caracol 2200 Post Oak Blvd Ste 160, Houston, TX 77056 (Uptown)

This glassy, sleek eatery in Midtown serves up seafood-centered Mexican fare including starters like salsa-topped oysters and headlining shrimp tacos and pan seared daily catches. Frequent happy hours, only at the bar, get you plenty of liquored up treats with salted rims and leafy garnishes like the Cuba Moderna with rum aged over 12 years.

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5. Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette 1050 Studewood St, Houston, TX 77008 (The Greater Heights)

The bright blue of the cursive neon is enough of a beacon, but the '50s-diner-meets-five-star-hotel interior and fish-centric menu call to the Greater Heights like a seafood siren. Serving up fish every which way, Liberty offers big platters of East Coast oysters, pan-seared fresh fish on their own or on a po boy, and a whole slew of sides like creamy mashed potato and garlic-y sauteed spinach.

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6. Bernadine's 1801 N Shepherd Dr Ste B, Houston, TX 77008 (The Greater Heights)

Distinctively Southern, Bernadine’s is a contemporary Gulf Coast seafood restaurant that gleans inspiration from restaurants along the Interstate 10 corridor, from Apalachicola oyster shacks to fish fry stands in South Texas. Bernadine’s offers brunch, lunch, and dinner menus of seafood and snacks and large plates. For dinner, you’ll dive into the menu by choosing a couple of briny starters, namely Gulf oysters on the half-shell and Gulf ceviche with Tennessee apple leche de tigre, radish, shaved onion, and pepita gremolata. Shifting away from seafood, continue your meal with the confit duck leg, paired with chaurice sausage, roasted chicken jus, creole mustard spaetzle, and fermented rainbow chard. Ask for cocktail recommendations, but you can’t go wrong with any of Bernadine’s speakeasy-inspired beverages; as you sip on your Kentucky Mule with bourbon, lime, mint turbinado, and Angostura bitters, you’ll be transported to the world of Prohibition, when Houston Heights was, begrudgingly, under the “dry ordinance.”

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7. Dish Society 5740 San Felipe, Houston, TX 77057

This modern spot in the Galleria offers an upmarket take on Southern fare with supplies from the nearby Atkinson Farms and Black Hill Ranch, among others. Counter service by day and table service by night create a balance between casual and classy, especially with the addition of a table service "social hour" in the late afternoon. A craft beer or something from the approachable wine list will keep your taste buds occupied while you peruse through the menus of shareable plates and larger entrees like brisket stuffed sweet potatoes and citrus-glazed salmon.

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8. Weights + Measures 2808 Caroline St Ste 101, Houston, TX 77004

Weights + Measures in Montrose is a restaurant, bakery, and bar triple threat that delivers exceptional and inventive takes on meals and drinks. The 70s-esque decor contrasts with the industrial exterior, and the huge space can accommodate bar-goers and diners all in one open space. Stop by in the morning for daily-baked breads, pastries and coffee, or swing by at night for a more relaxed meal.

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9. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery 3217 Montrose Blvd Ste 100, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

This small chain's known for slinging gut-busting breakfasts across the Southwest and Colorado, and the Houston branch is no exception. Specializing in the art of hollandaise, Snooze is where gooey eggs yolks are often seen pouring over ham and toasted English muffin in one of many variations on eggs benedict, or atop an order of corned beef or potato hash. If you, ironically, snooze through breakfast, there's still a slew of cheesy, egg-centric sandwiches waiting once you're up at at 'em.

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10. Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen 4611 Montrose , Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Occupying the bottom floor of Montrose's Chelsea Market, Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen is a timeless 200-seat seafood restaurant with both a dining room and a separate oyster bar. You won't find any fast-fleeing trends in the atmosphere or the food here, just a constant after-work dinner rush and a menu full of Southern favorites. Big groups can usually be found around a platter of fresh-shucked oysters, and temptation for grilled fish or steak rarely bows out.

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11. Helen Greek Food and Wine 2429 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX 77005

Chef William Wright (of Philippe Restaurant & Lounge and Table on Post Oak) and respected sommelier Evan Turner assure this Rice Village spot isn’t your typical falafel-fueled Greek restaurant. Instead you’ll find refreshed Greek fare with a touch of Gulf Coast soul alongside a Greek wine list that is just as thoughtful as it is impressive (it’s the second largest Greek list in the US). Nosh on a dolma, sip on Hellenic wine, and let yourself feel godly for at least as long as the meal lasts. This intimate and romantic is great for small groups or dates.

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12. State of Grace 3256 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 (River Oaks)

Atlanta restaurateur and Houston native chef Ford Fry has brought his culinary magic back home with this modern, globally and coastally inspired lodge. Former Ciao Bello chef Bobby Matos mans the open kitchen and the giant, wood-fired hearth, offering you not only great food but an entertaining and immersive experience. There's a great oyster program and an upscale, vintage feel to the space, with a marble bar and handsome wooden and leather furniture.

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13. Pondicheri 2800 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

This Indian fusion spot in Upper Kirby serves a mix of street snacks and home-style foods all day long. The extensive menu includes a nice roster of dosas, thali sample platters, and curries, plus burgers and Mumbai-style frankie wraps. Pondicheri isn't 100% vegetarian (there are plenty of lamb and chicken dishes), but its menu is generally plant-forward. The airy space resembles an upscale cafeteria and includes a counter-serve bakery with Indian-spiced pastries and baked goods.

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14. MAX's Wine Dive 4720 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (Washington)

At Max’s Wine Dive, dining is a celebration. The exposed brick-walled joint, lit dimly by track lights and the glow of a green jukebox, boasts a buzzy energy that will spark your night. Embrace all the joys of Texas cuisine at Max’s: Get your hands on Nacho Mama’s Oysters on wontons with garlic aioli, then order a plate full of bison sliders topped with lip-puckering house-made pickles, ketchup, and grilled onions. At this point, you’ve already made the decision to stuff yourself silly, so add the fried egg sandwich to your order: three gooey eggs, a giant pile of applewood smoked bacon with melted Gruyere, a smear of black truffle aioli, and huge slices of buttery bread keeping it all safe inside.

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15. Hubbell & Hudson Bistro 24 Waterway Ave, The Woodlands, TX 77380 (The Woodlands)

Hubbell & Hudson, helmed by Texas native, alum of swanky Dallas restaurant Mansion, and Le Cordon Blue-trained Chef Austin Simmons, is a (pun intended) hub for fine dining in the North Houston suburb of The Woodlands. As compared to the laid-back kitchen and the ultra-suave Cureight, the bistro portion of this multi-faceted is a sleek, cream-colored middle ground with a menu featuring shared snacks like oysters and impressive entrees of pork short ribs that rook 48 hours to marinate and parmesan-crumbled crab and truffle pasta.

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