Sure, the Alamo City loves its breakfast tacos, but with its laid-back attitude, wide range of culinary genres available, and usually temperate climate, San Antonio is a city that’s tailor-made for brunch. Enjoy a meal at leisure with one or two or nine of your favorite people, sharing dishes that aren’t on the menu any other day of the week. For brunch virgins and veterans alike, here are SA’s 12 absolute best spots to try out.
What you’re getting: Parmesan biscuits with honey butter and jam, grits carbonara, a Monte Vista Milk Punch or Winter Coffee
Cozy and inviting, Barbaro offers a thoughtful brunch menu that nods to the classics but doesn’t get bogged down by them. The biscuits are fabulous, the grits carbonara (soft egg, bacon, green onion, and Parmesan) manages to be both light and satisfying and unlike any dish you’ll find elsewhere, and the stellar build-your-own pizzas allow the brunch-food naysayers in your party to blaze their own trail. There is no going through the motions here, an approach that extends to cocktails that are the perfect complement to the truly original food, and to the warm service that always makes you feel like you’re dining amongst friends.
What you’re getting: Huevos a la paloma, chilaquiles verdes
The only iffy prospect when it comes to venturing out to Taps y Tapas is the certainty of finding parking. Otherwise, it is absolute perfection -- visually adorable, with plenty of seating inside and out, and with a tight but diverse menu of impeccably prepared dishes. Because this is a Mexican place, the offerings that fall within that genre are the true standouts. These include the huevos a la paloma -- shredded corn tortillas and pork in a chili sauce served over grits -- and chilaquiles verdes. Current fans of this unpretentious gathering place for craft beer aficionados and noobs alike will find much to love here come brunch time, even if they have to circle a few times to find a parking spot.
What you’re getting: Hangover Hash or The “David Lee Roth” Krispy Kreme Burger
Any time of day, visitors to the Pearl are met with an abundance of top-notch dining options. But if you’re deciding where to eat for brunch, consider Boiler House’s menu description of Hangover Hash: “Braised suckling pig, chichirones, potato-peppers-onion hash, two fried eggs, charred tomatillo salsa and sriracha crème.” Like the David Lee Roth, with its salty-sweet mash-up, the Hangover Hash is substantial food for carnivores. So is most of the brunch menu. Come prepared to indulge, and to really, really enjoy doing so.
What you’re getting: Frito pie omelet or famous Southern fried chicken
If you’ve never been to Max’s -- either at the Quarry here in SA or one of the other seven locations across Texas and in Denver and Atlanta -- the image you have in your mind is likely incorrect. Max’s is at the Quarry, in Alamo Heights, where the closest thing to a “dive” is... well, nothing at all. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to kick back. Max’s accurately touts its fare as “gourmet comfort food,” including the jalapeño buttermilk-marinated chicken deep-fried in a way that gets it nice and crispy without overcooking or making it too greasy. It’s fantastic but just one worthy option on an eclectic and original brunch menu. And the service is always fast and friendly, even when the place is packed.
What you’re getting: Rico Suave licuado, fruit cup with chile and lime, Sincronizada torta
One of Chef Johnny Hernandez’s quintet of SA eateries, The Fruteria stays true to its Mexican roots in both atmosphere and food. Much of the brunch menu’s focus is on fruit, from fresh-pressed juices and licuados -- smoothie-like fruit blends -- to spiced fruit cups and salads bursting with seasonal fruit. Substantial plates, tortas, and open-faced tostadas showcase various proteins cooked with Mexican flare. The Sincronizada is a simple sandwich of scrambled eggs, ham, Oaxaca cheese, avocado, and crema served on a birote roll. Enjoyed alongside one of The Fruteria’s bright fruit offerings, it is satisfying and complex without being heavy or fussy.
What you’re getting: Buttermilk pancakes with strawberries, wurst kolaches
Sure, this Czech eatery is not exactly convenient for inside-the-Loopers, but it’s worth it to make the drive every now and again. Little Gretel is very much a part of the town in which it operates -- unpretentious, stylish but decidedly un-hip and content to be so, charming with a Hill Country feel, and always packed with locals as well as tourists. There is nothing assembly-line or phoned-in about any of Little Gretel’s food, but do yourself a favor and give the pancakes or bakery specialties a try. And if you’re a San Antonian who hasn’t yet nailed down a go-to kolache place... well, there’s just no excuse for that. Little Gretel is a great place to rectify that.
What you’re getting: Eggs in hell, blintzes
The eggs in hell -- three baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce served with grilled bread and a charred lemon polenta -- are guaranteed to wake up your lazy Sunday. But Feast also accommodates sweet-toothed diners as well as those seeking a steak or burger. In the light of day, Feast’s chic, upscale-but-friendly vibe remains. And though it is probably the hottest joint in town right now, it somehow feels like simply a really, really great neighborhood joint.
What you’re getting: Sardou or Sunday breakfast
The richness of hollandaise and Brie is countered by the spinach and artichokes in the Sardou, by our decree rendering Cappy’s particular Benedict offering downright healthy. An equally valid route is the hearty meal with the straightforward name: Sunday breakfast, a beef tenderloin with scrambled eggs, Jack cheese, and pancakes. Tucked behind neighboring shops on Broadway, Cappy’s is hard for the uninitiated to see from the street but worth the extra effort to find -- especially if the weather permits patio dining.
What you’re getting: Breakfast sandwich, arepa Benedict, or lemon pound cake French toast; bread with pancake butter and jam; bottomless mimosas
Honestly, you could probably just eat piece after piece of thick, doughy bread slathered with butter that tastes like pancakes and be perfectly content to call it a day. But to do so would be to miss out on the chef’s creative takes on brunch fare -- which, like all of Monty’s menu, change according to available ingredients and the kitchen’s bursts of inspiration (though several items remain fairly constant staples). At the core of The Monterey’s popularity is its food, of course, but the relaxed atmosphere that invites cross-table conversation contributes to its status as a destination restaurant. This is never more true than at brunch, when some diners might be a bit more hungover than others, but everyone seems pretty happy to be there.
What you’re getting: Family FOLC
FOLC is known for its family-style plates of American fare, a concept that works really well at brunch. Depending on the size of your party -- or the size of your appetite -- the Family FOLC should make everyone happy. Consisting of a half-chicken, eight eggs, four biscuits, roasted fingerling potatoes, and a Dutch baby prepared either savory or sweet, it’s a substantial meal that offers up a great representation of what FOLC is all about. Don’t feel like sharing? Consider the salt cod with avocado, tomato, and onion on toast, or the pork belly biscuit sandwich. And don’t neglect to ask about a wine or beer pairing -- with its light touch and kiss of sweetness, the Guadalupe Brewing Co. Texas Honey Ale is a solid choice for pre-noon imbibing.
What you’re getting: Chicken-fried grits, chicken + waffle, or ham & butter eggs with sweet potato hash; Bloody Mary bar
When it comes to food, there aren’t many categories in which San Antonio is severely lacking. But for some reason, there is a dearth of that lively combo of uplifting music and comfort food that is the gospel brunch. Fortunately, we’ve got Tucker’s, a nearly 70-year-old Eastside bar and music venue that under its current ownership has put a lot of thought into its soul food menu. The result is short and sweet; the five main dishes are really all you need, because why would you want to order anything that isn’t chicken fried to perfection, served in some combination with grits, hash, biscuits, and/or waffles? The entertainment makes this a true experience rather than just a meal, and the unbelievably low prices make this adventure in good eating a no-brainer.
Medical Center, North Central
What you’re getting: Peach & pecan waffle or authentic Munchener Apfel Pfannekuchen, custom recipe whole hog sausage
The key to fully appreciating a visit to Magnolia, especially for Sunday brunch, is patience. The savviest of diners put their names on the list and run a couple of errands, or bring a book or, at the very least, make sure that they only show up with companions whose company they truly enjoy. There will be a wait, but the payoff is consistently superior food with a whisper of a German influence. Most of the lengthy menu is fairly traditional and centered around serious egg dishes, waffles, and pancakes, including the aforementioned Pfannekuchen. Think that goopy-sticky-sweet processed apple pancake you’ve had at chain restaurants is the real thing? This will change your mind and transform you into a willing member of the Magnolia queue.
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1. Barbaro2720 McCullough Ave, San Antonio
2. Taps Y Tapas1012 N Flores St, San Antonio
3. Max's Wine Dive Quarry340 E Basse Rd, San Antonio
4. The Frutería Botanero by Chef Johnny Hernandez1401 S Flores St, Ste 102, San Antonio
5. Little Gretel518 River Rd, Boerne
6. Feast1024 S Alamo St, San Antonio
7. Cappy's5011 Broadway St, San Antonio
8. The Monterey1127 S Saint Marys St, San Antonio
9. FOLC226 East Olmos Dr, Olmos Park
10. Tucker's Kozy Korner1338 E Houston St, San Antonio
Nestled into the corner of an unassuming building and adjoining bakery is this quaint little bar and rustic wood-fired pizza restaurant. The brick-walled space has a full bar with a menu (sorted into “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly") brimming with carefully designed cocktails that change seasonally, plus a solid happy hour.
This restaurant serves modern Mexican food (specifically not Tex Mex) in a historic Five Points limestone building. The bar has 24 taps that attract craft beer enthusiasts and they offer a weekend brunch inspired by Mexican dishes, plus Tapas Social Hour Tuesday through Friday.
Max's may call itself a dive, but its far from being one. With over fifty wines and gourmet takes on classic american comfort food (chicken and waffles among them), the combinations may seem strange but make for a unique experience. Consider checking out brunch or even their Summer Happy Hours.
As the name would imply, fruit is featured prominently in the drinks here, be they cocktails or non-alcoholic aguas frescas. Our drink of choice is the El Moretón, a tequila-based cocktail that is made with fresh muddled blackberries and lemon.
Though a bit of a way from San Antonio, this Czech restaurant serves all house-made food inspired by the recipes of Chef-Owner Denise Mazal's past. Owned by Denise and her daughter, the unique menu is worth making the trip for anything from dinner, to brunch, to a visit to their Biergarten Wednesday Happy Hour.
Feast serves up Mediterranean-influenced contemporary cuisine for dinner and Sunday brunch to an eager crowd of Southtown hipsters and suburban pilgrims who appreciate the social atmosphere almost as much as the creative cuisine, craft beer, and solid cocktails. Feast lives up to its name, offering sustenance for the eyes, the belly, and the spirit.
It's tucked behind neighboring shops on Broadway, so Cappy's can be a bit hard to spot for those that are unfamiliar. Still, the Sardou, with it's rich hollandaise and brie that are cut perfectly by the spinach and artichoke, is well worth the extra effort to find. Not to mention patio seating when the weather is nice!
If you're the type of person who likes the option of ordering the same dish every time you go to a restaurant, The Monterey is not the place for you. But if you're the type who is down to mix it up a bit, you won't be sorry you came. What you’re getting depends on what’s in season and what Chef John Philpot gets the urge to whip up. Monty is a hip, fun, social joint unassuming and comfortable.
FOLC is family-style, and when family-style meets brunch (as it does here on weekends), you know you've got something great on your hands. Try the Family FOLC: a half-chicken, eight eggs, four biscuits, roasted fingerling potatoes and a Dutch baby prepared either savory or sweet. It's a substantial meal and a great intro to what FOLC is all about.
Open since 1948, Tucker's soul food dishes and fun atmosphere have made it a local favorite. They serve drink specials every night from 4 pm until 7 pm, with menu items like chicken wings, fries, and sandwiches. There's live music everyday, but if you're their after it's gone the classic vinyl jukebox should do just fine.