It’s thought the term brunch was coined by a Brit — Guy Beringer — who wrote an essay in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895. The essay was called “Brunch: A Plea.”
“Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a postchurch ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well. Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
Apparently, brunch has historically been a hangover cure.
It’s also a grand source of nourishment during football season. A heaping plate of fancy migas, a stack of pancakes and fistful of bacon is just what you need before settling into your big leather chair to watch football all afternoon.
It helps that there’s a brunch to fit every personality and pocketbook. Here are some we like.
Bigger is better
Quattro: We’ve seen many a fancy brunch buffets, but this may be our favorite. It’s large, yet it always feels intimate because it’s spread out over the entire restaurant, which is located on the third floor of the Four Seasons Hotel. A breakfast station is located in the lounge, a dessert bar in the dining room, a private glass-walled dining room that looks into the kitchen serves as the antipasti station and seafood bar, and the carving table and made-to-order pasta station are in the kitchen.
Among the flavorful items you might find (the menu changes weekly): peppercorn-crusted rib-eye, pan-seared quail, linguine with shrimp and scallops, roasted salmon, orange-scented French toast and small savory tarts.
Brunch is available 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $55 ($26 for children). Reservations encouraged.
1300 Lamar, 713-276-4700
Hugo’s: “And you gotta see the buffet.” That’s always a part of the conversation when Houstonians speak of this Montrose institution. We’d like to add, “you gotta taste the buffet.” Hugo Ortega and his staff pull out all the stops on Sundays. The buffet offers a changing selection of Mexican classics, including tamales, roasted red snapper, cactus salad, seafood salad and quirky (in a good way) enchiladas.
It’s tempting to fill up on the fragrant savory fare, but do save room for sweets. Pastry chef (and Hugo’s brother) Ruben Ortega is a dessert master. Don’t miss the flan and the mini churros. And grab a cookie for dunking in your Mexican hot chocolate. Reservations advised.
Brunch is available 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $29 ($10 for children). An á la carte brunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. Entrees are priced $8-$19.
1500 Westheimer, 713-524-7744
The Galvez: At 100 years old, the Galvez has never looked better. Inside the historical hotel is Bernardo’s, where Galveston families and visitors have been brunching for generations. The champagne brunch features made-to-order omelets and pasta dishes, a carving station serving prime rib, a salad bar and a mountain of crab claws and boiled shrimp.
A bonus this time of year is the hotel’s festive Christmas décor.
Brunch is served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $38.95 ($22.95 for children). Reservations for brunch are strongly advised.
2024 Seawall in Galveston, 409-765-7721
Where’s the party?
Beaver’s: Beaver’s didn’t invent the party brunch, but it has cranked up the volume. Perhaps that’s because the folks here have put as much thought into the brunch cocktail menu as the food menu. Try the Squealin’ Mary, a bacon-infused concoction, or perhaps the Beaver Mary with wasabi and Big Daddy’s Hot Sauce. And we’re done with mimosas thanks to Beaver’s Kir Royale. The intensely flavored champagne cocktail is Texans’ red, which makes it perfect for game days.
As for food, the á la carte menu offers street-style tacos that fit the patio setting, brisket-topped eggs, sweet potato pancakes and an amazing super-size Reuben with house-cured pastrami.
Brunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. Prices range from $2-$16.
2310 Decatur, 713-864-2328
Hendricks: The setting is comfortable, the staff is convivial and the prices are right. There’s nothing fancy or trendy about the traditional brunch items found on the menu here, and that’s all right. We’re here for a little Hair of the Dog (Hendricks’ version of the Salty Dog) and a Southwestern omelet.
Brunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Prices range from $6-$12.
3320 Kirby, 713-522-1500
Shepherd Park Draught House: There’s nothing more eye-popping (or is that belt-popping) than the Donut Waffle. A nicely browned waffle is topped with two Shipley glazed doughnuts, chopped bacon, whip cream and chocolate shavings. We dare you to order one.
The rest of the brunch menu plays it pretty safe: Eggs Benedict, sausage and biscuits and a breakfast burrito. All incorporate owner Ken Bridge’s mantra: fresh ingredients put together thoughtfully and priced fairly. Also be sure to try the sake-based Bloody Mary.
Brunch is served 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. All entrees are $8.
3402 N. Shepherd, 832-767-1380
Baba Yega: Just thinking about a Sunday morning at this cheerful Montrose cafe makes us smile. Sure, late-risers will face a wait, but an outdoor mimosa bar makes it bearable.
Once inside, you’ll find a nicely appointed and frequently restocked buffet with an omelet and waffle station. Among the offerings (which can change week to week): pot roast, smoked ham, cheese blintzes, pasta salad and other vegetarian friendly fare. Desserts are favorites such as cherry cobbler, bread pudding and tres leches cake.
Brunch is served 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $21. A less-elaborate buffet is offered 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays for $12.
2607 Grant, 713-522-0042
Make it low-key
Raffa’s Waterfront Grill: Overlooking Lake Houston, this contemporary dining room is a favorite of families who flock here in their Sunday best. Some of the dishes seem a little old-fashioned — Waldorf salad, silver-dollar pancakes, peel-and-eat shrimp — but they’re executed well. You can upgrade the buffet experience by adding an entree such as pan-sauteed chicken crepes or crab-based eggs Benedict.
Brunch is served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. Cost is $18.95 ($8.95 for children or $22.95 with added entree).
1660 W. Lake Houston Parkway in Kingwood, 281-360-1436
Jasper’s: Nearly a dozen brunch items augment the manly á la carte menu at this handsome restaurant in The Woodlands. Among them: fried chicken with pepper-maple gravy, banana-malt pancakes and smoked crab chile relleno.
If the weather is nice, grab a seat on the patio, which fronts Market Street’s “town square.” There are always some distractions taking place in the popular entertainment district.
Brunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. Brunch entrees are priced $10-$18.
9595 Six Pines Drive in The Woodlands, 281-298-6600
Branch Water: This rustic yet sophisticated dining room shines on a Sunday morning. On a recent visit, the menu included bacon-wrapped shrimp over grits, a breakfast sandwich with truffle aioli and a Shortrib Benedict. We’re also happy with the Branchwater Breakfast, with its perfectly fried bacon and eggs, juicy venison sausage and crisp potato cake.
Brunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays.
510 Shepherd, 713-863-7777
Tasting Room: The menu differs by location but one thing is a constant: these folks know how to make a mimosa. Wanna take a daylong vacation? Head to the Kingwood location and take a seat on the patio. In a word: blissful. In three words: blissful with grits.
Find the nearest location at www.tastingroomwines.com.