Celebrating graduation all weekend? Old and new, splurge-y and some with wallet-savvy options, here are ten scenic and tasty spots for a weekend graduation brunch with loved ones. (P.S.: Most of these restaurants also work well for a celebratory brunch.)
Ouisie’s Table: Get your Southern brunch fix in a classy atmosphere at Ouisie’s: crab cake Benedict, chicken-fried steak with mustard greens and mashed potatoes, cornmeal pancakes and crispy fried oysters. Ouisie’s specializes in designing private dining experiences — offering everything from flowers, decor and candles to specialty desserts, customizable cocktails and printing services within the restaurant's private dining rooms — but if you’re opting simply to dine in in the main dining area, you can also order gorgeous cakes made in-house for special occasions. Ouisie’s opens at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hunky Dory: For an off-the-beaten-path brunch experience, Hunky Dory offers proper British cuisine, redone with a modern bent. There are classic standbys like fish and chips, scones with clotted cream and jam, and an open-faced bacon and tomato sandwich alongside Hunky Dory’s version of kedgeree — a dish of curried rice, fish and egg — that includes smoked salmon, herbed rice and a poached egg in curry sauce. There's also a vegetarian imagining of the traditional sausage, pudding, baked beans and egg breakfast platter and fried pig’s head. Brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Fung’s Kitchen: If you’re entertaining a large group of family members for graduation weekend, dim sum is a great bet since the small-plate format is designed for sharing among a large group. While there are several options for dim sum in Houston, Fung’s Kitchen is one of the most authentic, with one of the cleanest and nicest atmospheres you’ll find. Feast on shrimp dumplings, taro cake, steamed pork buns, chicken feet and more. Fung’s opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and reservations are recommended.
Provisions: Provisions is another restaurant designed for sharing: A small or large group is perfect for picking and choosing from the varied menu segments: fruits and vegetables, pizza, eggs, bread and grains, meat and fish, and sweets. From blistered shishitos and wood-oven-baked eggs Florentine to house-made kolaches or the smoked salmon sandwich, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong, and the attentive service throughout the clean-lined, modern establishment is sure to make your experience a pleasant one. Brunch is only served on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Backstreet Café: The airy, picturesque patio at Backstreet Café has long been a favorite for morning dining. This classic spot is particularly gluten-free-friendly for any special-diet family members (the gluten-free mixed-grains platter with deeply roasted vegetables is one of my favorite dishes in Houston). To start with, choose freshly baked orange chocolate brioche buns or buttermilk biscuits before moving on to small plates like Gulf Coast beignets or duck spring rolls, toast with house-cured salmon or almond butter and fruit, egg-based dishes with Southern flair from migas to brioche French toast to red corn chicken enchiladas, or a variety of entrée salads. Brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Kitchen at the Dunlavy: In case you overdid dinner the night before, The Kitchen at the Dunlavy offers light, casual options that are also easy on the wallet. You’ll find breakfast sandwiches, salads, brûléed oatmeal and breakfast bowls loaded with kale and quinoa or poached eggs and marinated tomato and more. The Dunlavy overlooks Buffalo Bayou Park and Lost Lake, providing both a fantastic dining view and the perfect after-brunch backdrop for a walk with your dining companions — the Dunlavy even offers snacks and the “Dunlavy Picnic Lunch” (assorted meats, cheeses, hummus, crudités and more) that would be perfect if you're struck with the urge to nosh in nature. The Dunlavy opens at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
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Hugo’s: Brunch at Hugo’s means a renowned spread of authentic Mexican cuisine featuring special items not found on the normal menu and a dessert spread that puts any bakery to shame (think tres leches, churros, pastries, cookies, and tarts of every shape and size). The per person cost is $31, not including tax, tip or beverages (children 12 and under are $12 each), but you can write the cost off as an excuse to both dine in extravagant style and reflect on your schooling career in the gorgeous, light-filled space. The buffet-style Sunday brunch runs from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.; reservations are pretty much required.
La Table: La Table wears many hats: If you choose to dine here, you can opt for either a private dining room (with seated capacity ranging from 16 to 260), casual dining within Marché or “elegant dining” within Château. The Grand Brunch Buffet is served family-style: You’ll be supplied with a pastry basket, eggs, fruit, pancakes, French toast, potatoes, breakfast meats and breakfast beverages, then you can supplement your plate from a variety of stations: a raw bar, cheese and charcuterie, salad, pastries, and a carving station. The buffet is $59 per adult and $29 per child, not including tax and tip or cocktails ($7 for mimosas or the Bloody Mary bar). For a much cheaper and lighter option, take away some of the fantastic pastries and macarons and coffee from the attached bakery and stroll off the calories next door at the Galleria.
State of Grace: Southern-style brunch is elevated in this refined dining room: beignets, crawfish hush puppies and a restrained assortment of composed larger plates — a lobster roll, a Dutch baby pancake, crawfish enchiladas and a blue crab omelette — complemented by a variety of inventive cocktails. The Fresa Fresca offers a boozy concoction thickened with pureed strawberries, mint and lime; a take on a margarita includes a blistered serrano infusion, grilled lime, smoked salt and mescal floater, and the Julius! yields a frothy mixture of Maker’s Mark, orange vanilla syrup, citrus and egg white. Brunch is available Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
PESKA: In the same vein as Hugo's and La Table, I highly recommend making an event out of PESKA’s brunch — plan to spend multiple hours there so that you can sample the maximum amount of food. In lieu of a buffet-style brunch, $46 (add $6 for bottomless mimosas and sangria) will buy you access to unlimited items off the brunch menu. Which means you can start with shrimp empanadas and shrimp soup, sample every single ceviche, taste multiple tostadas at the tostada station, indulge in the patio-cooked paella and fideua, and, if you’re feeling ambitious, tackle some of PESKA’s delicious takes on traditional brunch food (even the pancakes are delicious). Brunch is available Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.