Booze

10 Must-Try Brunches in Houston

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10. Max's Wine Dive

Max's must really love brunch, because they offer it more often during the week than any other place in Houston. If there were an award for "Most Brunch," they'd win it. Both Houston locations offers it Friday through Sunday, and the Fairview one additionally offers it on Mondays. As if that weren't enough, the Washington location just added late-night brunch on Friday and Saturday nights from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. No more ending up at Denny's.

The hearty Chicken Fried Rib Eye, made with a Harris Ranch rib eye in a crispy batter coating, comes with truffle gravy, two eggs any style and either jalapeño cheddar grits or home fries. We got the jalapeño cheddar grits and they were as good as we've had anywhere. Leaning towards something sweet? Try the RVP — three red-velvet pancakes accented with lemon cream-cheese frosting. Skip the dry Crème Brûlée French toast, which bears no resemblance to its namesake.

Orange juice mimosas are a mere $4.95 and fancier juices are available for $7.95. Brunch dishes range from $5 to $19, and the morning brunches run Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The special Monday brunch at the Fairview location is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

9. El Big Bad

El Big Bad has a lock on "morning after" food on Sundays. Our hands-down favorite dish here is the Pozole. Chef Jonathan Jones (formerly of Xuco Xicana and Beaver's) calls it a "Meal in a Bowl for Your Soul." and we believe it. The meaty pork stew is chock-full of hominy and comes with fresh optional accoutrements such as sliced radishes and cilantro.

Yet that's just one of the many items here that will let you go home happy. The decadent French Toast "Torrejas," made with tres leches batter and infused with vanilla tequila, comes with a generous handful of pickled raisins and blueberries. Don't ignore the other savory items here, either, like wonderfully earthy pumpkin-seed hummus and the "at least three eggs" mushroom omelet with chimichurri, Pure Luck TX chevre, roasted green chile, pico de gallo and kale salad.

Dishes cost between $8 and $18. Brunch hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m on Sundays.

8. Arnaldo Richards' Picos

Sunday brunch is buffet-style. Picos has a breakfast menu option, but we sailed right past that. How could we resist a feast featuring three different types of meats with mole (our favorite by far was the pork in coloradito, a brick-red mole made from roasted peppers) pans full of tamales, paella, red and green posole and the best guilty pleasure of any Houstonian with a cheese fetish, good old cheese enchiladas?

If that's not enough, there's an entire table of desserts where you'll have a hard time deciding between the creamy rice pudding and the cinnamon- and sugar-encrusted churros. You'll be here for a while, so go for the bottomless mimosas. Roving Mexican guitarists and singers will keep you in the spirit of the meal.

The buffet costs $29 per person. Kids six to 12 are $15 and kids under six are free. Brunch hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

7. Lillo & Ella

Lillo & Ella's big, open patio is the perfect place for weekend brunch, especially in the spring and fall when Houston is blessed with clear skies and temperatures below 90 degrees. Its brunch menu is clever, bending traditional Asian elements into interesting dishes that seem just right at mid-morning. The Thai Muu Noodles, for example, with ground pork, Asian long beans and linguini, seems a nod to both larb (traditional Thai beef salad) and Chinese lo mein. Fresh herbs, sliced peppers and a fried egg make it a complete meal.

Where the Thai Muu Noodles dish is lowbrow fusion, the Chilled Glass Noodles with Duck is the city sophisticate, with generous portions of seared duck breast, sliced radish, fresh basil and glass noodles doused in nuoc cham dressing. There's a smart cocktail list to go with the menu. There are takes on mimosas that incorporate Asian ingredients, like lychee and cherry yuzu, as well as fuller-bodied options such as Le Caffeine, a White Russian variant with coffee liqueur, Añejo rum and a float of heavy cream.

Brunch dishes range from $6 to $13 and are available both Saturday and Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

6. Tiny Boxwoods

Tiny Boxwoods is a Houston classic that beckons on bright weekend mornings with its impeccably manicured back lawn and giant lattes that could have come straight from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. Brunch is served both Saturday and Sunday, and the choices range from conscientious to decadent. The Day's Pastries, composed of house muffins with whipped honey butter, croissants with homemade jam, scone du jour, cinnamon rolls are a great excuse to indulge in some carbohydrates. Feeling guilty? The fruit and yogurt parfait and bowl of fruit allow you to walk out and not be in a state of overload.

That's easier said than done, because Mother's Breakfast of house-ground sausage, jalapeño cheese grits, biscuits and strawberry jam awaits, as does the Morning Cheese and Meat Board. It's made up of three cheeses, an ever-changing variety of cured meats, honeycomb, fresh fruit slides, flatbreads, roasted hazelnuts and jalapeño jelly. Now, who wouldn't want to start the day like that?

Saturday brunch is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Phaedra Cook
Contact: Phaedra Cook