When I'm not traveling the globe, I call Austin, Texas home. For the past two years, it’s been my mission to discover the best places for brunch in my hometown. After over 100 weekend’s worth of testing and tasting, I’ve found it extremely difficult not to keep going back to a few old favorites. Sunday is the big brunch day in Austin, but keep in mind there are still brunch options for Saturday, too. Here are the five you should scope out before all the rest.
My favorite swanky, modern Thai restaurant recently entered the Austin brunch scene. Sway serves traditional breakfast items with an Asian twist including Thai-basil waffles with lollipop chicken and mussel omelets. For those with a sweet tooth, try the brioche French toast with poached pear, candied cashews, and condensed milk custard. Drink specials include hibiscus and grapefruit mimosas and spicy Bloody Marys with sake, ginger, and cumin. Their full dinner menu is also available during brunch. Both the interior and patio feature communal seating at sleek wooden tables.
Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., 1417 South 1st St., swayaustin.com
Moonshine is known for their savory upscale comfort food including the $17.95 all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet. The buffet covers multiple rooms in the historic restaurant and features four different egg casseroles, including migas and green eggs with pesto and swiss cheese. On your second trip to the buffet, be sure to try the cornflake chicken, broccoli and cheese casserole, turkey jalapeno croissant melts, and glazed ham. The dessert table is cleverly positioned by the entrance and features a spread of gooey cinnamon rolls, mini poppy seed muffins, fresh strawberries, and waffles with whipped cream. Drink specials include $4 mimosas and Bloody Marys. There will be a wait, but trust me, it’s worth every minute.
Brunch at Banger’s is legendary thanks to the "Manmosa." There is a limit of one per customer for a reason—the behemoth-sized mimosa consists of a liter of champagne served in a giant beer mug with fresh orange juice. Grab a seat at one of their communal picnic tables on the patio for the Sunday Big Band Brunch. The menu features house-made sausage, jalapeño cheese grits, and gigantic, flaky, made-from-scratch biscuits. Other specials include pastrami-style house-cured salmon, Freedom Toast (crisp cinnamon-custard-soaked challah bread) and a quiche of the day. If the Manmosa isn’t for you, there are also 104 beers on draft. Live music starts around noon.
This highly anticipated authentic modern Chinese restaurant opened last year and serves dim sum on Sundays only. The two chefs were both raised and trained in China. Menu highlights include chicken pot stickers, char siu bao (steamed pork buns), scallion pancakes, pineapple puffs, and $1 chrysanthemum mimosas. Take your pick of indoor or outdoor seating, and definitely call ahead to make a reservation.
Isla is a funky Caribbean canteen in downtown Austin with bright yellow bar stools and palm tree wallpaper. Start off with the ceviche trio as an appetizer. Choosing an entrée is difficult with tempting choices like sweet potato biscuits with chorizo gravy, Bananas Foster French toast, and pineapple sweet rolls with pork shoulder. Better yet, order all three and share with friends! Top off brunch with a mimosa (passion fruit or prickly pear) or a rumdrop with rum, blood orange, and ginger.