After the historic cold we Texans have endured this winter, the opportunity to celebrate spring has never been more welcome—and brunch serves as the perfect occasion. The bounty of food that comes at this time of year makes the idea of a leisurely meal between late morning and mid-afternoon even more compelling. So, check out these eight brunch places, from the balmy bayous to the windswept South Plains, from the North Texas metro area down to the Alamo.
1. Rancho Loma, Talpa
Chef Laurie Williamson, co-owner of the restaurants Rancho Loma, Rancho Pizzeria, and Black Cur Steak in this West Texas burg near Abilene, whips up a different breakfast-brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday for the lucky overnight guests at her five-room boutique inn. A semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas in the 2020 James Beard Awards, Williamson infuses the familiar and comforting with sophisticated—and sometimes healthful—elements. Hence, her popular savory Dutch Baby, a cast iron–crafted fluffy pancake with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and caviar. Then there are her huevos rancheros, made with quinoa, black beans, avocado, spinach, feta, and salsa verde. Of course, she’s a Texan at heart, so biscuits loom large. And, as the chef says, “It’s not brunch without sparkling wine.” She recommends Gruet, a New Mexico winery.
Info: 2969 CR 422, Talpa. (325) 636-4556; rancholoma.com.
2. Righteous Foods, Fort Worth
The intersection of virtuous cooking and indulgent flavors, Righteous Foods is chef Lanny Lancarte II’s ode to clean food that pampers the palate. A loyal following keeps the kitchen busy throughout the day, but brunch time is when a line forms at the door for the tables inside and on the patio. Guests avoiding gluten love the Paleontology Bowl, which combines sweet potato and zucchini in a simple hash with crispy uncured bacon slices, topped with over-easy eggs, and framed by sliced avocado and toasted pistachios. The organic acai bowl layers the superfood berry from Brazil with Lancarte’s own granola recipe, banana, natural coconut shavings, and mixed seasonal berries for a burst of flavor and texture. Wash these down with a masala chai latte or a Stumptown nitro cold brew. You can always order online and pick up curbside, too.
Info: 3405 W. Seventh Street, Fort Worth. (817) 850-9996; eatrighteously.com.
3. UB Preserv, Houston
At chef-owner Chris Shepherd’s UB Preserv, where the tagline is “the story of Houston food without limits,” the dim sum–style brunch is a powerful reflection of the city’s culinary terrain. In a nod to the profound influence of Houston’s Chinatown restaurants, chef de cuisine Nick Wong works with local farmers to create a new raft of food choices each week. Certain staples always appear, like crispy rice salad and Vietnamese fajitas, along with intriguing egg dishes (wok-fried shrimp and egg or bavette steak and eggs) and tempting pastries, including cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. As at traditional dim sum restaurants, guests fill out a form and dishes are brought to the table as they’re ready. I’m pretty sure it’s the pecan smoked bacon sausage fried rice, crowned with an egg, and the fruit-topped Japanese pancakes that prompted Food and Wine magazine to call this the “most interesting brunch in America.”
Info: 1609 Westheimer Road, Houston. (346) 406-5923; ubpreserv.com.
4. Stagecoach Inn, Salado
The beautifully renovated 1943 landmark restaurant serves a cast-iron skillet filled with crunchy hush puppies, one of the signature dishes traced to the pioneer era, when the adjacent hotel welcomed travelers on stagecoach stops. Accompanied by whipped honey butter, the hush puppies are a great start to brunch. Follow those with roasted pork belly Benedict and home fries. Banana fritters make a good finish, but nobody wants to miss the famous Strawberry Kiss, a swirled circle of vanilla meringue topped with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of tart strawberry syrup and surrounded by an arrangement of fresh strawberries and pink meringue kisses. Staying over? Treat yourself to a hibiscus margarita.
Info: 416 S Main Street, Salado. (254) 947-5111; stagecoachsalado.com.
5. La Panadería, San Antonio
A bakery-café with the kind of delights dispensed at La Panadería requires two locations to ably serve its devoted audience. With shops downtown and in Alamo Heights, brothers José and chef David Cáceres honor their mama Doña Josefina’s influence with their exquisite food and hospitality. Chorizo-egg tortas and a tres leches croissant bring a smile to any brunch lover’s face, while the new grilled chicken power bowl is an option for health-minded diners. Atop a nest of organic greens, seasoned grilled chicken breast garnished with rice and pickled onion comes with your choice of freshly baked breads (the sourdough is divine). Everything can be packaged to go, including the mimosa kit for two, a brunch must that pairs a bottle of JP Chenet Brut with a half-gallon of fresh orange juice.
Info: 8305 Broadway, San Anonio; (210) 375-6746. 301 E. Houston Street, San Antonio; (210) 592-6264; lapanaderia.com.
6. The Nicolett, Lubbock
Sophisticated cuisine awaits at The Nicolett, a new arrival in the hub city of the South Plains. Creating a West Texas vibe, chef–owner Finn Walter brings together his experience in kitchens in Paris, Napa Valley, Austin, and Santa Fe to develop a menu rich in local ingredients and high-minded technique. A dish that easily migrates from his dinner to brunch menus is the quail baked in brioche, which features a bird popular with Texas hunters. A luxurious brioche dough envelops the brined quail before baking, and then the creation is pan-seared in butter and juniper and served on barley risotto laced with pecan butter and punctuated with spicy watercress for a bright flavor and colorful pop. Ask for a table in the charming greenhouse, as well as a glass of the house rosé, a perfect pairing with the quail.
Info: 511 Broadway Street, Lubbock. (806) 993-0144; nicolettrestaurant.com.
7. The Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas
A brunch brimming with elegance is served up at The Mansion Restaurant, where Texas native and French-trained chef Sebastien Archambault changes his midday weekend tasting menu with the seasons. Brunch is served both in the dining room and on the airy terrace, and options include a yogurt parfait made with local wildflower honey and berries, and an omelet stuffed with local goat cheese, bacon, and spinach. Savvy diners should make room for the chef’s favorite oysters from places like the Gulf Coast, as well as Damariscotta River in Maine and the Cape Cod variety called Sunken Meadow Gem. The briny jewels are served on the half-shell and adorned with poblano sausage, seaweed bread, and mignonette pearls. For dessert, don’t miss the raspberry-jasmine panna cotta in coconut tuile.
Info: 2821 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Dallas. (214) 559-2100; rosewoodhotels.com/en/mansion-on-turtle-creek-dallas/dining/mansion-restaurant.
8. Côte, near Overton
Two-lane roads winding into the rolling, pine-cloaked countryside about 20 miles east of Tyler lead to a remote getaway called High Hill Farm. Perfect for city folk who need a quiet, stylish hideout, it’s also a dining destination for foodies in search of elevated comfort foods from chef de cuisine Ryan Dove’s kitchen. At the inn’s restaurant, Côte, brunch is enjoyed on a shaded veranda overlooking the lawn and swimming pool. It’s a breezy place to enjoy a blood orange mimosa with an entrée of brioche French toast treated with Nutella, cookie butter, and strawberries. An indulgent import from Louisville, Kentucky, is the Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich starring smoked turkey breast over a bed of home fries layered with grilled tomato, sliced avocado, and brioche toast, all drizzled with cheddar gravy, Mornay-style. Word to the wise: Book a bungalow here, because you’ll want a nap before dessert.
Info: 12626 CR 217, Arp. (903) 834-3444; highhillfarm.com.
June Naylor is an award-winning travel journalist, dining critic, and food writer based in Fort Worth. Follow her adventures at junenaylor.com.
AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.