Perla's

Grab brunch at Perla's on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (McGuire Moorman Hospitality)

From decades-old staples to brand-new joints, Austin, Texas’ brunch scene is bubbling more than a mimosa. But when so many plates and cocktails abound, how do you narrow down which hot spots fit your fancy and your funds? Local experts weighed in on delicious dishes at top midday eateries to help you decide where to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars.

Mattie’s


Mattie's in Austin, Texas

Mattie's (Sarah Jacober)


Mattie's has quickly become a favorite after it opened in early 2017 in historic Green Pastures, an estate and events space where peacocks roam beneath impressive oak trees. Rustic, farm-fresh American cuisine like buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken eggs Benedict and the famous milk punch are served at this South Austin spot. If you’re looking for something hearty, try the burger. Mattie’s serves an a la carte brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

[Read: The Best Hotels in Austin.]

Matt’s El Rancho


Matt's El Rancho

Matt's El Rancho (Jody Horton)


Slinging plates of Tex-Mex since 1952, Matt’s El Rancho keeps locals and visitors coming back with its excellent outdoor patio and fun environment. Dishes like huevos rancheros, migas (a local favorite of scrambled eggs mixed with tortilla chips, cheese and pico de gallo) and the fajita omelet are what this favorite spot is known for, but for variety, try the build-your-own breakfast tacos. Mimosas with fresh-squeezed orange juice are also on the menu. Travelers can brunch at this South Lamar establishment Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bouldin Creek Cafe


Bouldin Creek Cafe

Bouldin Creek Cafe (Lisa Goodell)


“It’s a vegetarian restaurant, but not just for vegetarians,” says David Scheffke, front office manager at the Hotel Ella. “I always get The Renedict, which is their take on eggs Benedict.”

This dog-friendly eatery in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood offers a lively environment decorated with local art. Tofu and bean tacos plus the vegetarian omelets are must-eats, and it has a wide selection of tea in addition to fair trade coffee that’s organic and locally roasted. Bouldin Creek Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends, and most of its brunch items are available all day.

[Read: 5 Austin Breweries to Visit.]

Freedmen’s

Served inside a historic building built in 1869, Freedmen’s Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is a Southern barbecue lover’s paradise.

“I highly recommend the barbecue Benedict with the Holy Mary” – Freedmen's take on the bloody mary, topped with brisket, pork spare rib and house-made sausage, says Steven Leigh, chief concierge at the Archer Hotel Austin. This joint near the University of Texas at Austin also serves jalapeno cheddar grits and more than 160 whiskeys.

Jack Allen’s Kitchen


Jack Allen's Kitchen

Jack Allen's Kitchen (Kenny Braun)


At the Oak Hill location, Jack Allen’s Kitchen, a favorite of Austinites, offers a Sunday buffet brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Locally sourced seasonal cuisine with a Southern twist includes classics like Mama’s Sunday Chicken, chicken-fried pork tenderloin, house-cured ham, and biscuits and gravy, along with cocktails like the restaurant's pomegranate sangria. Southwestern dishes like green chili pork and eggs, and migas are also favorites.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

A take on fancy barbecue, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue in the Second Street District offers chef-inspired dishes at its Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Live music permeates the restored Schneider Brothers Building where a buffet features brisket rubbed with coffee and brown sugar, coriander- and fennel-crusted Berkshire pork ribs, and house-made jalapeno hot links. Sides of jicama and cilantro slaw, and cheddar and poblano grits are also on the menu. A la carte options are available as well, like brioche French toast, hanger steak Benedict and breakfast Frito pie.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill

“They’re known for their green chili macaroni and king ranch casserole,” Leigh says. “Get there early because they have waits of up to two hours, but it’s well worth it.”

Within the walls of a historic downtown Austin building, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill delivers upscale Southern comfort dishes for its Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those looking for home-cooked dishes will love the green chili cheese grits, spiral roasted ham, buttermilk biscuits and white chocolate bread pudding.

[Read: 9 Must-Try Austin Steakhouses.]

Perla’s


Perla's

Perla's (McGuire Moorman Hospitality)


Sit out on the huge patio with the frozen cocktail of the day or oysters on the half shell at this South Congress Avenue restaurant. The breakfast crab cake is what it's known for, along with oysters, both fresh and fried. Although it mostly serves seafood, Perla’s flat-top cheeseburger is another dish that delights locals and travelers. Brunch is on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

1886 Café & Bakery


1886 Café & Bakery

1886 Café & Bakery (Courtesy of The Driskill)


The 1886 Café & Bakery, within The Driskill in downtown Austin, dishes up Texas comfort food, from brazos huevos rancheros to the Lady Bird omelet to the Texas pecan waffle. If you’re looking for a diverse menu for a large group or a few picky eaters, this eatery has everything from quiches, omelets and baked goods to soups, salads and sandwiches.

“I’d get the hangover burger," says Chris Johnson, concierge and greeter at the hotel. "It’s super good." The cafe serves brunch from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Café No Sé


Café No Sé

Café No Sé (Nick Simonite)


This California-inspired brunch spot in the South Congress Hotel offers seasonal dishes on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“My must-haves are the ricotta hotcakes and avocado toast,” Scheffke says. “It’s lighter fare so you can spend your day exploring Austin.” Café No Sé's cheeseburger and fresh-baked pastries are must-tries as well.

To experience more of what Austin has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

15 Best Foodie Destinations in the USA


Photo Gallery
Friends eating pizza at a restaurant.
The Las Vegas strip at sunset.
Philly Steak Sandwich with Au Jus
Telescope overlooking the Seattle skyline.
USA, South Carolina, Charleston, Church Street, St. Philip's Church
Close-up of Burgers and Hot Dogs on the Barbecue, Houston, Texas, USA
Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. during late March.
Foodie tour classic Chicago hot dog with french fries
San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset.
New Orleans Beignet
Dramatic sky over Los Angeles.
|

What makes a great foodie destination?
More and more travelers are planning their vacations around the eateries they want to visit in any given destination. After all, a large part of a city's culture lies in its cuisine. But what makes a place worth visiting for the food alone? The answer depends on who you ask.

Some would say it's a distinct, authentic cuisine that the city does best, while others value a wealth of options that range from ethnic to innovative. Others say it's placing heightened importance on using only fresh, local ingredients. No matter the definition, the 15 cities that appear on U.S. News' first-ever Best Foodie Destinations in the USA ranking share one common factor: they offer unforgettable gastronomic experiences that travelers keep coming back for. 
(iStockPhoto)

15. Pittsburgh
Home to hearty Eastern European classics like Polish sausages and cabbage rolls, plus french fry-topped sandwiches and salads (which aren't going anywhere anytime soon), the Steel City is graduating to a more sophisticated culinary style. The gastronomic resurgence in recent years has caught the attention of publications like Zagat, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine Magazine. While critics are singing Pittsburgh's praises, locals are embracing the edible renaissance with open arms. 
(Getty Images)

14. Asheville, North Carolina
This small mountain town may be known for its laid-back, hippie vibe, but it still packs a palatable punch in its 45 square miles. While the Appalachian Trail may seem like a strange place for a culinary hot spot, chefs and curious eaters have started congregating in western North Carolina in pursuit of inventive, offbeat creations. Aside from its impressive restaurant lineup, Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country, meaning you'll have plenty of interesting suds to pair with your meal.  
(Getty Images)

13. Las Vegas
High rollers have to eat too, right? And in Vegas, they expect to eat well. Sin City has raised the stakes when it comes to dining, dazzling tourists with whimsical, over-the-top decor and celebrity chef-backed restaurants from the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Pierre Gagnaire, whose only U.S. restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental. And if you lose in the casinos, don't worry: Sin City still boasts plenty of affordable options and cheap all-you-can-eat buffets to keep you going. 
(Getty Images)

12. Philadelphia
In 2015, Philadelphia was named the first World Heritage City in the United States. Though the City of Brotherly Love is certainly home to a fair amount of history, that doesn't mean its food scene is stuck in the past. While classics like cheesesteaks and soft pretzels still reign supreme, Philly balances those hallmark dishes with vegetarian and vegan eateries, as well as a wealth of genuine Italian and Jewish fare. Plus, the city originated the BYOB policy and now boasts more than 200 bring-your-own-bottle restaurants.
(Getty Images)

11. Seattle
No visitor to Seattle can pass up a trip to Pike Place Market, but there's more to the Emerald City than watching people throw and catch fish. The city's abundance of fresh seafood (namely salmon and oysters) along with its Asian culinary influences have shaped its gastronomy. Seattle's selection of sushi and rice bowls, along with its unique Seattle teriyaki, known for its thick, Korean-inspired sauce, have been recognized by critics and discerning food lovers as some of the best in the country. 
(Getty Images)

10. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston put low country fare at the forefront of the foodie scene. The regional cuisine, known for relying heavily on seafood with a mix of Southern, Caribbean and African flavors, is what this quaint South Carolina city does better than anywhere else. Though the city is proud of its well-preserved history, its chefs have started reinventing staple dishes (like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup) to fit the needs of 21st-century palates.
(Getty Images)

9. Miami
Miami's vibrant nightlife and scantily clad beachgoers often overshadow the city's rich culinary scene. But its cuisine shouldn't be overlooked. The city whips up the best Cuban food outside of Havana, and the proximity to the Caribbean also brings a multitude of full-bodied island flavors. Plus, the restaurant scene is full of young chefs who continue to bring something new to the table.
(Getty Images)

8. Houston
Houston has the savory chops that only the largest city in the Lone Star State can claim. Business travelers from around the world are continually surprised by the culinary diversity here – from mom and pop takeout shops that locals line up for to fine dining pioneers that attract a more upscale clientele. The city is also home to a large Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant population, allowing Asian dishes like spring rolls and pho to intermingle with area classics like barbecue and Tex-Mex.
(Getty Images)

7. Washington, District of Columbia
A city that attracts everyone from small-town tourists to international diplomats has to provide ample options to satisfy them all – and the nation's capital measures up to the task. Boasting an all-encompassing restaurant scene that offers some of the best ethnic food (especially Indian and Ethiopian), as well as area staples like bottomless brunches and happy hour specials, D.C.'s food landscape is anything but boring. When you're touring the monuments, don't forget to stop and grab a half-smoke (the half-beef, half-pork cousin of the hot dog that's a D.C. specialty).
(iStockphoto)

6. Chicago
Deep-dish pizza. Distinctively dressed hot dogs. Italian beef. Cheese and caramel popcorn. Plantain encased sandwiches called jibaritos. Plus the Greek answer to grilled cheese, saganaki. The Windy City's calling card lies largely in its hearty, gooey and iconic dishes. But Chicago's culinary power extends from those staples into a toothsome and ever-evolving dining culture that's as big on innovation as it is on flavor. Plus, Chi-Town beckons talented chefs (40 James Beard Award winners call Chicago home) who ensure that this Midwestern authority presents a robust offerings, so no one goes hungry.
(Getty Images)

5. San Francisco
Regularly lauded by critics and visitors for its culinary chops, San Francisco is a hotbed for foodies of all kinds. The City by the Bay is also known for its knack of modernization and invention, meaning gourmands who flock here expect to be at the forefront of dining trends – and chefs here deliver. But with the influx of tech money and the constant rising of rental rates, the city isn't known for cheap eats.
(Getty Images)

4. Portland, Oregon
Portland might as well have invented the word "foodie." From its emphasis on ingredients (the fresher and more unusual the better) to its affinity for low-cost, high-quality food carts, Portland has emerged as the foodie capital of the Pacific Northwest. The city has become a favorite of industry experts for its eagerness to present unique yet affordable options, from doughnuts to craft beer.
(Getty Images)

3. New Orleans
The Big Easy has an identity all its own – a mix of Cajun, Creole and French – that has always made its food distinct. Now, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, the city has retained its unmistakable character while pushing forward to become something entirely new. Aside from the mouthwatering dishes, the deeply rooted sense of community that's attached to the food here makes it a must for any self-declared epicurean.
(Getty Images)

2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles presents the ultimate in culinary mashups. The city that tailors to celebrities and wealthy patrons with fine dining establishments that boast big price tags also delivers some of the best street food in the country. And since the City of Angels is home to large immigrant populations – namely Hispanic and Asian communities – the opportunities to please your taste buds with globally inspired cuisine are endless. From food trucks to strip malls to trendy eateries, local establishments churn out creative dishes with high-quality ingredients, helping LA stay at the top of the gastronomic food chain.
(Getty Images)

1. New York City
A visit to New York City can include meals inspired by just about every continent, country and culture. Simply put, the Big Apple has it all. It's the premier stage for chefs looking to gain notoriety, and the restaurant scene progresses at breakneck speed, meaning the eateries that stick around have earned the stamp of approval from notoriously opinionated locals. Whether you're craving a pastrami sandwich from the corner deli or a meal on white tablecloths prepared by a celebrity chef, New York City has you covered.
Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Friends eating pizza at a restaurant.
The Las Vegas strip at sunset.
Philly Steak Sandwich with Au Jus
Telescope overlooking the Seattle skyline.
USA, South Carolina, Charleston, Church Street, St. Philip's Church
Close-up of Burgers and Hot Dogs on the Barbecue, Houston, Texas, USA
Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. during late March.
Foodie tour classic Chicago hot dog with french fries
San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset.
New Orleans Beignet
Dramatic sky over Los Angeles.
USA, New York State, New York City, Aerial view of city with Freedom tower at night

What makes a great foodie destination?
More and more travelers are planning their vacations around the eateries they want to visit in any given destination. After all, a large part of a city's culture lies in its cuisine. But what makes a place worth visiting for the food alone? The answer depends on who you ask.

Some would say it's a distinct, authentic cuisine that the city does best, while others value a wealth of options that range from ethnic to innovative. Others say it's placing heightened importance on using only fresh, local ingredients. No matter the definition, the 15 cities that appear on U.S. News' first-ever Best Foodie Destinations in the USA ranking share one common factor: they offer unforgettable gastronomic experiences that travelers keep coming back for. 
(iStockPhoto)

15. Pittsburgh
Home to hearty Eastern European classics like Polish sausages and cabbage rolls, plus french fry-topped sandwiches and salads (which aren't going anywhere anytime soon), the Steel City is graduating to a more sophisticated culinary style. The gastronomic resurgence in recent years has caught the attention of publications like Zagat, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine Magazine. While critics are singing Pittsburgh's praises, locals are embracing the edible renaissance with open arms. 
(Getty Images)

14. Asheville, North Carolina
This small mountain town may be known for its laid-back, hippie vibe, but it still packs a palatable punch in its 45 square miles. While the Appalachian Trail may seem like a strange place for a culinary hot spot, chefs and curious eaters have started congregating in western North Carolina in pursuit of inventive, offbeat creations. Aside from its impressive restaurant lineup, Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country, meaning you'll have plenty of interesting suds to pair with your meal.  
(Getty Images)

13. Las Vegas
High rollers have to eat too, right? And in Vegas, they expect to eat well. Sin City has raised the stakes when it comes to dining, dazzling tourists with whimsical, over-the-top decor and celebrity chef-backed restaurants from the likes of Wolfgang Puck and Pierre Gagnaire, whose only U.S. restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental. And if you lose in the casinos, don't worry: Sin City still boasts plenty of affordable options and cheap all-you-can-eat buffets to keep you going. 
(Getty Images)

12. Philadelphia
In 2015, Philadelphia was named the first World Heritage City in the United States. Though the City of Brotherly Love is certainly home to a fair amount of history, that doesn't mean its food scene is stuck in the past. While classics like cheesesteaks and soft pretzels still reign supreme, Philly balances those hallmark dishes with vegetarian and vegan eateries, as well as a wealth of genuine Italian and Jewish fare. Plus, the city originated the BYOB policy and now boasts more than 200 bring-your-own-bottle restaurants.
(Getty Images)

11. Seattle
No visitor to Seattle can pass up a trip to Pike Place Market, but there's more to the Emerald City than watching people throw and catch fish. The city's abundance of fresh seafood (namely salmon and oysters) along with its Asian culinary influences have shaped its gastronomy. Seattle's selection of sushi and rice bowls, along with its unique Seattle teriyaki, known for its thick, Korean-inspired sauce, have been recognized by critics and discerning food lovers as some of the best in the country. 
(Getty Images)

10. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston put low country fare at the forefront of the foodie scene. The regional cuisine, known for relying heavily on seafood with a mix of Southern, Caribbean and African flavors, is what this quaint South Carolina city does better than anywhere else. Though the city is proud of its well-preserved history, its chefs have started reinventing staple dishes (like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup) to fit the needs of 21st-century palates.
(Getty Images)

9. Miami
Miami's vibrant nightlife and scantily clad beachgoers often overshadow the city's rich culinary scene. But its cuisine shouldn't be overlooked. The city whips up the best Cuban food outside of Havana, and the proximity to the Caribbean also brings a multitude of full-bodied island flavors. Plus, the restaurant scene is full of young chefs who continue to bring something new to the table.
(Getty Images)

8. Houston
Houston has the savory chops that only the largest city in the Lone Star State can claim. Business travelers from around the world are continually surprised by the culinary diversity here – from mom and pop takeout shops that locals line up for to fine dining pioneers that attract a more upscale clientele. The city is also home to a large Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant population, allowing Asian dishes like spring rolls and pho to intermingle with area classics like barbecue and Tex-Mex.
(Getty Images)

7. Washington, District of Columbia
A city that attracts everyone from small-town tourists to international diplomats has to provide ample options to satisfy them all – and the nation's capital measures up to the task. Boasting an all-encompassing restaurant scene that offers some of the best ethnic food (especially Indian and Ethiopian), as well as area staples like bottomless brunches and happy hour specials, D.C.'s food landscape is anything but boring. When you're touring the monuments, don't forget to stop and grab a half-smoke (the half-beef, half-pork cousin of the hot dog that's a D.C. specialty).
(iStockphoto)

6. Chicago
Deep-dish pizza. Distinctively dressed hot dogs. Italian beef. Cheese and caramel popcorn. Plantain encased sandwiches called jibaritos. Plus the Greek answer to grilled cheese, saganaki. The Windy City's calling card lies largely in its hearty, gooey and iconic dishes. But Chicago's culinary power extends from those staples into a toothsome and ever-evolving dining culture that's as big on innovation as it is on flavor. Plus, Chi-Town beckons talented chefs (40 James Beard Award winners call Chicago home) who ensure that this Midwestern authority presents a robust offerings, so no one goes hungry.
(Getty Images)

5. San Francisco
Regularly lauded by critics and visitors for its culinary chops, San Francisco is a hotbed for foodies of all kinds. The City by the Bay is also known for its knack of modernization and invention, meaning gourmands who flock here expect to be at the forefront of dining trends – and chefs here deliver. But with the influx of tech money and the constant rising of rental rates, the city isn't known for cheap eats.
(Getty Images)

4. Portland, Oregon
Portland might as well have invented the word "foodie." From its emphasis on ingredients (the fresher and more unusual the better) to its affinity for low-cost, high-quality food carts, Portland has emerged as the foodie capital of the Pacific Northwest. The city has become a favorite of industry experts for its eagerness to present unique yet affordable options, from doughnuts to craft beer.
(Getty Images)

3. New Orleans
The Big Easy has an identity all its own – a mix of Cajun, Creole and French – that has always made its food distinct. Now, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, the city has retained its unmistakable character while pushing forward to become something entirely new. Aside from the mouthwatering dishes, the deeply rooted sense of community that's attached to the food here makes it a must for any self-declared epicurean.
(Getty Images)

2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles presents the ultimate in culinary mashups. The city that tailors to celebrities and wealthy patrons with fine dining establishments that boast big price tags also delivers some of the best street food in the country. And since the City of Angels is home to large immigrant populations – namely Hispanic and Asian communities – the opportunities to please your taste buds with globally inspired cuisine are endless. From food trucks to strip malls to trendy eateries, local establishments churn out creative dishes with high-quality ingredients, helping LA stay at the top of the gastronomic food chain.
(Getty Images)

1. New York City
A visit to New York City can include meals inspired by just about every continent, country and culture. Simply put, the Big Apple has it all. It's the premier stage for chefs looking to gain notoriety, and the restaurant scene progresses at breakneck speed, meaning the eateries that stick around have earned the stamp of approval from notoriously opinionated locals. Whether you're craving a pastrami sandwich from the corner deli or a meal on white tablecloths prepared by a celebrity chef, New York City has you covered.
Getty Images/Tetra images RF

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Tags: Austin, travel, vacations, food and drink


Mandy Ellis is an Austin-based freelance writer who has contributed to the real estate, travel and loans sections of U.S. News since 2016. She has lent her expertise to publications including AFAR, The Costco Connection, Realtor Magazine Online, FSR, QSR, Restaurant Business, Restaurant Hospitality, Pizza Today, Tasting Table, Yahoo Finance and CultureMap Austin and for the brands eBay, LendingHome, Brit + Co, SolarStory and Hey Cupcake.

Ellis graduated cum laude with a bachelor's in English from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Texas Freelance Association, Freelance Austin, and Women Communicators of Austin. You can find her on LinkedIn and her website, or email her at mandy@mandyellis.com.

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