Today marks the beginning of a six-part series entitled Battle of the Brunches, where a handful of the hundreds of brunch-serving spots in town will be evaluated based on the rigid criteria of deliciousness, enjoyableness, and overall awesomeness.
All six spots have been previously determined to be well above average, so think of my series as more of a brunch bucket list than a head-to-head bloodbath, if you will. I just really liked the image of quiche and frittata going at it in some underground fight club.
To kick us off, I’m honing in on what seems to be one of the most beloved brunch spots in Austin: South Congress Cafe. Nestled neatly among other ’04 favorites such as Vespaio, Uncommon Objects and Home Slice, South Congress Cafe has been serving some of the best food south of the river since 2003. Owned by the same folks as Trudy’s, South Congress is like the Tex-Mex joint’s hipper, more sophisticated sister.
Brunch Food at South Congress Cafe
Let’s talk food already. South Congress Cafe’s brunch is a unique mix of fresh seafood starters, delicate salads, updated breakfast standards, and one-of-a-kind specials.
This place is the home of Carrot Cake French Toast, one of the most decadent and buzzed-about brunch options around. With cinnamon-y cream cheese pecan syrup (maybe better described as icing), this dish was the hands-down winner when I asked coworkers, friends, and family about their go-to South Congress meal.
Another slightly less sweet favorite of mine is the Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict, followed closely by the Migas, an Austin favorite served with…wait for it…a smoked gouda potato pancake.
Most importantly, South Congress Cafe serves my favorite dessert in the entire world: Salted Carmel Creme Brulee. If I could eat just one dessert (or food, for that matter) for the rest of my life, this would be it. Add in one of their handcrafted cocktails (such as a Blueberry Coconut Mojito or a Mango Ginger Mimosa), and South Congress Cafe serves up a nearly unbeatable brunch combination.
Our second criterion, enjoyableness, relies heavily on service, ambiance, and the overall vibe of a restaurant. Simply put, South Congress Cafe nails it in all three categories. Even during the bustling brunch hour, the service is friendly and unpretentious, and the decor is among my favorite in Austin: warmly modern with historic roots (in fact, the 1940s building once functioned as a neighborhood drugstore).
The atmosphere is particularly lively during the weekend brunch hours, with a palpable energy and tons of light spilling through the big, SoCo-facing windows. Not surprisingly, South Congress Cafe gets an enthusiastic A for enjoyableness.
In terms of overall awesomeness, South Congress Cafe is among the best when it comes to everyone’s favorite meal. With a creative but approachable menu, an unbeatable location, and a vibe all its own, it’s definitely a heavyweight in the Battle of the Brunches. Check it out for yourself any day of the week, from 10 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday and 9 AM to 4 PM Saturday and Sunday.
What’s your favorite South Congress Cafe brunch treat?