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Brunch draws a big weekend crowd downtown to The Honeymoon.

Brunch: the meal so lazy it couldn't wake up for breakfast, but so demanding that it wants to eat before lunch. By the very definition of the word, brunch should have few rules—it should take place somewhere between the two meals and ideally incorporate standard dishes from both, but otherwise function as whatever you need it to be on a Sunday when you really just need someone else to make the eggs and coffee and maybe give you a little hair of the dog to ease you into full levels of consciousness.

As such, without rules, it seems that many restaurants have arbitrarily decided that brunch begins at 11 a.m. This has stuck in my craw for years, like the fact that Fox aired all of the Firefly episodes out of order and doomed the show before it could find a wider audience. (Browncoats forever.) Brunch beginning at 11 a.m. makes no sense. None! That is when lunch begins! If you're a restaurant and you're offering brunch on the weekends that begins at 11 a.m., you're effectively telling me that I can come in and have eggs for lunch if I want, and that you'll throw some orange juice in a flute of sparkling wine if I'm really lucky.

I realize, however, that most people rightfully do not care when brunch begins because they have more important questions to answer in their own lives, such as whether or not to subject their children to the public education system or how they're going to tell Aunt Linda that they're putting her in a home. So instead of railing against the tide, I've just compiled a list of all those acceptable brunches—you know, the ones that begin before 11 a.m.

Andes Cafe

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Cachapas at Andes Cafe

Brunch hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday (open for breakfast at 9 a.m. every day)
Best dish: Cachapas, sweet corn pancakes stuffed with salty cheese and topped with shredded beef
Best cocktail: Mimosas made with mango juice (or whatever fresh-squeezed juices the cafe has on hand)
Where to find it: 2311 Canal St., andescafe.com
Neighborhood: EaDo

Bistro Menil

Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday through Sunday
Best dish: Three-egg omelet with duck confit and Gruyere, which should fuel you for an hours-long journey through the Menil Collection across the street
Best cocktail: Ladybug, a mimosa made with sparkling wine and pomegranate juice
Where to find it: 1513 West Alabama St., bistromenil.com
Neighborhood: Montrose

Cook & Collins

Brunch hours: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Best dish: Morning After, which tops the bistro's famous buffalo chili-cheese fries with sliced steak and plenty of Valentina hot sauce
Best cocktail: The Cook's Bloody Mary, a meal in itself with poached shrimp, bacon, pickled green tomatoes and blue cheese-stuffed olives
Where to find it: 2416 Brazos St., cookandcollins.com
Neighborhood: Midtown

Dish Society

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Brisket 'n' eggs at Dish Society

Brunch hours: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday
Best dish: Brisket 'n' Eggs, with a side of the best smoked Gouda grits you'll ever taste and a buttermilk biscuit 
Best cocktail: Bromosa, a take on the Brass Monkey, pairing Karbach's Weisse Versa with orange and lemon juice
Where to find it: 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd., dishsociety.com
Neighborhood: Katy

Fielding's Wood Grill

Brunch hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
Best dish: Short rib and mascarpone polenta skillet topped with a fried egg, chipotle in adobo and toasted cashews
Best cocktail: Mexico City, a coffee cocktail boozed up with Kahlua and Espólon tequila and sweetened up with whipped cream and your choice of gelato
Where to find it: 1699 Research Forest Dr., fieldingswoodgrill.com
Neighborhood: The Woodlands

The Honeymoon

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French toast at The Honeymoon

Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
Best dish: Bananas foster french toast, topped with praline bacon that's like fancy pig candy
Best cocktail: Corpse Reviver No. 2, the classic that's every bit as invigorating as it sounds
Where to find it: 300 Main St., thehoneymoonhtx.com
Neighborhood: Downtown

Max's Wine Dive

Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Best dish: Hong Kong-style french toast, for the days when you don't fancy a drive out to House of Bowls
Best cocktail: Mimosas made with Texas grapefruit juice
Where to find it: 4720 Washington Ave., maxswinedive.com
Neighborhood: Washington Avenue

North Italia

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French toast at North Italia

Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Best dish: Nonna, which tastes like something your Italian grandmother would make you after a long night out because she loves you and wants you to call her more
Best cocktail: Ginger-Vanilla Greyhound, with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, vanilla vodka and raw ginger
Where to find it: 1700 Post Oak Blvd., northitaliarestaurant.com
Neighborhood: Galleria

Pondicheri

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Morning thali at Pondicheri

Brunch hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Best dish: Morning Thali, a sampler platter that comes with a selection of Pondicheri's best dishes, including a carrot paratha topped with a fried egg
Best cocktail: Plummer, a cardamom-spiced red sangria made with Merlot, plum and orange juice
Where to find it: 2800 Kirby Dr., pondichericafe.com
Neighborhood: Upper Kirby

Radio Milano

Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Best dish: A little bit of everything; it's a buffet, so don't be shy about those heaping portions of house-made pasta or visiting the omelet station
Best cocktail: Death in the Afternoon, the classic cocktail that pairs sparkling wine with absinthe
Where to find it: 800 Sorella Ct., radio-milano.com
Neighborhood: Memorial

Tiny Boxwoods

Brunch hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Best dish: Bacon and egg pizza topped with pancetta, chevre and a sunny-side up egg
Best cocktail: White wine mojito with fresh mint
Where to find it: 3614 West Alabama St., tinyboxwoods.com
Neighborhood: River Oaks

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Dish Society kicks off its brunch early on the weekends.

 

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