To say Houstonians like their brunch is an understatement, so it’s no surprise that the crowds showed up ready to rock this weekend for Sunday Bloody Sunday, Houstonia’s sold-out boozy brunch street party. In the breezy shade of downtown's GreenStreet, squads in weekend brunch gear made the rounds, sipping and tasting with live music by local act Velvet Punch setting the tone.
For the Bloody Mary showdown, six Houston establishments put forth their best version of the classic spiked and spiced tomato juice featuring Enchanted Rock vodka for guests to determine a winner through popular vote. The contenders—Bovine & Barley, Guadalajara Del Centro, Harold’s, Little J’s Bar, Lucky Strike and McCormick & Schmick’s—each turned out unique offerings.
As a self-proclaimed citrus head, Guadalajara won me over with a brightly acidic rendition, appropriately paired with a skewer of lime-cured shrimp and tilapia ceviche. Bovine & Barley shook drinks to order, giving each a mesquite sauna for a smoky finish. Theirs was also interestingly the only Bloody Mary garnished with the typical stalk of celery (among like 10 other things).
Meanwhile, Lucky Strike’s garnish was practically a meal, strung with fried mac ‘n’ cheese bites, a chicken wing and a burger slider, earning it the win for most snap-worthy. Runner-up Harold’s included a house-smoked pineapple hot sauce and Hot Cheeto garnish.
The win for this year’s Sunday Bloody Sunday showdown, decided by a people’s choice vote, went to Little J’s Bar. Without question the most patriotic Bloody Mary, Little J’s winning American-flag bedecked cocktail was decidedly Worcestershire forward, paired with a meaty garnish featuring a hefty hunk of barbecued sausage.
To accompany libations and soak up the booze, some of Houston’s favorite spots doled out brunch bites. Nibbles ran the gamut, from hearty—Beaver’s corned beef hash, Lowbrow’s shrimp-and-grits and Roost’s shiitake egg tart topped with short rib tartare run through with Korean gochujang (a riff on steak and eggs)—to lighter fare like quinoa-kale cakes by Hungry’s and B Pop’s breakfast popsicles, along with dishes from Edgar’s Hermano at the Whitehall Houston, Rico’s and Triniti.
Any boozy brunch worth its seasoned salt features more than one quintessential daytime cocktail. Thus, in addition to Bloody Marys for days, the party was stacked with a mimosa bar by Ashton Martini Group, brews by Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., tastings of a proprietary bourbon by Edgar’s Hermano and lemonade and micheladas by Grandma’s Boy’s Lemonade. Triniti also paired a stiff brunch punch with its bite-sized French onion quiche, topped with Gruyère and caviar, which will be featured on their Mother’s Day brunch menu.
In between bites and sips, guests sat for a caricature artist, struck poses at Woodlands Photo Co.’s photo booth and kicked back in giant, neon green bean bags. Among the familiar yard games set up on bright green Astroturf, my eyes lit up to see Ladder Ball, a lesser known game I played as a kid with a set my grandfather made my intensely competitive family.
Emceeing the festivities was Jason Mahoney from "The Dave, Mahoney & DK Morning Show" on MIX 96.5, who announced a host of raffle winners for the prize drawing, which raised over $1,100 for Heights-based pet adoption agency Friends for Life.