A Bountiful $8 Lunch Special at Brasil
One of the complaints lobbed at Montrose as the neighborhood continues its unbridled gentrification is how expensive the restaurants are becoming. The area has become a dining destination since Mark's American Cuisine, Da Marco, and Hugo's put down roots along Lower Westheimer a decade ago—and the restaurant scene has only heated up since, with Underbelly, Uchi, L'Olivier, and other high-end restaurants moving into once-abandoned buildings and contributing to the ongoing transformation.
But that's not to say you can't find good deals, especially at some of Montrose's more established restaurants. Brasil, the nearly hidden cafe at the corner of Dunlavy and Westheimer, has ably kept up with the times by expanding its dining room, adding a tap wall of inexpensive craft beers, and tweaking its menu over the years to adapt to changing trends. Despite this, the lovely little cafe has remained as accessible as ever.
My current favorite option at Brasil is the $8 lunch combo that nets you a quiche of your choice (there are two rotating quiche selections on the menu every day—one with meat, and one without), a cup of soup (usually three to choose from), and a small salad. I pair it up with a glass of sparkling water (on tap! and free!) for a lunch that comes in just under $10 with tax.
The meat quiche of the day last week was a brilliant combo of brussels sprouts and bacon, the latter in rugged chunks, studded throughout the big, fluffy quiche. I couldn't pass up the butternut squash bisque, either. Along with the salad of mixed lettuce, frisee, oranges, and red onions, it was the ideal simple yet elegant meal—full of thoughtful touches and all made from scratch—that I'd love to see on more restaurant menus.
I still remember the first time I went to Brasil in 2006 to see Drop Trio. The jazz band was playing in a dark corner in an awkwardly laid-out space, and I was unimpressed with how difficult the cafe was to navigate. Owner Dan Fergus was smart to expand the dining room later on, although Brasil still faced other stumbling blocks: namely rude counter service and a limited menu of poorly prepared food.
Finally, a few years ago, Fergus got it all right. The service improved. The ordering system improved. The food improved. The wine and beer selection improved. It was as if Fergus had been reading all the terrible Yelp reviews (and snarky blog posts) and finally decided to do something about it. I went in one day for breakfast to find an absolutely amazing dish of eggs El Salvador, and I've never looked back. Red velvet hash, beet-and-goat-cheese sandwiches, a BLT with blue cheese on freshly baked bread—Brasil is now on my short list of favorite cafes, and I never pass up an opportunity to go. The fact that it remains affordable in the face of such fierce competition is just an added bonus.