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Brunch isn’t just a meal in Austin, it’s an event.

Posted by on January 22, 2013

Brunch in Austin is a huge thing. Major. It’s such a popular meal that most of the great places to brunch require reservations.  But never fear, my friends, I know where you can brunch it like the A-listers, even if you don’t have a rezzo.  Max’s Wine Dive.  If you want to sit at one of the tables in the restaurant’s main area, it is a wise choice to make a reservation in advance, but there are options for those of you who prefer spontaneity over planning.

Max’s has a lovely buffet brunch in their underground party space.  Max’s Underground is used for wedding receptions, charity dinners, parties and corporate dinners, but on Sundays the red carpet is rolled out for their buffet.  I highly suggest you try it, knowing you’ll not only like it, you’ll love it.  The buffet includes shrimp & grits, baked french toast, pastries, honey ham and other delightful tidbits, for only $19 per person.  Mimosas and sangria aren’t included, but please, order a carafe for the table.  What’s a celebration without bubbly?  And brunch in Austin is always a celebration! The buffet is served from 11am until 2pm, and is perfect for a large group whose members may not arrive all at the same time.

My choice for brunching at Max’s is to sit at the bar.  The best seat in the house is where you can watch the kitchen action.  Order a carafe of mimosas and drool over the dishes being prepped.  It’s voyeuristic food porn.  And, oh, the food!  If it’s your first trip to Max’s, be sure to bring a friend, or four.  No joke, these are large portions. While my dining partner can usually clean his plate, most of the time my girlfriends and I can easily share orders.  If you have a decent sized group, you can sample two or three entrees and everyone leaves fully satisfied.  Or you can order one of the three dishes below and hover over the plate, growling when anyone moves too closely to you.  I’ve been known to do that a time or two.

Max’s makes my favorite fried chicken in Austin.  Now before the angry comments start, no, I have not eaten at every restaurant featuring fried chicken.  Several notables are on my “to try” list, but since I’ve been trying to eat healthier and drop a few pounds, fried chicken is not on my menu often.  For now, I go with what I know, and what I know is that Max’s fried chicken is tender, juicy, full-flavored and with a delicate, crisp crust.  It’s served on top of a waffle with honey chipotle syrup on the side.

Yes, that is three pieces of chicken on a very large waffle.  You get a thigh, leg and breast, all of which has been lovingly marinated in jalapeno buttermilk before a dredging in seasoned flour and being fried low and slow.  Tastes so incredibly good that I’m salivating at the memory as I type.  If you leave Max’s hungry, it’s your own fault.  However, if you come in for brunch but you aren’t starving, never fear.  You can order a piece of chicken a la carte.

Another dish that I will implore you to please, please, please order is the fried egg sandwich.  Or as my friends call it, The Egg Sandwich.  When we speak of it, our tone indicates the capital letters.  It’s just that good.

In order to get a better idea of how huge this sandwich is, you need to know that the round platter being used as a plate is roughly the size of a small hubcap.  The sandwich holds not one, not two, but three fried eggs drizzled with truffle oil, applewood smoked bacon, Gruyère, lettuce, and tomato on oversized slices of artisan sourdough bread slathered with garlic black truffle aioli.  Ay-yi-yi!  A delectable, decadent fried egg sandwich, nowhere close to the ones you make at home.  Or at least not the ones I make at home.  Heck, I thought I was doin’ it up fancy when I added avocado to my BLT’s. This is the luxury vehicle of the breakfast sandwich, the Maybach Exelero of egg sandwiches.

My apologies for the dark photos.  I need a better camera than my iPhone.  The above creation may not look appealing in the pic, but this Frito Pie Omelet will knock your socks off! Spicy chili, Fritos, queso fresco and white cheddar cheese, sweet onions and egg on a bed of home fries. If this won’t cure your hangover, ain’t nothin’ gonna cure it.  The chili is made with Texas bison, beef, venison, bacon and roasted peppers.  Shut.The.Front.Door.  It’s serious, it’s delicious, it’s seriously delicious. Chef Erica Beneke changes the menu with the seasons, but I sincerely hope the Frito Pie Omelet stays on year ’round.

Conference season is upon us, so before SXSW crowds hit, go to brunch at Max’s.  Parking is horrendous, until all the nearby construction is complete, but the garage at 2nd & San Jacinto almost always has space if you’re willing to pay a small fee.  For even more fun, Max’s hosts Sunday Funday wine tastings, with small bites.  Reservations are required for this $20/per person event, but the ticket price will be applied toward your purchase of a case of wine to-go, should you be so inclined.   For those of you practicing at home for the next Top Chef tryouts, here is a link to Max’s fried chicken recipe.  As for me, I’ll take my craving to Max’s Wine Dive.

10 Responses to Brunch isn’t just a meal in Austin, it’s an event.

  1. Cody

    Oh how I love Max’s! The egg sando is to die for. I wish brunch could happen everyday!

  2. Daniel M. Davis

    This was a very fun place from ambiance, to service to food and beverage. The selection of food was great but what made it better was their unique twist on traditional favorites. As an appetizer we had Drunk Bread – which is like eating baked mac & cheese without the pasta. That thing was religiously good. Knowing I wouldn’t be in the area again for a long time, I picked their signature dish which is their fried chicken. It was delicious, and the taters n broccoli were a nice side feature, It also comes with warm honey to dip the spicy chicken in to complete your mouthwatering combination of sweet, salty, spicy . As with all dishes, they recommend wine/beer parings unique to the dish. For this dish it was champagne or a Pinot. Tres Fabu I tell ya!Only wish this place were in my neck of the woods, it would be frequented by my family to be sure.

  3. Idebenone

    Right in the middle of downtown Austin on a Friday with most business closed still a busy little place. The staff was very pleasant and the food was very good. Share a fried egg sandwich and the guys had chicken and waffles and said it was the best ever. Love eating and new places when we visit Austin!

  4. idebenone

    Someone had sticky fingers at Max’s Wine Dive last week, and it wasn’t a result of the signature fried chicken: the downtown restaurant’s favorite piece of Johnny Cash art, has gone missing. The painting was commissioned in Houston and done by local artist Tra Slaughter, then found a home next to the Austin Max’s jukebox. Owner Jerry Lasco said, via press release:”For the opening of MAX’s Austin, we allowed Johnny to travel, bringing his mojo to our second location—after all, the painting is titled ‘I’ve Been Everywhere, Man.’ The thought was that Johnny would spend time in all of our new locations establishing his ‘presence’ in the room. However, Austin latched on to this piece so intensely that it was deemed ‘ill advised to move.'”Obviously some thief disagreed, and in the early hours of January 20th, between 1:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., he or she made off with the piece. The restaurant is offering a cash reward for information that leads to the painting’s return.

  5. Chester Woods

    When the very first Max’s Wine Dive first opened in Houston in 2007, it led a wave of upscale-downmarket dining — or the more commonly seen moniker: “upscale comfort food” — with its famous offer of fried chicken paired with champagne. (Which is a great idea, if you ask me; a nice, dry bottle of bubbly is almost ideal with a greasy bucket of chicken.) The chicken gets its signature kick from a jalapeño-buttermilk marinade and is still fried to order at Max’s Wine Dives across the state.

  6. Irene Gilmore

    Chef Michael Pellegrino, from Max’s Wine Dive on Washington Avenue is famous for his fried chicken. He shares his secrets with food radio talk show host Cleverley Stone : marinate the chicken before frying (he uses buttermilk); coat the chicken in seasoned flour before cooking; and fry the chicken ‘low and slow.’ Watch the video for all the details.

  7. Victoria Hensley

    We had a wonderful dinner and fantastic service. This is the place to feel pampered yet relaxed all at the same time. Our server offered tastes of wines and champagne before we made our final selections. He was attentive and fun and made us feel special. We had the stuffed peppers, the fried chicken and the egg sandwich along with wine and champagne. We left satisfied and with a case of wine in hand. I will be proudly wearing my new t-shirt !

  8. NAC eye drops

    Chefs who try to fancify lowbrow food warrant suspicion but not immediate dismissal. Max’s Wine Dive in Austin is a perfect example of why checking it out is smart. Advertised awkwardly as “upscale comfort food,” its fried chicken is better described as Tex-Mex soul. Cooks soak the chicken for 24 to 36 hours in a jalapeño buttermilk marinade before deep-frying to order, which allows just enough kick to pair surprisingly well with a flute of champagne. Yes, Max’s Wine Dive is the kind of joint where ordering a glass of bubbly with fried chicken is par for the course.

  9. Monty Powers

    According to the directions, the chipolte and honey are still sitting on the side and the chicken is fried and crispy! Should we assume after taking the chicken out of the marindade, you should whisk in the chipolte/honey mixture into the marinade so that when the chicken is floured the first time, then back in the marinade with the chilis, then floured again – that’s how you wind up with a “kick”?

  10. Kay Marley-Dilworth

    Monty, I haven’t tried to make the fried chicken recipe, but in the restaurant the honey and chipotle is served on the side as your “syrup” for the waffle.