NOLA Brunch & Beignets
If brunch is the new see-and-be-seen meal, then NOLA is the main stage, with standing-room crowds ready to wait an hour or two on weekends for a New Orleans meal and live jazz on the porch. Weekdays you won’t have quite the wait (or the music), but the just-off-St. Mary’s turquoise cottage still hops with activity, as omelets, corned beef, shrimp and grits, and beignets spill out of the kitchen into the tiny dining room and out the door onto the sidewalk. Owned by the same team that operates the Cookhouse, around the corner, some menu items are the same (if NOLA is busy, try the line there), but the focus is simply brunch, from morning to mid-afternoon. Deeply satisfying, quickly served, and generously portioned was the brisket grillades and grits: slow-braised cutlets smothered in a rich Creole tomato sauce, topped with a perfect poached egg, and served over yellow stone-ground grits. The menu offers a number of à la carte items: bacon, fried oysters, pancakes, and more, so you have no one to blame if you go home hungry. Do save room for the beignets, the dense fried pillow (is that lard we taste?) smothered with enough powdered sugar to make you sneeze. For a truly Southern dessert-for-breakfast, order them filled with lemon curd or coffee and chicory pastry cream.
City: San Antonio