Blueberry pancakes and a yogurt parfait at Third Coast in TMC (Courtesy photo)
Community table at Tiny Boxwoods (Photo by Chris Brown)
Black Walnut on Memorial Drive
The Pearl at The Sam Houston Hotel is a newcomer within walking distance of the courthouses.
Quattro in the Four Seasons Hotel downtown is a morning favorite of big oil, accountants and lawyers.
Catfish and grits, chicken wings and waffles — staples of The Breakfast Klub (Courtesy Photo)
Near River Oaks, Ouisie's a choice for both businessmen and women.
An institution for more than half a century, Avalon Diner is a funky throwback.
While the three-martini lunch may be long gone, in the upper echelons of business the power breakfast thrives particularly in Houston where we tend to rise earlier, lunch later and are work focused 24/7. Some might recall the heydays of One’s A Meal on Memorial Drive where judges and lawyers hobnobbed over grits and biscuits and real estate moguls met to sign off on contracts.
Houston country clubs, River Oaks in particular, have long been the breakfast bastion of the city’s top deal makers. But as the city has mushroomed in recent decades so has the popularity of new places for sealing the deal. Let’s take an early look at Houston’s nine emerging power breakfast hot spots.
Quattro in the Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar St., 713.276.4700 — If Mr. Big offices downtown, you will most likely find him booking his breakfast meetings at this swank hotel restaurant. It’s a favorite with energy moguls and wildcatters, accounting execs and corporate lawyers from Fulbright & Jaworski, Vincent & Elkins, etc.
Think suits and Tumi briefcases. For power brokers looking to see and be seen, ask for table 174, a four top in the center of the bustling restaurant. Table 182 for six is another popular spot with a perch offering a view of all the dining room happenings. Early bird breakfast menu favorites? The egg white frittata is tops, followed by huevos rancheros.
Third Coast, 6550 Bertner Ave., 713.749.0400 — Opening at 7 a.m. in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, Third Coast is the go-to place for breakfast meetings with hospital CEOs, surgeons, Dr. McDreamys , Big Pharma reps and service industry honchos.
Not only are the sleek, contemporary interiors a draw but also the spectacular views of the med center from the top floor of the John McGovern Commons make this an exceptional breakfast location. There’s nothing like a sunrise over huevos rancheros, blue berry buttermilk pancakes or the healthy granola parfait.
Ouisie’s Table, 3939 San Felipe St., 713.528.2264 — Just inside Loop 610 and on the edge of River Oaks, Ouisie’s has a well-established business breakfast clientele that is about half men and half women. An example: the female exec from Dallas who comes in once a month for a table in the corner, with electrical outlets, where she sets up office.
Ousie’s general manager and co-owner Wafi Dinari says that most of the business breakfasts last from an hour to 90 minutes, but there have been tables so intense that diners have worked from breakfast through lunch. Ouisie’s side rooms are popular for private morning meetings. The white table cloth service and lengthy menu with everything from egg croissants, to bagel and lox to the ubiquitous fried chicken and waffles are sure to fuel any heavy-duty confab. (I’ll have the sugar high from the cinnamon roll, myself.)
The Breakfast Klub, 3711 Travis St., 713.528.8561 — The line forms early on weekends but if you’re there when the doors open at 7 a.m. weekdays, owner Marcus Davis will personally welcome you and encourage you to try the signature catfish and grits or wings and waffles. Have a beef with your city councilman or the mayor?
Chances are that you’ll find them or their representatives breakfasting here on any given weekday. Conveniently tucked between Midtown and the Texas Medical Center, the down-home eatery is particularly popular with local politicians as well as its share of lawyers and bankers.
Harry’s, 318 Tuam St., 713.518.0198 — Can’t get into River Oaks Country Club for the ultimate power breakfast but wishing for face time with the movers and shakers who enjoy the benefits of membership? Head to Harry’s, which opens at a rooster-crowing 6 a.m., on Monday.
The country club is closed on the first day of the week, so members with a need to meet, gather at this casual neighborhood eatery for bacon, eggs and hashing over business plans. It’s also a popular breakfast spot for downtown politicos any day of the week.
The Pearl, 1117 Prairie St., 832.200.8800 — This new restaurant incarnation in the Sam Houston Hotel already has a large breakfast following among the city’s legal fraternities and judiciary circles. Conveniently located within walking distance of the civil, criminal and family courts, it’s a no brainer for breakfast meetings. As the name is a nod to Gulf Coast seafood and rich oyster beds, don’t miss the oyster shell chandelier and don’t pass up the fried oyster omelette or maybe the pork belly and grits have greater appeal. If you insist, there is a vegetarian, egg white frittata.
Avalon Diner, 2417 Westheimer Road, 713.527.8900 — Since opening across Westheimer in its original back-of-the-drugstore space in 1938, the Avalon Diner has been the go-to breakfast place for River Oaks powerhouses. Despite the move to newer digs in 1993, Avalon maintains its funky, yesteryear vibe and old-fashioned service where the waitresses who know the scions of oil families and new rich by their first names prefer the “honey” and “baby” greeting for customers.
Whether at a booth or a table in the corner, you’ll find the bigwigs solving problems over basic breakfast fare, most likely the cheese omelette. As one fan notes, “Perfectly cooked and oozing with lots of gooey melted cheddar! Great cure for what ails you after a late-night gala!!”
Tiny Boxwoods, 3614 W. Alabama St., 713.622.4224 — The French-flavored domain of fashionable ladies for lunch, this charming enclave on Alabama just east of Wesleyan, opening at 7 a.m., draws an artsy business crowd and real estate honchos well before the ladies descend. Popular not only for its patio dining in the Thompson Hanson garden and the stellar cappuccino, the chocolate chip cookies are to-die-for, even for breakfast. (This, in fact, is where I met with PaperCity‘s Holly Moore and Jim Kastleman to seal the deal for my signing on as the magazine’s Society & Lifestyle editor.)
Black Walnut Cafe, 5512 Memorial Dr., 713.868.1800 — While the heyday of the Houston power breakfast seemed to dissipate with the closure more than a decade ago of the revered, if basic, One’s A Meal on Memorial Drive, the Black Walnut is filling the gap on this stretch of the speedway heading into downtown.
Opening at 6:30, the business buzz activates between 7 and 8 when you’ll find numerous interviews and tete-a-tete meetings taking place over heaping breakfast dishes. (Try the crispy waffle with a side of bacon.)