Get ready to raise the roof; there’s nothing quite like a gospel brunch. Powerful, soul-searching music, Southern-inspired soul food, and celestial cocktails — even church never felt so good. These top gospel brunches offer the faithful fantastic chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits, along with heavenly voices, welcoming Southern hospitality, and a sweet side of spirituality. Preach!
Ginny’s Supper Club, New York, New York
Rise and shine! New Yorkers have been praising the gospel brunch in the Red Rooster’s downstairs area known as Ginny’s Supper Club for years. Chef Marcus Samuelsson creates sinful comfort food like cornbread (with honey butter and tomato jam), Mac & Greens (New York cheddar and Parmesan – plus lobster if you like); Fried Yardbird (dark meat, white mace gravy, mashed potatoes, and bread and butter pickles); Shrimp & Grits (cheddar grits, piri piri, and frogmore stew), The Bird and the Egg (fried chicken, waffle, and red eye gravy) and Rum Cake with Strawberries (caramel and Thai long peppercorn ice cream). Order a Bloody Mary or Red Eye Rooster (Bloody Mary and beer) and worship your meal while listening to local talent like the gospel sounds of Vy Higginsen’s Choir. Make a reservation at Ginny’s Supper Club.
Halls Chophouse, Charleston, South Carolina
Clap along with the Plantation Singers who perform gospel every Sunday at this much-lauded family steakhouse. Traditional brunch items are served with twists like French toast that’s prepared with a lavender-scented brioche and cornflake crust. You can also expect a helping of traditional Southern food like Shrimp & Grits and the Lowcountry Omelet (shrimp, crab, peppers, and onions, cheddar and Swiss, collard greens, pepper jack grits, and hash brown potatoes). Throw in a side of collard greens along with a Bloody or Bellini (Champagne, peach schnapps, passion fruit) and you’ve got a meal made in heaven. Make a reservation at Halls Chophouse.
House of Blues, various locations, U.S.A.
Go tell it on the mountain; a gospel brunch is served on Sundays at 11 House of Blues locations around the country. Local talent chosen by celebrated gospel producer and artist Kirk Franklin perform uplifting gospel tunes that’ll have you on your feet, and there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with items like Creole Chicken Jambalaya, Chicken and Waffles (with Vermont maple syrup, housemade Buffalo sauce, fresh strawberries, and homemade whipped cream), and a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar (think bacon and hot sauce.) Heavens to Betsy, the House of Blues in Anaheim, California, now located in Downtown Disney, is moving to a larger venue at the Anaheim GardenWalk in the Anaheim Resort District this summer. Make a reservation at The House of Blues.
The Hamilton, Washington, D.C.
This restaurant/music hall near Metro Center hosts a gospel brunch for special holidays, including Easter and Mother’s Day. Performances by Wilbur Johnson & The Gospel Persuaders complement a menu of Southern standards such as collard greens, fried chicken, Southern-style catfish and a Virginia Ham carving station, as well as the standard brunch renditions like scrambled eggs and bacon. Note: The gospel brunch is a ticketed event and is held downstairs in Hamilton Live, the restaurant’s music venue. You can also choose to have brunch upstairs in the restaurant and sing your own praises; order a District Cider (Leopold Bros New York Apple Whiskey, Three Pins Alpine Liqueur and spiced apple cider with a spiced Turbinado rim) and pair it with the District Wings with mumbo sauce, Shrimp & Grits (pimento cheese grit cake, spicy shrimp sauce, andouille sausage, and spinach), or the Challah French Toast with baked apples, vanilla whipped cream, and Vermont maple syrup. Make a reservation at The Hamilton.
1300 on Fillmore, San Francisco, California
Located in the city’s lively Fillmore Jazz District, this restaurant with a posh supper club vibe worships inventive Low Country cuisine prepared by chef David Lawrence. His nurturing menu features clap-worthy brunch dishes like BBQ Shrimp ‘N Creamy Grits, David’s Fried Chicken & Rosemary Waffle (with chili maple syrup butter sauce), and Sweet Tea Panna Cotta (with lemon granite and red currants). Sip a 1300 Bloody Mary (vodka, bloody Mary mix, and blackened shrimp) and drink in the music performed by the popular Future Perfect gospel band. Amen to that. Make a reservation at 1300 on Fillmore.
Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.
Photo credits: Ashley Bode (Red Rooster Harlem); Jason Kindig (House of Blues).