Good Bread, Good Meat, Good God, Lets Eat

In a town that bills itself "the live music capital of the world," but in which 87% of the residents claim they don't attend church regularly, perhaps it was inevitable that the storied tradition of religious revivals would find new life in Austin restaurants.

Local gospel artists perform their rollicking spirituals over lavish spreads at Gospel Brunches, creating a new form of worship for those who sleep in on Sunday but still want to commune with a higher power. Whether you're a strict devotee or an anything-goes secular humanist, it's tough not to be inspired by the "roots gospel," a soul-stirring blend of jazz, bluegrass, blues, and country.

Threadgill's (6416 N. Lamar Blvd.) is an Austin tradition, and the World Headquarters (South Store) offers throwback gospel of the finest church-choir sort alongside its comfort-food buffet. If you like your food and your music Southern-fried, grab a table in the Biergarten for the 11:00 AM gospel brunch.

Stubb's Bar-B-Q (801 Red River) hews more toward the rhythm-and-blues end of the gospel spectrum, with a justly famous barbecued pork rib plate and an accompanying variety of soul food staples. Brunch shows are at 11:00 AM and again at 1:00 PM (if Saturday night was particularly raucous), and the shows are an excellent indoor alternative in case of foul weather.

Maria's Taco Xpress (2529 S. Lamar Blvd.) offers its well-known overflowing tacos together with the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers, a rotating cast of Austin favorites who perform deliciously uplifting gospel with a slightly funkier edge and a relaxed, all-inclusive vibe. Best of all, the tip jar proceeds don't go to the band. The money is donated to a selection of local charities, so you can do your good deed for the week even if you missed the church collection plate. The music starts at 12:30 PM on the patio.

At the gospel brunches, you're likely to encounter old and young, hipsters and yuppies, hippies and bikers, families with kids and twentysomethings with dates - as diverse a spiritual community as you'll find at any church (not to mention some darned good people-watching). Satisfy both the hunger in your belly and the hunger in your soul... or just get up and dance.

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About The Author, Tymon Hytem