There's not exactly a shortage of brunches in this town. There is, however, a shortage of Mexican brunches, especially those with unlimited carnitas tacos and mole. Enter Porfirio's, the upscale Mexican restaurant perched on South of Fifth.
Porfirio's introduced brunch about a month ago, and while the idea of never-ending tacos sounds like just the right Sunday hangover cure, we're not entirely sure it's worth the high price. Short Order was invited to try Porfirio's decadent brunch spread.
Porfirio's brunch will set you back $55, which includes one welcome drink. Think bloody marias (a bloody mary with tequila instead of vodka), mexmosas (a mimosa with Mexican sparkling wine), micheladas, and margaritas. You can go bottomless here, but it will cost you an additional $25, jacking up the total to $80. That's a steep price to pay for tacos and booze.
Josefinas are Porfirio's selection of mezcal drinks. Try the frozen tamarind -- it's by far the best one.
A raw bar proffers all the crab legs and shrimp you can crack and peel. If you're obsessed with crab legs, this feature alone would make the price worth it. But the one I tried was a tad dry, and the shrimp tasted frozen.
A cold ceviche station offers three raw varieties: shrimp, fish, and octopus. All were fresh and acidic, the way ceviche is supposed to be. The best of the three, however, was the octopus.
Pretty sure you know the drill here.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Porfirio's brunch is the bread station, which includes a bevvy of grains and house-made butters, as well as marmalades and honeys. Be prepared to spend some time here.
Try all of the butters to figure out which you like best. There are regular, garlic, curry, Mexican herb, and some type of chili with a weird name (it's the orange one). The garlic and Mexican herbs are the ones that will have your knife coming back for more.
Two soups -- pozole and tortilla -- are up for grabs, as well as a DIY salad bar for those looking to go green on a Sunday afternoon. Go for the pozole soup option. It was my favorite item of the entire brunch even though it was a tad cold.
Temperature is another problem Porfirio's needs to address. Tortillas are brought to your table for taco-making purposes, but mine arrived cold. Chaffing dishes meant to keep items to fill your tortillas blistering don't do their job. In them are mole poblano, camarone al chipotle, cochinita pibil, and other Mexican meat preparations.
An omelet station lets you have eggs your way.
Mexican-style rice with olives and chicken was kept at a good temperature and delicious. Definitely have a couple of servings of this.
How many carnitas tacos do you think you can eat? I capped out at five. Let's do some math here: five tacos at $4 a pop (which is on the higher end for a taco) adds up to just $20. Now factor one drink here, which is what Porfirio's includes and you're at $32. Sure, you've got breads, ceviches, and a raw bar, but how much of all that are you really going to consume to make you feel like you've eaten $55 worth of food. Buffet brunches are supposed to make you feel like you've gotten a hell of a deal, not question it.
Another option would be to go the a la carte route, which would mean you'd have to give up all aforementioned offerings and instead just have pescado al pastor, chile relleno de queso, enchiladas verdes, or sábana Invierno,(traditional Mexican flattened tenderloin steak, decadently topped with refried beans, tomatillo verde sauce, mozzarella cheese and sour cream). In our mathematical head, this doesn't make much sense -- $55 for an entrée and a drink is somewhat duplicitous.
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Oh, there's dessert too. Choose from Flan casero, manchego and ate cheesecake, chocolate mousse or Porfirio's signature churros served with crème anglaise, caramel, strawberry, chocolate syrup, and hot cocoa.
Our suggestion? Make the booze bottomless with the current price and throw in one a la carte item per person like Zuma and EDGE do (EDGE doesn't limit you to just one). Granted their brunch is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but they're also dishing out oysters, stone crab, sashimi, whole pig, and including kitchen items. Porfirio's should also think about incorporating some unique hangover but elevated grub. Things like a carnitas benedict, chilaquiles, or a crazy rendition of huevos rancheros. If they did that and kept their current offerings sizzling instead of letting them go lukewarm, their brunch game could be one of the best in the city. As is though, it's just an overpriced Mexican meal that's trying to call itself brunch.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha