Barry Meyer 12:30 p.m., Sept. 21
Two hour limit
Tio Leo's weekend brunch is a place to find zen, darkness, and cheap mimosas
Walking into Tio Leo’s in Bay Park (5302 Napa Street) was like stepping onto a set from Golden Girls. Maybe it was Holiday Inn color scheme, or the the frosted glass partition embossed with toucans and jungle leaves that faced my table, or perhaps it was simply that I felt like the youngest person in the dining room by forty years. Yes, champagne brunch (Sundays from 10-2) is a hangout for the retiree crew. It’s quiet and dark inside while muted, jazzy music plays and soft-spoken servers pad around the dining room refilling coffee and champagne glasses.
The bottomless mimosas are about as cheap as they come at $2.99. They may be Andre and concentrate, but filled deftly and regularly to the brim, they fit the ambiance perfectly. I was tempted request that my server just leave the pitcher, but somehow I didn’t think that would go over very well for either of us. As it is, I ended up well tipsy on half a dozen petite glasses.
The brunch menu is short and every plate is $10.99. Breakfast burritos, tacos, omelets; everything comes with rice and beans and the portions would delight Rabelais. I worked on a plate of chilaquiles that must have had two pounds of food on it. The chewy tortillas had been stewed in red enchilada sauce, which I prefer over green, and, you know what? It wasn’t half bad! Salty, cheesy, satisfying. I could have done a lot worse. Foolishly, I ordered some albondigas soup in case I need a little extra. Even the $2.99 cup was a woefully excessive addition to the monstrous plate of chilaquiles.
Frankly, I’m amazed Tio Leo’s isn’t more of a hipster hangout. If I was waking up late on a Sunday morning, hung over and needing a little hair of the dog, the cave-like serenity of the hotel-hued dining room and groups of retirees noshing in respectful silence would be exactly the thing to ease me back into the world. Creeping back out into the harsh light of day felt almost vampiric, I wanted to return to the darkness and the safety of the dining room and the bottomless mimosas. Sadly, there’s a two hour limit on hanging out there. It says so right on the menu.
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