Eye-openers: There are five varieties of Bloody Marys to choose from at Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th St., NW; 202-419-6755), from an Old Bay–rimmed traditional blend to a martini poured over tomato ice cubes. At Vermilion (1120 King St., Alexandria; 703-684-9669), we like daytime cocktails such as the vodka-spiked King Street Lemonade and a gin fizz made with pear reduction.
Alternative to Egg McMuffin: It’s as simple as it gets, but there’s something deeply satisfying about the bacon-egg-and-American-cheese sandwich on buttery white toast at Evening Star Cafe (2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-549-5051).
Fanciest coffee service: A French press of dark Austrian coffee, served at Leopold’s Kafe & Konditorei (3318 M St., NW; 202-965-6005) on a little silver tray, is the perfect foil for a ham-and-cheese scone or scrambled-egg soufflé.
Destination doughnuts: Tabard Inn (1739 N St., NW; 202-331-8528) is famous for its brunch—and its house-made doughnuts. The warm rounds, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, are beautifully light.
Prime-time pastries: Heather Chittum’s desserts are our favorite part of dinner at Hook (3241 M St., NW; 202-625-4488 ). On weekends, she turns out fresh croissants and currant-studded scones. If you’re on the go, pick up a few freshly baked pains au chocolat at the charmingly rickety Cafe Parisien Express (4520 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-525-3332).
Southern comfort: For brunch at Redwood (7121 Bethesda La., Bethesda; 301-656-5155), one cook’s day is devoted to making buttermilk biscuits. Flaky and soft, they’re served with jalapeño jelly, but we prefer them with honey butter and house-made mixed-berry jam.
Who needs New York? A pizza place is about the last spot we’d think to turn to for a great bagel, but you’ll find one—plus onion-topped bialys—at 2 Amys (3715 Macomb St., NW; 202-885-5700). To go with it: house-made cream cheese and lox.
Room with a view: The food at Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs (100 Main St., Annapolis; 410-626-1100)—omelets, waffles, cereal, muffins—is nothing special, but you can’t beat the location, with its vista of boats in the harbor.
Dessert for breakfast: There’s a new version of the Belgian waffle at Brasserie Beck (1101 K St., NW; 202-408-1717). Big and fluffy, with crisp edges, it’s sometimes topped with rich, dark-chocolate mousse.