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New Year’s Day Brunch Guide

These restaurants will help you start 2012 off right—no matter what went down the night before.

Eggs Benedict is just the beginning. There’s a brunch for every need this New Year’s day.

If you’re headed to brunch on New Year’s day, chances are you’re a) wildly hungover, b) mildly hungover, or c) sober as a minister but accompanied by hungover people. Fortunately, Washington-area restaurants have New Year’s Day brunches designed for d) all of the above. We’ve assembled a guide to the best of these below, and heartily suggest you make reservations whenever it’s possible and call ahead to check on wait times whenever it’s not. Happy New Year!

Hangover? What Hangover?
High-end brunches are the purview of the restrained. So if overindulging isn’t in the cards this 31st, head to the elegant Blue Duck Tavern in the Park Hyatt Hotel, which is serving an abundant lineup of dishes this year (four varieties of Bloody Marys and mocktails are also on hand). Over at the Four Seasons Georgetown, Bourbon Steak  rolls out a three-course menu featuring chilled oysters and lobster pot pie (for a less pricey but still sceney G-town option, try Kafe Leopold down M Street). Cashion’s always feels like a special-occasion spot, but brunch—a fresh pastry basket, a cocktail, coffee, and an entrée—is just $35 per person. Midmorning-meal landmark Old Ebbitt Grill is also relatively informal, and is a great option for family dining; think shellfish towers and a postprandial jaunt around the Mall.

For quality caffeine cures, drop by Bayou Bakery near the Courthouse Metro for coffee and beignets. A short walk away, Northside Social also has stellar brews (and silky, farm-fresh milk from Trickling Springs Creamery), alongside a full pastry menu. Both the Alexandria and the Arlington branches of Buzz Bakery are serving up piping hot cups of superior joe and tea with crave-worthy cinnamon rolls and brioche. You’ll find a similar case over in Georgetown, where Baked & Wired draws weary patrons to its couches with potent espresso and comforting cupcakes. Snag both a cup of coffee and beans to go at Quartermaine in Bethesda or Big Bear Cafe in Bloomingdale. For something stronger, check out Chinatown Coffee Company, which starts serving booze at 9 AM. Nothing says “hello, 2012!” like an organic Mexican coffee with a whiskey chaser.

Greasy Eats
Partied on 14th Street and never left? Birch & Barley has an excellent à-la-carte menu, or you can opt for the $30 “boozy brunch,” complete with doughnuts, two brunch cocktails, bottomless coffee, and entrées like the fried-egg BLT or brat burger. If fresh oysters and fried chicken seem like better balms, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is only a saunter away, as is Hank’s Oyster Bar, where sake-oyster shooters can alleviate the pain of last night’s less elegant shots. Too swanky? Stoney’s serves the kind of grilled cheese Mom used to make back before you knew hangovers existed; Bourbon in Adams Morgan/Glover Park does, too, with the added benefit of tater tots.

Sister restaurants Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hall are prime choices in Clarendon (the former for its buffet, and the latter for dishes like pulled-pork poached eggs), though you’ll want to make a res or drag yourself in early to avoid a painful wait. Rustico’s menus were basically made for hungover people (ricotta doughnuts! pretzel mac!), while Ray’s to the Third in Rosslyn has that insane steak-and-cheese sandwich that we’ve been dreaming about since Landrum turned Steak and Cheese back into Hell-Burger Too (which will also be open New Year’s Day). We also dream about Black Market Bistro’s lineup in Garrett Park, which includes comforts like wood-grilled steak and eggs and buttermilk pancakes.

Hair of the Dog
So it was that kind of a night. Forget the hair of the dog and grab the full coat at 14th Street sister eateries Masa 14 and El Centro D.F., where $35 gets you an unlimited parade of brunch small plates, and, more important, brunch cocktails. Iron stomachs can also head to Medium Rare in Cleveland Park, where an appetizer, entrées like steak and eggs or French toast, and (gulp) bottomless screwdrivers/mimosas/Bloodys are yours for $23. Whitlow’s on Wilson in Clarendon is another favorite of brave boozers for their unlimited DIY Bloody Mary bar ($6), which can wash down a hearty brunch buffet. Mimosas more your thing? Urbana has a lovely build-your-own Bellini bar ($16) when you order an entrée. Mix French bubbly with fresh peach, mandarin, and more fruit purées.

For more discerning day drinkers, there’s the Tabard Inn. The dining room is totally booked, but you can still get the full brunch menu at the walk-in-only bar, along with a cocktail or three from mixologist Chantal Tseng (we love the tequila and fresh thyme in the signature Tabard cocktail). Belgian waffles and other treats at Ris arrive alongside shareable pitchers of sangria (or $18 bottomless mimosas). You can also choose to fall down the rabbit hole (or not) at Scion in Dupont, where your first cocktail—think bacon Bloodys, gin-mango quenchers, and more—can be made bottomless for a lowly fiver.

Passport to Health
Local chefs swear by the restorative power of pho when it comes to a bleary morning, and fortunately there are plenty of good options. We particularly love the brisket- or pork-meatball-filled bowls at Pho Xe Lua in the Eden Center, or the rich, brothy bowls with tripe and tendon at the cash-only Pho 75 in Fall’s Church. District denizens can do well at Pho 14, which is close to the Columbia Heights Metro.

Menudo, a fortifying tripe soup that could be pho’s evil Mexican twin, is also a sworn hangover cure. Head to La Sirenita in Hyattsville for the delicacy, as well as equally comforting but less-exotic dishes such as chilaquiles with fried eggs and pork-and-hominy posole. Mixtec in Adams Morgan also boasts the cure, plus egg-and-chorizo tortas, which are far better than your average breakfast sandwich.

Dim sum may seem more like a headache than a hangover remedy (so many carts! children!), but it’s well worth the price of three Advil. Dan-dan noodles and pork dumplings at A&J Restaurant in Annandale and Rockville pad the stomach perfectly, as do shrimp dumplings, pork buns, and more at Columbia’s Red Pearl. Options abound at Hollywood East in Wheaton, which, unless you’re in really bad shape, isn’t a bad thing.

Though it’s a short trip away, some South in your mouth can’t hurt (unless it’s Southern Comfort, in which case it will). Both Acadiana in Penn Quarter and Art and Soul on the Hill fit the higher-end bill; the former has a three-course $29 menu, where brunch cocktails are only $1 extra, and the latter offers fried chicken and biscuits with two tipples for $30. Not in the mood to spend? Cozy Creme on U Street nails the down-home atmosphere with more pocket-friendly fare, while Firefly’s fare also leans South with dishes like grits ’n’ eggs and lemon-ricotta spoonbread.

It can be a toss-up between extra hours of sleep and quality brunch time, but on New Year’s day, you don’t have to choose! Order from the brunch menu at Marvin from noon until 8 PM. The hours are the same for Room 11’s brunch in Columbia Heights (the items aren’t online, but you can get the gist from the regular menu here). Sister diners Open City and Tryst will have breakfast dishes all day and evening per usual (and also probably the same noon to 3 PM brunch crush, so it’s best to go later, regardless). And while at all four locations of Busboys and Poets, brunch only runs until 3, you’re “highly encouraged” to wear pajamas, so it’s basically like breakfast in bed (unless you sleep naked, and then it’s like breakfast in jail).

Entertaining Distractions
Need more than eggs Benny to distract from internal misery? Drag queens should do the trick, and you can find them singing and dancing at Perry’s famous drag queen brunch buffet in Adam’s Morgan between 10 AM and 3 PM (there’s often a line, but that’s a small price to pay for sushi and cross-dressing). If you’d prefer scenery sans sequins, the Odyssey casts off for a Potomac brunch cruise at noon. Redwood in Bethesda books live jazz, and there’re bottomless mimosas and buffet options in the mix. And if all of the above seems waaay too active, consider catching a brunch-time flick at an independent theater with tasty munchies and booze, like West End Cinema (popcorn with real butter, and wine!) Landmark E Street Cinema (muffins and bubbly!), or Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (a full menu and beer!). We can think of a lot worse ways to begin a new year.

See Also:

The Procrastinator’s Guide to New Year’s Eve Dining

No-Cover Bar Options for New Year’s Eve in Washington

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