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Beyond Brunch: Unusual—But Still Really Fun—Ideas for Mother’s Day

Swap eggs Benedict for wine tasting, or take the kids for a worry-free meal.

Find lovely last-minute gifts for mom at Salt & Sundry in Union Market. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Come Sunday, May 12, you’ll find practically everyone and their mother at brunch. Consider breaking from the norm with one of the following activities for the food-loving matriarch.

Meander through a market

She once guided your around the grocery store—now return the favor tenfold. As our latest issue attests, Washington markets are some of the most fun and exciting places to roam these days. For mothers who like their produce with a side of freshly shucked oysters, start at Union Market in the District. The newly built food lover’s paradise houses a variety of vendors. You’ll find plenty of tasty foodstuffs to take home, but we also love grazing and sipping on the premises. Recent favorites include freshly shucked oysters and buttery Old Bay shrimp with deftly crafted cocktails at Rappahannock Oyster Company, flights of fromage with wine or beer from Righteous Cheese, and Red Apron’s meaty sandwiches such as “porkstrami” accompanied by an on-tap G&T. If you haven’t picked a gift for Mom, just head to Salt & Sundry and let her go to town on the charming boutique’s tableware, aprons, cookbooks, candles, and more. Note: The market tends to hit its peak on the weekend around lunch/brunch time. To avoid the biggest crowds, go around 11 when it first opens, or in the early evening.

Mom more of an outdoors type? Check out one of the bountiful Sunday markets for ingredients, and then cook a feast together. Dupont Circle FreshFarm market is the largest in DC, with everything from meats and produce to fresh pastas and crabcakes for an easy at-home supper. Over in Maryland, the Olney Farmers & Artists Market debuts its spring and summer market on Mother’s Day with many items from local artists and craftspeople in addition to the edible offerings. Arlington, Virginia’s Westover Farmers Market is another stocked stop, with plenty of premade foods and fresh items to cook. Check out our online directory for times and locations.

Tour local wineries

Take your turn as the designated driver (or just make one of your siblings do it) and head out to your pick of Virginia’s many scenic wineries. A few of our favorites planned special events for Mother’s Day, including picnic lunches and free tastings for moms at Amissville’s Gray Ghost Vineyards, a Barboursville Winery brunch, and live music at Delaplane Cellars. Pack a picnic—many vineyards provide tables where you can sip newly purchased bottles over lunch—or plan your tour around one of the many wine country restaurants, such as select Middleburg-area eateries, L’Auberge Provençale, or even the Inn at Little Washington.

Go gospel

You don’t have to be a church-goer to enjoy one of Washington’s gospel brunches. As online dining editor Jessica Voelker notes about Howard Theatre’s Sunday Gospel Brunch, “it’s impossible to leave this experience without a soaring sense of well-being.” (See more of our dining editors’ personal picks for Mother’s Day meals in our earlier roundup.) You’ll find an extra seating for the bountiful Southern buffet and concert by the Harlem Gospel Choir for the holiday—one at 11, the other at 2—plus a special dinner show with Freddie Jackson.

We’re also big fans of the rotating lineup of musical acts during the Hamilton’s Sunday brunch in the spacious concert venue. It has scheduled three seatings for the all-you-can-eat Southern buffet and performance by the Uptown Gospel Singers, though the 12:30 slot is already sold out.

More of a singing sinner than a saint? Grab Mom and a few of her girlfriends for Perry’s Sunday drag brunch, where you can down mimosas, snack on sushi from an all-you-can-eat buffet, and strut your stuff alongside the besequined dancers from 10 to 3. A word of warning: Waits can stretch to two hours or more, so either get there extra early or be prepared to wait.

Dig in, family-style

Sure, lingering peacefully over mimosas is wonderful. But that can be easier said than done when young kids are in tow. At bustling Chinese dim sum spots such as Hong Kong Pearl and A & J or Thai restaurants like Duangrat’s, you can dine family-style without receiving scathing glances when someone drops a chopstick. Not into Asian? Check out food and wine editor Todd Kliman’s suggestions for kid-friendly local spots, from fine dining to casual pizza joints.

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