News & Politics

Favorite Brunches in Washington

During the week, this is a power-breakfast town, but weekends bring a more leisurely meal. Here are our favorite reasons to get up before noon on a Sunday.

Blue Duck Tavern in DC’s West End gilds the lily at brunch, from the freshly baked croissants to the five kinds of Bloody Marys. Photograph by Scott Suchman



Best alternative to hash browns: The crackly-edged latkes ($7) at Black Market Bistro (4600 Waverly Ave., Garrett Park; 301-933-3000) make us forget about any other breakfast potato. Dip one bite in thick sour cream, the next in the house-made applesauce.

Meal on wheels: On weekends, you’ll usually find a line out the door of our favorite dim sum house, the wonderfully chaotic Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard (2621 University Blvd. W., Wheaton; 240-290-9988). The carts hold treasures galore: filmy noodles wrapped around fried crullers, steamed barbecue-pork-filled buns, and spicy shrimp wontons.

Not just any eggs: You can find omelets and scrambles on most brunch menus, but an Egg 63? The deliciously runny egg—cooked at 63 degrees Celsius and draped over a sauté of mushrooms—was created for the menu at Minibar but is now offered at “Latino dim sum” at Café Atlántico (405 Eighth St., NW; 202-393-0812). At Jackie’s (8081 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-565-9700), we like the kitchen’s twist on the British “eggs in a nest.” Instead of serving the poached egg with toast, it’s nestled in wilted greens atop a crisp round of hash browns.

Cafe society: Whether you take your morning brioche on the leafy sidewalk cafe or inside the bar, Café du Parc (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-942-7000) feels like just the place to crack open some Ezra Pound.

If you’re not in the mood for pancakes: Want more lunch than brunch? It’s tough to say no to the bison burger at Cashion’s Eat Place (1819 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-797-1819), stacked with tomato and a perfectly poached egg and served with a side of potatoes and béarnaise.

And if you are . . . : Art Smith’s dinner-plate-size pancakes at Art and Soul (415 New Jersey Ave., NW; 202-393-7777) have a ladies-who-lunch aura—they’re ultrathin, lemon-scented, and topped with honey and a spoonful of mascarpone butter—but are satisfying and not too sweet.

Brunch with a twist: The late-morning meal at Poste (555 Eighth St., NW; 202-783-6060) is full of surprises: breezy, herb-infused cocktails, a buttery Reuben with duck pastrami, softly scrambled eggs with salmon and crème fraîche. Our favorite might be the Eggs Hussarde, a mess of poached eggs, bacon, and potato skins gussied up with marchand de vin sauce.

Most unexpected find: Indian restaurants are better known for lunch buffets than for brunch. The elegant Angeethi (645 Elden St., Herndon; 703-796-1527) does both well. Each Saturday and Sunday, East-West dishes such as masala omelets share space with puffs of fry bread, freshly griddled cornbread, and Burmese hakka noodles.

Brunch that won’t break the bank: Domku (821 Upshur St., NW; 202-722-7475) might look like a whimsically cool coffeehouse, but its Scandinavian-minded kitchen puts out more than the usual snacks. We like Swedish hash with salmon and a poached egg, Danish abelskiver—a cross between a doughnut hole and a pancake—and a cardamom waffle with lingonberry preserves.

At Jackie’s, a rendition of “eggs in a nest,” served with wilted greens and crisp potatoes, is a clever spin on the brunch staple. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Worth the splurge: Brunch is a toss-off at some high-end restaurants. Not at Volt (228 N. Market St., Frederick; 301-696-8658): It’s hard to choose among stellar renditions of steak and eggs and rum-soaked French toast. Even tougher is saving your appetite past one of the best bread baskets around, filled with just-baked biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and pain au chocolat. 

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.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.