Quick (but Impressive) Pickup Meals for Mother’s Day

No reservations? No problem. Grab Mom some fresh bagels from Union Market or a breakfast picnic basket with the full spread.

Washington has plenty of places to pick up freshly made doughnuts for Mom. Image via Shutterstock.

It’s the nightmare scenario: Even your plan-D brunch spot is booked for Mother’s Day, and you’ve got zero ideas for a good gift. Don’t worry, you don’t have to escort Mom into a suspiciously empty restaurant or hand her an IOU this Sunday. Plenty of spots offer edible items that could serve as a meal, a gift, or, conveniently, both. Below are a few ideas to get you started.

Farmers market crabcakes

In the current issue of The Washingtonian—which you can pick up on newsstands now—food editors shared some of their favorite farmers market finds. At the top of the list: jumbo lump crabcakes from Chris’ Marketplace.

You’ll find the nearly filler-free cakes at the Sunday morning Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. All they need is a quick sear or turn in the oven and a wedge of lemon, and you have brunch covered. You can also pick up delicious gazpacho at the stand, salad greens and fresh fruit from other vendors, and, of course, a springtime bouquet.

Picnic breakfast basket

Restaurant Eve owners Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong offer a to-go brunch option at Society Fair, their Alexandria marketplace. The Breakfast Bag, which serves four, includes ready-to-bake scones, mixed greens and strawberry citrus salads, an asparagus and house-made sausage strata, mimosa makings, and an optional guilty pleasure celeb rag. The deadline for orders is Friday. Need an additional gift? The shop is filled with specialty olive oils, vinegars, bar necessities, and more.

New York-style bagels and lox

Don’t feel like fighting the crowds at Union Market on Sunday? Get there early and grab an array of New York-style bagels from Buffalo & Bergen—they’re puffier than most, but also dense and moist—and then head over to Neopol Savory Smokery for the salmon. That vendor’s dill-and-brandy-cured gravlax is a light, fresh alternative to the heavily smoked fish you find at the supermarket, though the smoked whitefish salad makes a tasty topping, too. You’re also set for a quick gift grab: everything from a bouquet at Blue Iris Flowers to interesting wines from Cordial and home goods at Salt & Sundry.


As our Great Doughnut Derby showed, there’s no scarcity of spots to grab a hot, fresh doughnut in Washington. You could go with creative confections, such as the Campari-grapefruit rounds from newcomer GBD, or a more traditional but no less delicious airy doughnut from Palena’s market. If the latter is your pick, you can also grab Mom an edible gift or whole sweet or savory basket. Note: You’ll have to order them by Friday.

Italian feasts

So Mom is a great Italian cook, and you’re . . . not. Instead of messing with her marinara, treat her to an Italian picnic (al fresco, weather permitting) with sandwiches from Bethesda’s Cornucopia market. We’re fans of the simple yet delicious sandwiches such as a fresh baguette drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and layered prosciutto di parma. Pick up an assortment of Italian cookies and biscotti, make a gift out of various artisanal dried pastas and oils, and you’re good to go. Mom more of a hearty eater? The Italian subs or focaccia sandwiches at old-school favorite Vace are hard to beat.

Fried chicken

After taste-testing 14 varieties of fried chicken, we learned that while it makes you want to deep-cleanse your face, it’s also delicious and travels well. Pick a nice outdoor spot if the weather is good, and bring a bucket from one of our favorites. If you end up heading to Pearl Dive on the 14th Street strip for crispy birds, make a detour up the street for a fun card at Pulp and great house decorations, bathroom accessories, and kitchen finds from Home Rule.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.