Brunch can be the most indulgent meal of the week with all the tempting carbs and bottomless deals—but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few great options whether you’re gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or just trying to keep those New Year’s resolutions (at least through the first week).
7100 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 2910 District Ave., Suite 170, Mosaic District (Fairfax)
This health-focused chain, now with locations in Fairfax and Bethesda, is founded on Dr. Andrew Weil’s “anti-inflammatory food pyramid.” Don’t let the clinical phrasing dissuade you—the spaces are bright and energetic, with lengthy menus that emphasize meatless and/or gluten-free riffs on brunch favorites like vegan-chorizo breakfast burritos, garden scrambles, and chicken sausage pizzas. The bar specializes in fresh-pressed juices, which can be mixed in mimosas for a little splurge.
2001 Fenwick St., NE
Mexican cuisine is great for a gluten-free diet. This funky cantina in Ivy City goes above and beyond with a few health-minded dishes like egg white omelets stuffed with herbs and cotija cheese, citrus-marinated tuna tostadas with cabbage salad, and whole fish baked with tomato-seafood broth. Round out a meal with fresh fruit, black beans, and cucumber-lime agua frescas.
3404 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 7150 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda
Brunch isn’t just a weekend affair at Silver Diner’s fancier siblings—it’s served all day, every day. Menus are clearly labeled with icons for dishes that are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, and low-cholesterol—plus a special “kids live well” label for child-friendly dishes under 600 calories. That being said, plates don’t taste like you’re on a diet. We’re partial to the roasted veggie huevos rancheros, and the yoghurt “banana split” parfait. And if you’re not counting calories, a pickle-fried chicken sandwich is worth the indulgence.
818 Connecticut Ave., NW
Where do we take vegan friends who’re looking for an upscale experience? Chef Todd Gray’s stalwart near the White House, which embraced meatless options alongside the seasonal omnivorous menu. Sunday brings a buffet vegan brunch, complete with a tofu scramble station and dishes like cauliflower tempura with tahini and baked pumpkin rigatoni ($35 for adults, $15 for kids). You can also drink your veggies in cocktails like a gin-spiked cucumber collins.
501 Florida Ave., NW
Few places in DC run morning-to-night like the cozy Royal—and do it so well. Start the day with a matcha latte and yoghurt parfait topped with macerated fruit, coconut and mint. The all-day afternoon menu includes healthful finds like grilled avocado-quinoa salad, and vegetarian arepas stuffed with hearts of palm, cabbage salad, and salsa rosada.
406 H St., NE
Love a good breakfast plate, but abstaining from eggs and bacon? Vegan restaurateur Doron Petersan’s diner fits the bill. Classics like blueberry pancakes, burgers, and shakes are reimagined without any animal products, so you can down a tofu scramble with a side of seitan sausage and zero guilt.