8 DC-Area Brunch Spots That Are Great for Groups

Party of six with no reservation? No problem.
Brunch at Masa 14 is an all-you-can-eat-and-drink party. Photography by Scott Suchman.
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Your brunch crew has grown from three to six, everyone’s a little hangry and/or hungover, and reservations are a thing of the past. We’ve all been there. These places don’t blink an eye at big groups—even walk-ins. That being said, you’ll always do better—and wait less—if you can book in advance.

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Ambar
523 8th St., SE; 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington 
Both the Capitol Hill and Clarendon locations of Ivan Iricanin’s atmospheric Balkan restaurants serve all-you-can-eat menus ($39 and $34, respectively). The concept is great for groups—the more sharing the better. Bottomless drinks flow in DC, while brunch cocktails like bellinis and wine punch are 25 cents apiece in Arlington due to local laws. The eclectic menu includes crowd-pleasers like smoked salmon Benedicts and waffles, alongside more unusual finds such as grilled pork neck sliders and savory Balkan bread pudding.

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A&J Restaurant is known for excellent northern-Chinese dim sum. Photograph by Yassine El Mansouri.

A&J Restaurant
1319 Rockville Pk., Rockville 
Some of the best Chinese dim sum in the area requires a little more planning than rolling out of bed and into an Uber, but your crew will thank you when you’re settled around a big table slurping homemade noodles in sesame sauce, hangover-curing beef noodle soup, dumplings, and pork rice. (Note: there are no carts here.) Also, if you’re a car-less DC denizen who loves dim sum, Da Hong Pao on 14th Street will do the trick (1409 14th St., NW).

Cava Mezze
Capitol Hill; Rockville; Arlington
During the week, you load up bowls at the fast-casual Cava chain, but on weekends your crew can head to the sit-down restaurants for all-you-can-eat food ($35 per person) and 25-cent mimosas. Expect Mediterranean riffs on brunch classics like spicy lamb or smoked salmon Benedicts and gyro hash browns.

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Pancakes at Founding Farmers. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Founding Farmers Group 
Multiple locations in DC, MD, and VA
All of the restaurants within the Farmers family—Founding Farmers, Farmers & Distillers, Farmers Fishers Bakers—excel at catering to large parties. Giant menus and weekend brunch buffets take the something-for-everyone approach, and there’s ample seating and large booths at all branches. An added bonus: you can make large-party bookings online for big parties (say 10 to 12) at most locales.

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Try the spit-roasted chicken and waffles at Kapnos. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Kapnos/Kapnos Kouzina/Kapnos Taverna 
DC/Bethesda/Arlington and College Park 
Restaurateur Mike Isabella’s Greek-Mediterranean restaurants can handle moderate-size groups, and have communal tables in the bar areas that are first-come, first-serve. Menus vary by eatery, but all serve delicious dips and spreads with fresh-baked flatbreads (or veggies for the carb-less), plus daytime dishes like baked eggs or Greek coffee waffles. Pomegranate-spiked mimosas or boozy lemonades do the trick for day drinks.

Masa 14 
1825 14th St., NW
Few restaurateurs throw a brunch party better than Richard Sandoval, whose DC ventures (El Centro D.F., Toro Toro) are known for their raucous all-you-can-eat-and-drink affairs. We’re partial to his Latin/Asian spot, where groups can camp out on the covered rooftop or in the dining room. For $39 a person, you can feast with abandon on 18-odd small plates—barbecue steamed buns, egg-and-chorizo hash—plus various mimosas, bloodies, and beertails. Another perk: a patient waitstaff.

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Caramelized banana pancakes at Tico. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Tico
1926 14th St., NW
Restaurateur Michael Schlow’s sprawling spot on 14th Street has plenty of space, plus communal hightop tables. Groups can opt for $25 DIY mimosas with bottles of bubbly and fresh juices, plus pan-Latin and Spanish dishes from the new-ish brunch menu like smoked salmon tostadas and breakfast burritos.

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Lauriol Plaza
1835 18th St., NW
Will this massive Mexican impress the self-described “foodies” in your group? Probably not. Will said foodies be happy with a cold beer, fresh guac, and sizzling plate of shrimp fajitas or super-cheesy enchiladas? Probably so. Lauriol lives for big groups with three stories, large and wallet-friendly portions, and a staff that seems unfazed by your party of 11 walking in without a reservation.


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Anna Spiegel
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.