Food

The Best DC-Area Restaurants for Brunch with a Big Group

Party of eight with no reservation? No problem.

Brunch at Masa 14 is an all-you-can-eat-and-drink party. Photo by Scott Suchman
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Your brunch crew has grown from four to eight, everyone’s a little hangry  (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, in some cases, walk-ins. That being said, you’ll always do better (and wait less) if you can book in advance.

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 ($34 to $44). 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 Balkan grilled pork neck sliders and veal soup.

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.) If you want the cart experience, try the stellar Hollywood East in Wheaton or Da Hong Pao (see below).

Buena Vida
8407 Ramsey Ave, Silver Spring
The same restaurateur behind Ambar offers all-you-can-eat Mexican fare at his bright eatery in Silver Spring. (A new Buena Vida is open in Clarendon, but it’s more upscale and doesn’t offer all-you-can-eat dining options.) The $35 menu includes unlimited small plates like guacamole, tacos, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and more—all surprisingly good given it’s, you know, endless food.

The breakfast tostada at Buena Vida. Photograph by Timothy Yantz.
The breakfast tostada at Buena Vida. Photo by Timothy Yantz.

Boqueria 
777 Ninth St., NW; 1837 M St., NW
The swanky new branch in Penn Quarter just launched brunch and there’s much more elbow room. While Dupont has an all-you-can-tapas menu, here the deal is includes 4 tapas, 2 brunch dishes or 1 new family-style feast for the table, along with free-flowing mimosas and sangria for $42 per person. It’s a good idea to book in advance at either place.

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.

Families pour into A&J for the area’s best dim sum. Pictured: CC Tang, part of the family that owns the restaurant. Photo by Scott Suchman

Dacha
1600 Seventh St., NW
If you play it right and book well in advance you can reserve a picnic-style table for up to 30 guests in Shaw’s leafy beer garden (no minimums required, though there’s a cancellation fee). There’s an eclectic weekend brunch menu with Benedicts, croque madames, fried chicken n’ waffles, and “Russian pizza” (smoked fish and pickles are involved). And, of course, plenty of beer. Look for a new location to open in Navy Yard soon.

Da Hong Pao
1409 14th St., NW
Go early to this traditional Cantonese-style dim sum parlor, otherwise you’ll risk waiting on 14th Street with all the other groups of eight. Carts laden with congee, crispy duck, stuffed crab claws, noodles, and all the dumplings you can eat whiz around the dining room. Big tables outfitted with lazy Susans can accommodate large parties (or make friends sitting with strangers).

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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Pancakes at Founding Farmers. Photo by Scott Suchman

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 its three levels, large and wallet-friendly portions, and a staff that seems unfazed by your walk-in party of 11.

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.

Tico
1926 14th St., NW
Restaurateur Michael Schlow’s sprawling Latin/Spanish spot on 14th Street has plenty of space, plus communal hightop tables. The bottomless brunch is served on weekends and then again on Monday nights for an industry crowd (or anyone who likes bottomless Monday mimosas). The menu is $39 for unlimited food and drink or $29 just for AYCE plates like breakfast nachos, fried chicken tacos, and Cuban sandwiches.

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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.