Mother’s Day is to brunch what Valentine’s Day is to dinner: any restaurant that’s open on Sunday, May 12 has something planned. So how does one decide where to eat? We’ve compiled a few itineraries for a meal and activities outside the typical brunch box.
Head to Virginia (or Maryland!) wine country
Virginia wine country is green and gorgeous this time of year, and charming towns like Middleburg and The Plains are only about an hour driving distance from DC. Many vineyards are family-friendly, offering picnic spots, live music, and lawn games for the under-21 crowd. Combine a visit to a vineyard with a lovely wine-country brunch at destinations such as Girasole, Field & Main, and of course, The Inn at Little Washington. (the latter opens especially early at 1 PM on Mother’s Day). Though Maryland isn’t as widely known for their vineyards there are plenty of good options near Washington.
Brunch at (or around) the museums
See and taste the world of Tintoretto, a Venetian Renaissance artist at the National Gallery of Art. The palatial Garden Cafe is currently serving an Italian menu inspired by the painter through July 1, including a buffet brunch with dishes like chicken picatta, spring pea salad, and vegetable frittatas ($30 for adults, $18 for children 12 and under). Head to the Tintoretto exhibit before or after. We’re also fans of Sweet Home Café at the African American Museum (though you’ll have to have booked tickets well in advance, or try your luck when same-day passes go online at 6:30 AM). At the Museum of the American Indian, Mitsitam Cafe is another tasty bet.
If you want to wander off the National Mall, check out our dining guide to restaurants nearby.
Go luxe with a hotel spread
Hotel brunches feel like festive occasions, even on a normal day—think handsome lobbies, gorgeous flower arrangements. Other holiday perks: hotel eateries are almost always family-friendly, well-trained for high-volume dining, and often open both early and late for last-minute reservations. If you want to splurge, The Greenhouse at the luxe Jefferson is serving a multi-course meal for $115 per person ($55 kids 12 and under), while Seasons at the Four Seasons puts on their usual lavish buffet. Looking for something new? Try hyper-local fare at A Rake’s Progress in the ultra-hip Line hotel, which serves a delicious Mid-Atlantic brunch. Mother’s Day is also a fitting time to try American Son at the new Eaton Workshop hotel, where chef Tim Ma pays homage to his parents and childhood growing up as a child of Chinese immigrants in the Midwest.
Crack crabs for a casual feast
If mom’s idea of bliss is hot crabs and cold beer, you’re in luck. Chesapeake crabs are just beginning to make their way onto menus, and great crab houses like Cantler’s and The Point near Annapolis are getting local catches. No car? No problem. The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse in DC dishes up Maryland blues (and a mean house-smoked fish platter to start).
Take in the water views
There’s more waterfront dining around DC than ever before thanks to the restaurant boom around Navy Yard and The Wharf. Around the former, we’d treat mom to sorbet-Prosecco floats and a three-course menu on the waterfront patio at Osteria Morini ($65 adults; $25 kids); a gorgeous seafood plateau and other oceanic eats at Whaley’s; lobster omelettes and other New England-inspired fare on the deck at the Salt Line; or bottomless Aperol spritzes and pizza on the patio or roof deck at All-Purpose. At the Wharf, there are plenty of finer-dining spots worth of the occasion (see below). For something more casual, dig into seafood at Rappahannock Oyster Bar or Hank’s Oyster Bar. Over at National Harbor in Maryland, José Andrés opens the patio at Fish on May 11 for steamed crabs, oysters, and other casual seafood with distant river views.
Pair brunch with a show
Sunday matinees typically start at 2 PM, so that leaves plenty of time for leisurely bellinis and Benedicts (and a pre-show caffeine jolt). Go elegant in the West End by pairing the Kennedy Center’s production of Puccini opera Tosca with a $29 bottomless popsicle-mimosa brunch at Ris, or the always-luxurious holiday buffet appetizer and dessert spread matched with plated entrees at Blue Duck Tavern ($135 for adults; $55 kids under 12). Both are a short cab ride away. Downtown DC’s National Theatre is staging a musical about the life of Marvin Gaye, which you could precede with a round of cool stone crabs and martinis at Joe’s, a bigger seafood tower at the Old Ebbitt Grill, or Mediterranean mezze at Zaytinya. And Arena Stage is putting on Jubilee, an a capella extravaganza that is near the restaurants at the Wharf. Our picks there: the luxe Del Mar and the Afro-Caribbean Kith and Kin.