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).
True Food Kitchen
Multiple area locations in Maryland and Virginia
This health-focused chain, now with locations in Bethesda, Arlington, Reston, and Fairfax, was 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.
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 counting calories. We’re partial to the roasted veggie huevos rancheros and the yoghurt “banana split” parfait. And if you’re care-free, a pickle-fried chicken sandwich is worth the indulgence.
818 Connecticut Ave., NW
Where do you take vegan friends who’re looking for an upscale experience? Chef Todd Gray’s New American spot near the White House, which embraces plant-based options alongside a seasonal omnivorous menu. Sunday brings a buffet vegan brunch with lots of gluten-free and nut-free options marked; dishes include truffled white bean soup, Just Egg scrambles, and cauliflower tempura($35 for adults, $15 for kids). Seasonal brunch cocktails and $45 DIY mimosas with cava and fresh juice round out the menu.
3207 Grace St., NW; 615 I St NW
Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan diners can do it up at these “farm-to-taco” shops where homemade corn tortillas are stuffed with winning local/seasonal combinations. You’ll also find new tostadas, soups, quesadillas, and draft lines that pour everything from shrubs to agave margaritas.
Busboys and Poets
Multiple area locations
Restaurateur Andy Shallal’s artful cafes, now with seven DC-area locations, all serve wide-ranging menus of “conscious cuisine” clearly marked with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. On the plate that translates to dishes like sweet potato hash with poached eggs, vegan nachos, and generous entree salads with customizable proteins.
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.
Summer House Santa Monica
11825 Grand Park Ave, North Bethesda
The Pike & Rose branch of this breezy Cali-inspired restaurant is a weekend go-to for egg white omelettes, grilled veggie burgers, and (you guessed it) avocado toast. The modern American menu isn’t all virtuous so caters to a crowd. Head to the bar for fresh fruit cocktails and a large selection of non-alcoholic libations.