Food

Your Ultimate Guide to Brunching Around DC

Our favorite spots for dim sum, egg sandwiches, bottomless feasts, and special occasion meals.

Nina May in Shaw. Photograph courtesy of Nina May

A&J
1319 Rockville Pk, Rockville, MD; 4316 Markham St., Unit B, Annandale
There’s a reason these no-frills dim sum parlors are considered some of the best in the area. There are no carts, but the steaming noodle soups, juicy dumplings, and warm buns and pancakes coming out of the kitchens are always fresh. Though the dim sum menu runs daily, weekend tables are particularly coveted—though the restaurants have started offering takeout (and accepting credit cards) since the pandemic.

Ambar and TTT
Ambar (523 Eighth St., SE; 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington) TTT (2900 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 8407 Ramsey Ave., Silver Spring)
Restaurateur Ivan Iricanin is known as the All You Can Eat King of Washington. His Balkan concept, Ambar, and TTT Mexican restaurants serve unlimited food menus for both brunch and dinner, with bottomless drink options in DC. (Libations are a mere 25 cents in Virginia, per state law.) Options are plentiful on the menus, which are mostly below $40 per person—it just depends whether you’re more in the mood for Balkan sparkling wine mimosas and Southeastern European fare, or margaritas and huevos rancheros.

Anju
1805 18th St., NW
Dupont’s smash hit Korean restaurant dishes up a destination-worthy brunch indoors and on the patio. Chef Angel Barreto partners with local Korean bakery OBread for a line of decadent breakfast sandwiches like spicy fried chicken on milk bread. Rounding out the menu are dishes like shrimp with Korean rice grits and fresh juices such as a melon-ginger-lime cooler that you can spike with vodka or soju.

Barrel
613 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
The Capitol Hill gastropub has long been a popular destination for brunch—so much so that they’re embracing it and offering an all-day “Sunday Funday” brunch from 11 AM to 9 PM starting September 19. Go hungry and thirsty—dishes like shrimp n’ grits and chicken n’ waffles are filling, and $26 bottomless bubbles come in the form of a whole bottle of Prosecco with mixers (limit one per person in a sensible 90 minute limit).

Belga Cafe
514 Eighth St., SE
If waffles are your weekend jam, chef Bart Vandaele’s Belgian brasserie in a residential nook of Capitol Hill is your place. During the pandemic, alfresco greenhouses make for a lovely indoor/outdoor setting to enjoy the lengthy menu of European egg dishes, sweet and savory waffles, fresh pastries, and potent brunch cocktails.

Convivial
801 O St., NW
We’ve lingered over many a wonderful weekend brunch at chef Cedric Maupillier’s French-American brasserie in Shaw (the patio is particularly lovely). The restaurant embraces its dual citizenship with both brunch and lunch items on the menu—think steak tartare, escargot, and trout almandine alongside ham-and-cheese stuffed crepes, French toast, or shrimp n’ grits. New pastry chef and Bordeaux native Mark Courseille makes dessert a can’t-miss affair. 

Croque madame at Convivial in Shaw. Photograph courtesy of Convivial.

Compass Rose
1346 T St., NW
Rose Previte’s globetrotting Shaw restaurant is a relaxing space to linger on a Sunday, when endless orange or grapefruit mimosas are yours for $30. The menu spans from North African shakshuka to the restaurant’s famed Georgian khachapuri (cheese bread). While it’s not bottomless, per se, you can get a very filling taste of all small plates in a “brunch tour of the world” ($30 for omnivore or vegetarian).

Duke’s Grocery
Locations in Dupont, Woodley Park, and Foggy Bottom
In addition to having one of the lengthiest happy hours in DC (it runs from noon to 7 PM on weekdays), this string of gastropubs encourages patrons to linger—up to 90 minutes—on weekends with bottomless “bevvies” (their word). Pick between mimosas or house bloody Marys ($24) and then order up one of the decadent brunch burgers or a proper English breakfast.

Fiola Mare
3050 K St., NW
The star of the Georgetown waterfront is definitely a special occasion brunch spot (though it’s still not as spendy as at dinner). Diners can splurge on the $85 “sparkling brunch” that includes a warm pastry basket, choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert, and unlimited Prosecco and brunch cocktails.

Try a luxurious brunch at Fiola Mare. Photography by Scott Suchman

Farmers & Distillers
600 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Come hungry to the family friendly,  all-you-can-eat buffet at the Farmers Restaurant Group spot, where tables are heaped with French toast, breakfast fare, carving meats, salads, desserts, and supper-style offerings like fried chicken, pot pies, and cheesy mac ($30 per person; $15 for kids, 7 to 12; free 6 and under). In addition to the spread, servers will bring over hot egg dishes from the kitchen, coffee drinks, and brunch cocktails with liquor from the in-house distillery.

Hank’s Oyster Bar
701 Wharf St., SW; 1624 Q St., NW; 1026 King St., Alexandria
Chef Jamie Leeds trio of New England-inspired seafood spots are crowd-pleasers at brunch—especially the Wharf location where you can munch on a lobster roll by the water. All offer specials for brunch like a killer hangtown fry (eggs with fried oysters and bacon) and crab cake bennies, plus quaffable wines and spicy bloodies. An added bonus: brunch begins on Friday at all locations.

Iron Gate
1734 N St., NW
We often find ourselves recommending this Mediterranean charmer, a historic Dupont Circle property with a lovely wisteria-lined patio and wood-burning grill. Credit chef Anthony Chittum and his team for bringing substance to match the style. The seasonal brunch menu isn’t super-fancy—think olive oil-fried eggs, oak-grilled oysters, or ricotta pancakes—but it feels refined, especially matched with a Greek rose.

Ivy City Smokehouse
1356 Okie St., NE
Ivy City now supplies smoked salmon and other cured seafood products to major grocery stores and markets. But nothing has changed about the deliciousness of their smoked fish platters at the restaurant, served with bagels, cream cheese, and other fixings. The low-key seafood spot also makes tasty Benedicts, waffles, and more.

Smoked fish board at the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse.
Smoked fish board at the Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse. Photograph by Scott Suchman

KitchenCray
1301 H St., NE; 4601 Presidents Dr, Lanham, MD
Chef James “JR” Robinson is a master when it comes to decadent, comforting brunch options. Menus are divided into “not that hungry,” “kinda hungry,” and “starving” sections with options like hot sauce-marinated fried chicken atop French toast with vanilla-caramel or bloody Marys with shrimp, crab, and bacon.

Le Diplomate
1601 14th St., NW
Stephen Starr’s perennially packed French brasserie hardly needs an introduction—everyone from President Biden to your out-of-town relatives have angled for a table. Credit a soiree atmosphere, approachable menus—though one can always splurge on lobster frites and Champagne—and sniper-like consistency. So book weeks in advance or prepare to wait.

Makan
3400 11th St., NW
Longtime Maketto/Spoken English chef James Wozniuk’s modern Malaysian restaurant is transportive in both look and flavor. Though it’s a relative newcomer to the scene, the dim sum-inspired brunch menu is a must-try. Dishes borrow from both Southeast Asian and American traditions—think bloody Marys spiced with lemongrass and ginger, homemade biscuits and coconut custard, or eggs in sambal.

Mercy Me
1143 New Hampshire Ave., NW
As much as we love the rapidly expanding Call Your Mother deli/bagel shop, it’s more of a grab-and-go versus leisurely brunch experience. Cue the team’s “sorta South American” cafe in Foggy Bottom. In addition to a breakfast and daytime takeout counter with pastries and bagel sandwiches, the restaurant offers dine-in service for brunch on a roomy garden patio or indoors. On tap: smoky grilled pizzas, eclectic egg dishes (we have our eye on the Benedict with roasted pork and cilantro hollandaise), hearty sandwiches, and salads. 

A bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast taco at Mercy Me. Photograph by Raisa Aziz
A bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast taco at Mercy Me. Photograph by Raisa Aziz.

Moon Rabbit
801 Wharf St., SW
Though brunch is fairly new at chef Kevin Tien’s modern French-Vietnamese restaurant at the Wharf, it’s already deservedly on the map. Look for creative dishes that speak to Tien’s Vietnamese-American heritage like a “sloppy” Viet banh mi, Saigon cinnamon rolls, and a crispy spiced chicken sandwich. To drink: whimsical cocktails like a pho-inspired bloody Mary.

Nina May
1337 11th St., NW
This farm-house chic restaurant courtesy of restaurateurs and Equinox alums chef Colin McClimans and Danilo Simic is a locavore favorite. Pick between two floors of pretty dining rooms and outdoor areas for house-made pastries and breads, local egg dishes, and refined yet unfussy plates such as potato rosti with house-smoked salmon, crème fraîche, pickled red onions, and dill salsa verde.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
1612 14th St., NW
The 14th Street oyster haven serves Gulf Coast plates like oysters Rockefeller, fried chicken, and wood-grilled redfish. There are also plenty of baked goods like ricotta beignets and tasty cocktails. Note to brunch lovers: the weekend menu starts on Friday.

Perry’s
1811 Columbia Rd., NW
The longest-running drag brunch in the District is back on Sundays after a pandemic hiatus, and even with a mask requirement it’s still a no-holds-barred, fantastic show. American brunch fare and carafe brunch cocktails are standard—but you’re not really here for the food. Reservations are accepted a week in advance (read here for other Covid-era details).

Perry’s (photo taken pre-pandemic). Photograph by Scott Suchman

Q by Peter Chang 
4500 East-West Hwy., Bethesda
Some of the best dim sum in the area can be found at Peter Chang’s upscale Chinese restaurant. There are no carts—customers order from a menu of dumplings, wontons, rice rolls, bao buns, barbecue, and noodles. 

Seasons
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
The most sumptuous Sunday brunch buffet in DC just returned to the Four Seasons Georgetown after a long pandemic pause. Go for stations heaped with raw bar fare, salads, carvery meats, made-to-order omelets, and a rainbow of homemade desserts. The all-you-can-eat experience is $110, and diners can add on bottomless mimosas for $30. Note the weekday “power breakfast” is also back.

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Spanish Diner
7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda
José Andrés’s new diner, a spinoff of the one in New York’s Mercado Little Spain food hall, dishes up American and Spanish-style breakfast dishes at all hours. This is an egg lovers paradise: egg sandwiches, egg platters, and a whole menu section devoted to olive oil-fried eggs over crispy potatoes with your choice of Spanish meats.

Silver Diner and Silver
Multiple VA and MD locations, plus Silver in DC
The homegrown diner chain and its dressier American brasserie spinoff, Silver, both offer all-day options. The casual diner hits all the classics—pancakes, egg platters, etc—while the brasserie serves daily brunch with plates like roasted veggie huevos rancheros and the yogurt “banana split” parfaits.  Good for those with dietary restrictions: menus at both are labeled with icons for dishes that are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, and low-cholesterol.

Spanish Diner by chef Jose Andres opens in Bethesda. Photograph by Liz Clayman

Taqueria Habanero
3710 14th St., NW; 8145 Baltimore Ave., College Park
Some of the best chilaquiles in town can be found at this taqueria with locations in Columbia Heights and College Park. Also find a huge variety of tasty tacos on homemade tortillas, mole enchiladas, and more—best enjoyed with a margarita.

Tryst, the Coupe, the Diner, Open City
Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Woodley Park locations
The Tryst restaurant group is all about the all-day breakfast and brunch game. The classics are all available on crowd-pleasing menus: omelettes, hashes, breakfast burritos, bagels, and scrambles. There are vegan options, as well, like tofu tostadas.

Unconventional Diner
1207 9th St., NW
Brunch is served daily until 4 PM at David Deshaies’ Shaw diner—lucky us, because it’s one of the tastiest brunch options in town. Go for “s’eggsy” egg sandwiches, Caribbean-style shrimp and grits, or blueberry pancakes.

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.