Food

The Ultimate Breakfast and Brunch Guide to the Union Market District

Where to start your day in—and around—Northeast DC food halls Union Market and La Cosecha.

Buffalo & Bergen's bloody Mary is garnished with a mini everything bagel. Photograph courtesy of Rey Lopez.

Inside Union Market
1309 Fifth St., NE

Annare
The weekend-only Italian bakery from the team behind nearby pizza shop Stellina specializes in bite-sized bomboloni—airy doughnuts filled with ricotta—and elegant, cigar-sized cannoli. Hit up Peregrine nearby for a cappuccino and you’ve got breakfast.
Opens at: 10 AM Friday through Sunday.

Bidwell
Union Market’s main full-service restaurant puts out a shortlist of weekend-only brunch items, including cornflake-crusted French toast, housemade granola with yogurt, and steak-and-eggs Benedict. There’s an optional $25 bottomless mimosa pairing.
Opens at: 10:30 AM Saturday and Sunday.

Buffalo & Bergen
Cocktail pro Gina Chersevani’s retro bagel-and-soda bar is always hopping on weekend mornings, and also does a huge takeout business. I go for the creative all-day breakfast sandwiches, specifically the Rude Girl (bacon and jalapeño cream cheese) or a pastrami-egg-and-cheese. To drink, there are egg creams, a slew of homemade sodas, and a now-famous bloody Mary topped with a bagel and lox.
Opens at: 8 AM Wednesday through Sunday. 

District Doughnut
One of the earliest options at the Market is this fancy-doughnut stall. The menu changes by the season. Right now, the cherry-filled, cream-cheese-glazed round and the cookies-and-cream cake doughnuts are my go-to, but the glazed and creme brulee doughnuts are good year-round bets. And it puts out a nice cinnamon bun.
Opens at: 8 AM daily. 

Harvey’s
Making breakfast at home? This terrific butcher is your spot for bacon, country ham, and breakfast sausage. The counter also serves meaty sandwiches like roast beef with cheddar, tomato, and tangy horseradish.
Opens at: 8 AM Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM Monday. 

Lucky Buns breakfast burrito. Photograph courtesy of Lucky Buns.

Lucky Buns
On weekends, Alex McCoy’s burger/fried-chicken-sandwich joint opens early to serve up a giant breakfast burrito. It’s stuffed with scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, cheddar, queso, peppers and onions, salsa, and a choice of carne asada, grilled Thai sausage, bacon, fried chicken, or an Impossible patty.
Opens at: 11 AM Saturday and Sunday.

Neopol Smokery
If you’re a gravlax fan, hit up this Baltimore/DC smoked fish stall and get some to-go. You can get the brandy-cured salmon by the half pound, along with thicker slabs of smoked salmon and whitefish salad (the smoky egg salad is a winner, too).
Opens at: 11 AM daily.

On Toast
There are several slabs of decorated toast here—with chorizo, egg, and pickled onions, say, or roasted mushrooms with goat cheese. Avocado toast may not be the most exciting option, but it’s the best one, and topped with feta, zataar, and a poached egg.
Opens at: 8 AM Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM Monday through Friday.

Peregrine Espresso
Get your flat white or cappucino fix at this espresso bar, which also offers a few pastries and cookies.
Opens at: 8 AM daily. 

Puddin’
This Southern comfort food spot doesn’t technically do breakfast, but I would happily get a late start to the day with their shrimp n’ grits or extra-boozy bread pudding.
Opens at: 11 AM daily.

Ravenhook Bakehouse
The farmers market bread-makers set up shop at Union Market last summer. While take-home loaves are the main offering (the jalapeno-cheddar makes for a great grilled cheese), they also serve up muffins, scones, and filled mini-brioche.
Opens at: 10 AM daily.

Southblock
The local mini-chain serves the most virtuous options here: acai bowls spun with nut milks, kale-fortified breakfast bowls, cold-pressed juices, and myriad smoothies.
Opens at: 9AM daily.

Inside La Cosecha
1280 Fourth St., NE

Cafe Unido serves specialty coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Photograph by Rey Lopez.

Cafe Unido
Coffee obsessives should head to the DC spinoff of this Panamanian coffee roaster, which offers espresso drinks sweetened with house-made syrups, plus rarer finds like $10 cups of aromatic, high-end geisha coffee.
Opens at: 8 AM daily. 

La Casita
Warm masa fold-ups of cheese and chicharrons for breakfast sound pretty great, but this pupuseria also serves all-day breakfast items like egg-filled tacos and combo plates with eggs, fried plantains, refried beans, and baguette.
Opens at: 10 AM daily.

A glazed doughnut from Donisima. Photograph courtesy of Donisima.

Donisima
The fanciful rounds at this doughnut cart with Colombian roots feature toppings like guava jelly and cream cheese, chocolate and hazelnut praline, or tequila glaze and lime curd. Feather-light Krispy Kremes these are not: they’re made from a sturdy brioche dough that stands up to the accoutrements. Pre-order them on Tock.
Opens at: 9 AM Tuesday through Sunday. 

Tacos al pastor at Las Gemelas, in La Cosecha food hall. Photograph by Leah Judson.

Las Gemelas
This sibling to Shaw’s Espita Mezcaleria is known for blue corn tortillas carefully arrayed with hearty meats, moles, and homemade salsas. There’s no shame in starting your day with a chorizo quesadilla or al pastor taco, but there are also daytime potato-and-egg tacos and churros.
Opens at: 11 AM Monday through Friday, 9 AM Saturday and Sunday. 

Mosaico
Venezuelan arepas—griddled corn cakes filled with say, roast pork and queso fresco, or black beans, plantains, and avocado—are the centerpiece of the menu here. Sibling spot Arepa Zone was once located inside Union Market.
Opens at: 9 AM daily.

Peruvian Brothers
The popular food truck’s brick-and-mortar starts serving up its strapping sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, and empanadas on the early side. Also on the menu: picarones, Peruvian-style sweet-potato doughnuts with honey.
Opens at: 10 AM daily.

In the Union Market District:

Blue Bottle
1250 Fourth St., NE
The earliest riser in the area is this Oakland-born coffee shop known for cold brews, espresso drinks, and avocado toast.
Opens at: 6 AM Monday through Friday; 7 AM Saturday and Sunday.

Bread Alley
1250 Fifth St., NE (in the alley off Morse St., between Fourth and Fifth sts.)
Love the baguettes and crusty cranberry boules at Le Diplomate? Head to this tiny bakery—hidden in an alley near sibling restaurant St. Anselm—for take-home loaves, plus lovely croissants and pain au chocolate.
Opens at: 9 AM daily.

Croissants from Pluma. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Croissants from Pluma. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Pluma
391 Morse St., NE
The sunny, prettily tiled bakery from longtime pastry chefs Camila Arango and Tom Wellings serves some of DC’s best breakfast pastries, along with loaves of bread, breakfast sandwiches, and savory toasts. My pick: the chocolate-pistachio croissant.
Opens at: 7 AM Tuesday through Friday, 8 AM Saturday and Sunday.

St Anselm dishes up a fried chicken sandwich for brunch. Photograph by Karlin Villondo, courtesy of St. Anselm

St. Anselm
1250 Fifth St., NE
Head to this tavern-like steakhouse for bloody Marys, buttermilk biscuits, and steak-and-eggs with bearnaise. Hits from the dinner menu, like the salmon collar and massive axe-handle ribeye, are available too. Big plus if you have small children: the line-up of booths.
Opens at: 10:30 AM Saturday and Sunday. 

Stellina
399 Morse St., NE
This pizza shop’s patio brunch features buckets of Lambrusco and coffee-soaked French toast, plus morning versions of their top-notch pies. It’s tough to say no to the Carbonara pizza (or pasta).
Opens at: 11 AM daily (brunch on Saturday and Sunday only).

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

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