Washington, D.C. is a city that works hard and plays harder. Brunch is its own spectator sport here, with reservations at top spots hard to come by and waits of an hour or more for stacks of flapjacks and bottomless mimosas not uncommon.
With classic diners and neighborhood coffee shops to Parisian-style brasseries and contemporary Spanish tapas restaurants, the District has a brunch spot in every corner of the city, perfect for fueling up for a day of wandering through the city's Smithsonian museums or soaking up the previous night's festivities. And speaking of festive, D.C. offers plenty of boozy brunch options like over 500 beers at modern tavern Birch & Barley to Bellinis and sparkling wine at the elegant Cafe Milano.
From hearty American classics at Founding Farmers to New York City-style bagels at Call Your Mother Deli, here's where to find the best brunches in Washington, D.C.
Snag reservations ahead of time for seats at this Parisian style brasserie and sidewalk cafe on the 14th Street corridor, where crowds often snake out beyond the front door. Brunch hours are Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the extensive menu features a raw bar, French classics like a Croque-Madame, Quiche Florentine and Burger Americain, plus several variations on "les ouefs." Order the Eggs Norwegian, with smoked salmon and sauce hollandaise, which pairs well with the house spritz cocktail (Lillet blanc, sparkling wine, sour orange, and rhubarb root) or sparkling wine by the glass or 12 or 25-oz carafe.
Dine on Spanish-style tapas at chef José Andrés' bright and modern Penn Quarter flagship. The spot's brunch menu includes traditional Huevos estrellados with the option to add jamón ibérico as well as smoked salmon on cristal bread with hardboiled egg, goat cheese, and capers. For something sweet, try the sweet-soaked Spanish toast with caramelized bananas and rum whipped cream. Breakfast drinks include freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice, house mimosas, and rosé sangria.
Call Your Mother
With locations in Park View, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, and Bethesda, this self-described "Jew-ish" spot is a go-to for wood-fired bagels and other deli favorites. Choose from 13 assorted bagel flavors ranging from sesame to poppy seed, which also form the basis of the outstanding sandwiches. Opt for the Pastrami Sun City, with Bodega-style local eggs, American and cheddar cheese, and spicy honey on an everything bagel. The colorful, '90s era-themed shops also offer a range of muffins and sweets, plus specialty coffees, teas, and sodas.
Old Ebbitt Grill
While now housed in a historic Beaux-Arts building that was once a theatre, this D.C. institution is the city's oldest continuously operating bar. During the week, patrons stream through the glided doors for happy hour, when oyster and shellfish platters are half price. On the weekends, the draw is brunch, where you can still order oysters on the half shell and seafood platters as well as traditional breakfast fare like chicken and waffles, French toast, and eggs Benedict. Served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4p.m, the brunch menu also includes the restaurant's regular entrees, including burgers, sandwiches, pastas, steak, and crab cakes. Save room for dessert: the peanut butter pie with peanut-chocolate chip crust, peanut butter mousse, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, is not to be missed.
Located inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Unconventional Diner draws crowds for both its modern comfort food and its colorful, Instagram-worthy pop art. Brunch is served seven days a week, with twists on classic diner fare like a cheddar-chive cornbread waffle with habanero butter and "granny gravy," fried eggs with Brussels sprouts, and Lebanese fried rice with lentils, two fried eggs, yogurt, and almonds. Vegans and vegetarians will find plenty of options here, as will those following gluten-free diets.
Birch & Barley
Come to this Logan Circle standby for the boozy brunch — $17 for your choice of two brunch cocktails, bottomless hot coffee, and free doughnuts with the purchase of an entree — and stay for savory fare like lamb sausage and chickpea shakshouka, wild mushroom toast, and baked brisket hash. Offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the weekend menu also includes lunch items like Croque Madame and house burger as well as non-alcoholic mixed drinks, sangria, cocktails, and over 500 beers offered bottled and on tap.
As its name suggests, this Foggy Bottom institution is majority-owned by farmers Brunch is served Saturdays, Sundays, and most holiday Mondays, with a menu focused on hearty American classics ranging from French toast, pancakes, and waffles to more savory hashes and scrambles. Feeling indecisive? Order the house breakfast, with two eggs any style and your choice of meat, bread, and sides like grits or a Farmers' salad. Don't sleep on the drinks here: the restaurants has an in-house distillery, Founding Spirits, which are used in the restaurant's cocktails.
This Italian-style cafe in Georgetown is the place to see and be seen for local power brokers as well as visiting celebrities like LeBron James. Dine on the sidewalk patio or indoors, where colorful murals celebrating notable Italians are the perfect backdrop for slowly sipping a Bellini or glass of sparkling wine. The Sunday brunch menu features a rotating variety of classics, like a mushroom frittata, an egg white omelette topped with smoked salmon, and smoked salmon bruschetta with avocado, heirloom tomato, pan fried eggs, and cheese sauce.
Get brunch all-day, every day at this coffee shop meats diner in Woodley Park. With an indoor cafe and restaurant as well as outdoor patio seating, there are plenty of places to enjoy Counter Culture coffee, fancy lattes, and hearty breakfast fare like a fried chicken biscuit with sausage gravy, huevos rancheros, and stuffed French toast. For lighter fare, opt for a yogurt parfait, smoothie, or one of several salads.
The Market Lunch
Located inside Historic Eastern Market on Capitol Hill, this no-frills, cafeteria-style spot has been dishing up breakfast staples like full stacks of pancakes, eggs and omelettes, and all the sides since 1978. Your order? "The Brick" breakfast sandwich, stacked with cheddar cheese, potatoes, two eggs, and your choice of bacon, ham, house made pork sausage, turkey bacon, or Delaware scrapple. The restaurant also serves lunch all day, with options ranging from sandwiches and burgers to large seafood-focused platters.
This New York City import is a now go-to spot for Washingtonians as well. While there are two locations, the U Street NW outposts offers a complimentary brunch cocktail like a Bellini and Bloody Mary with each brunch entree purchase. Other menu highlights include a raw bar with oysters and seafood platters, omelettes and scrambles, steak and eggs, and several generously-sized salads and sandwiches. Not imbibing? Try one of the house-made sodas, like the lemon mint or cucumber ginger beer.
Fiola Mare's waterfront locale in Georgetown is the perfect setting for the restaurant's seasonal, Italian coastal cuisine. The menu is extensive, but start with raw bar favorites like shrimp cocktail or raw oysters or opt for the signature seafood tower, with East and West coast oysters, hamachi, Nova Scotia Lobster, bigeye tuna, king salmon, prawn cocktail, and ceviche. The restaurant's grilled items are also stellar, like Mediterranean branzino and jumbo langostine. Priced at $85, the "sparkling brunch," includes a choice of appetizer, brunch entrée, and deessert, plus. bottomless Prosecco or other brunch cocktail as well as a complimentary pastry and bread basket. Be mindful of the dress code: athletic wear, flip flops, and torn clothing are not permitted in the dining room or on the patio.
Ambar Capitol Hill
Come hungry, because you can enjoy all you can eat (and drink) brunch at this Balkan spot on Capitol Hill from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday for just $39. There's a two hour limit, and the whole table must participate, but otherwise, the deal gets you unlimited flatbreads, spreads like beet tzatziki and garlic beans, soups, salads, egg scrambles, sliders, and traditional sides like creamed corn and mushroom pilav as well as sweets. Drinks include a Bloody Mary, traditional mimosa, and a peach lavender mimosa featuring Balkan sparkling wine. Pets are welcome on the patio.
This lively Logan Circle spot serving contemporary Spanish tapas is great for large groups. Opt for shareable starters like artisanal cheese and jamon croquetas, or larger plates like grilled hanger steak and eggs with patatas bravas and a housemade croissant sandwich with jamon serrano, manchego, and egg. And save room for dessert: the nine manchego cheesecake and churros are both exceptional. Brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m., and arrive early, as the restaurant fills up quickly.