The nation’s capital is a town that takes its brunch seriously. That means that the top spots for brunch in Washington, D.C. don’t offer just great food, but also a front-row seat on the world of political wheeler-dealers as they fortify themselves for the week ahead.
Top Spots for Brunch in Washington, D.C.
As befits the District’s ever-expanding range of good cuisine, the brunch scene offers huge variety, from traditional American favorites to Middle Eastern, Greek, and Indian offerings. Here are the places that offer the best brunch in Washington, D.C.
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Blue Duck Tavern
The Michelin-starred Blue Duck Tavern is a perennial favorite for upscale brunch in Washington, D.C. Located in the Park Hyatt hotel in Foggy Bottom, the airy, beautifully appointed restaurant features an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven. The restaurant has always had a slight Southern bent, and whether it’s sticky buns, gingerbread waffles, short rib hash, or shrimp and grits, the rustic-style cooking is sure to leave you deeply satisfied. The Blue Duck is one brunch spot that acquits itself equally well in all the other meals of the day.
If you’ve got a Belgian bent, The Sovereign’s the place to brunch in D.C. Originally conceived as a paean to Belgian beer—it stocks some 50 beers on draft, and a whopping 350 in bottles—with accompanying cuisine built around it, the restaurant’s food has become worthy in its own right. The brunch menu ranges from coq au gueuze (a beer-braised version of coq au vin) to choucroute Benedict, which features pan-roasted pork belly. Belgian standbys include mussels and steak frite with eggs, as well as savory flammekueches, or tartes flambees.
If you’re in the mood for a more relaxed, casual brunch, check out Open City. In keeping with its proletarian leanings, it doesn’t take reservations. But it does dish up a range of dependable grub, ranging from burritos, croissants, scrambles, breakfast parfaits, and hash brown bowls to the now-ubiquitous chicken and waffles. The all-day brunch bar menu includes a cowboy BBQ Bloody Mary, mimosas, and aperol spritzes.
Inspired by the punctilious tradition of the Indian supper club, the Bombay Club has become a sophisticated D.C. fixture. The restaurant opened in 1989 but feels like a creature of another era altogether. In authentic Indian style, the format is a buffet of gleaming chafing dishes, accompanied by the stylings of a musician on a grand piano. The food runs the gambit from chaat, the streetwise snacks found on practically every Indian street corner, to classic dishes such as lamb korma, making this a unique brunch in Washington, D.C.
Founded by the wife of an NPR international bureau chief who partnered with a veteran international D.C. chef, Compass Rose promises a globetrotting tour of good eating. Brunch is no exception. The small but capably executed menu might feature shakshuka, the Middle Eastern staple of eggs poached in a tomato and pepper sauce and garnished with feta, yogurt, and spicy zhoug, or khachapuri, the addictive Georgian cheese bread topped with egg. If you happen to have a party of six, try reserving the harem-like “Bedouin Tent” on the back patio.
In Georgetown, seafood-focused Fiola Mare offers a beautiful space with stunning views of the Potomac waterfront and a brunch to match. Try the restaurant’s Italian take on shrimp and grits: tiger prawns braised with tomato, garlic, white wine, and rosemary, accompanied by polenta. There’s also lobster ravioli and the lyrical-sounding gragnano spaghetti alla granseola—Alaskan king crab with pasta. Even the drinks carry a whiff of the sea: Try the Bloody Mary Royal, served with pickled vegetables and a tiger prawn.
With four locations, all-you-can-eat brunch, and 25-cent mimosas, Kapnos Taverna is hard to beat for brunch in Washington, D.C. Kapnos specializes in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, and gives its all-you-can-eat diners carte blanche over the entire brunch menu. The offerings include stone oven-baked eggs with crispy lamb; gryos; a wide array of spreads with flatbread; Greek coffee waffles; shakshuka; spanakopita; and soutzoukakia—football-shaped meatballs in tomato sauce, served over trahana, the fermented wheat-and-yogurt pasta.
Trummer’s on Main
Despite the fact that it’s a 30-mile haul southwest of D.C. in Clifton, Virginia, Trummer’s on Main consistently shows up on lists of top area brunch spots, and for good reason. Occupying all three floors of what was originally a hotel built in 1869, Trummer’s is just far enough outside the Beltway to offer breathing room from the carnival of D.C. politics, and the menu features soul-soothing Southern refinement and hearty food. The shrimp and grits with lobster cream has long been a star of the menu, but there’s plenty of inviting stuff here, like beignets, forest mushroom omelets with pickled ramps, and soft shell crab Benedict.
Among the top contenders for best brunch in Washington, D.C. is Le Diplomate. The reigning sovereign of French cuisine is a relaxed brasserie that, in true Parisian style, offers great patio tables. The a la carte brunch menu is a veritable cornucopia, and includes pastry baskets, gougeres (cheese puffs), escargots, steak tartare, boudin noir (blood sausage), foie gras parfait (!), mushroom tarts, trout amandine, beef Burgundy, and seafood platters. Save room for dessert (think profiteroles and vanilla creme bruelee).
Busboys and Poets
A combination of restaurant, coffee shop, and bookstore, Busboys and Poets is the place to go if you don’t want to break the bank for brunch. Known for its friendly service, the restaurant (which has several locations around town) works hard to accommodate individual tastes. Many of the offerings, like spinach and wheatberry salad, lean toward the crunchy end of the spectrum, but there are plenty of brunch standbys like American meat-and-egg breakfasts, omelets, and eggs Benedict. For something truly exotic, try the mekhleme, which the restaurant describes as “Iraqi ‘corned beef’ hash” with poached eggs on top, a dish the Busboys and Poets owner grew up eating.
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—Original reporting by Matt Jenkins