Washington, D.C. is, of course, the nation’s capital. Washington, D.C. may also be the nation’s brunch capital. We are not a late-night city. We are not a nightclub city. We are not a shot-and-a-beer city. But we are definitely a too-many-mimosas-before-noon-with-a-group-of-fellow-diners-with-no-kids-and-disposable-income city.
The following brunch spots are some of the best restaurants to spend a few hours somewhere between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Some are the hottest places to enjoy eggs and egg-based dishes. Some are ideal for the entire family. Some are good for imbibing too much because it’s the weekend and there are all-you-can-drink mimosas. You can’t go wrong with any of them.
Anju, Dupont Circle
Anju regularly makes roundups of the best restaurants in D.C. for good reason. Its chef, Angel Barreto, was recently nominated for multiple James Beard Awards (emerging chef and best chef: Mid-Atlantic). You’re not going to find a better, more beautiful restaurant-of-the-moment brunch than at Anju. Also, it’s insanely delicious. That helps. Enjoy some kimchi burgers and coffee French toast you’re never going to make better at home.
Compass Rose, U Street
It’s much more affordable to brunch at Compass Rose than visit any of the far-flung destinations that have inspired the menu at this award-winning restaurant. With sister restaurant Maydan, the Sunday brunch offerings here include dishes from across the globe (shakshuka from North Africa, cauliflower bezule from India, poutine from Canada, etc.) and the entire space has a party vibe — a classy party vibe, like a party full of people from 25 to 45 who own original art pieces and only drink natural wine.
Founding Farmers & Distillers DC, Chinatown
Founding Farmers is not going to be on any roundup of hot restaurants or garner any James Beard Awards nominations. But if you have parents visiting from out of town or you’re going out with a picky eater, Founding Farmers’ weekend brunch buffet has all of the classics with a few items that should please the person who typically does not enjoy a mini-chain (the donuts are legit great). Before making your Father’s Day reservation, make sure it’s at Founding Farmers & Distillers DC and not Founding Farmers DC (the one three blocks from the White House) or their suburban locations. Not all of them offer a brunch buffet. If you’re ordering from the menu, then go with Ted’s Bulletin.
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The Imperial, Adams Morgan
The restaurant on the corner of 18th and Florida is gorgeous inside and out and inside-outside (they have a bright dining room, a separate raw bar and a two-tier rooftop garden terrace). It’s also another critically acclaimed destination, with the Michelin Guide’s Plate designation (which recognizes establishments that “simply serve good food”) for the last three years. This is our pick for brunch for people who enjoy both seafood (lobster Benedicts, dayboat halibut and grits, etc.) and reimagined classics (beef Wellington, brunch-ified and served with eggs). Go for the setting and the cuisine, and stay for the cocktails — they were a 2022 RAMMY Cocktail Program of the Year finalist. Oh, and they have bottomless mimosas.
Le Diplomate, Logan Circle
Stephen Starr’s extremely successful D.C. outpost may be the one destination both the Biden and Trump administration officials can agree on. The French restaurant is busy most every brunch, and most weekend nights, catering equally to tourists and locals. It’s a great destination for any type of celebration, or the morning after a celebration. Related: Order the basket of breakfast pastries. It includes a rotating selection of pastries, and every time I’ve got them for the table, the table has been happy.
The Runaway, Brookland
The Runaway, and their sister bar/restaurant Slash Run, is your party-into-the-evening brunch. Brunch begins at noon, there’s a $40 option for bottomless mimosas/’Gansett/Bellinis/Micheladas/Bloody Marys, and you can easily spend the entire afternoon making the most of that $40 before deciding on a second location. Or skip the second location entirely and stick around for another 11 hours (they’re open until 3 a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning). This is your dive bar brunch destination.
Unconventional Diner, Shaw
The name may be a bit misleading. If you’re searching for a diner in D.C., you do not want Unconventional Diner. If you want cutting-edge food in a somewhat odd location (the building is technically part of the Convention Center), you want Unconventional Diner. They also offer brunch every day of the week (which ranks as slightly unconventional).
Zinnia, Silver Spring
The folks behind neighborhood favorite Takoma Beverage Company recently opened Zinnia in the former Mrs. K’s Toll House space. The restaurant looks like something you’d find hours away from D.C., quaint and friendly. But the outdoor area is why it makes this list. The space was great during COVID and it remains a wonderful, green setting for couples and families alike.
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