Friday Question of the Day – Where’s The Best Brunch in DC? (Reader Request)


A reader wrote in asking about general brunch options. This email was followed by the one below:

“Have you ever blogged about The Highlands? It’s a diamond in the rough restaurant on 14th across the street from the Metro Bus Depot. OBSCENELY cheap and AMAZINGLY good (best crab cakes i’ve ever had). Wonderful service; chef comes out for every diner to ask how it is. Perfect brunch, cheap brunch. It’s never busy and i don’t understand why! People must know!”

I do like The Highlands located on 14th Street, NW between Crittenden and Decatur. And back in August of ’08 there were some good breakfast recommendations listed. However, there have also been a ton of new restaurants that have opened since Aug. ’08 so I’m wondering if any of them have good brunch options?

Also I’d like to add a caveat, besides Highlands, where can one get a good brunch in the city without waiting an hour for a table? This is one of the toughest questions I ever have to answer. I’m always hesitant to make recommendations because the wait for tables drives me crazy. So where are the other secret or not so secret spots that have good brunch without a long wait? Of course other essentials beside the wait are great Bloody Marys and/or inexpensive mimosas…and bacon definitely good crispy bacon options.

57 Comment

  • Why on god’s green earth would people want to broadcast their fave brunch spots to tens of unknown people, who would then cause long lines and tuin a good thing???

  • Highlands is awesome. Chef Moe is amazing and has the best dinner too! He makes everything soups and all! They just added amazing brioche french toast along with their waffles. Service is very slow but the food is so good it is worth it. Also a great place for the whole family…very kid friendly. Oh, also the bacon is nice and crispy!!

  • Truth–first brunch place is staying a secret! My (second) favorite brunch place is at Beacon Bar & Grille near dupont. Yum Yum Yum!

  • La Fourchette in 1979

    La Fourchette in 1989

    La Fourchette in 1999

    La Fourchette in 2009

  • I’m also keeping my first choice secret; however, Logan Tavern and The Grill from Ipanema have nice brunches.

  • Highland’s is great, but to me, brunch means mimosas or bloody marys in addition to food, so it’s not making any “best brunch” list.

  • The interwebs say that the best brunches are Creme Cafe on U Street (long-ass wait), and Tabard Inn in Dupont (have to get reservations weeks in advance). Some reviews have talked about Poste in Penn Quarter. I hoping to make it to Levi’s Port Cafe south of Eastern Market soon.

  • Definitely Tabard Inn. Yes, you need reservations but it’s just such a cool place and the food could be a lot more expensive than it is. Love it

  • what kind of fool complains that their favorite brunch spot doesn’t have a ridiculous line? i mean really.

  • Fusion on Georgia Ave. Indian Brunch with bottomless mimosas for cheap.

  • And I announce it because I don’t see nearly enough business at Fusion, and I desperately want them to stay open.

  • Saint-Ex used to have an excellent brunch menu, but I haven’t been there in years. Is it still worth checking out?

  • It was an out of the ordinary experience, but last March with dogs in tow and a huge hangover I ventured over to Capitol Lounge (a little of a walk from Shaw) and had a wonderful experience. Mimosas, no lines ( St. Ex is unbearable with a hangover- too effin noisy), migas (perfect hangover food), water for the dogs and patio seating. And the sassy lady bartender with the blond ponytail is a trip. I go there at least once a month now.

  • i really like eatonville’s brunch, but will also +1 capitol lounge

  • It’s not an everyday kind of spot but the fixed-price brunch at Cafe Atlantico is EXCELLENT. $35 for 14 courses is a serious bargain, especially considering most of them are straight off of the regular CA or Minibar menu. Great place for a brunch date.

  • Social is now open for brunch. Not crowded and delicious!

  • Following on Intractable’s comment – we love Fusion!!!

    Can we have a PoP dinner or something one night at Fusion? We desperately want them to stay open too! We were really pleased when we were there the other night that they had about 20 people in (on a Thursday night, too!).

    Anyone know how they’re really doing? The new menus are very nice…

  • Red Rocks! I don’t love their pizza generally, but their breakfast pizza is amazing and bottomless mimosas are relatively cheap ($9) compared to other places.

  • Creme, but get there early!

  • Red Rocks is really good. I would also try the Red Derby.

  • Ill say one of my favs. Since I don’t do brunch often these days and I want them to stay open for ever and ever. New Orleans Cafe. It always seems there is a table available. Eggs Baton Rouge. mmm. Everything is good really. Its cheap. And the best part? You can look out the window at all the fools waiting an hour to go to the Diner.

  • hmmmm, not in DC but….A bit of a haul and you would want a car, but Hollywood East (closed for renos) and the place across University Ave. for DimSum in Wheaton is pretty tasty.
    And then, with a nice full buzz on, continue on up Georgia Ave to Brookside Gardens if no kids and Wheation regional park with kids. Or both places!

  • Sundays at Atlantico, no contest.

  • @Intractable: I saw that Fusion had brunch. What exactly does brunch at an Indian restaurant consist of? I love their food, but not sure I can do the curry so early on a Sunday. Do they have breakfast type food as well? The bottomless mimosas sound good though…..

  • Domku! And Comissary.

  • My favs:

    non-traditional: Capital Hill Tandoor & grill on 8th St SE
    old school american buffet style: Mr. Henry’s on PA Ave Se
    a drinking brunch: Red Derby – columbia heights 14th and Quncy
    others i like:
    Jimmy T’s Place – East Capitol and 6th or 7th
    Rosemary’s Tyme around 18th and T

  • Red Derby. Cheap Marys and Mimosas, and Chef Rick really does do pretty great things with simple food. Plus I love tater tots.

  • I really like both Domku and the Heights for brunch. Food is excellent at both. Lines are definitely the problem, but if you get there just a little earlier than you’d normally like you are set.

    As for my old stomping grounds, try Forest Diner on Rt. 40 in Howard County if you are out that way anytime.

  • I think Fusion is handicapped by their own business plan- white tablecloth and high price points. If they aren’t going to lower the price of the food to spurn carry-out business, they should at least have a really, really good happy hour to get people in the door on weekdays. They are fighting some forces with their location, so i think they have to be extremely good to compensate.

    Never had their brunch, though. Curious what kind of breakfast-style items are on it.

  • Traditional: Kramer Books and Afterwards. Good Mimosas and Bloody Marys and great eggs benedict.
    Untraditional: Teaism. The Gallery Place location is huge and there is never much of a wait. They serve breakfast until 2 every day of the week.

  • Red Derby, hands-down. A simple menu with just what I want (avocado in my egg sandwich and bloody mary’s) great service, and no fussing around with silverware.

    More traditional? Go with the Heights. its Bloody Mary bar? Yum.

  • While not my favorite brunch spot by a long shot, I had one of the best poached eggs I’ve ever had at Matchbox on the Hill a couple of weeks ago. I got the frisee with bacon and poached eggs, and those eggs were beautiful. Poached (not steamed like a lot of places), with a perfectly runny yolk. I’ll have to go back to see if it was a fluke, but if Matchbox proves to be able to pull off excellent poached eggs on a regular basis, it will definitely move up the ranks.

  • RD, Indian food is never extremly cheap…The prices are not outragous for that type fo food….

  • Tabaq at 14th & U. Good food, great views from the rooftop dining room, and cheap bloodys/mimosas!

  • Social (new place in Columbia Heights) has a fantastic brunch with $15 bottomless Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas! I think they offer it on Saturdays too!

  • I have managed to walk into the Tabard Inn for brunch on several occasions. But I have to agree with “Don’t Tell” — or put out false information so that everyone goes somewhere else.

  • “Indian food is never extremely cheap.”

    Really? In fact, most everywhere in the world, little Indian/Pakistani curry houses are considered a good inexpensive option for working folks. Most of the Indian places in DC, San Francisco, and NYC are small, inexpensive restaurants. On the local front, among other places, India Palace in Rockville has the best Indian food I’ve ever had, including in India, and their delicious weekday lunch buffet is $9.

    I love Fusion, but especially at lunchtime, they should offer an $8-12 menu of simple curries. Petworth can’t begin to support $18-20 lunch entrees. I’d definitely eat there 3 times as often if they offered a lunch menu that was more reasonably priced.

  • Hollywood East is well worth the drive to Wheaton. In Petworth/CH, I really like Domku’s brunch, but Derby, Social, Red Rocks are all good also.

  • “Indian food is never extremely cheap.”

    yes, yes it is. like pretty much every ethnic food, you can find delicious cheap options in major cities if you look for it.

    i would also go to fusion 2 or 3 times a week for lunch or happy hour if it was cheaper.

  • Montmartre in Eastern Market. I can never decide what to get and we’ve never had to wait but that also might be our timing.

  • Tabaq is awesome – cheap, delicious food and a great atmosphere (they only serve brunch on the covered roof.

    Tabard Inn is a close second. For Indian Brunch I like Bombay Club – it is a little more but amazing service and food plus outdoor seating when the weather’s nice.

    I go to Highlands at least once a week – it is only about 5 blocks from me. I love the family business vibe. They have painted a great mural on the inside if you haven’t been in in a while. The food is excellent and the value unbelievable!

  • PoP,

    can you go back and tag posts.. “the best…”

    cuz there are some kickin recommendations on this site.

    best rooftop bar
    best brunch

  • Ulah Bistro has a diverse, well priced brunch menu and the food is consistently great. I never wait for a table either. It’s my go-to place on Sunday mornings!

  • Tonic. Bacon strips in you Bloody Mary ’nuff said.

  • Yes, HUGE second to sean’s request – I refer to these posts frequently, and it can take a bit of sleuthing to unearth them. Thanks!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I’ll do a tag of best of and make them easy to find. The site is being upgraded at the end of next week so it is good timing!

  • Georgia Brown’s is *insane.* Pricey but totally worth it for a special treat. There was soooo much food (buffet) and the place was packed with folks just out of church.

    Sundays only. I highly recommend the biscuit battered french toast.

  • This is a really good list. Much easier than one for all the $h!tty brunch spots. People rant about NY pizza in DC, but that ain’t nothing compared to the sloppy brunches. It’s where they invented the phrase, “Take two good meals and make one lousy expensive on.”

  • Glad to see Highlands getting attention – I’d just like to note that I have no idea what the earlier observation about slow service is based on. They’ve always been on the fast side of normal for me – and it’d be worth waiting for even if a bus full of hungry people arrived just before you.

  • Well as per someones suggestion we tried the red derby brunch today,Inexpensive i think is the key word here.We got good cheap eats fast,That’s what i want @ my brunch.I like that you can get your own coffee.

  • Great recommendations on this site. Tried out the Highlands yesterday. Had a great omelet and a friend and I ate for $13. Trying out Social in columbia heights today. Brunch is 11-3.

  • Cashions is fantastic and you can make a reservation.

  • Guys fusion dose have a lunch menu, entree $12-$14.00 went there twise last week check it out

  • Has any one tried Nage on Scott Circle for brunch? It’s in the Marriot Courtyard and has gotten pretty good reviews. I’ve been there for lunch and it’s pretty tasty, though the service was so-so. Best part is the place is relatively empty. The brunch menu does look pretty sweet and fancy with $15 unlimited marys and mimosas:

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