Friday Question of the Day – Where’s Your Favorite Chill Brunch Spot?

Photo by PoPville flickr user nairdaecartal

A friend of mine asked for brunch recommendations and for some reason I always seem to blank on brunch recs. We got a few recommendations back in 2009 but obviously a million places have opened since then. I’m not looking for best food really – I’m more interested in best atmosphere where you can relax, though of course decent food is important too. For me, I can’t really think of a brunch spot I prefer to chill at over Red Derby (14th and Quincy St, NW.) And now that the weather is getting nice, bonus points for a place that has a good outdoor option too.

So for the Friday Question of the Day – what’s your favorite chill brunch spot where you can hang out for hours?

132 Comment

  • That’s really tough. Every place I’ve been to lately has been annoyingly crowded, regardless of the food quality. This town seems to be uber obsessed with brunch. Is that the case everywhere, or is it just a trendy thing in DC these days?

    • I may be wrong, but I don’t think it’s isolated to DC. Young people with expendable income like doing brunch for various reasons. DC is a relatively young city, with a median age of 34 (pretty sure this is still correct, but could be off by a year or two). Therefore, I’m not really surprised that brunch spots are popular all over DC.

      • I met a guy a few months ago who was visiting from Boston. He’s only been in town one day but heard that brunch is a “thing” in DC and was asking me what that meant (“do people dress up for it”). I laughed and said no, they wait in enormous lines and spend a lot of money on eggs.

        • Weird – when I visited Boston this past summer I personally saw long lines to get into some of the popular brunch spots, so it’s definitely a thing there too. I don’t know the age of said guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something that correlates highly with age.

          • He must have been in his 20’s. I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to him, because once he started complaining about all the black people in DC I walked away.

          • I’ve noticed long lines for brunch in pother cities for sure, but I there seem to be far fewer restaurants offering brunch in those places. Seems like just about every restaurant in DC does brunch now. Whenever I have friends visit from out of the area they always want to go out to brunch since “it’s such a DC thing,” but if there really is “a DC thing” I thinks its more aptly described as an affinity for eating out, time of day is irrelevant.

      • ” Young people with expendable income like doing brunch for various reasons.”

        I go to brunch for the exact opposite reason, I have very little expendable income.

        $25 (the price of most unlimited drink brunches) gets you 4 or 5 drinks at a bar, not even enough to get a good day drunk going on. $25 for food and booze? That’s just good economics!

      • Well at 45 I’m well past the brunch demographic, but I never really enjoyed it. I find that stuffed, tired, drunk feeling at 1pm pretty unpleasant. And then it’s followed by the headache at 4pm, and the cold realization that you just wasted one day of your life in an alcoholic stupor.

        I’d rather have a bowl of cereal and play with the cat.

      • you don’t watch Portlandia do you, Anonymous ?

    • So laughable that people think brunch is only a big deal in DC. People who think that need to travel more. Brunch is a huge deal in virtually any big US – even down to places like Dallas. Silly.

      • I know, and man, Dallas is the ass end of the world. If they do it there, then trust me, they do it everywhere.

  • FlipIt2…16th and Rhode Island NE…no booze, but some of the best (and best priced) breakfast food you can imagine. I love Smith Common and go there quite often, but the food at FlipIt is better and about 1/3 the price…

  • That dude’s hat looks ridiculous.

  • Hey, I got a free bowl of soup with that hat.

  • The Argonaut on H Sreet NE.

  • Beau Thai!

    • I’d heard good things about this place so I gave it a try last weekend and was really disappointed. It’s like every other mediocre thai place in town. sigh.

      • What did you order? I think its great and at good prices.

        • I saw a very poor review of their brunch that made it sound like they were still experimenting around with that part of the menu. Maybe that’s the case here?

  • Who doesn’t like Brunch? I mean what’s better than sitting out in the cool morning sunshine drinking bloody marys and eating shrimp and grits. If you don’t like brunch, your heart is too sizes too small.

    • The people who don’t like brunch are the people who are cooking and serving you brunch.

      • Agreed. Brunch requires 10x more work than dinner, and the check is usually half the size. Plus, people get grumpy at brunch. It isn’t that we don’t want to give you, personally, a table–it’s that 80 people showed up before you did also asking for a table.

        My favorite brunch note to make is how many drinks people have on their table at once–a beer, a diet coke, a bloody mary, coffee, and water. It is pretty funny.

    • I like doing brunch if I have friends or family visiting, but on a nice Saturday or Sunday morning I have a million other things I’d rather be doing than sitting around slowly getting buzzed. My weekends are precious to me and I want to maximize that time!

    • I do not like brunch. For me, it is a waste of good daylight hours.

    • Because anyone who doesn’t want to wait in a line with a bunch of idiots to spend $24 on 9,878 kinds of eggs that will only make their pants explode then pass out from too many mimosas and bloody marys then wake up in a pool of vomit must be the Grinch.

  • Bistro Cacao near Union Station. Outdoor patio, plenty of street parking, and bread baskets!

    • Bistro Cacao might be a good place for brunch, but I just can’t get past the name- reminds me Cacao! of the Portlandia skit Cacao! from the first season.


    • Yes, I live in SE Capitol Hill and Bistro Cacao is my favorite brunch spot. It’s far enough away that it doesn’t get the Eastern Market crowds (but the walk there is very nice), and you get a lot of good food for $15.95. The service is always exceptional there and I love the pastry baskets they keep coming around with. Although the interior is gorgeous I think it’s too dark for brunch, so I wait until it’s a nice day and sit out on their lovely patio.

    • Shhhhh! This is one of the few brunch places I’ve found that doesn’t have an impossibly long line on Sundays!

      Seriously though, awesome brunch, reasonably priced, and a nice atmosphere. Just don’t take my spot!

  • I really like DC Reynolds when the weather is nice. Tonic in Mount Pleasant is great to nurse a hangover in. But the best is Tel’Veh in the bottom of 425 Mass apartments…bottomless turkish brunch food and drinks for $30.00. They do stop you at 2 hours but that is plenty!

    • Tonic used to be a really good place for brunch but they raised their prices and changed their menu sometime in the past 6 months and now it’s just…meh.

  • I haven’t really gotten the feeling anywhere I have had brunch that it’d be welcomed to sit around for hours and enjoy the day. Some of the bottomless places are a little more receptive to long stays, but once the group is done eating, it always feels like the server slows down and just bides the time.

    • Of course they make money by turning tables. but I don’t get that at the Getaway.

    • I’ve had lovely long brunches at Level One in Dupont Circle. Like 3+ hours of bottomless mimosas.

    • Get out of the city if your goal is to be there for a while. My girlfriend and I once spent nearly an entire day brunching at a lame sports bar in Shirlington. One of the bartenders even hung out with us for a while because she had nothing better to do do. Only downside was the view was of a parking lot.

  • The Getaway on 14th street. Probably not for the foodies but the bottomless bloody mary’s and mimosas get the job done.

    • Service at the Getaway was terrible last weekend. What good is bottomless if you can’t get the waitress to come back?

  • Beuchert’s Saloon on Capitol Hill. They just started brunch last weekend and I went on Sunday. It was very low-key, not crowded and the food/drinks were awesome.

    I think I had the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot. Guarantee this place gets packed soon as it already is for dinner. I would go asap for a low key brunch.

  • Ben’s Next Door–fabulous service, not stingy with the bottomless mimosas, and never too crowded.

  • Cava – on Barracks Row. Small plates, so you can order in waves, and you don’t have to pick between breakfast (delicious waffles) and lunch (get the cheese that they light on fire!)

  • +1 Agora – $30 all you can eat/drink
    Vinoteca – cheap food (especially compared to their dinners) and $15 bottomless
    Lavagna (Eastern Market) – amazing food and $12 bottomless
    Wonderland Ballroom – great brunch on a nice day
    El Centro – solid $35 all you can eat/drink

    • Yes, agree about Vinoteca, it’s a good deal for brunch.

    • Vinoteca and their mushroom omelet. And their bottomless mimosas. And their bocce court on nice days.

    • Another vote for Vinoteca.

      If you time it right, you can ride out their bottomless brunch right into their happy hour specials. Ooof. That’s a good recipe for being completely hammered by 6pm. No, I have not done that 3 or 4 times.

  • Masa 14 – bottomless brunch and amazing chipotle cheese grits
    Urbana – build your own bellini bar
    Ardeo Bardeo – great menu and amazing service

  • Pulpo in Cleveland Park is great – $25 all you can eat/drink! Has a nice atmosphere and they send out tapas upon tapas, yum. Pork sausage with a quail egg is my favorite.

    Also love Acre 121 in Columbia Heights, the menu is hit or miss but it’s certainly adventurous.. $13 bottomless drinks if I recall correctly.

    Luna Grill in Dupont has more of a diner than a brunch vibe but the food is great and the atmosphere relaxed (busy, but easygoing)

  • hispanicandproud

    Brunch food is gross and overrated.

    • Eh, for me it’s more about being able to sit outside and have a leisurely meal with family or friends. I can make great breakfast food at home but that’s not the point. Besides, most places have lunch-type options if you’re grossed out by eggs and waffles.

      • Yeah, I like brunch more for the social aspect than the actual food, especially if you can spend the morning sitting outside on a nice day. Also, I’m a terrible cook, so most brunch food is better than anything I could make…and my place is TINY, so no entertaining at home.

    • watch out for long lines though if you show up too late or with a big group. Best is to try to get a seat at the bar.

  • I’ve wanted to try El Centro’s all AYCE. Someone let me know how that is.
    My favorite brunch spot is Senart’s Oyster House on 8th SE (Barrack’s Row). It is never every crowded and the food is incredible. Much better than there so so dinner. They have great service from the hosts to the bartenders and servers. I also really enjoy their Grapefruit Crush. Really hits the hangover spot. People have never heard of this place at least when I bring it up as an option so it remains easy to get a table.

  • Chill brunch spot? Where I’d want to spend hours? Definitely red derby or looking glass.

  • More along the lines of slightly fancy but Tabaq has a great brunch and I love the rooftop, and they take reservations so you’re not waiting in an endless crowd.

  • orderedchaos

    Burlesque Brunch at SAX: Great vibe, tasty food, and of course the dance performances are fun.

    DC Reynolds: I just love this place any time of day.

    The Heights: Solid food, excellent bloodys, and props for starting earlier than most brunches.

    • Has the Heights improved lately? I haven’t eaten there in 3 or 4 years after being seriously underwhelmed by a couple of dinners there.

      • Was wondering the same thing… ate there when I lived across the street and it just opened, it was quite good. But it quickly went downhill…

        • I’ve never had brunch there, but the rest of the menu is really consistently good. Excellent burgers, and my favorite, ginger calamari. Super happy hour too.

  • Seriously, that hat.

  • The Argonaut on the back porch!

  • DC has amazing brunch places.

    – Bourbon is awesome and usually pretty laid back
    – Rosemary’s Thyme is super laid back, cheap, and delicious.
    – Mandu has a very different, Korean brunch.
    – Eatonville’s is pricey but decadent and delicious, and usually easy to get in even with larger groups.
    – Bistro La Bonne is a sneaky awesome brunch place- you get the same steak you get for dinner, with eggs, only cheaper. And they do $3 mimosas or bloodies (or $12 bottomless).
    – Bistro Bohem has a good and interesting brunch, plus a bottomless deal.
    – I’ve never been, but I’ve heard The Pinch has a very good brunch.
    – Kellari Taverna- three courses and a cocktail for $26!

    • Congratulations, you are just about the only person who answered the OP’s question. You actually provided a list of useful brunch spots rather than snarky comments about the photo or people’s willingness to pay for brunch etc.
      I would add to your list the following:
      Belga Cafe in Barracks Row
      Cafe Deluxe near the National Cathedral
      L’Enfant Cafe in Adams Morgan

      • I don’t get to Capitol Hill very often but have had a couple of very nice brunches at the Chesapeake Room. And it’s been a few years since I’ve eaten there but but brunch at Banana Cafe was always pretty good.

      • I was totally thinking the same thing about no one answering the question and instead kind of ragging on DC for being obsessed about brunch. Every major city I go to has brunch except SF – they also do breakfast!

      • people should always do what they are told, rather than freely talk about something.

    • rosemary’s thyme is gross.

      • Sorry to say it, but have to agree. Maybe not gross, but really flavorless/ underwhelming. Had been eyeing it for awhile (looks so cute!), but the bread, eggs florentine, and fruit were all misses.

  • andy

    The only solution to crowding is to get out of the core of young DC. Get up to Highlands, up our way!

  • Scion at 22nd and P. Sit in the bar area and you can drink for as long as you want, and they’re not stingy with the booze.

  • The Beacon

  • Station 4, outside of baseball season. Bottomless and a brunch entree for 25 and they actually make the mirmosa’s right. I hate the places that just make it all orange juice

  • Mad Hatter in Dupont has an amazing brunch, and a bloody mary bar. Also- Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown- though an odd brunch choice- has truly bottomless mimosas they serve with delicious juices- we even had the bottle at our table!

  • I will not tell you all, lest it be a chill brunch spot no more.

  • Don Jaime in Mt. P. great breakfast burrito

    • Yes to Don Jaime! Green migas and black beans forever and ever, amen. No, you can’t get a mimosa, but I don’t brunch to get tipsy– I just love breakfast food.

  • Has the Coupe managed to get their act together ever since they changed their menu? Is it worth another shot?

    • YES! I was not impressed with The Coupe the couple of times I went when it first opened, but just tried it out a week ago again. It wasn’t crowded (no line), had great service, and the food was actually awesome all around for the four of us who dined (they changed their menu, too! I like the new menu better)

  • Has anyone tried one of the various gospel brunches? Like the one at the Howard Theater? I’m curious if they’re any good.

    I’ve had good experiences at Floriana and Rustik Tavern. The latter has a grit cake that is pretty awesome.

  • Rustic in Bloomingdale stepped up their game. They have an excellent brunch menu that serves lots for a little. Plus, when you ask for hot sauce they bring you Sriracha; so yeah, that’s the a way to my heart.

  • Anyone know of any good vegan brunch options?

  • Bar Pilar has a pretty solid brunch. Never been disappointed with the food. Mintwood Place in AdMO also has a great brunch if you want to spend more.

    • Don’t know about their brunch but I had an AWESOME dinner at Bar Pilar a couple of weeks ago, and the waitress was great too.

  • If you’re up for a trek – FireFlies in Del Ray has a live bluegrass band – (Bob Perilla and Big Hillbilly Bluegrass – of Madam’s Organ fame) for Sunday brunch. (Don’t confuse with Firefly in DC.)

  • Any thoughts on Wonderland’s brunch? I’ve never been, but they have some intriguing menu options (mac & cheese pancakes??).

  • I once went through two shift changes at the Fox & Hounds. Long ago…

  • skj84

    The fact that people hate brunch breaks my heart.

    Favorite Brunches?
    Bistro La Bonne: Not too expensive, chill vibe and mimosa’s are only $3.00
    Mintwood: Expensive but worth it.
    Local 16: Bottomless Brunch on the roof for only $16.00? Yes please!
    Ulah: Not the best food but good for catching up with your girlfriends. And bottomless.

    However my absolute favorite brunch is the best kept secret in DC. La Boum brunch at L’enfant Cafe! Every Saturday at 2:00 pm a DJ booth is set up, the lights are dimmed and a crazy party commences. Champagne is brought out with sparklers on top and you will end up dancing on your chair. There is usually a burlesque or drag performance as well. People get a little wild, but its all in good fun. Can be pricy but worth it. Reservations only and they fill up fast. I usually end up booking at least 3 months out.

  • DC Reynolds for brunch is great! They have freshly grounded coffee from Qualia as well as unlimited Bloody Marys and Mimosas for $10.

  • Rustic Tavern – Bloomingdale

  • Veranda on 11th & P is chill and usually not too crowded. And it’s got a nice, you know, veranda to sit on.

  • The Derby (up top there), or Bistro Labonne (when I’m cravin’ mussels).

  • definitely belga cafĂ© on the hill.
    logan tavern, but usually a long line. but great food options!

  • Chef Geoff’s has brunch until 3pm on Sundays followed by happy hour from 3-7pm — I’ve never tried to hang out there for hours, but it’s one of my favorite brunch spots in the city (the one on NM Ave).

  • Just tried Meridan Pint and it was great. Vibe was very chill outside and staff attentive. My neighborhood go to is Boundary Stone and Rustik has stepped it up a notch. DC Reynolds is awesome. Worst brunch places – Every diner in Adams Morgan and everything across from Whole Foods on P Street. Capitol Lounge for brunch if you want to lose your afternoon on drinking pint size bloody marys. Hoping the Red Hen will be a good future brunch place.

  • justinbc

    For a place you can hang for “hours”, I would say Masa 14, although the vibe there isn’t really “chill”. The $35 AYCE & ACYD can certainly keep you seated at the table for a while, especially if you’re with friends.

    It’s a bit off topic, but for something really original I highly recommend The Source’s take on dim sum brunch…it’s $$$, but worth it.

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