2011 Brunches: The Best, The Worst

We’re so blessed that you lovely readers stuck around in 2011. We hope you enjoyed the Bitching, because, in our second year, there certainly was plenty of it. We reviewed more than 70 brunches in D.C., not to mention the brunching adventures we had hopping around the world, from Cartagena to Chesterfield, from San Diego to Boston.

To celebrate such an incredible year, we give you our favorite (and least favorite) brunches in one handy list. Also, below, we list every restaurant we visited this year, from A to Z, so you can relive the Bitching and plan away for 2012. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you a wrap-up of the Best Brunch Bites of the year (so you know where to go for the best Benny or Mary).

The Best

Best overall: Last year we gave out five A+; this year, there are four (clearly this statistic means we became more discerning Bitches in 2011). Cori Sue’s best of the year was The Source, a dim sum feast for the senses. Becca’s best of the year was El Centro, a bottomless tequila/endless Mexican food extravaganza of ridiculousness.

Best brunch deal: Just barely scraping past the $35 deal at El Centro, Agora takes the crown from last year’s now-infamous Masa 14 brunch deal. The delicious Turkish-Greek bottomless/endless brunch comes at a nice $30 price point.

Best themed brunch: L’Enfant Cafe & Bar’s La Boum, nicknamed D.C.’s “sexiest brunch,” satisfied Becca’s brunch wet dream to be dancing atop a table spraying a magnum of champagne into a wild crowd before 3 p.m.

Best brunch for your buck: Though not bottomless or endless, Busboys & Poets has the best food, service, coffee, drinks, and atmosphere without breaking the bank. It’s the benchmark for a D.C. no-frills brunch.

Best bottomless: There are lots of bottomless brunches in D.C., but Scion on P Street kept the pitchers and pitchers and pitchers of mimosas flowing for hours. (Did we mention there were lots of pitchers?)

Best buffet: We detest all brunch buffets; they’re usually busted. But the Four Seasons’ take, with eight “stations,” made us rethink our stance. Everything was pristine, beautiful, and delicious.

Best jazz brunch: Glamorous and zen, brunch at Sou’wester at the Mandarin Oriental is only amplified by the fabulous live jazz band.

Best place for groups: Beautiful Ris in Foggy Bottom has plenty of private spaces (and big rooms) for brunch parties or groups. Plus, the food is amazing and the drinks are bottomless.

Best patio: A tie in this category, as Local 16’s rooftop patio is gorgeous and semi-private, while Medium Rare’s sidewalk patio and big umbrellas provide lots of great people-watching in Cleveland Park—both over fantastic brunches.

Best view: Brunching outside at Indigo Landing means you’re overlooking the gorgeous Washington skyline from the far side of the Potomac. As if it could get more picturesque, you get to watch planes land at Reagan with the monuments in the background.

Best brunch across the river: Rustico, with a location in Ballston and another in Alexandria, is a no-frills brunch in which every dish is near perfection. Plus, they have more than 400 brews on the menu.

Best decor: Built in an old grain warehouse, Virtue Feed & Grain’s interior has big timber beams, swing porch chairs, massive projection screens, great art, and a set of angel wings hanging from the ceiling. It’s a great atmosphere for the pajama brunch they host once a month.

Best hole-in-the-wall brunch: D.C.’s classic comfort brunch at Creme lived up to the hype; we were just shocked at what a tiny space it’s in. Good thing the service is speedy and efficient.

Best pop up brunch: When Jose Andres turned beloved Café Atlantico into the six-month (now longer) pop-up America Eats Tavern, it was bittersweet. But the brunch dishes and cocktails are works of art. God bless ‘Murica!

Best diner brunch: Luna Grill is the sort of little hidden D.C. gem of a diner that celebrities would try to be incognito in (indeed, Becca spotted a famous comedian there). The service was excellent and the food was great for diner fare.

Best brunch for family: Old Ebbitt Grill is adjacent to the Treasury and the White House. Plus, its history and its interior make it an even bigger draw for the Segway crowd. The menu also makes it agreeable to most palates.

Best Friday brunch: Georgetown’s Kafe Leopold is creative, fresh, and healthy. Best of all, it’s open on Fridays, which makes it perfect for long weekend brunching.

The Worst

Worst overall: Mie n Yu dug its own grave with horrendous service, soggy salads, and cold brunch dishes. Cori Sue nearly ran out screaming.

Worst buffet: The overpriced brunch buffet at Taberna del Alabardero was one of the worst we’ve experienced.

Worst Bloody Mary bar: After a sad, stale, heat-lamped buffet at Whitlow’s on Wilson, we were disappointed when our glass of well vodka met its match at a crusty bloody mary bar (also, the mimosas were way overpriced).

Worst mimosa: Circa’s mimosas came in regular tumbler glasses, rather than champagne glasses, and were served with ice. Which is fine, we’re not that snobby. Except, they had no champagne, and they were pricey. Four strikes, Circa.

Worst place to brunch sober: The Diner’s greasy food wasn’t even the familiar kind that we were craving. There are much better greasy, affordable hangover diner brunches in this city. Stick with The Diner only when you’re wasted and it’s 3 a.m.

Worst patio: Puro Café’s patio has canopies, gazebos, and outdoor lounge-style seating in whites and beiges that looked oh-so-chic on the Web site. In reality, everything was stained, dirty, haphazardly disorganized, and poorly taken care of.

Worst brunch loss: Capitol Hill’s modern Vietnamese brunch at Ba Bay was delicious and the restaurant was super chic. We were sad to see it close.

Worst brunch deal: Brunch for two at Blue Duck Tavern totaled nearly $100, and that includes the staggering $7 cups of coffee. Sure, the food is nice, but why rob us?

Worst wait: Open City is a great Woodley Park spot for brunch and coffee, but be prepared to wait for a long time cramped in a tight space in order to get a table.

Worst trek to brunch: Brunching at Tabaq is like sitting in a glass greenhouse atop a U Street brownstone, and the views of D.C. go on for miles. But it does require a climb up not one, not two, but three steep sets of narrow wooden stairs. Treacherous with a hangover.

2011 Brunches

Click on the name of the restaurant to read the review. Click here for the 2010 brunches.

ACKC
The Bitches say: A-
1529C 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 387-2626
2003A Mt. Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, VA
(703) 635-7917

Acqua al Due
The Bitches say: B
212 7th St. S.E.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 525-4375

Agora
The Bitches Say: A
1527 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 332-6767

America Eats Tavern
The Bitches say: B+
405 8th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 393-0812

Ardeo Bardeo
The Bitches say: A-
3311 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 244-6750

Ba Bay (NOW CLOSED)
The Bitches say: A
633 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 547-1787

Bar Pilar
The Bitches say: B
1833 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 265-1751

Big Bear Café
The Bitches say: A
1700 1st Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 470-5543

Bistro La Bonne
The Bitches say: B+
1340 U Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 758-3413

Blue Duck Tavern Brunch
The Bitches say: B+
1201 24th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 419-6755

Bourbon
The Bitches say: C+
Adam’s Morgan
2321 18th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 332-0800
Glover Park
2348 Wisconsin Ave.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 625-7770

Busboys and Poets
The Bitches say: A
U Street
2021 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C
(202) 387-7638
Chinatown
1025 5th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 789-2227

Brasserie Beck
The Bitches say: B-
1101 K St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 408-1717

The Cajun Experience
The Bitches say: A
1825 18th Street NW
(202) 670-4116

Churchkey
The Bitches say: B
1337 14th Street
Washington, D.C. 2005
(202) 567-2576

Circa
The Bitches say: C+
1601 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C.
(202) 667-1601

Columbia Firehouse
The Bitches say: B
109 South Saint Asaph Street
Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 683-1776

Comet Ping Pong
The Bitches say: B-
5037 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 364-0404

Commissary
The Bitches say: B-
1443 P St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 299-0018

Commonwealth (NOW CLOSED)
The Bitches say: B
1400 Irving Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 265-1400

Coppi’s Organic
The Bitches say: B+
U Street
1414 U Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 319-7773

Cork
The Bitches say: B+
U Street
1720 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 265-2675

Creme
The Bitches say: A
U Street
1322 U St.
Washington D.C
(202) 234-1884

The Diner
The Bitches say: C
Adams Morgan
2453 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-8800

Dino
The Bitches say: A+ (though this was a blogger brunch)
Cleveland Park
3435 Connecticut Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 686-2966

El Centro
The Bitches say: A+
U Street
1819 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 328-3131

Fortune Dim Sum
The Bitches say: A
Seven Corners
6249 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22044
(703) 538-3333

The Front Page
The Bitches say: C
Dupont
1333 New Hampshire Ave N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 296-6500

Hudson Restaurant and Lounge
The Bitches say: B-
Foggy Bottom
2030 M Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 872-8700

Indigo Landing
The Bitches say: B-
One Marina Dr.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-0001

Kafe Leopold
The Bitches say: A
Georgetown
3318 M St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 965-6005

Kellari Taverna
The Bitches say: C+
Downtown
1700 K Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 535-5274

La Boum Brunch at L’Enfant Café and Bar
The Bitches say: A
Adams Morgan
2000 18th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 319-1800 (Reservations for La Boum have to be made through the website)

Lincoln
The Bitches say: A
Downtown
1110 Vermont Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 386-9200

Local 16
The Bitches say: A-
U Street
1602 U Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 265-2828

Logan Tavern
The Bitches say: C
1423 P Street N.W.
Washington D.C. 20005
(202) 332-3710

Lost Society
The Bitches say: B-
2001 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 618-8868

Luna Grill & Diner
The Bitches say: A-
Dupont
1301 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 835-2280

Medium Rare
The Bitches say: A
Cleveland Park
3500 Connecticut Ave N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 237-1432

Mie n Yu
The Bitches say: D
Georgetown
3125 M St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 333-6122

Meridian Pint
The Bitches say: C
Columbia Heights
3400 11th St N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 588-1075

Mon Ami Gabi
The Bitches say: B
Bethesda
7239 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, M.D.
(301) 654-1234

Old Ebbitt Grill
The Bitches say: A-
675 15th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005-5702
(202) 347-4800

Open City
The Bitches say: B-
2331 Calvert St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 332-2331

Oyamel
The Bitches say: A+
401 7th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 628-1005

Policy
The Bitches say: A
U Street
1904 14th St N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 387-7654

Poste Modern Brasserie
The Bitches say: C+
Chinatown
555 8th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 783-6060

Puro Café
The Bitches say: C-
Georgetown
1529 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 787-1937

Ris
The Bitches say: A
Foggy Bottom
2275 L Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
(202)730-2500

Rosemary’s Thyme
The Bitches say: C+
1808 18th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 332-3200

Rustico
The Bitches say: A
Ballston
4075 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22203
(571) 384-1820
Alexandria
827 Slaters Lane
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 224-5051

Scion
The Bitches say: A
Dupont
2100 P Street N.W.
Washington D.C. 20037
(202) 833-8899

Seasons at the Four Seasons
The Bitches say: B+
Georgetown
2800 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 342-0444

Serendipity 3
The Bitches say: B+
Georgetown
3150 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-5193

Seventh Hill Pizza
The Bitches say: C+
327 Seventh St. S.E.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 544-191

Smith Commons
The Bitches say: C+
1245 H St N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 396-0038

The Source
The Bitches say: A+
575 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 637-6100

St. Arnolds
The Bitches say: B
1827 Jefferson Place
Washington, D.C.
(202) 833-1321

Station 4
The Bitches say: C+
1101 Fourth Street S.W.
Washington, DC
(202) 488-0987

Sticky Rice
The Bitches say B+:
1224 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 397-ROLL (7655)

Sou’Wester at the Mandarin Oriental
The Bitches say: A
1330 Maryland Avenue S.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 787-6990

Tabaq Bistro
The Bitches say: A
1336 U Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 265-0965

Taberna del Alabardero
The Bitches say: F
Downtown
1776 I Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 429-2200

Vermilion
The Bitches say: C+
Old Town
1120 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22301
(703) 684-9669

Virtue Feed & Grain
The Bitches say: B
Old Town
106 S. Union St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(571) 970-3669

We, The Pizza
The Bitches say: A
305 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 544-4008

Whitlows on Wilson
The Bitches say: C-
Clarendon
2854 Wilson Blvd.
Clarendon, VA 22201
(703) 276-9693

Bitches Brunching on Vacay

Baltimore, MD: Little Havana

Boston, MA: Aquitaine

Cartagena, Colombia: Café Milla

Charleston, SC: Sweetwater Cafe

Chesterfield, England: Stephensons Coffee and Tea House

Dallas, TX: Forty-Five Ten

Denton, MD: Cindy’s Country Store

La Jolla, San Diego, CA: The Cottage

Las Vegas, NV: The Aria Buffet

New York, NY: Elmo Restaurant, Isabella’s, Pastis

Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY: Bar Toto

Raleigh, NC: NOFO at the Pig

Ybor City, Tampa, FL: The Columbia Restaurant

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