2012 Brunches: The Best, The Worst

In 2013 we’ll be entering our third year of Bitching, and we’re so blessed for that. This year has been incredible. It started with our sold-out yoga brunch in January and ended with us pretending to be models (and having a lot of fun with it) in Urban Chic’s Fall Winter Look Book—and the fun never stopped in between.

On Labor Day we relaunched the site, graduating from a blog to a full-fledged website with a brunch search tool—answering your emails, tweets, and prayers. We’ve also had the pleasure to work with a number of partners who have helped support the Bitching this year, including Policy, Station 4, GetMaineLobster.com, MINT, One Medical, Urban Chic, Carine’s Bridal, Balance Gym, and SoHo. (We’d also like to welcome new partners VIDA Fitness and Nival Salon & Spa, who are kicking off their partnerships in the New Year.) We can’t run this website without these local businesses’ support—so we hope you’ll support them, too.

To celebrate such an incredible year, we give you our favorite (and least favorite) brunches of 2012 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 2013. Next week, 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). Enjoy!

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The Best

Best overall: Last year we gave out four A+, but this year there were six. Does that mean restaurants have stepped their game in 2012? We think so. Cori Sue’s best of the year Lavagna, which had all the ingredients for a perfect brunch. Becca’s best of the year was Volt, Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s masterpiece, which is well worth the drive out to Frederick.

Best brunch deal: We thought nothing could beat the now-famous Masa 14-El Centro-Agora triad of bottomless-and-endless brunches, but Pulpo did the impossible: A fantastic bottomless-and-endless brunch for $25.

Best themed brunch: Tired of jazz brunches and party brunches, Becca fell in love with the Big Hillbilly Brunch at Fire Flies in Del Ray. Bring on the banjos!

Best bottomless: The Getaway in Columbia Heights unseats last year’s winner, Scion on P Street. Runner up, P.J. Clarke’s St. Patty’s Day brunch, which was bottomless to epic proportions.

Best buffet: Not much can compare to last year’s winner, the Four Seasons, except perhaps this year’s best buffet, Juniper at the Fairmont, which was decadent and classy.

Best new brunch trend: Gospel brunches took over this year. We loved The Hamilton’s gospel brunch and we were singing and clapping along with the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Howard Theatre.

Best place for groups: Lincoln is our go-to brunch for big parties, they even serve up huge punch bowls of champagne cocktails. Runner up is Art & Soul, Capitol Hill’s friendly local spot by Chef Art Smith.

Best patio: Town Hall wins this honor. Its patio is heavenly, it’s great for watching sports, and the food is reliably delicious.

Best decor: Sixth Engine is not only beautiful and tastefully decorated, it’s actually an old firehouse, complete with exposed brick walls, murals, and huge windows for just the right amount of hangover light. (Review coming next week!)

Best hole-in-the-wall brunch: The Passenger has amazing cocktails, great food and is a true D.C. neighborhood hole in the wall with dual personalities, making it both upscale and down.

Best hangover cure brunch: Cori Sue nursed her hangover well with lots of pasta and pizza at Graffiato, where the food can’t be beat. Aside from all the hype surrounding Mike Isabella, it’s a terrific brunch, with an affordable boozy option.

Best classic D.C. brunch: Ben’s Next Door—a great, classic Washington brunch spot with stellar shrimp n’ grits and other perfect comfort food. Runner up is Clyde’s of Georgetown, a Washington institution with great service and comfort food.

Best hipster brunch: We heart Room 11 because we secretly wish we were hipsters. Just across the street, Wonderland Ballroom was equally awesome and chill. Hipster brunch neighborhood? We think so.

Best party brunch: Lost Society’s party brunch featured a bongo man, endless cocktails, great service, and delicious food on a killer covered patio. Bring a huge group of friends and it’s the perfect atmosphere for a wild celebration brunch.

Best surprise: Normally EatWell restaurants end up on our “Worst” lists, but this year’s opening of The Pig took us by surprise with its Southern-style cuisine that’s nothing but fresh and local. The Pig would also win for Best Brunch Music, featuring ‘60s pop tunes that had Cori Sue snapping her fingers all brunch long.

Best brunch for the family: The plethora of options, delicious pizzas, and casual ambiance make Al Dente a great spot for the entire family. Everyone likes Italian food, especially when it’s fresh, well-prepared and delicious. The brunch prix fixe is a great deal, too.

Best cafe: Tucked in north Georgetown, Patisserie Poupon is the consummate French café with delicious coffee, divine pastries, and a charming, quaint ambiance. It serves brunch every day of the week, too.

Best New York City brunch: Our first year for this category (we reviewed five brunches in New York this year), Beauty & Essex takes the cake.

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The Worst

Worst overall: Asia 9 was awful, just awful. And then we got a nasty note from the owner. Last year’s worst, Mie n Yu, shut its doors this year. Here’s hoping you’ll turn things around, Asia 9, and stop the Bitches hate mail.

Worst food: Café Deluxe. There was mold on the food. That is all.

Worst service: TruOrleans’ food is barely edible, but that’s only if you actually get your food, as the service is even worse. (We were even told “We don’t scramble eggs.” Really?) Also, they require gratuity on the check, regardless of whether your food ever arrives.

Worst disappointment: Becca was so excited for Drafting Table to open. Too bad its brunch is far below average.

Worst hotel brunch: Nage is tacky, trashy, and gross. We assume it’s the choice spot for D.C.’s low-end call girls to brunch.

Worst buffet: We were expecting so much from the Marcus Samuelsson menu at The Howard Theater’s gospel brunch, but the buffet was cold and boring. And the cocktails were super expensive. However, the Harlem Gospel Choir was amazing.

Worst place to brunch sober: Red Palace is great for late-night boozing or burlesque, but they should leave the brunching to the pros. Or, at least, fuel it with bottomless to stench the awkwardness of mid-day boobs in your face. Regardless, this place is shutting its doors soon.

Worst diner: The Coupe had a lot going for it: 24 hours in Columbia Heights, brought to you by the same people who run Open City and Tryst. However, this place was nothing but disappointment.

Worst party brunch: Le Cirque Brunch at Napoleon Bistro & Lounge was too much trashy nightclub, not enough fabulous, fun, friendly brunch rager.

Worst brunch across the river: A tie between Chadwick’s in Old Town (subpar food, average service, and it’s hard to find) and The Green Pig in Clarendon (subpar food, average service, and nasty tweets from the bar manager post-review).

Worst brunch loss: We really, really loved the Latin American brunch at Ceiba. Why did they shut it down so fast after it started? Such sadness.

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2012 Brunches

Al Dente
The Bitches Say: A
3201 New Mexico Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Argonaut
The Bitches Say: B+
1433 H Street N.E
Washington, D.C.

Art & Soul
The Bitches Say: A
The Capitol Liaison Hotel
415 New Jersey Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Asia 9
The Bitches Say: F
915 E Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Bayou
The Bitches Say: C+
2519 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Ben’s Next Door
The Bitches Say: A
1211 U Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Billy Martins Tavern
The Bitches Say: B-
1264 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Birch and Barley
The Bitches Say: A
1337 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Boqueria
The Bitches Say: A-
1837 M Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Boxcar Tavern
The Bitches Say: A
224 7th St. S.E.
Washington, D.C.

The Brixton
The Bitches Say: B-
901 U Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Café Deluxe
The Bitches Say: D
3228 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Cedar
The Bitches Say: None
822 E St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Ceiba
The Bitches Say: A
701 14th Street
Washington, D.C.

Chadwick’s
The Bitches Say: C
203 The Strand
Alexandria, VA

Clyde’s Georgetown
The Bitches Say: A
3236 M Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Coupe
The Bitches Say: C+
3415 11th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Daily Grill
The Bitches Say: A-
1200 18th St. N.W. #2
Washington, D.C.

Drafting Table
The Bitches Say: B-
1529 14th Street N.W.
Washington D.C.

Estadio
The Bitches Say: B
1520 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Federalist
The Bitches Say: B-
The Madison Hotel
1177 15th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Fire Flies
The Bitches say: B
1501 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA

The Getaway
The Bitches Say: A+
1400 Meridian Place N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Graffiato
The Bitches Say: A
707 6th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Green Pig Bistro
The Bitches Say: C-
1025 N Fillmore St.
Arlington VA

The Grille at Morrison House
The Bitches Say: None
116 S Alfred St
Alexandria, VA

The Hamilton
The Bitches Say: B-
600 14th Street
Washington, DC

The Hamilton’s Gospel Brunch
The Bitches Say: A
600 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Howard Theatre Gospel Brunch
The Bitches Say: A for the show, C- for food and drinks
620 T Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Irish Whiskey Public House
The Bitches Say: A-
1207 19th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Jaleo
The Bitches Say: B
480 7th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Juniper at the Fairmont
The Bitches Say: B+
2401 M Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Lafayette Brunch at the Hay-Adams Hotel
The Bitches Say: B-
800 16th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Lavagna
The Bitches Say: A+
539 8th Street S.E.
Washington, D.C.

Le Cirque Brunch at Napoleon Bistro & Lounge
The Bitches Say: C+
1847 Columbia Road N.W.
Washington, DC

Level One
The Bitches Say: Still a B-
1639 R Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Lincoln
The Bitches Say: B+
1110 Vermont Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

Lost Society
The Bitches Say: A+
2001 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Madhatter
The Bitches Say: B-
1319 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Mansion on O St
The Bitches Say: B-
2020 O Street N.W.
Washington, DC

Masa 14 Rooftop
The Bitches Say: C+
1825 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Nage
The Bitches Say: F
1600 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Paolo’s
The Bitches Say: B
1303 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Passenger
The Bitches Say: A
1021 7th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Patisserie Poupon
The Bitches Say: A
1645 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
The Bitches Say: A-
1612 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Pig
The Bitches Say: A
1320 14th St. N.W.
Washington D.C.

PJ Clarke’s
The Bitches Say: B
1600 K Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Pulpo
The Bitches Say: B
3407 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Red Palace
The Bitches Say: D-
1210 H Street N.E.
Washington, D.C.

Room 11
The Bitches Say: A
3234 11th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Shaw’s Tavern
The Bitches Say: B
520 Florida Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Southern Hospitality
The Bitches Say: A-
1815 Adams Mill Road N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Station 4
The Bitches Say: None
1101 4th St. S.W.
Washington, D.C.

Teaism
The Bitches Say: A-
Locations in Dupont, Penn Quarter, Alexandria, and Lafayette Park. Brunch is served at its Dupont, Penn Quarter, and Alexandria locations.

Town Hall
The Bitches Say: A+
2218 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

TruOrleans
The Bitches Say: D-
400 H ST N.E.
Washington, D.C.

Ulah
The Bitches Say: A-
1214 U Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Volt
The Bitches Say: A+
228 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701

Warehouse Bar and Grill
The Bitches Say: B+
214 King Street
Alexandria, VA.

Wonderland Ballroom
The Bitches Say: A
1101 Kenyon St N.W.
Washington D.C.

Zaytinya
The Bitches Say: B+
701 9th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Zengo
The Bitches Say: B+
781 7th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Bitches on Vacay Brunches

75 Chestnut in Boston

411 in Chapel Hill

Babs in Atlanta

The Barking Dog in NYC

Beasley’s Chicken and Honey in Raleigh, NC

Beauty and Essex in NYC

Brunch in Bogota, Colombia

Café Neilson in Amsterdam

Central in Las Vegas

Duckfat in Portland, Maine

Herbstreet in Dublin, Ireland

Ken & Cook in NYC

La Creperie in Key West

Lamplighter in Richmond

Millie’s Diner in Richmond

Penelope in NYC

Sarabeth’s Kitchen in NYC

Shaw Park Beach Hotel in Jamaica

Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA

Society Café in Las Vegas

South End Buttery in Boston

Table in Asheville

Yardbird in Miami

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