I really don’t take enough advantage of the incredible museums we have at our fingertips in Washington. If you’re a local like me, I’m sure you can relate to the list of activities that feel almost too touristy to waste a precious Saturday on—despite the fact that so many gorgeous, free museums are located less than a mile from where I spend 90 percent of my time.
When I received the invite to brunch at the National Gallery of Art, I knew if that didn’t get me to the museum, nothing would. Not to mention, touring the museums was high on my sister’s “D.C. bucket list,” before she ships off to Italy for graduate school in a few short weeks. So, off we went on a gorgeous summer Saturday, backpacks and sneakers in tow, as good little localists (local-tourists) do.
We walked in through the West entrance, which requires you to stroll through various rooms full of paintings and artifacts before arriving at the Garden Cafe. A cultural amuse bouche, if you will.
Right before the entrance to the coolest gift shop I’ve ever stepped foot in, you’ll find a lovely host standing in an atrium full of quaint marble cafe tables surrounding a majestic fountain. Upon seating, you’ll learn that for $30 ($18 for children 12 and under) you can help yourself to an all-you-can eat buffet from Starr Catering, Stephen Starr’s catering concept. For an additional $10 you can indulge in bottomless mimosas and pretend you’re drinking in a scene from National Treasure. We went with the latter.
Usually weary of buffets, we were elated to find that this one did not disappoint. The options ranged from delicious seasonal kale salads to Greek couscous and a tomato and watermelon gazpacho, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The baked frittata was tasty, but a bit dry—an unfortunately typical outcome of the baked egg dish.
We helped ourselves to seconds of the roasted butternut squash salad with purple kale and dried ricotta. The summer short ribs made with pineapple, bean sprouts, and shaved scallions were some of the most tasty and tender meat I’ve had at a brunch this year.
Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised by the attentive service to not only our table, but to the buffet stations as well. The bountiful cheese and charcuterie plate alone got refreshed twice while we were there, but we swear we were not the reason why.
While you can find prepared food options on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art is the only place where you can enjoy a seasonal brunch buffet with your museum visit. Another perk? This was probably the most immaculate brunch buffet we’ve experienced. It is a museum after all, so they keep everything from your table to the restrooms spotless.
The Bitches say: B+. Locals and tourists alike will find the National Gallery brunch a charming way to kick off a cultural day in D.C. The buffet exceed expectations and the museum is stunning.
Garden Cafe at The National Gallery of Art
6th & Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20565
Serving brunch every Saturday and Sunday through the month of September—don’t miss out!