I love Comet Ping Pong for reasons that none of my brunching companions completely understood last Saturday. Perhaps it’s because I grew up just around the corner from Comet, and so I’m filled with nostalgia and pride in my neighborhood every time I walk in the door.
When I was growing up, the space where Comet currently resides was the Thai Room. The Thai Room was awful. But it was ours; it was somewhere my dad could walk to and pick up soup for my mom when she had a cold. It was the place around the corner where we could sit as a family and eat mediocre Pad Thai and then walk a few doors down and peruse the aisles at Politics & Prose.
The Thai Room’s presence exemplified the urban lifestyle my parents treasured, and the strip of shops on Comet’s block of Connecticut Avenue coupled with the relatively close proximity to the Metro was exactly why they bought the house I grew up in back in the ’80s. To this day, the neighborhood is just as lovely and lovable as I remember it, but with a few upgrades.
For instance, the Thai Room isn’t there anymore, but I love that Comet kept its sign up on the back of the building (above the secret neighborhood entrance I took the Bitches through). Much like the Thai Room, Comet Pizza belongs to Forest Hills; only now, since the food is far beyond mediocre and the scene is so gosh darn hip, we share it with the rest of the city, like Tom Daschle and his grandkids who occasionally stop in for pizza and ping pong along with a barrage of hipsters and 20-somethings who make the trip up Connecticut Avenue.
The combination of Comet, Politics & Prose, and Bucks Fishing & Camping makes it the happiest of little D.C. blocks. While I don’t live at home anymore, I know how much my parents still love it there.
They bought that house in the 1980s, during the crack epidemic, endured the control board and having their streets go unplowed during snow storms, their garbage not being picked up during budget shortfalls, and so, I believe, they deserve to have a great place to drop in for a beer and a slice (and occasionally some of the harder stuff).
Comet has done a phenomenal job of making the restaurant a hub of diversity. Ping Pong table tops crammed with booster seats and sippy cups turn over to young beer swillers such as our brunch party, but the time frames are usually much different for these two groups.
This, combined with the knowledge that my parents could drop in at any moment, made drinking Bloody Marys before noon on a Saturday feel especially illicit. While noon on a Saturday means brunch to the Bitches, it means lunch to the playgroups. I’ll admit: getting raucous got a little awkward for me.
That being said, I applaud Comet’s foray into the brunch scene. This is not a brunch place in the Dupont Circle sense of the word (buyer beware: they don’t serve coffee). There wasn’t a bottomless special in sight; you will never sit down for an eggs benny there; nor did a sliver of smoked salmon cross my lips (although how good would that be on a pizza?).
But you know what? Who cares. Their pizza is amazing. Except for a certain duck pizza with beans on it, which proved nearly impossible to eat without the beans sliding all over the place.
OK, we’ll admit, the Ranchero pizza was also a little odd. “Never again,” said Matt, one of our Bitches that Saturday. But besides those two pizza experiments, the rest of our pies were fantastic.
Brooke took the dive off the main menu and made her own concoction: tomato pie with smoked mushroom, spinach, merguez sausage and an egg. It was “freaking awesome,” she said. We all loved that you could throw an egg on any and every pizza on the menu, too—a quick way to make it brunchy.
Besides the aforementioned Ranchero pizza, there were three others on the brunch menu (which is available along with the usual full pizza menu). The Sweet Spot, made with Longinisa Sausage, apple slices, potato, and served with a side of Maple Syrup, was Becca’s favorite of the table. The sausages were spicy and the apple added that bit of tart fruit we needed. It was a great taste combination with the syrup.
The Sunrise, made with crispy ham, grated cheddar cheese, potato, and an egg, was a bit more classic breakfast. It was great with the thin, crispy crust. You didn’t feel as if you were eating a greasy breakfast. Then there’s the Trophy, which is more dessert for brunch, with caramelized bananas, Hershey syrup, whipped cream, and mint.
With no coffee, we had to go to the next best thing: mimosas and Marys. The mimosas are served in wine glasses, and though orange juice heavy, they are substantial. There are three types of bloody marys on the menu, and lots of local beer—including a Port City beer float.
Tammy ordered the “floater” while our waiter peered at her curiously. She had to keep repeating her “floater” order before he realized what she wanted, which was quite humorous for the rest of us at the table. The glass came with bittersweet flavors of coffee and dark chocolate, plus a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Besides the excellent breakfast pizza and the great service, Becca definitely appreciated the wacky art in the place. There’s a disco cinder block spinning from the ceiling, for one. And then there’s the epic art installation in the skylight, along with other canvases and weird pieces high up on the walls.
The place is almost like a contemporary art museum in itself, but this can be easily overlooked if you’re focusing on your pizza and your table. Also, the bathrooms are hidden, and being a local, I had to point that out to the Bitches. Just another piece of built-in art.
The Bitches say: B- Interesting brunch pizza, some a bit off the wall, worth the trek up Connecticut Avenue to try it. But don’t go for hangover-kicking coffee or boozing—this is a kid-friendly hipster joint on Saturdays and Sundays.
Arielle says: A++
Comet Ping Pong
5037 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC 20008