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D.C. Best and Worst Brunches 2017

It’s been a year. We have to be honest: At times it felt like the only thing we could rely on was brunch, which we suppose is fine because at least we can count on something.

Every December, our team gets together for—you guessed it—an annual brunch to deliberate on our amazing and lackluster experiences at our brunches across the city, throughout the year. We’ve endured many late nights, followed by early brunches, countless carafes of champagne, and some serious side eye from adjacent patrons while we stand atop chairs to get that perfect overhead shot.

It’s a tough job, but we’re so fortunate to get the opportunity to taste and judge all that the flourishing D.C. dining scene has to offer. From the best brunch for cheese lovers to the worst hotel brunch, our annual Best & Worst Brunch Guide is not to be missed. (Want the best Brunch Bites of the year? Click here.)

We have so much fun ranking our best and worst experiences that we wanted to let you in on the action, by way of a new category: the Reader’s Choice Award. Thanks to all of you who voted. And, for those who missed it this year, be sure to follow us on Instagram (@bitcheswhobrunch) to keep up with our foodie adventures and giveaways.

Last but not least, we’d like to give a special shout out to our friends and families, our plus ones, and our fellow brunching Bitches: the people behind all of the beautiful hands clinking mimosas and poking poached eggs while their food gets cold. Our brunch lives (and photos) would be incomplete without you.

Cheers to a New Year, Bitches, and to making your 2018 brunch plans the best yet!

Disclaimer: These rankings are based solely on our team’s dining experiences in Washington, D.C., throughout 2017. While we try to experience every new restaurant opening, these honors are based on what we’ve reviewed this year.

Reader’s Choice Best Brunch Of The Year

Espita Mezcaleria

This authentic Mexican fare with a modern twist wowed us and satiated our sweet, savory, and spicy cravings. And apparently yours too! We would definitely recommend this brunch for anyone with an affinity for high-quality, fresh food with a kick. Special shout out to the churro French toast. Just wow. Read the review, here. 1250 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Espita Mezcaleria

Best Overall

Joselito Casa de Comidas

Brunch at this family-owned restaurant in Capitol Hill is a truly authentic Spanish experience. From the vintage family photos adorning the walls, to the homemade sangria and Marcona almond brandy, to the table side carving of fresh Iberico ham, you can feel the passion and attention to detail that goes into every aspect of the experience. Each course, which can be ordered in portion sizes varying from tapas to family style, was more delicious than the next. The smoked cod and olive oil gazpacho took us out of our brunch comfort zone, in a good way. The combination of the beautiful vintage space, charming tropical patio, welcoming service, and inventive presentations knocked it out of the park for us. Read the full review, here. 660 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

Joselito Brunch

The Best

Best Alexandria Brunch

Bastille

This is our go-to spot for an upscale brunch south of the city. We loved the special PB & J French toast and cheese platter. This French cuisine was not only well prepared and delicious, but it was also the most immaculate restaurant we’ve been to in a long time. The little details matter, people. Read our review, here. 606 N Fayette St, Alexandria, VA 22314

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Best Arlington

Pamplona

For an innovative and affordable bottomless brunch that encompasseses both modern and authentic Spanish flavors. The space channels sexy vibes and the bar offers killer libations. This Spanish locale is tucked away in the heart of Clarendon and won us over. This is your go-to spot for quality Spanish fare in Arlington. Read the full review, here. 3100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Best Ballston

Kapnos Taverna

Head to Ballston’s Kapnos Taverna for the fancy yet comfortable atmosphere, amazing spreads and dips, and wonderful staff. This is definitely a great option for specials dates and family occasions. There’s something for everyone here. Oh, and you can’t forget a great bottomless deal. Read the review, here. 4000 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

Best Logan Circle

Birch and Barley

The stand out dishes were the chicken and waffles, cauliflower, and cheese board. Birch & Barley, and its upstairs neighbor Churchkey, are convenient and solid options for brunch in Logan Circle. We loved how it was affordable, cozy, and welcoming. This is our classic and dependable mainstay brunch. Read the review, here. 1337 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Best Brunch in the ‘Burbs

City Perch

The bread basket alone is worth the trip to City Perch, which is located in Bethesda and connected to an iPic movie theatre. You can start with brunch and end with the most luxurious movie theatre experience, before you realize you’ve spent a lovely day in the ‘burbs. Read the review, here. 11830 Grand Park Ave Suite B, North Bethesda, MD 20852

City Perch Brunch II

Best New York City Transplant

The Smith

Like most things in New York, The Smith is unsurprisingly pricey and doesn’t offer a bottomless option. However, the service, the vibe and the fries make it a welcomed addition to the Penn Quarter dining scene. Read the review, here.  901 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004

The Smith

Best Brunch on The Mall

National Gallery of Art Brunch

It’s odd there are not more brunch, let alone restaurant, options in close proximity to the National Mall. Luckily the National Gallery of Art capitalized on this void and started serving a lovely buffet brunch in their Garden Cafe. Aside from the fact that you’re dining in a stunning marble museum, the food is tasty to boot. It makes for a unique weekend excursion, even for a local. Read the review, here. 6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565

Best Brunch in Ivy City

Ivy City Smokehouse

If you want some of the best seafood in the District, you needn’t go to the waterfront. The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse is a comfortable restaurant attached to the supplier of many of D.C.’s seafood restaurants. Grab fresh oysters, smoked fish, and local beers on the spacious upper deck. Read our review, here. ​1356 Okie Street NE, Washington DC 20002

Ivy City Smokehouse Brunch

Best Waterfront Brunch/Brunch with a View

Ana at District Winery

We love a good winery and we love a good view. If you’re looking for a combination of the two, look no further than Ana at District Winery. While the brunch itself had some kinks to work out, the all-glass restaurant overlooking the Anacostia river is architecturally gorgeous. Read the review, here. 385 Water St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Ana Brunch at District Winery

Best Bethesda Brunch

Community

This cozy, upscale diner offers delicious doughnuts, enormous pancakes, and warm service. It has revamped its menu to fit a “burger bar” mold since we went but the family-friendly atmosphere remains. Read our review here. 7776 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814

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Best Northeast Brunch

Nido

This minimalist, European-style cafe gives us serious decor envy.The menu is simple Mediterranean fare, sourced from fresh ingredients and well-executed. This would be our local spot, if we lived in the ‘hood. Read the review, here. 2214 Rhode Island Ave NE, Washington, DC 20018

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Best Woodley Park

Duke’s Counter

Casual vibes, strong mimosas, and a perfect setting for groups, families, or a patio brunch, Duke’s has it all. But, the reason we visit is definitely for the brunch burger, it’s what Bitch dreams are made of. Read the review, here. 3000 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

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Best Dupont Brunch

Boqueria

Tapas style dining is always a fun way to share food and drinks. When it comes to brunch, though, it can be difficult to find a spot that has modern, fun vibes while still maintaining that authentic tapas flavor and integrity. Happy to say Boqueria does an awesome job with tapas, drinks, service and dessert. Read the review, here. 1837 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Best Deal in Arlington

Cava Mezze

Some all you care to eat spots can be overwhelming and overrated, not Cava Mezze. This Arlington restaurant has modified versions of all its brunch specials, so you can get a perfect taste of everything and at the right price. With the perfect mix Mediterranean and classic dishes as well as the Virginia-modified bottomless special, Cava Mezze’s $35 bottomless deal is pretty hard to beat. Read the review, here. 2940 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Best Mexican Brunch

Espita Mezcaleria

This authentic Mexican fare with a modern twist wowed us and satiated our sweet, savory, and spicy cravings. We would definitely recommend this brunch for anyone with an affinity for high-quality, fresh food with a kick. Special shout out to the churro French toast. Wow. Read the review, here. 1250 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Best Indian Brunch

The Bombay Club

We loved this upscale and formal brunch filled with live music and prominent Indian flavors. The Bombay Club is great for families or an afternoon date. This is definitely the best Indian brunch we’ve had in D.C. Authentic and delicious. Read the full review, here. 815 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006

Most Instagrammable Brunch

Succotash (downtown)

Both the National Harbor and the D.C. locations of Chef Edward Lee’s southern restaurant have beautiful food, but the Penn Quarter stop takes the cake for aesthetics. Housed in a historic bank building, the sunroof drenches a gorgeous space with nods to its financial past and a mezzanine level perfect for people watching. Plus, the dishes and glassware had us dying to snag some for our own kitchens. Read our D.C. review, here. 915 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Succotash D.C.

Best Healthy Brunch

Fruitive

Fruitive, which offers acai bowls, smoothies, veggie-friendly options, and soups, is a must for any health-conscious bruncher. You won’t feel like you’re missing out with the restaurant’s massive, loaded waffles, like the fluffer nutter with almond butter  coconut cream, and sliced bananas. Read the review, here. 1094 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001

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Best Asian Brunch

Tiger Fork

Leave the brick of Blagden Alley and step into the streets of Hong Kong at Tiger Fork. The stunning space serves up delightful cocktails (like the Bad Girl Mimi) and dynamite dumplings. Read our full review, here. 922 N St NW, Washington, DC 20001

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Best Brunch to Host an Intimate Occasion

DC Harvest

Our go-to spot for groups, local fare, and killer cocktails., DC Harvest has it all. The H Street spot is now available for private events, like bridal showers, brunch showers, or general brunch-y events. Get more information on their website, and read our review here. 517 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

DC Harvest Friday lunch

Best Outdoor Brunch

The Yard at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

Our meals were delicious at The Yard and our fare tasted fresh and of the highest quality. Everything from the space to the service to the little details was utter perfection. The attention to detail makes everything better here. The space is beyond adorable. Anyone who can make gnomes cute and kitschy, and not tacky and ugly are truly superstars in our opinions. Read the review, here. 3100 South Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

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Best Brunch Activity

Via Umbria

Brunch at Via Umbria is uniquely convivial. Between the family style servings, the friendly staff, the communal table, and the bottomless bellinis you can’t help but feel the effects of the relaxed Italian vibe. Arrive early to shop the market, or leisurely pass through on your way out after brunch. We always lose track of time when we step foot into Via Umbria–and you will too. Read the review, here. 1525 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

Via Umbria Brunch

Best Drag Brunch

Taqueria del Barrio

We would give the the show an A at this Petworth drag show. We had a blast and loved the inclusive and accepting vibes and energy. Definitely a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday. Pro-tip: don’t forget cash. Tip your Queens, people! Make your reservations now, Bitches–they fill up fast. Read the full review, here. 821 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

Best Live Music

Oz

If you’re looking for live music on Sunday, a $35 all you can eat brunch and mimosas for a penny, we repeat 1 cent mimosas, head to Oz in Arlington. We’re still humming tunes from a guitarist that was reminiscent of a young Jack Johnson during our bro brunch earlier this year. Read the review, here. 2950 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Best Party Brunch

801

A rooftop with shareable Moscow mules and a lively downstairs with breakfast tacos and hash, make this a great spot to day drink or lick your wounds from the night before. Read the review, here. 801 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001

Best Italian Brunch

Lavagna

Lavagna’s brunch is perfection, and the best place to catch up with friends and revel in the things that change in Washington—and the things that don’t. Read the review here. 539 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Best Hotel Brunch

Hummingbird Old Town

Yes, this is across the river in Old Town Alexandria, but we highly recommend making a fun date out of brunch at Hummingbird, the new, nautical space from Chef and restaurateur Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve and Society Fair. We took the water taxi from D.C. and spent the night at the fun boutique IHG property, Hotel Indigo. Read the review, here. 220 S Union St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Hummingbird Brunch

Best Rooftop Brunch

El Techo

Come for a breakfast taco, stay for a tequila shot. The chill, charming rooftop in Shaw is an urban oasis perfect for soaking in some rays and kicking back with your group. Read the review, here. 606 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

El Techo Brunch

Best Family-Friendly Brunch

Millie’s

The Spring Valley outpost of this Nantucket icon thrives in the summer. With its spacious patio of picnic tables, families, pups, and kids are at home with its casual, seaside vibes. There’s something for everyone – an ice cream stand for the kids, Triple 8 vodka cocktails for the adults, and dynamite seafood for everyone in between. Read our review, here. 4866 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Millie's Brunch

Best Brunch for Cheese Lovers

Cheesetique

We were wowed by every course and experienced great service to boot. This is a spot for you if you like cheese, carbs, and great drinks. Bring anyone from your mom to your significant other. The cheese selection is nothing short of extension, top notch, and delicious. The staff is knowledgeable and will help you navigate the various options. They can even point out a few options for the lactose intolerant–everyone wins! Read the full review, here. 800 N. Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22203

 

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Best Brunch for Carnivores

Fogo de Chao

The meat selection, quality, and preparation cannot be beat at this popular chain. If you want meat–and lots of it–Fogo is the only option. Make sure you go on an empty stomach and give yourself plenty of time to pace yourself between all of the various courses of right-off-the-spit meats. Read the full review, here1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Best Brunch for Carb Lovers

Hank’s Pasta Bar Alexandria

We loved the space, vibes, and Italian flare at Hank’s. The pasta went above and beyond–they definitely know their carbs. We would recommend Hank’s for a leisurely lunch away from the chaos of the District with girlfriends, significant others, and out-of-towners. Go for the carbs, stay for the atmosphere. Pro-tip: order the side of mac! It’s to die for. Read the full review, here600 Montgomery St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Best Service/Experience

Fyve at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City

We give Fyve an A+ for attentive service, and spectacular classic and contemporary brunch items prepared with the freshest ingredients. The mimosa kit is by far the most luxurious we’ve seen to date. We were each given our own bottle of Veuve Clicquot served with carafes of freshly squeezed orange juice. Each bottle was just chilled to perfection. Mimosas are available for a steal, appropriately priced at just $5 since bottomless is banned in Virginia. Read the review, here. 1250 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA 22202

Best Buffet Brunch

Equinox

We enjoyed our vegan fare at this beautiful, plant-based brunch. The vegan offerings are truly innovative and incorporate fresh seasonal vegetables and ingredients. A great option for vegans, vegetarians, and plant-hungry carnivores. The service was impeccable to boot. Read the full review, here. 818 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006

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Best Comeback

The Ugly Mug

For a decent boozy brunch served with art deco vibes and a killer music selection. The service was attentive and the newly renovated space is fun and lively. The sunlight peeking through the covered roof deck along with the interesting artwork truly brought the restaurant to life. Read the full review, here. 723 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Best Diner

Ari’s Diner

While there aren’t a ton of options to choose from in this category, we’re digging Ari’s Diner’s vibes in the hip Ivy City neighborhood. Classic and greasy fare, like a hearty BLT and Bloody Mary, make this a casual spot for an all day breakfast fix. Read the review, here. 2003 Fenwick St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Best Spot for a Brunch Date

 Siren

A posh, seafood centric brunch, we knew Siren was a catch from the moment we were seated at the lush leather banquets. One bite into the crab cake and we knew Siren was going to be a real treat. Lure your next brunch date to this upscale restaurant in the Darcy Hotel off of Scott Circle and you’ll have them hook, line, and sinker. Just make sure they aren’t allergic to shellfish. Read the review, here.  1515 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

Siren Brunch

Best Beer Brunch

The Sovereign

Nestled down an alleyway, away from the busy streets of Georgetown is a gem of a bar.  The dark, cozy vibes at the Sovereign make it a welcome respite from the crowds. The bar boasts an impressive beer menu and Belgian classics on the brunch menu. Tap your bartenders’ expertise for what pairs best. Read the full review, here. 1206 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

Best Brunch for Bros

Hawthorne

You want sports playing on TVs and a bottomless special that includes buckets of beer? Hawthorne is your spot. The U Street bar puts up a surprisingly decent crab Benedict and attentive service so your mimosas never go un-refilled. Read our full review, here. 1336 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Best Themed Brunch

Stable

Calling all snow bunnies! We’re catching major après-ski vibes from this H Street restaurant that is styled after a Swiss chalet. Bring a group of friends to enjoy toasting your own raclette cheese over the stove for a DIY brunch adventure. Read our full review, here. 1324 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Stable

Best No-Frills Brunch

Quarter + Glory

You know those days when you just can’t deal with the hustle and bustle of a brunch restaurant, but you also don’t want to cook for yourself? Quarter + Glory’s brunch menu is a saving grace. The bar is handsome, not overcrowded, and the menu includes favorites like tater tot poutine and a fried chicken sandwich on a jalapeno waffle. Read our full review, here. 2017 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009

Quarter + Glory

Best Hangover Brunch

Red Apron

Need a little hair of the dog and some greasy grub? Red Apron Burger Bar has the perfect options for you, including a delightful pancake burger and a kick-ass spiked brunch punch. While the Dupont Circle location closed, you can still order off the menu at EatBar. Read our full review, here. 709 D Street NW Washington DC 20004 

Best Early Bird Brunch

Lil B

Six-thirty a.m. is much too early for the Bitches, but early birds can get their worms at Lil B. Chef David Guas’ New Orleans-inspired joint in The Darcy Hotel offers a variety of yummy dishes early in the morning. Stop in for a hearty bite before heading to work during the week. Read our full review, here. 1515 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

Best Vegan

Fare Well

Non-vegans might be skeptical of an all plant-based diner, but don’t tell them and they likely won’t notice. Fare Well makes food that tastes good and just so happens to be vegan, instead of forcing dishes to meet the dietary restriction. We loved the challah French toast and the chilaquiles. Read our full review, here. 406 H St. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002

Best Decor/Best Ambience

Sakerum
While the food is hit or miss at Sakerum, we love the cocktails and the aesthetic. This cool two-floor bar and restaurant on 14th Street has a sleek, sexy and dark downstairs and a bright, colorful Moroccan bazaar inspired patio, designed by Maggie O’Neill of Swatchroom. Read the review here. 2204 14th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009

Best Cozy Brunch

Maple 

We love the cocktails, carbs and chill vibes at this little Italian joint in Columbia Heights. It’ll be a brunch staple for years to come. Read the review, here. 3418 11th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20010

The Worst

The Most Average Brunch

Tenley Bar and Grill

This no-frills brunch neither wowed us nor offended us. It’s just that–average bar food. The plastic champagne flutes and dozens of televisions make this brunch a good option for clumsy sport fanatics who want a cheap venue to catch the game. Read the full review, here. 4611 41st St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016

Worst Italian Brunch

Rosario

We thought parts of our meal were decent but other aspects could stand to be improved. We’d like to see an updated breakfast sandwich and a couple more options on the menu before we revisit brunch. They need to up their Italian food game if they want to draw in the masses. Read the full review, here. 2435 18 St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009

Biggest Letdown

Farmers and Distillers

At first glance, we were utterly overwhelmed by number of buffet stations, ranging from hot to cold and incorporating global cuisines. It’s possible that we may have missed a history lesson or two, but we were unable to comprehend how the Chinese food station fits into the George Washington theme. (Turns out, it’s an ode to the restaurant’s Chinatown location… but still.) The doughnuts, however, were on point. Read the full review, here. 600 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001

Most Overpriced Brunch

Declaration

Maybe it was the lack of service, maybe it was the acne commercial on TV for the duration of our brunch, but Declaration could use some amendments. At $40 for all you can eat, excluding booze–which clocked in at $11 and $10 for mimosas and Bloody Mary’s respectively, we’d expect the food and drinks to be above average. Read the review, here. 804 V St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001

Worst Hotel Brunch

The Grill Room

Hotel restaurants can go one of two ways; they can be classy and delicious or odd and bland. The Grill Room, which seems to change management as often as the weather, is currently in an off season. Strange service and overcooked eggs leave much to be desired at the stuffy Georgetown hotel. Read the review, here. 1050 31st St.N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007

Worst Downtown Brunch

Aperto

Aperto is an old school Washington spot, with a location on Pennsylvania Avenue, white table clothes, and formality on the service. We loved the jazz at brunch, but the decor, hit-or-miss service, and subpar, greasy Italian food made it a bad brunch. Read the review here. 2013 I Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006

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Weirdest Brunch Experience

Marcus

We had been looking forward to Marcus, the restaurant from Marcus Samuelsson at National Harbor’s new MGM Resort and Casino. The space was beautiful—but decorated beautifully in the casino style, in that everything was fake and inauthentic. Unfortunately, the food was not up to famous chef standards, the pancakes were bland and the frittata was just bad. Read the review here. 101 MGM National Drive, MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD

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Worst Party Brunch

DNV

DNV, the rooftop at Kimpton’s Donovan Hotel on Thomas Circle, bills itself as the place to be on summer Sundays. The cocktails, which are awkwardly named for millennial trends—#TBT, NSFW, the Friendzone, etc.—are saccharine, and oddly tasting. The service and vibes we off, but the food was the worst part. Read the review, here. 1155 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C 20005.

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Worst Brunch of the Year

Mythology

Mythology provided us with one of the worst brunches we’ve had to date. Between the confusing decor, the all-over-the-map menu, and the downright disappointing food, we simply cannot recommend this place. At the time, we thought we might go back for the selection of frites, but we can get good French fries in a less weird ambiance with better service elsewhere. Read the full review, here. 816 H St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

 

BitchBiz: Bitches Who Brunch partners with Lavagna, Via Umbria, DC Harvest, and City Perch. While this article and these rankings were selected and written independently, we do receive compensation from the companies. 

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