My very smart boyfriend urged me to fly back from my vacation on a Saturday, rather than at the last minute on a Sunday. This meant I had a full day to unwind, unpack, and basically get my life in order. Oh, and brunch, of course.
Still in a traveling daze, I wobbled up the hill to Columbia Heights on a Bikeshare and met my friend Saro for brunch at Wonderland Ballroom. Saro had just returned from his vacation in South Africa, so we both had tales to tell.
We shared one of the long wooden picnic tables outside Wonderland with another brunch group that we didn’t know, and we felt very communal. The sky occasionally sent some raindrops, but the big oak tree shaded us, so it was perfect sitting outside.
Oh, we had stories: My camera broke at the most scenic Norwegian opportunity … His flight out of Africa was mysteriously canceled … I got put in a shady JFK hotel after a flight delay on my way out to London … it went on and on. It was a solid catch-up fest fueled by $11 bottomless mimosas and a great selection of beer.
Yes, the Height’s most famous dive bar did us right, and we didn’t even step inside. The nonchalant and very chill servers took turns handling our many requests and kept my pint glass full of iced mimosas for hours. Speaking of those mimosas, I loved that Wonderland offers not just the regular orange type but also Emergen-C mimosas—a brilliant idea for those hungover Sunday souls.
Oh, and the bottomless coffee is only 99 cents. Just saying.
The brunch menu at Wonderland is simple and divided into five parts: skillets, egg combos, classics, pancakes, and sandwiches. They cover all the bases: Those who want brunch food have a hefty selection, but those who just want lunch can get a Carolina pulled pork or grilled triple-cheese sandwich.
But when you look a bit closer at the dishes within these sections you start to wonder if a kid dreamt them up. Not because they’re bad—oh, no—just because they’re strange combinations of food types, like experiments in grandma’s kitchen.
For instance, as soon as Saro and I spotted mac ‘n cheese pancakes on the menu, we had to have them. Mac n’ cheese pancakes? We ordered them to share, as a starter, curious as to what mac ‘n cheese pancakes really are.
Turns out, they’re regular pancakes, but with a layer of mac ‘n cheese underneath. Who knew our favorite childhood dish could be so good with syrup and pancake batter? Truly unhealthy, but so good.
Another kid-in-the-kitchen creation was the Monte Cristo that Saro ordered. Some brilliant bored cook in the back room of Wonderland thought, what if we offered a traditional Monte Cristo sandwich but made the bread French toast? Those battered French toast slices were stuffed with ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese.
I ordered one of the skillets, the Hacienda. The skillets are the true throw-everything-into-the-pot kids’ cooking experiment. Eggs how you like them, but with the entire pantry: grilled peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar, and home fries. All this piled in between a couple thick slices of toast.
My hacienda also had avocado, bacon, and ranchero sauce mixed in there—superb additions to this breakfast medley, which was served in an old fashioned handled plate.
The Bitches say: A. A chill neighborhood brunch at a great price.
1101 Kenyon St NW
Wonderland serves brunch Saturday and Sunday.