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D.C. Best & Worst Brunches of 2013

Best and Worst Brunches
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Some people think the number 13 is unlucky, but we think 2013 was one of our most blessed. Not only was it our third year of Bitching up a storm, we also met some incredible people, grew to a team of five Bitches in Washington (yikes!), and even laid plans for our New York expansion.

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, Get Maine Lobster, VIDA Fitness, Lavagna, Nival Salon & Spa, Dolci Gelati, and Coye Nokes. We can’t run this website without these 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 2013 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 2014. Tomorrow, 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!

Wit & Wisdom Brunch

The Best

Best Overall: Last year we had six A+ brunches. This year? A whopping nine. Restaurants are definitely stepping up their brunch game. But the French won us over in 2013. Cori Sue’s best overall goes to Table; Becca’s best of the year is Le Grenier.

Best Bottomless: Piola is the perfect place for wasting a day drinking (or not wasting, your choosing). Plus you can choose from a selection of bottomless flavored mimosas, bellinis, or plain Jane champagne–all with endless pizza.

piola22

Most Reliable: Boqueria is Becca’s trusty stalwart this year. The Spanish restaurant’s bottomless sangria and tapas are always served up just as good as expected. Cori Sue has brunched at Lavagna twice and was equally impressed both times. It’s her reliable go-to for the perfect brunch.

Best Ambiance: Nopa Bar & Kitchen is an enormous restaurant in Penn Quarter with decor that is upscale preppy New England chic, sort of country club grill meets hunting lodge. Plus, its brunch is great, too. Ambar’s fun, feminine decor, which is farmhouse meets library, also won us over this year. Both places are great for a girls brunch and for cocktails come evening.

Best Themed Brunch: Cori Sue loved the Inauguration weekend brunch at Chef Todd Gray’s Equinox, which commemorated President Obama’s inauguration as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day’s 50th anniversary. Chef Todd is always quick to celebrate a momentous occasion with a great themed menu.

Best Buffet: Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers made quite the comeback this year after ruining Becca’s Mother’s Day brunch back in 2010. Maybe that Georgetown Waterfront flood did a little good, after all.

Best New Brunch Trend: Craft cocktails have been a must on any D.C. restaurant’s dinner menu in the last few years, but in 2013 we were finding them creeping onto brunch menus, much to our delight. Maple’s cocktail menu was leading the pack this year, along with Nopa Kitchen & Bar.

maple22

Best Place for Groups: Becca snagged a table for 15 or so, and District Commons kept the mimosas and food coming. Perfect for an enormous, rowdy bunch of Bitches. Piola comes in a close second, with a big space that’s accommodating for large parties.

Best Hole in the Wall: Kangaroo Boxing Club is hidden away in Columbia Heights, but its brunch should put it on the map. The menu is diverse, the service is kind, and the drinks were flowing. Oh, and Becca still cannot get over that caramelized bacon.

Best Live Music Brunch: Fire Flies in Del Ray served up a Bluegrass brunch that was so engaging, even our server jumped on stage and started singing. We’re so tired of stuffy jazz brunches; this was a refreshing alternative.

Best Casual Brunch: From the owners of Town Hall in Glover Park, Sixth Engine serves up reliable, hit-the-spot American fare in a relaxed, comfortable space. The sandwiches, chocolate chip pancakes bigger than your head, and desserts are all worth the trip.

Best Hangover Cure Brunch: You have to drive to Rockville, but Quench is worth the trip. The brunch is served up with plenty of hangover-soaking carbs and fried chicken, like a grilled cheese that will change your life, and a chicken and waffles sandwich that will put you into a food coma–and right back to bed.

Ted's Bulletin Brunch

Best Family Brunch: Union Market serves options for every member of a picky family, as they can each grab something different and then convene for the gospel performance. Del Ray Cafe comes in a close second. The organic, all-natural brunch is perfect for families in Virginia. Plus, it looks like you’re brunching at grandma’s house.

Best Classic DC Brunch: Cashion’s Eat Place is the mainstay in Adams Morgan, and its brunch menu is a reliable go-to for a classic D.C. take. In second place, Kellari Taverna, which might be mistaken for your boss’s boss’s favorite city happy hour spot, but actually serves up a delicious, diverse brunch on the weekends.

Best Party Brunch: Vinoteca doesn’t actually tout itself as a party brunch, but Becca was happily surprised that the mimosas and bocce were flowing in the back patio, along with great music and a crowd of fun people.

Best Hotel Brunch: Hotel brunches are usually overpriced and predictable, but the The Caucus Room at the Westin set itself apart with the quality of the food and the delightful service.

Best Brunch Date Spot: Cori Sue and Becca had a hot Bitch date at Frederick de Pue’s charming French restaurant, Table, nestled in Shaw. The white-washed, crisp, organic ambiance, with herbs growing on the wall and hand-written script menus add charm. The food is phenomenal, and it’s a perfect place to impress a Bitch.

Best Fat Kid Brunch: Cinnamon rolls as big as your head, milkshakes that taste like a meal through a straw, pop tarts and donuts and pastries, oh my. Ted’s Bulletin is a fat kid’s dream.

Most Improved: When The Brixton launched its brunch back in 2012, the British pub served up odd portions with rude services. They’ve turned it around, and refined their menu to be bottomless and endless British and Indian small plates. Well done.

The Brixton Brunch

Best Service: We couldn’t stop cracking up at our server at The Atlas Room. But not only was he full of personality, he was also excellent, attending to our every whim. If you want to be waited on hand and foot for brunch, Atlas is the place.

Best Reason to Drive to Virginia: We Bitches love wine, cheese, and brunch, and The Curious Grape has all of the above. The mom-and-pop-owned wine and cheese shop-meets-restaurant served up cheese plates with champagne pairings, boars meat beignets, perfectly baked pastries, and hit-the-spot shrimp n-grits. Get in the car and get to Shirlington.

CG19

Best Patio: Vinoteca wins a second accolade with its phenomenal patios, one in the front for prime U Street people-watching, the other in the back for bocce and music. Take your pick for this bottomless brunch.

Most Worth Hype: Le Diplomate was the magnet that brought everyone to the new hottest corner in Washington, 14th and Q Street. The place is perpetually packed, with three-hour waits out the door. Thankfully, the brunch is well worth it.

Best Place to Take Tourists: Cori Sue runs by Occidental, near the White House, almost daily, but it took three years to get her in the door for brunch. Too bad it took her that long, as this glamorous Washington mainstay serves up gourmet American fare with great service and oodles of class.

occidental17

Hidden Gem: Down H Street NE, a tiny French restaurant knocked Becca’s socks off. Le Grenier’s fabulous, authentic French food, gorgeous cocktails, and flirty service was the perfect package. It’s a wonder it’s not well-known.

Best Reason to go South: Lyon Hall serves up delicious omelets, pulled pork hash, and other mouth-watering brunch dishes in a chic diner setting right in the heart of Clarendon.

Best Weekend Getaway Brunch: The Bitches had our first annual winter retreat at the charming, family-owned Middleburg Inn, a bed and breakfast in Virginia horse-country. The Innkeeper makes fresh lemon pound cake, a perfect Eggs Benny, and pancakes any way you’d like.

The Atlas Room

Best Mom and Pop Brunch: Floriana, the charming Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle, is built into a row house, and the cuisine is created by an Italian mama. The proscuitto di parma eggs benedict, a solid, Italian rendition of the Eggs Benny, is worth it for the trip alone.

Best Mexican: Cori Sue was horrified by the idea of traveling to Clarendon (sorry we’re not sorry) but Fuego Cocina & Tequileria was more than worth the trip. The tuna tartare tacos rocked our world, the vegetarian empanadas thrilled this Argentine-raised gal, and the baja style mahi mahi tacos will impress any taco connoisseur.

Best Vegan Brunch: A former vegan, Cori Sue certainly wishes Todd Gray was around during her herbivorous days. The glorious veg-friendly buffet served at Todd Gray’s Muse at the Corcoran features a variety of veggie dishes, plus pastries from Sticky Fingers Bakery, all set to a live bluegrass band.

Best Brunch View: Cori Sue took in a yoga class courtesy of Core Power Yoga followed by a light, healthy continental breakfast on the roof of the glamorous Graham Hotel in Georgetown. The stunning view of Georgetown simply cannot be beat.

Best Brunch for Your Buck: U Street Cafe, which could also place in a “Best Take-Out Brunch” category, is an inexpensive, quick option for an absolutely perfect egg-and-cheese-anything. The options are endless, too.

The Worst

Worst Overall: This Southern restaurant Firefly serves up disgusting grits, runny Eggs Benedicts, mushy biscuits and gravy, and unidentifiable, non-food objects in its omelets. The company at this brunch was just as bad as the food.

Worst Service: Such a shame. We loved Edgar Bar and Kitchen at the opening bash and even for a smaller party, as Cori Sue threw Becca a surprise birthday party here. However, the service at brunch, and at several cocktail meetings following, was terrible.

Worst Disappointment: We absolutely love dinner and happy hour at 14th Street Italian restaurant, Ghibellina, owned by the folks behind Acqua al Due. Unfortunately, Becca’s brunch did not live up to expectations.

Ghibellina Brunch

Worst Party Brunch: The burlesque brunch at SAX was awkward. Silent when the performances stopped, with atrocious food and stingy bottomless pours. Could also be named “Worst Place to Brunch Sober.”

Worst Brunch Across the River: Carlyle’s brunch food is like the stuff at the massive cafeteria that your grandparents go to, except with very friendly servers.

Worst Sanitation Standards: The Bloody Mary bar was positively foul and filthy at Capital City Brewing Company. Not to mention, they put out A1 Steak Sauce instead of Worcestershire. Same bottle, minor detail.

Worst Live Music: The harpist in the corner at Notting Hill in Old Town had us wondering if we were brunching in an old people’s home. Or a Christmas nativity play.

Worst Themed Brunch: Cori Sue had a less-than-stellar brunch at Shaw’s Tavern, and then Social Bitch Amanda Jean returned later for a comedy brunch hosted by LYGO DC. The stand-up comedy was hilarious, but the bad food was anything but.

Worst Place for Vegetarians: Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan serves up a barbecue buffet that rivals most in the south. Just don’t bring your vegetarian friends there.

Biggest Fall from Grace: As Bitches, we’re constantly hearing about how amazing Tabard Inn is for brunch. We never thought it was worth the hype, but the doughnuts sure were good. Our last brunch there was terrible: dirty decor; snotty, rude service; and lackluster cuisine.

Most Likely to Be Redeemed in 2014: The service at Boundary Stone was beyond offensive and rude, which made it hard for us to notice anything about the food. But we’re told we just had a bad egg (and the restaurant’s owners apologized profusely), so we’re confident the place will be redeemed next time we visit.

Worst Brunch Loss: Chez Billy was a well-appointed brunch in a lovely setting, right in the heart of Petworth. We’re super bummed they decided to stop their brunch service. Can we start a petition to bring it back?

2013 Brunches

Acre 121
The Bitches Say: C+
1400 Irving St. N.W.
Washington, D.C

Ambar
The Bitches Say: B+
523 8th St. S.E.
Washington, D.C.

American Tap Room
The Bitches Say: B+
7278 Woodmont Avenue
Bethesda, Md.

The Atlas Room
The Bitches Say: A
1015 H St. N.E.
Washington, D.C.

B Too
The Bitches Say: A
1324 14th Street NW
Washington, D.C.

Beau Thai
The Bitches Say: C
1700 New Jersey Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

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

Boundary Stone
The Bitches Say: F
116 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Brickside
The Bitches Say: A
4866 Cordell Ave.
Bethesda, Md.

The Brixton
The Bitches Say: A-
901 U St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Capitol City Brewing Company
The Bitches Say: C-
1100 New York Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Carlyle
The Bitches Say: D
Shirlington Village
4000 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, Va.

Cashion’s Eat Place
The Bitches Say: A+
1819 Columbia Road N.W.
Washington D.C.

The Caucus Room
The Bitches Say: A-
The Westin Georgetown
2350 M St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Chez Billy
The Bitches Say: B+
3815 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20011

The Curious Grape
The Bitches Say: A
2900 S Quincy St.
Shirlington Village
Arlington, VA 22206

Daikaya
The Bitches Say: B+
705 6th Street N.W. #1
Washington, D.C.

Del Ray Café
The Bitches Say: B
205 E. Howell Ave.
Alexandria, Va.

DGS Delicatessen
The Bitches Say: A+
1317 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

District Commons
The Bitches Say: C+
2200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Edgar Bar & Kitchen
The Bitches Say: D+
1127 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
Washington, D.C.

Equinox
The Bitches Say: A
818 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.

Et Voila
The Bitches Say: A
5120 MacArthur Blvd N.W.
(The Palisades)
Washington, D.C.

Farmers Fishers Bakers
The Bitches Say: A-
3000 K Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

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

Firefly
The Bitches Say: F+
1310 New Hampshire Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Flat Iron Steak & Saloon
The Bitches Say: A+
808 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Floriana
The Bitches Say: A+
1602 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Founding Farmers
The Bitches Say: B
1924 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria
The Bitches Say: A-
2800 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, Va.

Ghibellina
The Bitches Say: D+
1610 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Graham (as part of Core Power Yoga’s Sun.Stretch.Sip)
The Bitches Say: A
1075 Thomas Jefferson St.
Washington, D.C.

J&G Steakhouse

The Bitch & Bro Who Brunch say: B-
515 15th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Kangaroo Boxing Club
The Bitches Say: B+
3410 11th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Kellari Taverna
The Bitches Say: B
1700 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Lavagna
The Bitches Say: A+
509 8th St. S.E.
Washington, D.C.

Le Diplomate
The Bitches Say: A
1601 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Le Grenier
The Bitches Say: A+
502 H St N.E.
Washington, DC 20002

Lia’s
The Bitches Say: B
4435 Willard Ave.
Chevy Chase, Md.

The Libertine
The Bitches Say: C+
2435 18th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Lyon Hall
The Bitches Say: B
3100 North Washington Blvd.
Arlington, Va.

Maple
The Bitches Say: A-
3418 11th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Middleburg Country Inn
The Bitches Say: A
209 East Washington St.
Middleburg, Va.

Murphy’s Irish Pub
The Bitches Say: B
713 King St.
Alexandria, Va.

Muse at the Corcoran Gallery of Art
The Bitches Say: A
500 17th Street N.W.
Washington, DC

Mussel Bar
The Bitches Say: B+
7262 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

Nopa Kitchen + Bar
The Bitches Say: A-
800 F St N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Notting Hill
The Bitches Say: D
1106 King St.
Alexandria, Va.

Occidental Grill & Seafood
The Bitches Say: A-
1475 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Ovvio Osteria
The Bitches Say: B+
2727 Merrilee Drive
Merrifield, Virginia

Palena
The Bitches Say: B
3529 Connecticut Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Piola
The Bitches Say: B+
2208 14th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Protein Bar
The Bitches Say: A+
398 7th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Quench
The Bitches Say: A+
9712 Traville Gateway Drive
Rockville, Md.

Ripple
The Bitches Say: A
3417 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

SAX
The Bitches Say: C-
734 Eleventh Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Senart’s Oyster and Chop House
The Bitches Say: B-
520 8th Street N.E.
Washington, D.C.

Sette
The Bitches Say: C-
1666 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 2009

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

Sixth Engine
The Bitches Say: A+
438 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

Smoke & Barrel
The Bitches Say: B-
2471 18th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Surfside
The Bitches Say: A-
2444 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Tabard Inn
The Bitches Say: C+
1739 N St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Table
The Bitches Say: A+
903 N St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Ted’s Bulletin
The Bitches Say: A
1818 14th St N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Tel’veh
The Bitches Say: B
401 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

U Street Café
The Bitches Say: A
1301 U St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Union Street Public House
The Bitches Say: B+
121 South Union Street
Alexandria, VA

Veranda
The Bitches Say: B-
1100 P Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Vinoteca
The Bitches Say: A
1940 11th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Woodward Table
The Bitches Say: B+
1426 H St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.

2013 Bitches in the City

Artisinal Fromagerie, Bistro & Wine Bar
The Bitches Say: A+
2 Park Ave.
New York, New York

Bar Almond
The Bitches Say: C+
12 East 22nd St.
New York, NY

Bubby’s
The Bitches Say: A-
120 Hudson St
New York, NY

David Burke Kitchen
The Bitches Say: A-
The James Hotel
23 Grand Street (SoHo)
New York, NY

Marseille
The Bitches Say: B+
630 9th Ave.
New York, NY

Peels
The Bitches Say: A-
325 Bowery
(East Village)
New York, New York

Pure Food and Wine
The Bitches Say: B+
54 Irving Place (Gramercy)
New York, NY

2013 Bitches on Vacay

FOOD.E
The Bitches Say: B
1006 C / D Caroline Street
Fredericksburg, VA

Ingleside Vineyards
The Bitches Say: A
5872 Leedstown Rd
Oak Grove, VA

Island Way Grill
The Bitches Say: D
20 Island Way
Clearwater, FL

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
The Bitches Say: B
99336 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL

The Oxford Exchange
The Bitches Say: A-
420 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida

Parma Inn
The Bitches Say: A
105 Christmas Tree Lane
Washington, VA

Parador of Cadiz
The Bitches Say: No Review
Av Duque de Nájera, 9
11002 Cádiz, Spain

Sunny Side Up
The Bitches Say: B
42 E Superior St.
Chicago, IL

S&S Restaurant
The Bitches Say: No Grade
Inman Square
1334 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA

Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Baltimore
The Bitches Say: A
200 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202

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10 thoughts on “D.C. Best & Worst Brunches of 2013”

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  1. If I can make a suggestion. A great NY brunch spot is Norma’s at Le parker meridian hotel. It is the only place where you can order a 1000.00 caviar and seafood omelette. Generous portions, beautifully done. Bon appetite !

  2. I am so happy that this year has been great for you ladies and I wish you much success in 2014. I love your blog and refer to it every time I looking for a good brunch spot.

  3. Cheers to great year of brunches! This is a great write-up; I like how your organized best and worst around key themes. My husband and I don’t do brunch enough and this is a good reminder of what we’re missing.

    Shame about Tabard Inn, which has had such a rough year. That their signature cocktail is featured in the New York Times Dining sections’ holiday cocktail issue this week reminded me of its once greatness. I had brunch there years ago and loved it, but the news of late has not been good.

  4. Actually, I, a vegetarian, was at Smoke and Barrel for brunch this weekend, and it was fantastic. Had the sweet potato donuts, vegan wings, and tofu scramble plate. I am sure there are much, much, much worse places for brunch for vegetarians.

  5. If you’re launching in NYC, you MUST MUST MUST go to Macondo’s on Houston in the LES. Best cuisine, gorgeous wait staff, and their selection of flavored mimosas will have you loving NY all over again.

  6. Great read, although I think Smoke & Barrel is great for vegetarians–they have an entire vegan brunch menu, have vegetarian items on the non-vegan menu, and are happy to do substitutions.

  7. I have enjoyed so much your brunch rankings column, i want to extend my DC stay to taste more.

    I will be in DC on May 16 weekend attending my nephews Georgetown graduation. We will be seven looking for brunch close by the area

    I thought of your tops was Table or Farmer,Fishers due to buffet.

    We would like a great experience to celebrate….any suggestions?

    Thanks, JB

    Ps i agree with your tabbard Inn assessment!

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