Another year down in the birthplace of the Bitches. After experiencing the good, the bad, and the bland, we’ve gathered some firm takeaways about brunch 2017 in the District. First off, it’s clear that it was the year of the French toast. The fried French toast sticks, the pound cake French toast, and even the French toast in the shape of a smiley face. You name it, we tasted it.
The brunch scene is only getting bigger and, therefore, more difficult to weed out what’s the best of the best, and what’s not really worth your time, money, or calories. Here’s what tickled our fancy at our 2017 brunches (besides French toast). (Be sure you read our entire Best & Worst Brunches of the Year round up for full meal reviews.)
Best Bloody Mary: Espita Mezcaleria
We loved the Guadalupe–a mezcal Bloody Mary with a chili salt rim. We thought that it was one of the best Bloody Marys we’ve had–the spices were on point and the mezcal was a welcome change from vodka. It was smoky and really hit the spot. Read the full review, here. 1250 9th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Bellini: Via Umbria
Bottomless and bubbly, the bellinis at Via Umbria are befitting of the Italian market and brunch. A nice respite from the typical brunch mimosa, your glass will never be dry during the unique family style experience. Read the full review, here. 1525 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Mimosa: 14K
For just $15, you can choose from several different types of Champagne cocktails. Of course, we tried them all. We started off with the standard mimosa which were quite lovely–bubbly and frothy. We made our way down the list, per our waitress’s suggestion. Each one was more unique than the last. Being the bougie Bitches that we are, we especially loved the 14K–aptly named for the flakes of 14 karat gold floating on top. Read the full review, here. 1001 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Signature Cocktails: Tiger Fork
The beverage program at this Asian spot is an absolute delight. The Bad Girl Mimi, Bang Bang Yuang Yuang, and All The Pretty Flowers, were nothing like your usual brunch cocktails, but each impressed us in its own way. Read the full review, here. 922 N St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Cocktail Garnish: Cheesetique
Now get this, people–all of Cheesetique’s drinks are garnished with cheese. It’s unique and delicious. You need to visit ‘Tique just for the garnishes alone. We loved our Bloody Mary with mozzarella. We refuse to drink Bloodys ever again without a touch of cheese. Read the full review, here. 4056 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA
Best Sangria: Joselito
The combination of the inventive presentation—an ice cube with frozen mixed fruit—and the delicious house made concoction served in a vintage vial makes us crave Joselito’s sangria all year ’round. Read the full review, here. 660 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, D.C.
Best Margarita: Pepita Cantina
This ‘rita was made with Altos Plata tequila, Applejack, chili honey, and lime. It had a hint of spice, but went down easily. We also loved the pomegranate margarita, made with Mezcal, ginger, lemon, and cardamom. This drink was very smoky because of the mezcal–which we love. Read the full review, here. 4000 Wilson Blvd, Suite D, Arlington, VA
Best Brunch Punch: Dirty Habit
Our bright, burnt orange punch was garnished with a gorgeous edible flower, making it almost too beautiful to consume. Almost. Our fabulous server concocted the libation (it’s dealer’s choice), which comprised Absolut Elyx, passion fruit purée, coconut rum, Pashos bitters, and aromatic African floral red tea. Dirty Habit prepares the punches overnight and rotates the offerings weekly. The brunch punch was delicious, but also quite deadly as it sneaks up on you. Read the full review, here. 555 8th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Champagne Service: Fyve at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City
This 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. Stephanie, the restaurant manager, brought in a sword from her personal collection to kick off brunch by sabering the first bottle of bubbly. Stephanie graciously taught us how to saber champagne on our own and let us give it a try. Read the full review here. 1250 S Hayes St, Arlington, VA
Best Cider: ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar
When you dedicate an entire establishment to cider, it better be good. Luckily, ANXO brought a unique beverage concept to the Bloomingdale neighborhood—and D.C. in general for that matter—complete with fun, interactive drinks, like the porron, a cider mixed with lemon soda served in a traditional glass wine pitcher. Read the review, here. 300 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Pastries: City Perch
Between the rosemary, cheddar, and caramelized sugar biscuits, the moist cornbread topped with toasted corn kernels and honey butter, and the flaky chocolate croissants that were reminiscent of babka, indulging in the City Perch bread basket was like we died and went to gluten heaven. Read the review, here. 11830 Grand Park Ave Suite B, North Bethesda, MD
Best Hash Browns: 801 Restaurant
The side of potato hashbrowns at this rowdy brunch in Shaw stole the show. It was a unique mix of potatoes and quinoa with pan-fried green peppers. The flavor and consistency was on point and the use of the quinoa was something we had never tasted. Read the review, here. 801 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Biscuit: Cava Mezze
Biscuits are a common brunch menu item around here. Cava Mezze, however, made our favorite of the year. First off, they are silver dollar sized, so they are ideally bite-sized. Second, they are drizzled with honey butter. Not too big, not too complicated, just right. Read the review, here. 2940 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA
Best Charcuterie Board: Brabo
Like a treasure trove for meat and cheese, each layer of this charcuterie board tasted even better than it looked. With chicken sausage, pickled onion, and fruit, it was a masterpiece of earthy flavors and a decadent start to any meal. Read the review, here. 1600 King St, Alexandria, VA
Best Tapas: Boqueria
We’ve conquered a lot of patatas bravas and Spanish seafood in this city. Boqueria has by far the best. Perfect for sharing, with authentic flavors, every tapa on the menu is a solid choice… as long as it’s accompanied by some vino. Read the review, here. 1837 M St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Oysters: The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse
Get your oysters straight from the distributor. The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse has a rotating menu of freshly-shucked oysters available. With option to add lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce, and mignonette, we slurped ‘em right down. Read the full review, here. 1356 Okie St NE, Washington, D.C.
Best Dips and Spreads: Kapnos Taverna
The spreads from Kapnos Taverna were out of this world. We thought we knew good hummus until we tried Kapnos’. This hummus was nutty and addictive. If you can believe it, the Tzatziki was even better. The honey and apricots were mouth wateringly good. We ordered a second helping and took the leftovers home. The bread was also delicious. It was piping hot and perfect for dipping and smearing. Read the full review, here. 4000 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
Best Eggs Benedict: Hummingbird
Two words: Virginia Ham. The thick, smokey, and salty cuts of fresh Virgina ham sandwiched between perfectly poached eggs and toasted english muffin was the best Benedict bites we’ve had all year. Usually not one to clean the plate when it comes to eggs Benny, we ate every last morsel. Read the review, here. 220 S Union St, Alexandria, VA
Best Breakfast Sandwich: Ruta del Vino
The massive torta at Ruta del Vino is a pressed sandwich on a massive, fluffy bun filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo, diced onions, avocado and a creamy mayonnaise. It tasted of rich eggs, buttery, chorizo and white bread. It was served with a hearty helping of fries—this dish is a great value for brunch if you’re hungry or hungover. Read the full review, here. 800 Upshur St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best French Fries: The Smith
Pizza, bagels, cheesecake — all things that New York does better than most other cities. So, you can imagine our surprise when the latest New York restaurant transplant—The Smith—bestowed the best hand-cut french fries onto our fair city. They are thin, salty, and crispy and quite simply, the best. Read the review, here. 901 F St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Bacon: DC Harvest
The bacon, which is cured and baked in-house, was absolutely out of this world. It was somehow crunchy and juicy. The flavor was unbeatable. You must order it–or else you’re missing out. You can also order some to take home for brunch in bed! Read the full review, here. 517 H St NE, Washington, D.C.
Best Brunch Burger: Duke’s Counter
The Brekkie burger is the best in D.C., hands down. This burger was stunning in presentation and execution—it’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful creation, with bacon and onions spilling out atop between a beautiful golden bun. And it was decadent, with perfect medium rare burger meat, warm bacon, and a perfectly fried egg. The notes of truffle and the pickled red onions added great additional flavors for a mix of flavors in each bite. Read the full review, here. 3000 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Best BLT: Ari’s Diner
When it comes to a BLT we like to keep it classic. And what’s more classic than a diner? Ari’s version in Ivy City serves perfectly crispy bacon sandwiched between the appropriate portions of L and T on toasted white bread smeared with mayo. You can’t go wrong. Read the review, here. 2003 Fenwick St NE, Washington, D.C.
Best Breakfast Tacos: El Techo
The Scramby Egg tacos at El Techo are one of a kind, because we can’t recall another establishment that is using Velveeta shells as the vehicle for cheese in a breakfast taco. It’s so wrong, it’s right. Read the full review, here. 606 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Pasta: Hank’s Pasta Bar
Our pasta carbonara from Hank’s was out of this world. It was buttery, cheesy, and piping hot. The prosciutto was salty and plentiful. The portion size was also perfect, not too much and not too little. We also loved the side of mac & cheese. This side is not to be ignored! This dish had a thick layer of crispy bread crumbs and plenty of flavorful cheese. Read the full review, here. 600 Montgomery St, Alexandria, VA
Best Chicken and Waffles: Birch and Barley
The chicken was boneless which we appreciated for ease and convenience. The fried chicken thigh was tasty and crispy. I normally don’t love dark meat, but I really enjoyed this one. The waffle was fluffy and piping hot and went great with the syrup. It was a tasty dish. Read the full review, here. 1337 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Crab Cakes: Siren
From the first bite into the crab cake this June, we knew it would vye for a spot on our best bites this year. This fancy pants brunch is a treat, no matter what you select from the menu, however, the zero filler cake served with razor thin potato crisps and a celery root slaw is not to be missed. Read the full review, here. 1515 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Lobster Roll: Millie’s Spring Valley
The Muskeget lobster roll is served Maine style on a buttered toasted hot dog roll with Bibb lettuce, lemon, and chives. Our one qualm was that it had a little too much lettuce, but otherwise it was a cool, overstuffed lobster roll that hit all the right notes. We appreciated the side of summer corn salad, which was light and a nice change of pace from french fries. Read the full review, here. 4866 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Steak: Fogo de Chao
All of the meat at this brunch was incredible. But, we especially loved all of the steak options. Somehow, the filet tasted like buttery bacon on the outside. We also loved the Parmesan crusted pork–it was so different from anything we would normally order. The bacon wrapped chicken was also a big hit. Read the full review, here. 1775 Tysons Blvd, Suite 50, Tysons, VA
Best Chicken Wings: Succotash
We typically save our finger-licking wing consumption for Sunday football, but these were well worth the mess. Plus, Succotash came out with a plate of hot towels to clean our hands! These wings are made with a spiced rub, instead of a sauce, so they are crispy and pack layers of flavor that you otherwise don’t get. They were topped with a unique celery slaw and white BBQ sauce that we practically licked off the bowl. Read the full review, here. 915 F St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Short Rib Hash: Nido
Hearty yet clean, the short rib hash at Nido was gorgeous: massive potatoes, shredded beef in a red sauce, and a lovely fried egg atop. A great dish for carnivores and hearty eaters. Read the full review, here. 2214 Rhode Island Ave NE, Washington, D.C.
Best Waffles: Fruitive
The massive waffles at Fruitive come topped with a variety of accouterments, but the cannot miss order is the Fluffer Nutter waffle, with coconut cream, almond butter, and sliced bananas. You won’t even notice these waffles are gluten-free! Read the full review, here. 1094 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Toasts: Maple
The bread service at Maple can’t be beat—from a ricotta with berries to a breakfast panini with Nutella, bananas and roasted hazelnuts. And, the cocktails are incredible. Can’t beat carbs and cocktails. Read the full review, here. 3418 11th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Omelet: Sospeso
This new H Street restaurant whips up fluffy omelets every day of the week. The mixture of provolone and feta in the broccolini omelet gave it a light creaminess that we loved. Don’t miss those fingerling potatoes on the side, either. Read the full review, here. 1344 H St NE, Washington, D.C.
Best Scone: Ana at District Winery
To be honest, we find most scones to be a letdown. Dry, somewhat flavorless and just not our choice of preferred carbs. However, the bacon Gruyere scone with honey butter was a deliciously savory take on the breakfast pasty and not a morsel was left behind. Read the review, here. 385 Water St SE, Washington, D.C.
Best Pancakes: Tupelo Honey
This award is twice deserved–here’s why. The banana pudding layered pancakes were a show stopper. The homemade banana pudding was served warm on top of the sweet potato pancakes. The rum sauce drizzled on the Nilla Wafers was the perfect amount of sweet and savory. We also loved another dish served with the sweet potato pancakes–the Shoo Mercy pancakes–also won us over. This is a twist on the classic chicken n’ waffles dish. We enjoyed three sweet potato pancakes topped with bacon, boneless fried chicken, spiced pecans, and whipped butter. The pancakes weren’t overpowering with sweet potato in any way–they tasted like a savory pancake as opposed to a sweet dessert-like hotcake. Read the full review, here. 1616 N Troy St, Arlington, VA
Best Poutine: Quarter + Glory
With tater tots, sausage gravy, curds, and a poached egg, this dish was, unsurprisingly, super filling. We were impressed with the sausage gravy, which was done in the classic Southern style and added a necessary saturation and extra flavor to the bowl. Read the full review, here. 2017 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Best Dessert: DC Harvest
When you dine at DC Harvest, you simply must order the s’mores chocolate pot du creme. It’s amazing—we get it every time. And it’s amazing, every time. The graham cracker cookies pair nicely with the dark chocolate custard, which is served cold. The custard is topped with a burnt, fluffy and sweet toasted marshmallow fluff. Read the full review, here. 517 H St NE, Washington, D.C.
Best French Toast (tie): The Yard at The Ritz-Carlton
The S’mores French toast was like nothing we’ve ever sampled: chocolate brioche bread, with marshmallow fluff sandwiched in between and topped with strawberries. It tasted even better than it looked. We highly recommend ordering it as a brunch dessert course. Read the full review, here. 3100 South Street NW, Washington, D.C.
When we visited Bastille, the special of the day was a peanut butter and jelly French toast. Obviously we had to order this. We loved the refined take on this fun and playful dish. It was beautifully plated with two eggs and duck fat potato wedges. There was a perfect amount of PB & J sandwiched between two slices of brioche. The raspberry jam was made in-house without seeds which we appreciated. Read the full review, here. 606 N Fayette St, Alexandria, VA
BitchBiz: Bitches Who Brunch partners with DC Harvest, Via Umbria, City Perch, and Lavagna. While this article was written and ranked independently by us, we do receive compensation from the companies.