On Tap Magazine: Brunch by the Block: 10 Local Spots on Our Radar
“Brunch has claimed a spot at the top of DC’s food chain, and rightfully so. The weekend meal can be anything you make it: a time to relax and catch up with friends, a way to nurse your hangover, or a pregame to ramp things up for the festivities ahead. Whatever you’re in the mood for, DC restaurants have your weekend handled – from baked goods to booze.
Considering the amount of brunching city residents do, it’s a wonder the phenomenon hasn’t gotten old yet. Thankfully, the brunch scene changes as frequently as the weather, with a constant influx of new restaurants and fresh menus. Here are 10 of the brunches we can’t get enough of right now.
Neighborhood: Ivy City
The former industrial district of Ivy City is experiencing a dining boom, with some of the region’s buzziest new restaurants moving in. That includes Ari’s Diner from restaurateur Ari Gejdensen of Mindful Restaurant Group. This GMC Streamliner-inspired eatery is everything you want in a classic diner, with fluffy pancakes, combo platters and satisfying burgers. Since breakfast is served all day, brunch here is a no-brainer. Settle into one of the vinyl booths and take your pick of morning specialties or stacked sandwiches. Just make sure to wash it down with a boozy milkshake.
Neighborhood: Mosaic District
Shoppers and diners in the Mosaic District tend to congregate in the central plaza, but wandering over to the less visible bank of storefronts and restaurants will pay off big time. That’s where you’ll find one of the pearls of the development: Brine. This seafood-focused spot is owned by Travis Croxton of Rappahannock Oyster Company, so naturally, their raw bar is on point. Find fresh and succulent bivalves, citrus ceviche, and Carolina shrimp cocktails. Fish is definitely the star, especially the catch of the day roasted over oak, but don’t sleep on the decadent brunch burger, topped with red onion jam and farmhouse cheese.
Neighborhood: U Street/14th Street
Colada Shop’s first location is in Sterling, Va., but they’ve since brought their traditional Cuban fare to the heart of the District. Those looking for a reminder of home or a taste of adventure can enjoy pastelitos or empanadas any time of day, but these flaky pockets of joy are destined to be brunch MVPs. Round out your meal with warm sandwiches, strong Cuban coffee, and surprisingly affordable craft cocktails from minibar alum and Colada Shop partner Juan Coronado. There are also plenty of breakfast options, like a ham and Swiss cheese tortilla and mango coconut granola with yogurt. The space is a little tight, but new seating areas in the back and on the roof are in the works. While the weather is warm, you can enjoy your Cuban bites on the outdoor patio.
Community is Bethesda’s newest gathering place, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in a diner atmosphere. The menu features plenty of American comfort food, plus serious burgers, a specialty of owner Mark Bucher, the founder of BGR and Medium Rare. While there isn’t an official brunch menu, you’ll have no trouble finding a satisfying meal. Breakfast items like massive pancakes and Frosted Flake French toast are available all day, and the extensive lunch offerings include a mean chicken and waffles. Don’t forget about the adult milkshakes and boozy slurpees.
This mezcal mecca recently added two new brunch offerings: an unlimited boozy brunch and a precio fijo (fixed price) menu. For $16, you can embrace your inner espita (slang for drunkard) and enjoy unlimited brunch cocktails, like the quaffable misa del gallo with tequila, grapefruit, honey and sparkling rosé. The fixed price food menu doesn’t leave anything out. Start with salsas, guacamole and housemade corn tortilla chips, and then choose a first and second course. Options include a tinga tlacoyo (a masa turnover filled with chicken tinga), machaca breakfast tacos and jalapeño cheese biscuits with eggs. Brunch is also available à la carte for those who aren’t feeling quite so ambitious.
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
This hyper-seasonal restaurant is the place to go for a uniquely satisfying brunch. Sure, they have the standards like pancakes, quiche and eggs, but they also lean Danish with several of their offerings. Chef Rob Weland’s wife and business partner, Amy Garrett, grew up in Copenhagen, so chef started experimenting with Danish open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød. The base of the dish is a special sprouted rye bread, made in-house. They’re piled high with toppings like smoked trout and dill crème fraiche, or ramp shoots and pickled summer tomatoes. The recommended accompaniment is a cold pilsner and a shot of Danish aquavit. We’re not going to argue with that!”