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. 

Ari’s Diner
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. 

Colada Shop
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. 

Espita Mezcaleria
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! 

Neighborhood: North End Shaw
Hazel’s regular menu is ripe with flashes of international flavors, and their “Dim-Sunday” brunch special is no exception. You’ll feel like you’re dining your way around the world with à la carte small plates like zucchini bread with foie gras mousse, mapo eggs with Szechuan pepper lamb sauce, kimchi scramble with crispy rice, or an English muffin with duck sausage and mayonnaise spiked with their signature Fire Panda hot sauce. If you’re really hungry, you can opt for “The Whole Shebang” and get all 11 dishes for $95. On the beverage front, be prepared for some tough decisions – the bottle book boasts an impressive selection of unusual cocktails, beers and wines. 

Junction Bakery & Bistro
Neighborhood: Del Ray
In Alexandria’s trendiest ‘hood, Junction Bakery & Bistro is serving up a brunch that spotlights one of our very favorite food groups: carbs. But they don’t phone it in. Find creative pastry and toast offerings (Everything croissant? Yes, please!) plus a few globally-inspired options like the Sicily toast with caramelized onion, rapini, roasted mushroom and Pecorino. If you’re looking for a hearty brunch dish, good luck choosing between cheddar and chive biscuits with chili and fried eggs and roasted pork shoulder, housemade kimchi and a fried egg on a brioche roll. But don’t worry, dieters. Dishes like the falafel cakes or the golden quinoa with roasted root vegetables, Brussels sprouts and a poached egg are here for you. 

Little Coco’s
Neighborhood: Petworth
Pizza is one of those foods that is nearly impossible to refuse, so why try? Head to Petworth’s new neighborhood hang, Little Coco’s, which is named after Chef Adam Harvey’s Italian wife. Their brunch offerings feature plenty of their signature pies, plus some breakfast pizzas like one with eggs, bacon, potatoes and white sauce. On the off chance that you’re not feeling up for pizza, you won’t go hungry. There’s Nutella brioche French toast, a porchetta omelette, a chicken Milanese sandwich and more. Don’t skip the classic Italian cocktails or the mimosas, offered by the liter for efficient imbibing. 

Osteria Morini
Neighborhood: Capitol Riverfront
When it comes to curing hangovers, it’s hard to compete with a heaping plate of homemade pasta. That’s what you’ll find at Osteria Morini, where every shape is perfect – from cappelletti and conchiglie to rigatoni and tagliatelle. The waterfront restaurant offers two- and three-course brunch specials so you can sample the entire menu and score a deal on bloody Marias and mimosas. The sweet and savory pastry basket is always a good place to start, and appetizers like battilardo and burrata provide a light warmup before the main event of pasta or entrée. Try the stick-to-your-ribs stracotto (braised short rib with polenta, Calabrian chile hollandaise and a fried egg) if pasta isn’t your game.  

Ari’s Diner: 2003 Fenwick St. NE, DC;
Brine: 2985 District Ave. Fairfax, VA;
Colada Shop: 1405 T St. NW, DC;
Community: 7776 Norfolk Ave. Bethesda, MD;
Espita Mezcaleria: 1250 9th St. NW, DC;
Garrison: 524 8th St. SE, DC;
Hazel: 808 V St. NW, DC;
Junction Bakery & Bistro: 1508 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;
Little Coco’s: 3907 14th St. NW, DC;
Osteria Morini: 301 Water St. Suite 109, SE, DC;

Index of Advertisers 

Bilbo Baggins
208 Queen St. Alexandria, VA; 703-683-0300;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

District Chophouse
509 7th St. NW, DC; 202-347-3434;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Fado Irish Pub
808 7th St. NW, DC; 202-789-0066;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
201 Waterfront St. National Harbor, MD; 301-965-4000;
Brunch hours: Times vary 

Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant
555 S 23rd St. Arlington, VA; 703-687-0555;
Brunch Hours: Saturday diner brunch and Sunday champagne brunch, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Hamilton
600 14th St. NW, DC; 202-787-1000;
Brunch hours: Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

La Grenier
502 H St. NE, DC; 202-544-5999;
Brunch Hours: Saturday and Sunday, regular hours

Siné Irish Pub
1301 S. Joyce St. Arlington, VA; 703-415-4420;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Tortoise and Hare
567 South 23rd St. Arlington, VA; 703-979-1872;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11 a.m.

Tunnicliff’s Tavern
222 7th St. SE, DC; 202-544-5680;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Whitlow’s on Wilson
2854 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-276-9693;
Brunch hours: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Lani Furbank

Lani Furbank is a freelance food, drinks, and lifestyle writer based in the D.C. area. She was born and raised in Northern Virginia, but stays true to her Welsh-Taiwanese heritage by exploring new places and experimenting with recipes from around the world. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lanifurbank or read her work at