Photo: Courtesy of Nellie's Sports Bar

Breakfast and a Show: Nellie’s Sports Bar Drag Brunch

Imagine chowing down on a large spread of brunch and mimosas as a drag queen does a split at your feet to Rihanna. At Nellie’s Sports Bar drag brunch, this scenario is exactly what you’ll get.

Every weekend at Nellie’s, patrons are welcomed with open arms to celebrate birthdays, marriages and even divorces, or maybe you’re just looking for a new Sunday brunch spot. Whatever the reason, attendees are treated to a brunch where pancakes and grits are the side dish and the queens are the main course.

As brunch-goers enter the premise, they are ushered to a high top and handed a mimosa or bloody mary to start the experience. But late-comers beware: anyone who shows up 10 or more minutes late (give or take a few) will be greeted at the front door with a chant of “b*tch you’re late!”

Once everyone has arrived, attendees are shown the buffet of unlimited eggs, bacon, pasta and all the brunch favorites. But following the rush of hungry people at the pancake station is when the real fun begins.

Chanel Devereaux, Nellie’s drag brunch host and main star, kicks off the show with a welcome and opening group performance by all the queens in cheerleader outfits. Then each queen takes turns on the floor, dancing in between tables and hanging off ceiling beams in acrobatic fashion as patrons shove dollar bills in their bras.

The occasional audience participation occurs to everyone’s delight, including queens twerking and dancing with those sitting closest to the open floor, but the favorite targets are usually the brave men who have accompanied their wives and girlfriends. And those celebrating a birthday, divorce or having a bachelorette party get a little something special as well.

From singing along to Beyoncé with the queens to sipping on Hawaiian Punch cocktails with your friends, Nellie’s offers a unique brunch experience unlike any other in the District.

Experience Nellie’s Drag Brunch every Saturday, Sunday and some Mondays with shows at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $41.91. For more information about Nellie’s Drag Brunch, visit their ticket page.

Nellie’s Sports Bar: 900 U St. NW, DC; 202-332-6355;

Photo: Courtesy of The Watergate Hotel

Beyond the Mimosa: Unique Takes on Brunch Bubbles

I’d never recommend turning up your nose at a good mimosa or bellini, and there’s certainly no shortage of them throughout the DMV. But there’s also something to be said for mixing things up and getting out of your brunch beverage comfort zone every so often. If your brunch routine is starting to feel a bit stale, check out these spots for innovative weekend sips.

BUBBLES AND A FLICK at iPic Pike & Rose
It’s like drinking at home, if home has reclining leather seats, a huge movie theater projection screen and in-seat dining service. Reserve seats for the latest movie with a friend and order a bottle of Chandon Brut to share during the film – it’s a traditional method sparkler from Napa Valley that’s fruity, crisp and delicious. You can order food during the movie (with more gourmet options than your regular theater fare) or get to the theater early to grab brunch at the attached restaurant, CityPerch. Added bonus? You can also take drinks from CityPerch into your movie. 11830 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda, MD;

Champagne on Ice at Succotash
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Inspired by trips to the south of France, where sweltering summers routinely encourage people to enjoy their bubbles over ice, Moët & Chandon’s winemaker created Moët Ice, a champagne that’s slightly sweeter, richer and able to stand up to the dilution of ice. Succotash, a relative newcomer to Penn Quarter, will be adding Moët Ice bottle service to their brunch offerings this spring. Each bottle will come to the table with self-serve ice cubes and garnishes like fresh berries and mint. 915 F St. NW, DC;

Classic with a Twist at Stable
This new Swiss-American restaurant on H Street is worth a trip for the “Raclette Experience” alone. However, I’d argue that the only way to improve melty, cheesy goodness is to pair it with something bubbly and refreshing – cue sparkling wine! There are plenty of options on the brunch drink menu to satisfy your sparkling desires, including creative cocktails and mimosas spiked with elderflower for a burst of floral complexity. If you’re going the Raclette or fondue route (and I suggest you do), the lively effervescence and hints of citrus bitters in the Aperol spritz are the perfect complement. 1324 H St. NE, DC;

Go Big or Go Home at Barley Mac
This Rosslyn spot may be better known for its selection of bourbons and whiskies, but they’re certainly not cutting any corners in the mimosa category. There’s a sparkling selection for every thirst size, so if you’re sipping slowly this weekend, try one of the amped up mimosas flavors – including black raspberry, passion fruit, strawberry basil and blueberry. If it’s a party weekend, order the king-sized “make your own mimosa,” which comes with a magnum bottle (the size of two regular bottles) and two flavors of your choosing. You’ll definitely want to order a side of their addictive crispy dough appetizer, coccoli, alongside your bottle. 1600 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

I Scream, You Scream…for Champagne Sorbet at Blue Duck Tavern
This gem tucked inside the Park Hyatt in Georgetown is known for their rotating menu of seasonal, farm-to-table dishes. The food is always stellar, but you’ll be equally smitten with their often-changing sorbet mimosa, available during weekend brunch. Chef’s seasonal sorbet is topped with a French crémant (“CRAY-mont”–that’s a traditional-method bubbly from a region in France other than Champagne). If you want to continue your sparkling theme, try the smoked citrus-cured salmon, accompanied by a champagne gelée. 1201 24th St. NW, DC;

Weekend Afternoon Tea at The Watergate Hotel
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more high class (or if you’ve just been binge watching Downton Abbey), make a reservation for afternoon tea at Kingbird Restaurant inside The Watergate Hotel. Held every Saturday and Sunday between 2-3:30 p.m., the event is billed as “a traditional tea with a retro twist.” Enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbles as an aperitif to a selection of teas, savory finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and sweet treats. $50 per person, reservations required.  2650 Virginia Ave. NW, DC;

Soon enough, the weather will improve, patios will open and official springtime brunch will be upon us. No matter where your brunch experiences take you this year, remember to drink well. You know what they say: a brunch without bubbles is just a sad, late breakfast.

Photo: Courtesy of Ana at District Winery

Brunch Buzz: Top 25 of 2018

Socially, Washington is held together by the glue of brunch. More than the city’s other social institution – the happy hour – brunch allows for extended, leisurely bonding without a set agenda. And the District can never get enough of new culinary adventures – so we compiled our favorite newbies from the past year. These are wonderful places to hang out, see, be seen, and roll out refreshed and ready for the work week.

1. Ana at District Winery

Between high ceilings and massive windows, dining at the District’s only winery feels like dining outside. The cocktail menu is limited, but the menu features the winery’s growing range of house wines. District Winery sources grapes from across the U.S. and then produces wines that highlight the flavor profiles in America’s different growing regions. 385 Water St. SE, DC;

2. Baba

This Turkish hot spot in Clarendon serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.), offering heavenly crafted bowls of oatmeal, egg dishes and pastries, along with high-quality coffee drinks. Enjoy unlimited brunch for $34/person, with music and a buffet section of handmade Turkish pastries, salads, sandwiches and more, along with made-to-order Balkan eggs, sliders and smoked salmon crêpe. And $1 mimosas, bellinis and Bloody Marys. 2901 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

3. Bar Elena

Comfort food and arcade games is one form of brunch heaven. Add in a sophisticated seafood menu for a lux touch, and you have a formula that will endlessly appeal to DC’s trendy young professionals. 414 H St. NE, DC;

4. Bindaas at Foggy Bottom

This casual take on Indian street food with a flavorful twist is the newest location from Chef Vikram Sunderam of Rasika. Brunch runs from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the weekends, offering an array of dishes that mix sweet and savory. Try the avocado golgappa with sweet yogurt and chutney, the lamb kathi roll with roast masala and fennel seed, or the Parsi fried chicken roadside sandwich with spiced fried chicken and beef tomato chutney. 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC;

5. Bluestone Lane

Every library should have an airy, light-filled Australian café attached. DC’s West End Public Library is wrapping up its renovation, and diners can take their coffees into the library’s reading area. Order a flat white and an avo toast (easily the best in DC) – but note the café has no liquor license, so plan to air your liver out. 1100 23rd St. NW, DC;

6. Brothers and Sisters in the LINE Hotel

If you love Maketto, you’ll adore Erik Bruner-Yang’s newest adventure. Brothers and Sisters also occupies a unique space – a neoclassical church with most of its original architectural elements preserved – and has a similar buzzy energy. Brothers and Sisters serves American classics with East Asian influences, as well as a collection of unique cocktails. We recommend “It’s Not Just for Osaka Anymore” (Cocci rosé, gin, red shiso syrup, vitamin C powder). 1770 Euclid St. NW, DC;

7. Burmese Bodega at Union Market

There’s always something new going on at Union Market, and grazing at different food stalls has become a beloved DC brunch option. We are intrigued that beloved local Peregrine no longer has the coffee market cornered (welcome, Blue Bottle Coffee!), and our favorite newcomer is the Burmese Bodega – lots of rich, earthy Southeast Asian flavors underscored by very fresh ingredients. 1309 5th St. NE, DC;

8. Chloe

Chloe’s eclectic brunch menu (available Saturday and Sunday) pays homage to Chef Haidar Karoum’s Lebanese roots and world travels. Start with the sheep’s milk ricotta with raw honey, rosemary and grilled house-made bread, or the crispy churros with bittersweet chocolate ganache. Then go for the Ivy City smoked salmon tartine or the poached eggs with warm scallion biscuit and shiitake mushroom mornay sauce. Grab a house Blood Mary, or mimosas by the carafe to wash it all down. 1331 4th St. SE, DC;

9. Del Mar

Wharf restaurants take full advantage of the water views – with lots of windows and cathedral ceilings – and Del Mar pairs its prime real estate with perfect service, a buzzy atmosphere and an extensive menu of authentic, carefully prepared Spanish dishes. Order a carafe of sangria roja (red wine, brandy, vermouth, orange) for the table and enjoy the buzz. 791 Wharf St. SW, DC;

10. Delirium

When Belgium beer makers Delirium decided to open their first-ever U.S. restaurant/bar location, they ran several analyses and settled on Leesburg, Virginia as the perfect location. And lucky for us, because their 300-plus beer list and epic brunch offerings are amazing. On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., dishes include fresh waffles that can be piled with ice cream and fresh strawberries, poutine with classic brown gravy and house-made farmers cheese (add that fried egg!), and scrambled salmon with cream cheese and fresh herbs. Grab a beermosa featuring delirium tremens or a mimosa (by the glass or carafe). 101 South King St. Leesburg, VA;

11. Heritage Brewing Co. Market Common Brewpub and Roastery

This brunch is for beer and coffee enthusiasts alike, as Heritage Brewing Co. beers and Veritas Coffee Co. nitrogen-infused cold press coffee are on full display, along with elevated pub fair. On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., grab the $25 brunch special, which includes a main course, two 13.5-oz. flagship beers and a dessert. We recommend the heavenly, thick-cut brioche French toast with salted caramel maple sauce or the eggs Benedict served on cheddar and scallion scones. Go with the coffee stout chocolate brownie for dessert. 1300-1398 N Fillmore St. Arlington, VA;

12. Hummingbird

Inspired by popular traditions of clam bakes and oyster boils, this Alexandria waterfront restaurant and bar offers a daily breakfast (6:30-10:30 a.m.) and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Start the table with a brunch bread basket, and then move on to the crab and corn fritters with chipotle aioli or the crispy fried oysters. You can’t go wrong with the French toast or our favorite, avocado toast with an added fried egg. Other notable dishes include the eggs Benedict with the option for a crab cake or lobster tail, and the Irish smoked salmon platter.220 S Union St. Alexandria, VA;

13. Joselito Casa de Comidas

We adore this bit of Spain in DC, complete with an Iberico ham cart. And while the mimosa-bellini-Bloody Mary bar is perfect, we prefer the delightful sangria – served with a lovely, enormous, fruit-filled ice cube. 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC;

14. Kith and Kin

When Kwame Onwuachi’s overly-ambitious Shaw restaurant crashed and burned, no one envisioned his Phoenix moment. Onwuachi landed at the Wharf’s new Intercontinental Hotel, where he has created a menu that blends Nigeria with the Bronx. Note that it’s technically a breakfast menu – but you just need to grab the cocktail list to make it a smashing brunch. 801 Wharf St. SE, DC;

15. Lucky Buns

Influenced by Southeast Asia, Australia and the UK, brunch offerings include such sandwiches or “buns” as the Proper Bacon Bun with bacon rashers, brown sauce, and charred tomato on sourdough (add on the cheese, avocado and egg!) Other dishes include the Full Monty English breakfast and smashed avocado toast on sourdough with cotija and roasted tomato. Grab a side of proper chips with malt vinegar mayo to round things out. Brunch offered all weekend starting at 11:30 a.m. 2000 18th St. NW, DC;

16. Pamplona

Named after the town in Spain where the famed running of the bulls occurs, Pamplona serves up unlimited Spanish tapas and mimosas during their bottomless brunch for $35 per person on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Choose from dishes like the chorizo biscuits, lamb burgers and serrano ham benedict. Mimosa flavors include classic, grapefruit or apple, with a two-hour limit on bottomless. 3100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA;

17. Quinn’s

This Rosslyn sports bar boasts that it’s the longest brunch in Arlington, running 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the weekends. Start with the French toast sticks and then move on to the cheddar bacon Belgian waffle, served with two eggs sunny side up, or go for the crab cake BLT. Be sure to save room for the Reese’s sundae for two, and don’t forget the $1 bottles of champagne (per person with brunch item order). 1776 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

18. The Salt Line

A popular happy hour spot for Nationals fans, this New England-style seafood restaurant serves up an amazing brunch complete with gorgeous Capitol Riverfront views. Classic dishes include the clam chowder and fried clam bellies, while brunch staples include a heavenly lobster omelet, decadent king crab mac and cheese, and an unexpected but completely welcome duck confit French toast. Wash it all down with one of several signature brunch cocktail creations – our go-to is the Seaside Spritz. Brunch is served 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. all weekend, with cocktails going until 5 p.m. 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC;

19. Sfoglina

The Trabocchis’ posh pasta palace refocuses its menu for a glorious weekend experience. We love the Maine lobster skillet pancake alongside the eponymous Sfoglina (vodka, elderflower shrub, prosecco), which tastes like summer and joy. And don’t be fooled by the white tablecloths – the service is warm and friendly. 4445 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC;

20. Siren

Located in the Darcy Hotel, this latest addition from Chefs Robert Wiedmaier and Brian McBride take the freshest seafood and put it center stage. Brunch runs 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and for $35 per person, you can enjoy a raw bar, salad and dessert buffet spread in the lower lounge of the Darcy, with à la carte menu items available. For those looking to take it up a notch, order from the caviar service, which comes with crème fraiche, red onion, chive and egg. 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC;

21. Sunday in Saigon

Sunday in Saigon has masterfully blended East and West in its beautiful brunch menu. The picky eaters should order malted milk pancakes and mimosas, while the more adventurous can explore the approachable menu of pho noodle soups and bahn mi sandwiches. Do not miss the small but creative brunch cocktail menu – we heart the Pink Expat (charred pineapple and chili-infused tequila, guava nectar, lime, prosecco). 682 N St. Asaph St. Alexandria, VA;

22. Supra

DC’s first Georgian restaurant (the country, not the state) is helmed by the Embassy’s former chef, and shows off a national cuisine that’s a natural fit for brunch (think lots of beautiful carbs and cheese). Georgian cuisine also inspires the drinks menu – we love the Bloody Mariami (vodka, red Georgian plum sauce, red ajika seasoning, lemon, cilantro syrup, svanuri salt). 1205 11th St. NW, DC;

23. Tiger Fork

This Blagden Alley restaurant takes Hong Kong culture and mixes it with hints of Asian, European and Islamic flavors. Their “Dim Sum and Then Some” brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. features a variety of small plates including broccolini with house-made oyster sauce, Chinese bacon with pickled radish salad, and Hong Kong style French toast with burnt coconut cream and a cute smiley face, of course. For cocktails, you can’t go wrong with the gin-based All the Pretty Flowers. 922 N St. NW, DC;

24. Tulips

Champagne brunch in a charming Dupont Circle rowhouse? Yes, please. The extensive renovation converted the old Irish Whiskey into a haven of brick and chandeliers and chintz. Order bottomless for the table, and you’ll get a steady stream of mimosas, bellinis, oysters and beignets. 1207 19th St. NW, DC;

25. Unconventional Diner

Diners love classics (example: pancakes) like kids love candy – and we love this diner’s unconventional take on the classics (example: lavender-ginger pancakes with vanilla mascarpone). And we love the Unconventional because it really does live up to its name. Our inner fat kid is happy. 1207 9th St. NW, DC;