Washingtonians are generally health conscious (after all, D.C. is one of the healthiest regions in the country) but we also live in a city of excess and don’t mind indulging every now and then. The city’s breakfast purveyors know how to please us whatever mood we’re in. Here are the city’s Top 10 spots for early risers in search of a great meal.
Actually owned by a collective of family farmers, this Foggy Bottom phenomenon specializes in American classics with a modern twist, like the Benedict Arnold (with sausage and black pepper cream gravy), and bananas foster French toast. There's also a nice selection of cocktails and really good house-made (non-alcoholic) sodas. Make reservations. This place is always busy.
2. Art and Soul
Helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Art Smith and Louisiana native executive chef Wes Morton, this Capitol Hill favorite serves up treats like buttermilk lemon pancakes for those who want to indulge, and healthy favorites that helped chef Art lose 100 pounds, including an egg white omelet with veggies, watercress, and lemon dressing, and granola with toasted pecans, coconut, almonds, and dried fruit.
Part of the elegant Park Hyatt Hotel, this is the place to impress an overnight guest, whether staying at the hotel or not. In fact, this is a consistent favorite with D.C. residents, who appreciate the upscale surroundings and touches like maple syrup aged in oak bourbon casks, hand-harvested eggs, and dishes like short rib hash with horseradish sauce and banana pancakes with banana jam, granola crumble and banana chips.
4. Market Lunch
This wildly popular, cash-only indoor vendor at Eastern Market is strictly a breakfast and lunch place and gets crowded quickly, so get there early for the “blue bucks” (blueberry buckwheat pancakes), fried green tomatoes with pink sauce, and of course, crab cakes, which make eggs -- and customers -- wake up and do a happy dance.
Blueberry pancakes from Market Lunch (credit: Yelp/H.N.)
5. The Coupe
This Columbia Heights cafe gets its dairy products from Kreider Farms in nearby Lancaster County, PA (Amish country). In fact, everything is sourced from sustainably run farms, and artificial ingredients are strictly taboo. This place makes even tofu tempting, folding it into a quiche with cremini mushrooms, leeks, and a red pepper coulis. Those awakened by their sweet tooth can finish their meal -- or start it -- with citrus-glazed apple fritter bites or banana beignets.
6. Open City
This Woodley Park coffeehouse and sel-proclaimed neighborhood “home away from home” serves breakfast all day and is especially popular with vegetarians for its customizable omelets and “scrambles.” It’s also justly famous for its fried chicken and waffles and its hash brown bowl, which comes with two sunny-side-up eggs, jalapenos, mushrooms, onion, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Along with good coffee, creative libations help to get your motor running.
This little Farragut West shop redefines the Western concept of the European-style waffle. Its crispy treats are light and flaky, made to order, with no artificial ingredients. There are gluten-free options, and with the exception of the dessert waffles, they come in sandwich form. Try one with a typical breakfast filling or be adventurous and order something like mango and brie with cilantro and spicy berry jam. Of course, it's also hard to resist a waffle with strawberries, caramel cream, and chocolate sauce.
This imaginative shop in McPherson Square (and two other D.C. locations) gets its inspiration from international street food vendors. If you feel like eating with your hands, this place has some of the city's best breakfast sandwiches, along with G Street home fries (red potatoes spiced with cumin, turmeric, and coriander), and homemade doughnuts. But if you really want to wake up your taste buds, go on the weekends between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. for dishes ranging from sesame doughnuts to bulgogi beef jerky.
A doughnut from G Street Food (credit: Facebook/G Street Food)
This D.C. soul food institution, in operation since 1944, will not let you leave hungry. Try Miss Bertha’s Breakfast Special with the grill’s famous hot cakes (or French toast), eggs, bacon, sausage, or scrapple, and apples, home fries, or grits. Feeling really soulful? Order the fish and grits, with fried catfish, croaker, or salmon, two eggs, toast, a biscuit, or a corn muffin. Otis Redding would be proud.
10. Murry & Paul’s
This no-frills, cash-only diner is not only a step back in time, it’s a Brookland institution. People who eat here now ate here when they were kids. The food is fresh and the prices and service are as old-fashioned as the decor. The pancakes are famous, the coffee is surprisingly good (and the refills are free), and if you sit at the counter, you can watch as your breakfast is being made.