When it comes to that lazy midday weekend meal, there’s brunch — a more casual affair where you kick back and relax with friends. And then, there’s Brunch — the more high-end option that you might splurge on for a special occasion. Regardless of which you choose, NoVA has you covered with these options.
By Olga Boikess, Dawn Klavon, Alyssa Langer, Alice Levitt, and Renee Sklarew
Special Occasion Brunch
Opens 11 a.m. weekends
Sit between the live pianist and the fireplace at this elegant restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel at Tysons Galleria. The most difficult choice you’ll have to make is whether to start with hazelnut beignets or end the meal with warm, yielding doughnut bread pudding. But decisions are hard, so it might make sense to throw up your hands and eat both.
The Virginian is a surf-and-turf Benedict, combining the powers of both saline Virginia ham and a crabcake, flavored with Old Bay. The chicken and waffles features a crisp breakfast pastry all but obscured by an oversize chicken breast that’s fried then covered in an over-easy egg with a DayGlo-orange center. A thin line of spicy maple syrup, punctuated by red chiles, may not be sweet enough, so pour out with abandon the extra maple syrup that’s provided. You don’t need a room at the Ritz to experience how the other half eats. — Levitt
Opens 11 a.m. weekends
Can’t decide what you want for brunch? How about everything? For $42, this upscale Turkish restaurant will treat you to two hours of feasting that includes more than a dozen dishes.
Feel free to add on mimosas or bloody marys for $3 a pop, but know that you may want to be at your full powers of observation to take in all this experience has to offer. Sit in one of the basket-style seats by the window and soak in the Anatolian-style lights and decorations that create a perfect backdrop for the onslaught of dips, flatbreads, and eggs that pour forth from the kitchen.
Dishes range from the thoroughly Turkish — like the cheesy, boat-shaped pizzas called pides — to fusion dishes like truffled deviled eggs and eggs Benedict, made with salmon and guacamole and topped with popping salmon roe. Don’t miss the brioche French toast with baklava syrup, a down-home taste of the Near East. — Levitt
Maple Ave Restaurant
Opens 10:30 a.m. weekends
Dynamic food and thoughtful service transform this storefront setting into a warm haven. Chef and co-owner Justė Židelytė focuses on high-quality ingredients and clever techniques to create innovative, modern European fare. For brunch, two courses are offered for $26. This is an amazing bargain given the range and quality of seasonal choices. Each course offers at least four selections plus optional extras, and many are the same dishes available on the four-course dinner menu for $59.
Roasted squash with a crispy crust has intriguing accents of pickled sun-dried raisins, herby yogurt, and caraway. There’s a sparkling green salad with ricotta nuggets and a memorable pistachio dressing. Another starter — a trio of adorable beef-filled empanadas — nods to co-owner Ricardo Teves’ Argentine heritage.
Truffled scrambled eggs, a perennial second-course option, are light and delightfully pungent. The almond ricotta pancake is not to be missed. Židelytė was inspired by her Lithuanian mother’s pancakes, which were made with cottage cheese. Her chef’s touch is distinctive — they’re airy, yet chewy, with wonderful flavor. Happily, the menu offers the option of a single pancake as an add-on, avoiding hard choices. — Boikess
Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill
Opens 10:30 a.m. Sunday
Brunch is family-style at the posh Salamander Resort, where the prix fixe is $79. But don’t be fooled by this casual-sounding term because from the moment diners are seated under the soaring ceiling, with picture windows overlooking hunt country, they know they’re in for something special.
Service begins with an explanation of how each course is presented and a gracious warning to pace yourself — hard advice to follow when heaping bowls of brunch favorites arrive at the table. You begin with a tropical smoothie “to open the palate,” and next comes a basket of apple- and chocolate-filled pastries plus a sinful butterscotch scone. Presented with a flourish are fresh berries, avocado toastlets, and salad made of local greens bathed in tangy Mt. Defiance Cider vinaigrette.
The third course elicits gasps. On a wooden tray, slices of glistening prime rib, smoky thick-cut bacon, and chicken sausages arrive. Alongside that, there’s a plate of pumpkin pancakes and brioche French toast. The creamiest scrambled eggs pair deliciously with roasted potatoes. It’s worth saving room for pastry chef Jason Reaves’ tartlets, fig bars, and cookies for dessert. If you can’t, Harrimans will box it all up for you to enjoy later. — Sklarew
Opens 11:30 a.m. weekends
Bistro L’Hermitage presents an impressive brunch with doting servers to fulfill your every indulgent wish. Omelet with goat cheese? Oui! Brioche French toast with mixed berries? Mais certainement! Guests gather for elegant but comfortable dining at this charming spot, adorned with an eclectic collection of plates and décor. Start with French bread delivered tableside, and spread a generous portion of whipped butter and jam while perusing the menu.
Order the gâteau de crevettes sandwich, a delightfully seasoned shrimp cake atop a freshly baked onion brioche bun, embellished with freshly chopped herbs. Onglet de boeuf et ouef, a fancy version of steak and eggs, satisfies even the most fervent Francophile. Take a quick jaunt to the French countryside for a masterful weekend brunch at this gem. — Klavon
Opens 8 a.m. weekends
Brabo Brasserie is an intimate, award-winning restaurant uniting contemporary American cuisine and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Connected to the Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town, Brabo provides a congenial and upscale place for a weekend brunch.
For traditional options, try Brabo’s spinach-and-mushroom omelet, ensconced in decadent Gruyère cheese and arriving with a tasty petite salad. Think outside the brunch box and order the short rib hash, a marvelous mélange of braised short rib, pancetta, mushrooms, and potato cake topped with a poached egg. If we could have gracefully licked the plate, we would have. The crabcake sandwich, with a mountain of perfectly seasoned frites, delivers luscious local flavor. Visit Brabo for a delectable dining experience with gracious hospitality. — Klavon
Opens 11 a.m. weekends
Café Colline is a hidden gem within a high-end strip mall right off Langston Boulevard. The chic space is efficiently designed, with a sizable bar and plenty of booth seating. Dark, rustic wooden floors contrast with the bright white walls and marble-top bar.
The subtly decorated space doesn’t exactly scream “French restaurant,” but one glance at the menu will make the concept quite clear. The café offers “traditional” brunch options (omelet, croque madame), but if you want to fully commit to French fare, check out the escargot, moules frites, or soupe à l’oignon. We recommend starting your meal off with the la cachat: crusty bread served with chèvre, honey, lavender, and figs — perfectly balancing sweet, tart, and floral in one bite.
For a French twist on bagels and lox, order the tartine (a generous slice of crusty toast slathered with creamy herbed Boursin and topped with capers, smoked salmon, pickled shallot, dill, and a perfectly poached egg). If your sweet tooth is craving a less savory option, the pain perdu, an elevated French toast, has a distinct brightness thanks to orange zest — and it’s brûléed, providing an added layer of flavor and crunch to what is all-too-often a textureless dish. Mimosas and bloody marys are available, as well as tea and French press coffee. — Langer
Opens 10 a.m. weekends
Location, location, location: It’s hard to beat Chadwicks’ prime real estate, nestled right along the water in Old Town Alexandria. This restaurant has the best of both worlds: historic, charming exposed brick and stone walls, contrasted by modern lighting fixtures and trendy tilework.
The casual two-level space has a lengthy bar, providing a moderate noise level during the busy brunch rush. The menu is quite diverse and has something for everyone. For a sweet treat, go for the French toast or pancakes. (A dollar upcharge for funfetti? Sign us up.) The savory brunch lovers can’t go wrong with a classic eggs Benedict (or upgrade to the crabcake version) or the indulgent François (fried chicken paired with a slice of French toast, smothered in cinnamon butter and maple syrup).
For a fun and unique burger twist, order the Flappy Jack — a burger complete with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg, served between two pancakes instead of buns; you may never want a traditional burger again. As far as beverages go, Chadwicks offers mimosas, bloody marys, and screwdrivers, plus a variety of other cocktails, beer, wine, and coffee. — Langer
Opens 8 a.m. weekends
Chloez Café touts itself as a neighborhood restaurant with real home cooking, and that description is spot-on. Locals flock to this comfortable, beach-themed outpost for breezy brunch (or breakfast) any time, and the spot offers outstanding staples like omelets, eggs, pancakes, and bagels, but adds a variety of healthy smoothies, too.
The Chloez’ Choice smoothie was our favorite — a tangy blend of strawberries, mango, pineapple, and fresh orange juice to start your day right. Chloez’s ample breakfast sandwich packs a handheld punch with two eggs, applewood-smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese on a toasted bagel. For a homey dining spot with consistently quality cuisine, drop by this hot spot. — Klavon
Del Ray Café
Opens 9 a.m.
Come casual and relax at Del Ray Café, which is located in a lovingly refurbished 1925 farmhouse on a quiet Alexandria residential street and presents fresh, simply prepared French country fare. Service is bustling, but efficient.
We ordered the “create your own two-egg omelet” dish and devoured the masterpiece, packed with earthy wild mushrooms and sweet caramelized onions. The beautifully presented platter overflowed with inviting options, making it impossible to clean our plates. Lunch offerings abound, including classic steak frites with béarnaise sauce for an indulgent feast. The beef proved to be tender, perfectly cooked, and dolloped with béarnaise, ensuring rich zest from bite to bite. Frites were crisp, lightly salted, and divine. Del Ray Café delivers the trifecta of service, ambiance, and cuisine, promising a sophisticated take on classic French dining. — Klavon
Green Pig Bistro
Opens 10 a.m. weekends
For rustic French cooking with a decidedly American twist, head to Arlington’s Green Pig Bistro. Opened in 2012, the family-owned café offers intriguing, never boring brunch possibilities like croque madame, smoked Norwegian salmon Benedict, and pork and eggs.
Pig out on the gooey, cheddar-smoked, Gouda-infused breakfast sandwich, richly stacked with folded egg and crisp bacon. Can’t decide what to order? Embrace veggie-, fruit-, or egg-stuffed waffles.
The elements are mixed within the waffle batter for a savory or sweet surprise in every bite. The restaurant exudes warmth, comfort, and a contemporary French vibe — painted tin ceilings, reclaimed-wood high-tops, and industrial concrete floors. Stop in for an easy, satisfying weekend brunch to remember — and that’s no hogwash. — Klavon
Opens 11 a.m. Sunday
Complete with a jazz lounge and colorful accent lighting, Laporta’s may not be the most obvious of brunch spots, but this Alexandria restaurant offers a robust menu that should not be overlooked. There’s a full bar if you’re in the mood for an alcoholic beverage, or you can opt for a coffee or espresso drink.
There are plenty of appetizers, soups, and salads from which to choose; the burrata salad is a great way to start, served with thin toasts, a simple vegetable medley, and dressing. Then, there’s an entire pasta section. (You can also order any pasta in a smaller appetizer size.) For entrées, in addition to classic brunch dishes, this menu has much more variety.
Although there are meat options, the menu leans more seafood-heavy. Check out the housemade seafood crêpes filled with shrimp, tilapia, and salmon and topped with a rich, silky sauce.
The bread basket, served warm with butter and jelly, gives you several different options that are perfect for sharing. And no meal — including brunch — is complete without dessert; from cheesecake and chocolate lava cake to carrot cake and Godiva mousse cake — it’s hard to say “no” to a sweet treat. — Langer
The Liberty Tavern
Opens 10 a.m. weekends
If you’re often paralyzed by indecision when dining out, Liberty Tavern is the place for you.
During brunch, in addition to a traditional à la carte menu, your table can choose the “unlimited brunch small plates” menu, which is essentially an all-you-can-eat option for $30.95 per person.
Certain items come in larger “for the table” portions (such as scrambled eggs, home fries, and bacon), but otherwise, dishes are relatively small single-serving portions that allow you to order plenty of other items.
We recommend the seasonal vegetarian quiche, spinach artichoke dip, scrambled eggs, biscuit basket, and home fries.
For an additional $15, you can add the “unlimited dime cocktails,” including mimosas, frozen margaritas, and more. (Beer is also an option.)
The two-level space is not quiet — the volume tends to pick up as the day goes on, so if noise is a concern, we recommend dining earlier — but with plenty of TVs, a large bar, a cozy lounge area, and several high-tops, this lively restaurant is the perfect place to visit on game day or for any group gathering. — Langer
Milk & Honey Café
Alexandria and Ashburn
Opens 5 a.m.
Milk & Honey Café offers a boozy brunch bonanza, welcoming a crush of visitors to the popular New Orleans–themed dining spot. Greats like crab hash, catfish and grits, chicken and waffles, and shrimp po’ boys satisfy at this Southern comfort food corner.
Order chef Sammy Davis’ award-winning shrimp and grits, served with a luscious Cajun cream sauce. And don’t miss the deep-fried strawberry shortcake biscuits or mimosa flights. It’s laissez les bons temps rouler at both locations, offering decadent cuisine to large parties. Bring the whole family here for a lively brunch, with compelling menu items to transport you to the Big Easy. — Klavon
More Better Restaurant & Beer Garden
Opens 10 a.m. weekends
For brunchers who love mimosas, and we mean really love them, it’s an easy choice to sink $23 into a Mimosa-Stein, which is exactly what it sounds like.
But in order to survive the afternoon, chances are guests will want to add some of the excellent eats at this countryside beer hall. Options flit around the world, landing in co-owner Nils Schnibbe’s German homeland before touching down in Mexico and returning to the United States.
But whether it’s German bier or Virginia-made suds in your stein, we think the “Most Better” option is the brunch schnitzel. The thinly pounded, crunchy chicken breast is enough to make diners very happy on its own. Add on an over-easy egg and sides of bacon and crispy home fries, and you’ve reached a vaguely German brunch nirvana. We hear it’s even better with a Mimosa-Stein. — Levitt
Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar
Opens 9 a.m. weekends
Massive, warm buttermilk biscuits with blueberry compote and whipped butter deliver a buzzworthy beginning to brunch at Tupelo Honey. Once you’re ready for your main, don’t miss the Sriracha honey fried chicken and buttermilk waffles. They’re sweet; they’re spicy; they’re savory.
Diners devour crispy, tender chicken — brined for over 18 hours and cooked to perfection — perched on world-class waffles, delicately drizzled with Sriracha honey sauce and topped with pungent, peppery cilantro.
Save room for Southern desserts — the dreamy, creamy banana pudding is reminiscent of supper on grandma’s Biloxi back porch. — Klavon
Virtue Feed & Grain
Opens 10 a.m. weekends
Old Town Alexandria is brimming with quaint dining spots, but Virtue Feed & Grain offers extensive history, unparalleled location, and cultivated cuisine, propelling this tasty tavern to brunch bucket list status.
Explore the modern American menu, which offers fresh local ingredients, robust flavors, and seasonal offerings. Start with housemade cranberry-orange-walnut muffins, which arrive warm with whipped honey butter. Try something different with the flour tortilla–wrapped breakfast burrito, chock-full of silky scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, and your choice of meat.
Locals enjoy the Chesapeake Benedict, which brings the magic of Old Bay–seasoned blue crab to the delightful poached egg classic. Ask to be seated upstairs; it’s a rustic, scenic wonder to behold. — Klavon
Opens 11:30 a.m. weekends
At SER (“simple, easy, real”), authentic Spanish cuisine reigns supreme. The simply decorated space is well-lit and airy, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. The brunch menu is substantial, offering a handful of traditional American brunch favorites, alongside an array of Spanish dishes, such as gambas y sémola (garlicky shrimp sitting atop creamy grits, infused with manchego and chorizo) and the tortilla Española sandwich (a savory potato-egg mixture on a perfectly toasted roll).
The menu also boasts a raw bar, seafood platters, cold cuts, cheeses, tapas-style small plates (we like the berenjenas fritas, croquetas de puchero, and revuelto de setas), and larger mains (such as paella). And there’s no lack of variety when it comes to beverages; there are mimosas and Bellinis, bloody marias, sangria, and more. Non-alcoholic options abound, too — check out the mocktail list, or get that morning caffeine kick from a Café Bombon (espresso with condensed milk) or Café Cacao (espresso with Nutella).
If you leave room for dessert, churros con chocolate is a no-brainer. Or try the tarta de manchego — this is not your average cheesecake. Served warm and showcasing a soft, custard-like interior, the tart is unexpectedly light. — Langer
Feature image courtesy Entyse Bistro
This story originally ran in Northern Virginia Magazine’s April issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.