Bex’s DMV Summer Brunch Guide

Last year, I gave you guys a look at my favorite DC spring brunch eats for every type of person, and y’all loved it! Whether you wanted a quiet, intimate setting, a brunch with the fam or a date spot, there was something for everyone and I was so pleased with how much you enjoyed it.

This year, I want you to expand your horizons and consider…the idea of brunch outside of DC. *Gasp*

First and foremost, the DMV, for those of you who don’t know, stands for DC, Maryland and Virginia in this instance as opposed to Department of Motor Vehicles. Just wanted to clarify that off the bat for all my Rochester peeps reading along (Hi Grandma).

There are some awesome brunch options in the DMV area and here are some that you need to check out this summer.

Washington, DC

Tredici Enoteca

~ For the overdue catch-up with a good friend or a classy brunch with bae ~

I don’t think I will ever stop praising Tredici’s bacon wrapped dates. They are truly one of God’s gifts to this planet. Stuffed with manchego and blue cheese, these beauties are worth every bite. I’ve always loved Tredici Enoteca for it’s trendy vibe set in the St. Gregory Hotel, the occasional live jazz music on Sundays and the beautifully-plated dishes. Here’s what you should order (in addition to the bacon wrapped dates, obviously):

Mediterranean Board – The perfect appetizer that includes warm pita, hummus, falafel, tzatziki, quinoa and tabbouleh.

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Avocado Toast – One of the best avocado toasts I’ve ever had in my life. No explanation needed; just order it!

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Fried Chicken & Waffles – Not usually my first choice on a brunch menu, but the rosemary waffle and maple-sausage gravy combo is the real deal.

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Ambar

~ For really any occasion if I’m being honest with you #LiveLaughLoveAmbar ~

While many cities boast bottomless brunch options, you don’t often hear of all-you-can-eat lunches and dinners too. This spring, owner Ivan Iricanin introduced the debut of his new Ambar ‘Express Lunch’ at both the Capitol Hill location and the Clarendon location – both beautiful spots with slightly different vibes. While the bottomless brunch and dinner option have been around for a while, the lunch is new and just as exceptional, mainly because it also includes the mouth-watering mussels (clearly I have a favorite dish). Here are some other items you should order for brunch or lunch, but really, order everything because hey….it’s bottomless and you only live once:

Cheese Pie -This is one dish that I always order first. The flaky texture accompanied by a cucumber, yogurt and mint dressing is very tasty.

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Steak & Egg -I’ve never had a steak and egg dish at Ambar that wasn’t cooked to perfection. Medium rare meat that you can dip into an over-easy egg…enough said.

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Cinnamon Sweet Sourdough – If you’re a smart person, you’ll start your meal off with a spreads tasting, which includes Ambar’s infamous sourdough paired with multiple Balkan spreads. After a few drinks, you’ll order more sourdough. And then more sourdough. So, why not just end your meal with the same delicious sourdough covered in cinnamon sugar and a Nutella dipping sauce?

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Virginia

Red’s Table

~For the ‘Sunday Scaries’ where you need a fresh atmosphere with a calming lakeside view~

This cozy restaurant set in Reston, VA will not disappoint when it comes to brunch. Every dish is beautifully plated and you must sit outside so you can get the soothing view and breeze coming off the lake. Here is what you need to order:

Goat Cheese Fritters – If you don’t like goat cheese, that is really unfortunate and I will never understand you. But, if you do, these babies will make for a wicked good appetizer. Paired with chili-apricot jam and green onion, the fritters have a hopping flavor.

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Frittata – This open-faced omelet filled with spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, cheddar & green onions is topped with dressed greens and a light but flavorful hollandaise. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful.

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Chicken & Waffles – This house-made Belgian Waffle with southern fried chicken tenders is a traditional brunch option and man, is it good. Very fresh and worth every bite!

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Tupelo Honey

~For the casual southern-comfort brunch on a sunny afternoon~

At Tupelo Honey, it’s all about the comfort food. The warm biscuits with honey are bound to make your taste buds happy and crispy brussels are good for any time of the day. You’ll love Tupelo if you’re a little homesick, need a delicious meal with friends and want a cozy, quiet place in Arlington, VA. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

Seasonal Burrata – Tupelo is on top of their seasonal menus and you definitely want to take a look at them. This year, one of my favorite selections was this Caramelized Squash & Burrata Toast with a sorghum balsamic glaze and basil on rustic bread.

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Mini-Mason Jar Desserts – Make sure you save room for dessert! These little cuties will satisfy every sweet tooth you might have, I mean, just listen to these flavors: banana pudding; peanut butter mousse & chocolate ganache with salted pretzel crumbles (my absolute favorite); hummingbird cake with caramelized pineapple jam and spiced pecans; Atlantic beach lemon custard with buttery saltine crumble and whipped cream. Talk about yum!

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BABA

~For the fun brunching group that wants to sing along to some oldies with bottomless food, a DJ and some killer cocktails all in a sweet basement restaurant~

As the sister restaurant to Ambar, BABA doesn’t disappoint. ‘Baba’ means grandma in many Slavic languages and some recipes have been passed on for years! The cocktails are special – house-made espresso-infused liqueurs, pineapple-infused mezcal and plenty of rakia, the fruit-flavored brandy that’s popular in Serbia. Here are some of my faves:

Beet Seasonal Cocktail – This cocktail is almost a healthy but boozy spin on a revitalizing drink that one would have post-workout. Now, I’m not recommending you do that, but I’m just saying this drink is very refreshing with beet juice, lime and mint.

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BABA’s Perfect Bowl – I’m a sucker for oatmeal and this bowl is in fact “perfect” just like it’s name. The oatmeal is garnished with caramelized bananas, almonds, pineapple, strawberries, and peanut butter making for a delicious combo.

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Maryland

Buena Vida

~For the group of friends that is on a budget but also ready to live it up with a bottomless Latin experience~

This new Mexican restaurant brings tasteful art and culture to Silver Spring, MD. Not only is the aesthetic of the restaurant gorgeous, but they encourage you to take some stylish photos outside with the vibrant murals. The menu offers everything from meat and seafood to vegetable dishes and 100% organic white corn tortillas. The Yucatan Guacamole with pickled mango and goat cheese and the Girasol Guacamole with sun-dried tomato and sunflower seed are both to die for. I’m pretty sure I ate more avocado in one sitting than the human body was meant to digest in a lifetime. But I regret nothing. Here’s what you must order:

Albondigas – Whenever I host friends at my house, I always try to make a different type of meatball in my crockpot. These dry-aged beef meatballs were killer, paired with a chile morita tomato sauce and almond shavings.

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Potato & Oaxaca Cheese Flautas – I’ve never been a huge potato person other than loving my mom and grandma’s perogies at the holidays. I was unsure how I’d feel about these potato flautas but they were so flavorful. Filled with potatoes and paired with a black bean puree, rajas, cabbage, salsa and cotija, these are a must-order.

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Churros – Don’t even give it a second thought – just always order the churros.

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Thames Street Oyster House

~For the casual seafood brunch with a waterfront view in Baltimore, MD~

You simply can’t go to Baltimore and not eat seafood. So hit up one of the cutest areas – Fells Point – and go say hi to my friends at Thames Oyster House. The service is impeccable and the seafood is as fresh as can be. Make sure to fill up that plate with some delicious options:

Roasted Chesapeake Oysters – These roasted oysters are topped with deviled crab, wild garlic tartar and pickled mustard seeds. They are so warm and flavorful, you will want to savor them forever.

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Thames Street Seafood Salad – Now, first off…don’t picture a traditional salad when you read this off the menu because it is literally a tower of seafood. If you want to try all the foods of the sea, go big or go home with this baby. Packed with blue crab, Gulf shrimp, calamari, scallops and a light citrus vinaigrette, this dish is a must-try for seafood lovers.

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The Food Market

~ For the easy brunch stop before a day of exploring ~

This cute restaurant in the heart of Hampden is a simple brunch stop for those perusing the streets of Baltimore on the weekend. My favorite part of the experience – you’re greeted with a bowl of warm donut holes upon being seated. I mean, this is prime when you are really hangry like I was walking into the restaurant. It’s almost like they read my mind. Here are a few of my picks:

Buffalo Pickles – I love pickles. And I love hot sauce. So it’s not a surprise that this menu item caught my eye. There probably aren’t many people who would start off their brunch with sweet donut holes followed by buffalo pickles, but from experience, it was pretty great and you should do it (my mom is probably cringing right now). These fried pickle chips were covered in hot sauce and gorgonzola – dreamy!

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Tuna Tacos – The tuna in these little tacos was super flavorful. Topped with corn and onion salsa, pico de gallo, cheddar, whipped avocado and lime, they really hit the spot! Simple but delicious.

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