A lunchtime bento box at Spanish keiseki restaurant Cranes, which just earned a Michelin star. Photograph by KnowPR
Michelin released its 2021 guide to DC this week, which includes five new starred restaurants and a lengthy list of more wallet-friendly Bib Gourmands, including six new spots. Looking to relax over a midday meal? Here are the Little Red Book options.
Cranes (one star)
724 9th St., NW
Chef Pepe Moncayo earned his first star for his innovative Penn Quarter Spanish-Japanese restaurant. The dining room and sake lounge opens at noon daily, where you’ll find elaborate bento boxes (weekdays) or an a la carte menu of tapas and share plates like oysters with ponzu, duck rillette gyoza, and unagi paella.
Little Pearl (one star)
921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
The sister spot to fellow star recipients Rose’s Luxury (one) and Pineapple and Pearls (two, temporarily closed) is the most casual of chef Aaron Silverman’s ventures. A walk-up coffee window is open on Saturdays and Sundays (10:30 to 2:30) for creative coffee drinks, spicy chicken sandwiches, burgers, and wine pouches (patio seating available). The restaurant becomes a tasting room at night.
Masseria (one star)
1340 4th St., NE
Check Nick Stefanelli’s gorgeous tasting room near Union Market already channels an Italian villa with a fire-lit courtyard and outdoor dining pergola. So it’s only fitting that a leisurely, elegant four-course lunch on Saturdays and Sundays is part of the package ($95 per person). Guests are offered a choice of antipasto, pasta, entrees, and dessert—plus an optional wine pairing ($70) or vintage selection.
1201 K St., NW
The Eaton DC hotel restaurant from Tim Ma serves creative brunch dishes like duck confit hash or a lamb burger alongside healthy options such as fresh-pressed juices and avocado toast.
1309 5th St., NE
Chef John Mooney’s Union Market restaurant follows the seasons and draws from a rooftop garden. At brunch that means plates like spring pea soup, lobster tacos, or egg dishes like a steak Benedict (plus bottomless mimosas or Marys for $20).
403 H St., NE
The lunch menu at chef Peter Prime’s Trinidadian restaurant is filled with flavor and spice—think jerk wings and a selection of rice bowls such as cumin-spiced geera pork belly or vegetable curry with channa. Note: it’s closed Sundays.
1334 9th St NW
The Shaw Ethiopian restaurant, which also has a new Bethesda location, draws fans with an all-day menu of generous vegetarian platters, tasty kitfo, and delicious stews.
1201 28th St., NW
Georgetown’s upscale Ethiopian restaurant serves classics alongside dishes like shrimp tibs, steak tartare kitfo, and braised short ribs in a white tablecloth setting (plus an outdoor patio).
1331 4th St., SE
Chef Haidar Karoum’s kitchen pulls from his Lebanese heritage and Mid-Atlantic location—think a hero sandwich stuffed with falafel and labne or crispy cauliflower with tahini and mint. Brunch drinks can erase a hangover, or try the alcohol-free tamarind spritz.
1654 Columbia Rd., NW
Pit master Rob Sonderman smokes up a delicious all-day menu—and best to go earlier rather than later as items can sell out. We’re big fans of the wings, ribs, and huge sandwiches (which include some vegetarian options). A new Hyattsville location is in the works, with a food truck serving barbecue out front.
Ivy City Smokehouse
1356 Okie St., NE
The low-key seafood spot in Ivy City layers salmon “candy” onto bagels, folds nova lox into scrambled eggs, and tops Benedicts with house-smoked fish. Biscuits and Belgian waffles are also made in house, as is the smoked fish for generous platters.
480 7th St., NW
Sip the rotating mimosa flavor of the week while diving into the Spanish menu. You can dine on a la carte dishes or order from two samplings of brunch tapas ($30 per person or $45 per person).
Karma Modern Indian (New)
611 Eye St., NW
In addition to a creative a la carte lunch menu, this modern Indian restaurant in Mt. Vernon Triangle offers a three-course prix-fixe lunch ($29.50 per person). Also keep an eye out for rotating specials like spice-grilled branzino or lobster masala.
1847 Columbia Rd., NW
Helming the kitchen at the family-owned Afghan bistro is matriarch Shamim Popal, cooking recipes passed through her family. Brunch brings dishes like Benedicts with sumac hollandaise or cardamom pancakes—all can be enjoyed on the indoor/outdoor dining room, patio, or in private greenhouses.
Laos in Town
250 K St., NE
The all-day menus at this bright, fiery Lao spot cater to omnivores and vegans alike. Go for crispy calamari showered in herbs and chilies, vegetable rolls, salads, noodles, and curries. An indoor/outdoor bar and patio are the place in nice weather.
3400 11th St., NW
Longtime Maketto/Spoken English chef James Wozniuk’s new modern Malaysian restaurant is transportive in both look and flavor. The dim sum-inspired brunch menu borrows from both Southeast Asian and American traditions—think bloody Marys spiced with lemongrass and ginger, homemade biscuits and coconut custard, or eggs in sambal.
1351 H St., NE
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s pioneering restaurant serves an all-day menu these days, plus offerings from the upstairs coffee bar. Snag a place in the courtyard for bao buns, num pang sandwiches, noodle soups, and that famous fried chicken.
425 I St., NW
Dive into egg dishes, salads, spreads, and kebab plates during the four course, Turkish feast ($39.50 per person). The brunch deal at the Ottoman-inspired dining room also includes bottomless mimosas, bloody Marys, coffee, and Turkish tea. For lighter eaters, there’s a la carte lunch and brunch.
401 7th St., NW
José Andrés’s butterfly-laden dining room features handmade tortillas with corn ground in-house. Try them in fried mahi mahi tacos or sample brunch dishes like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and of course, Mexican mimosas with blood orange chili piquín.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
1612 14th St., NW
The 14th Street oyster haven serves Gulf Coast plates like oysters Rockefeller, fried chicken, and wood-grilled redfish. There are also plenty of baked goods like ricotta beignets and tasty cocktails. Note to brunch lovers: the weekend menu starts on Friday.
3000 12th St., NE
Start the day underneath plumed chandeliers or on the patio of this Brookland natural wine haven. An eclectic menu ranges from French toast and shrimp ‘n grits to Mexican-style tortillas with eggs and beef ragu.
Residents Cafe & Bar (New)
1306 18th St., NW
If flowers are your thing, this Dupont cafe’s patio decked out in cherry blossoms is your place. A casual menu boasts avocado toasts, pasta carbonara, and several styles of burgers.
3311 Connecticut Ave., NW
Cleveland Park’s Israeli restaurant offers a range of enticing dishes for brunch such as harissa-marinated kebabs, eggplant or lamb Benedicts, and homemade Jerusalem bagel sandwiches. Wash it down with bottomless sparkling wine ($16) or pomegranate mimosas ($15).
4445 Connecticut Ave., NW
This pretty pasta house only offers brunch at its Van Ness location. Dishes like Benedicts and omelettes lean more toward the morning mea,l while the bountiful pasta menu can satisfy lunch cravings.
399 Morse St., NE
The modern pizzeria from Italian natives Antonio Matarazzo and Matteo Veninipulls draws largely from southern Italy. Cacio e pepe is served as pizza or pasta, the oven turns out housemade porchetta, and there are sweet dishes like coffee-soaked brioche bread with tiramisu cream. The new Shirlington location also serves brunch.
3710 14th St., NW; 8145 Baltimore Ave., College Park
Some of the best chilaquiles in town can be found at this taqueria with locations in Columbia Heights and College Park. Also find a huge variety of tasty tacos on homemade tortillas, mole enchiladas, and more—best enjoyed with a margarita.
1234 H St., NE
It’s ramen all-day, every day at this cozy noodle soup joint on H Street—plus some tasty stuffed buns, noodle bowls, and miso-chocolate chip cookies.
1207 9th St., NW
Brunch is served daily until 4 PM at David Deshaies’ Shaw diner—lucky us, because it’s one of the tastiest brunch options in town. Go for “s’eggsy” egg sandwiches, Caribbean-style shrimp and grits, or blueberry pancakes.
701 9th St., NW
José Andrés’s Mediterranean restaurant serves dishes pulling from Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon. For brunch, that means dishes like shakshuka or Lebanese-style French toast. A “RoZAY Brunch” offer for two ($75) includes a flight of rose wines, four courses of mezze, and dessert.
Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.
Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture. Originally from Rockville, she lives in Logan Circle.