The Weekend Wake-Up

From blintzes to Bellinis, brunch is dish best served gay

Ever since that infamous 2002 episode of The Simpsons parodied the GLBT community with a pride parade that included a float serving as homage to brunch, there’s been no doubting that brunch is the gayest of meals. Not so fashionable in the dead of summer, the soon-to-cool temperatures will have the community back to bloody marys and benedicts, dishing tales of the night before.

Choosing one’s perfect brunch spot may be as difficult, however, as deciding whether to go with those savory eggs, sweet pancakes or the healthy fruit plate. Whatever the taste or occasion, however, the very gay nation’s capital can fill the bill.

With just a small sampling of what’s out there, some old reliables include Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (1609 17th St. NW, 202-232-0395), Afterwords Café & Grill (1517 Connecticut Ave.) and Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (555 South 23rd St., Arlington, 703-685-0555).

Eggs and fair prices abound, yet each is unique. Afterwords is a perfect spot for a solo diner, considering you can grab a book or magazine for company at the adjoining Kramer Books, while the patio lets the sun shine in on your oatmeal as you people watch in Dupont. At Freddie’s, where the mood is festive, there’s a champagne brunch on Sundays — diner-style breakfast any day — with the requisite carving station, entrees, desserts, champagne, and all the rest. For decades, 17th Street locals have packed Annie’s for the ”big girl” mimosas and marys — not listed as such, but your server will know exactly what you mean — and a rich cross section of the boys you ran into last night.

Capital Hotels & Suites offers two styles of brunch. At the Beacon Bar & Grill, across from HRC headquarters at 1615 Rhode Island Ave. NW (202-872-1126), you’ll be serving yourself at the buffet — very popular with families and children — for $28. The somewhat more sophisticated affair is at the St. Gregory Hotel’s M Street Bar & Grill (2033 M St. NW, 202-530-3621) where you’ll be served a prix fixe, three-course brunch for $25.95. Both sites include limitless mimosas or bloody marys.

For a touch of the exotic, 1409 Playbill Café (1409 14th St. NW, 202-265-3055) offers a bargain-priced Sunday brunch that is downright pioneering. Along with conventional items, how about a three-egg omelet filled with ricotta, hollandaise and peach cobbler? If you’re not so adventurous, the andouille and smoked gouda omelet is somewhat more conventional. Along that same spicy vein, the Banana Café (500 Eighth St. SE, 202-543-5906) presents a sunny Caribbean Eggs Benedict with a lime-cilantro hollandaise, along with brunch quesadillas.

For a different sort of exoticism, Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., 202-234-6218) offers a vibrant brunch buffet on Sundays for $22.95. Perhaps more vibrant, however, are the drag queens who make the rounds, entertaining diners as they digest.

If your conservative parents are in from Mayberry, say, and definitely not the PFLAG set, don’t despair. Skip the drag and hit the decks with Odyssey Cruises (866-306-2469) plying the Potomac on weekends with an extravagant buffet, live music and a chocolate fountain, for about $70 per person. Or, if Grampa’s never had sea legs, take in the expansive view of D.C. from atop the Kennedy Center at the Roof Terrace Restaurant & Bar (202-416-8555). Their ”grand buffet” runs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., usually $36.95 per person, with reservations highly recommended.

A new kid on the block, part of the Eat Well DC empire beloved by the local gay community, is Commissary. What was, until Sept. 9, Merkado, at 1443 P St. NW, is now Commissary (202-299-0018), and it’s addressing brunch head-on. While the menu is traditionally American, modern twists include the free Wi-Fi and eco-friendly efforts from the restaurant’s wind-energy credits to the recycled materials used for redecorating. As a reward for supporting such good deeds, consider Commissary’s line of champagne-juice brunch elixirs such as the honeydew or pear mimosas.

Again, while this sampling is just the icing on the cinnamon bun, D.C. obviously offers plenty to whet any late-morning, weekend appetite. So grab a scone and a Sunday paper and claim a gay birthright: the fabulous brunch.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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