Where will you go for your first meal of 2015? Sadly, there aren’t an abundance of options. Most restaurants will be closed Thursday, Jan. 1, opting to give staff the day off to recharge after an exhausting New Year’s Eve, one of the busiest nights for restaurants all year.
Nonetheless, you can still start off the new year with a culinary bang, especially if you feel like diving into a hearty brunch. And when you think of brunch — especially late night/early morning food — in D.C., naturally Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse is top of mind. The 17th Street institution will usher in 2015 in 24-hour fashion, opening at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, and not closing again until 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 1. And they’ll start serving brunch — and, of course, booze — off the late night menu at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s. Whether you crave Annie’s steak and eggs, an omelet, or heartier steakhouse fare — including a scene-stealing Bull in the Pan — you can put off that diet resolution to Jan. 2. Call 202-232-0395.
Another great New Year’s Day option comes courtesy of the multi-farmer-owned Founding Farmers restaurant, a few blocks west of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. The restaurant will serve brunch on Thursday, Jan. 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by dinner that evening. Brunch options include share plates of Uncle Buck’s Beignets, farmhouse fare such as Breakfast Chicken & Waffles and a “Hangover Hash” with poached eggs, chili and pimento and cheddar cheeses. Call 202-822-8783 or visit wearefoundingfarmers.com.
For even finer fare, start off the new year with brunch at District Commons, Jeff Tunks’s trendy, tavern-style eatery on Washington Circle. Standout entrée options include “Cast Iron Skillet” Huevos Rancheros, Toasted Coconut Pancakes with roasted pineapple and star anise agave nectar syrup, Shrimp & Grits with country ham, and Pan Seared Salmon Cakes “Benedict.” Tack on $16 and you can go with bottomless Bloody Marys or Mimosas for a full two hours. Call 202-587-8277 or visit districtcommonsdc.com.
Birch & Barley on 14th Street offers one more first-of-the-year brunch option for the discerning diner. From Fried Chicken & Waffles, to the vegetarian Early Winter Flatbread with roasted leeks and smoked kale, to Smoked Mussel & Gruyere Flatbread (flatbread is a house specialty) you can’t go wrong with Chef Kyle Bailey’s creative twists elevating the average brunch. That’s especially true if you opt for the $30 “boozy brunch” option that also grants you freshly fried donut holes, a choice of two brunch cocktails — your best bet is the Brunch Punch concoction of vodka, guava nectar, aperol and citrus — and bottomless tea or coffee. Call 202-567-2676 or visit birchandbarley.com.
Among the far more extensive options for New Year’s Eve dining, most of which require reservations, one standout is Floriana’s, the charming and underrated 17th Street Italian restaurant. For $75 per person, Chef Daniel Hlusak’s five-course menu includes a roasted cauliflower starter, lobster consommé, squid ink spaghetti with lobster arrabiata, an entrée of New York Strip or pan-seared scallops with sautéed rapini and mushrooms, and a Dolce choice of fresh berries and Zabaglione, espresso and bitter chocolate mousse or a cranberry-apple strudel. Call 202-667-5937.
Chef Nathan Beauchamp at the relaxed, well-regarded year-old Fainting Goat on U Street offers a $55 three-course menu that includes an oyster stew, a main course of roasted duck or a barramundi of grilled broccoli and scallops, and either a chocolate torte with cherries and sour cream ice cream or an almond toffee Budino for dessert. Call 202-735-0344 or visit faintinggoatdc.com.
But the last meal of 2014 will have more significance at the Duplex Diner than almost anywhere else around town. Just a couple weeks ago, Rehoboth restaurateurs Mark Hunker and Jeff McCracken (Eden and Jam Bistro) bought the hip gay institution at 18th and U Streets in lower Adams Morgan and anointed its popular longstanding bartender Kelly Laczko as general manager. The new owners don’t anticipate making major changes to the comfortable ethos of the place, but anything they do tweak won’t happen until next year. The final huzzah of 2014 will center on a “tots and tiaras” theme, with the regular healthy-but-hearty diner menu, Stoli and champagne drink specials — and of course the many varietals of the popular Squeezes — plus free tater tots at the bar. Oh yeah, and tiaras too — which will be on the house. “Of course the tiaras will be provided,” Kelly Laczko says. “What kind of stage moms would we be without providing the tiaras?”
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