Words By Logan Hollers, Photos By Clarissa Villondo
Brabo surprised me. I didn’t expect it to be so bright and airy. I didn’t expect it to be so nice, almost fine dining-esque. And I definitely didn’t expect it to be so delicious. I mean, brunch is brunch, right? Even in brunch-mad D.C., there’re only so many plates of toast, some eggs, and bacon.
Not at Brabo. (Don’t get me wrong – Brabo has a great American Breakfast plate with two eggs, bacon, and a potato cake…but there’s better on the menu.) Brabo is my kind of brunch: boozy, pancake-free, and filled with dishes that wouldn’t be out of place on the regular menu.
Perusing brunch menus is easier with a cocktail (obvs). But shitty mimosas are shitty (not to mention ubiquitous in D.C.). Move instead toward Lead Bartender Phil Clark’s list of Brunch-tails filled with classics done right, and a few wildcards. From a spot-on Pimm’s Cup to a Ramos Gin Fizz, you’re guaranteed to find something that’ll dull that morning headache.
Looking for something more interesting? Try the Good Morning, Starshine, a beer cocktail that combines orange-infused vodka with orange juice and a healthy pour of Port City Optimal Wit. (This may or may not have been my photographer’s favorite part of the meal. Ok, it definitely was.)
A basket of fresh-made breads also helps the decision process move along. The blueberry muffin and chocolate scone are solid, but the flaky country biscuit stole the show. ROOM TEMPERATURE butter (finally!) and a sweet strawberry puree prove a great combo with the buttery richness of the roll.
Once you’re properly buzzed and the hunger pangs are sated a bit, get down to the good stuff. Great sharable options include the Rise & Shiner, a crispy flatbread topped with provolone, seasonal greens, a ridiculously delicious (and spicy) chorizo-tomato puree, and over easy eggs. A sprinkling of green onion, and you’ve got the perfect dish to share amongst the table.
Even better are the brunch menu’s Mussels; fat and sweet, the bivalves are bathed in a chermoula broth with tomatoes, jalapeno, and champagne. Sounds weird, tastes awesome; sweet and spicy in all the best ways.
Something more substantial needed to soak up last night’s booze? Turn to Brabo’s Steak & Eggs, with thinly sliced skirt steak, grilled to a rosy rare; grilled onions; and sunny side up eggs. Served atop a spicy harissa paste that matched perfectly with the minerally beef, the plate includes a pile of crispy, salty fries, the ideal accompaniment to…well, anything, really.
Brabo also offers a selection of mini waffle trios. Stay sweet (weirdo) with the Elvis, a combination of peanut butter, banana, and bacon; or go savory (now we’re talking) with the K-Town, topped with fried chicken, house-made kimchi, and sweet chili sauce.
Sometimes you just want a plate of bacon and eggs. Diners offer that. Sometimes you want an adult brunch with killer cocktails, unique brunch food, and fine dining service. Brabo offers the latter.