Where to Eat Breakfast When You’re Up With the Sun

Photo courtesy of
‘new morning ritual’
courtesy of ‘ekelly80’
So I know this might not be the coolest thing to admit, but it’s high time I got something off my chest — I’m an early riser. And not just in a I-go-to-the-gym-before-work way. (Because I don’t!) I am usually up and ready to rock before 8am on the weekends, and let’s be honest, I’m usually hungry. Herein lies an issue — most restaurants don’t open for weekend brunch until 11am or later, which is way past the point of a low blood sugar induced meltdown. I always have a hard time coming up with restaurants that serve actual breakfast (not brunch), especially in my pre-coffee, early morning haze. So for me and my early morning brethren, I have compiled a list of all the worthy restaurants in town that serve you coffee when you really, really need it.

My most dire breakfast needs are definitely on the weekends. Nothing seems as satisfying as an pile of pancakes without a thirty minute wait for a table. There are many early weekend mornings when the only pancake patrons are me and a multitude of dads and their toddlers, out to give Mom a much needed morning off. Nothing melts my heart like a little boy reading the comics while his dad reads the sports section. But I digress, you’re here for breakfast burritos, not cute overload. So here are my favorite places to grab an early weekend breakfast:

  • Peacock Cafe – It has been a see-and-be-seen Georgetown brunch spot for years, but you’ll avoid the wait and the long bathroom lines if you eat before 10am. The menu isn’t huge, but as long as you get something drowned in syrup, you’ll be just fine. (Open Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9am)
  • Belga Cafe – Well, Belgium is known for its waffles. As is brunch. A marriage made in heaven? Methinks yes. (Open Saturday and Sunday at 9am)
  • The Heights – From the same apparent breakfast-loving folks as Commissary, The Heights has all your brunch favorites, plus you’ll be able to spring in to your weekend errands with Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy right across the street. (Open Saturday and Sunday at 9am)
  • Cafe Bonaparte – Oh Cafe Bonaparte. Everyone loves to take their parents here when they’re visiting for the weekend. Therefore, locals, I implore you — do not go here on Georgetown University’s Parents Weekend. You will regret it for the rest of your life. But if you want crepes the other 51 weekends out of the year, make your way here pronto. (Open Sundays at 9am)

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Paige Weaver’

Then there are some days where mama needs a little break for herself, and a morning of compulsively checking my Google reader at my desk just won’t do. Some may call it playing hooky, some might say a mental health day. Whatever you call it, it is an important part of my life and therefore, must include breakfast. It’s tough to find breakfast during the week that isn’t in a hotel, but there are waffles out there for your weekday needs:

  • Open City – This is the spot where my heart melted in to a puddle of maple syrup when I saw the little boy and his dad sharing the paper. The breakfast menu is extensive, but I usually stick with the various egg scrambles. And the coffee comes with animal crackers. Adorable alert! (Open daily at 6am)
  • Tune Inn – Did you say you were in the mood for something with a lot of melted cheese on it? Well take the Food Network’s advice and go straight to The Tune. Your cardiologist will (not) thank me. (Open daily at 8am)
  • Leopold’s Kafe – Perfect for a lazy breakfast on a sunny day, the patio is tucked in Cady’s Alley and far far away from the Chipotle and Ann Taylor Loft bustle of M St. The Austrian menu can seem a little fussy at times, but the breads are divine and the egg souffle is worth the price in euros. And yes, I’m aware of the current exchange rate, it’s that good. (Open daily at 8am)

Photo courtesy of
‘Lunch (but not mine)’
courtesy of ‘Paul Henman’

  • CommissaryTrying to eat healthy at brunch is tough, but Commissary is pretty helpful when it comes to watching those carbs and calories. The menu is pretty extensive (lots of high-protein, low-cal egg options) and on the weekends and on holidays the restaurant offers a few more fatty specials. Everyone needs to indulge sometimes. (Open Monday-Friday at 8am, Saturday-Sunday at 9am)
  • Ted’s Bulletin – I spend a lot of quality time at Ted’s, because a restaurant that offers me things like a “Hangover Burrito” and a sandwich with two kind of meat and two kinds of eggs is something I’m interested in. They also have homemade Pop-Tarts for my inner child/college student. (Open daily at 7am)
  • Kramerbooks – My go-to breakfast spot for many years was always Kramerbooks. It might be annoying to wait for a table, but I always liked browsing while I dealt with my hunger pangs. Now that I’m an old lady I see the benefit of sitting to eat when I’m actually hungry though, so I tend to frequent this Dupont hot spot during the week. And it’s easier to flag down the waitress for a bathroom token when it’s not so busy. (Open Sunday-Thursday at 7:30am, Friday-Saturday 24 hours)
  • Market Lunch – I’ve extolled the virtues of Market Lunch many times, but you should just trust me. Nothing starts a Thursday off right like a Brick. (Open Wednesday-Friday at 7:30am, Saturday at 8am)
  • Taqueria Nationale – Tucked behind Johnny’s Half Shell, Taqueria Nationale is quite the find. The tacos are divine and cheap as can be, and they make for a significantly more satisfying breakfast than a crappy muffin from Starbucks. (Open Monday-Friday at 7am)

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘mallorydowd’

As previously discussed, I’m quite the old lady. But I hear the kids today love breakfast all the time. Sometimes, I’ve been told, they like to eat pancakes in the middle of the night. After a night of drinking no less! Well, if a couple of you are interested in this business, there are a few places around town with breakfast all the time:

  • Capital City Diner – Katie is a big fan. And why shouldn’t she be? It’s a real deal diner complete with greasy food, free refills on coffee and screaming waitresses. Perfect for a little post-H St. breakfast binge. (Open Friday-Sunday 24 hours)
  • Steak ‘n Egg – Just try it. Once. (Open 24/7)
  • American City Diner – You might not be going here for the fine cuisine, but it’s kitch at its best and there’s syrup on the tables. ‘Nuff said. (Open 24/7)
  • The Diner – The Adams Morgan all night breakfast stalwart is still rocking, with a full house at all hours of the day and night. The Croque and Dagger totally takes Jumbo Slice to the cleaners. (Open 24/7)
  • IHOP – That Root ‘n Tooty, Fresh ‘n Fruity is somehow always better at 3am. Maybe it’s because you can’t really see it as well? Who knows. (Open 24/7)

Did I forget any of your favorites? Put ’em in the comments!

Ashley Messick

Ashley is a born and bred Washingtonian who left for college but came running back to the District as fast as her little legs could carry her. By day she is a Capitol Hill brat, but by night she is a lean, mean, eating machine. It’s her goal in life to steal Anthony Bourdain’s job…by whatever means necessary. Contact her at Ashley (at) welovedc (dot) com or follow her on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Where to Eat Breakfast When You’re Up With the Sun

  1. It’s a little off the beaten path, but Bob & Edith’s on Columbia Pike in Arlington should be added to the list of all-night diners. It’s your typical greasy spoon, but a good option in that part of town. And they have pie.

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  3. Tabard Inn is mostly known for their brunch but they are also open early for breakfast which is great too

    Monday-Friday: 7 am – 10 am
    Saturday: 8 am – 9:45 am
    Sunday 8 am – 9:15 am