Offer every kind of culinary delight and Washingtonians overwhelmingly choose fast food for breakfast. Not a fancy Sunday brunch breakfast, but the kind of breakfast thousands of residents need five days a week -- a before-work breakfast.
Recently highly publicized studies show how important a good breakfast is for health and productivity, but many Washingtonians are in a hurry and reluctant to spend a lot of time and money on their daily breakfast. According to a Washingtonian magazine survey, Washingtonians turn to the fast food and plastic atmosphere of hamburger joints and egg and muffin merchants.
How about a break today. Washington has myriad coffee shops, bakeries and diners that open early.The food is good and the atmosphere is real. Many breakfast eateries are conveniently located in and around the city's bustling business districts. Customers get in and out of these places fast and cheap and still get table service and a personal good morning.
The variety is endless. Bacon and eggs. Croissants and cappuccino. What follows is a sampling of the fare, the sites and some pleasant surprises. w Capitol Hill
One of Capitol Hill's best breakfast can be found at Market Lunch in Eastern Market, 225 Seventh St. SE. The eggs and bacon are fresh from the market, and owner Tommy Glascow's homemade bread has "a trick" to it; the bread and the business are a family affair.
"I've been working in this market since I was 11 years old," says Glascow.
His father owns the fish stand on the other side of the market, and his uncle sells meat nearby.
On cold or rainy days, customers can order breakfast, take a seat in the market and watch the merchants put out their meats and produce for the day. When it's clear and warm, morning diners take their meals out on the patio and watch the sun rise over the shops across the street.
The food is good, and $1.50 buys two eggs, homemade potatoes and homemade toast. Breakfast meats are 90 cents extra. There are grits, omelettes, pancakes, french toast and pastries. Breakfast service, quick and friendly, begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 11 a.m. They are closed Sunday and Monday.
The Delly, 332 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, is only a traditional deli as long as you want it to be. Enter the quaint, carpeted dining room and you find wooden furniture, cafe curtains, old artwork and tarnished trumpets decorating the walls. Fresh mums grace every table. The sun pours in the windows, and real plants flourish throughout the restaurant.
Breakfast starts at 8 a.m. and is served until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday. The most exotic meal on the menu is lox, onions and eggs at $3.25, but $2 buys two eggs and bagels or rolls. Home fries are served with every meal. A luscious assortment of pastries is displayed by the door. The food is excellent, and the people who run the Delly are a pleasant and gracious crew. They know many of their customers by name and always seem willing to meet new people.
Another popular breakfast spot on the Hill is Sherrill's Restaurant and Bakery, 233 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. This one is for the early birds, with doors opening at 6 a.m. weekdays, and 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Just inside is the glass pastry case, which displayed 19 different breakfast pastries one morning this month. There are always a few birthday cakes, too.
The restaurant is a classic. The fountain has swivel stools and the booths still have jukebox controls from the Wurlitzer played. After 7 a.m., the large television mounted up front is tuned to the Today Show. The waitresses talk to the regulars and coo at babies. They take time to warm up to newcomers.
The menu includes eggs, hot cakes, omelettes and cereals. Two eggs with bacon, sausage or ham, fried potatoes and toast are $2.30. Hot cakes are $1.50. Coffee is extra, but refills are free. The food is prepared well, but watch out for fried selections, which tend to be greasy.
Some people are cranky in the morning. They hesitate to go out for breakfast because they fear some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed waitress will say something like, "Good morning." No such chance at the Tune Inn, 331 1/2 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Still, a congressional press secretary who lives and works in the area swears, "The best cheap breakfast on the Hill is at the Tune Inn."
It is certainly true that if you can brave the abusive service, the breakfast is quite good. In fact, the home fries are a real highlight, fresh and lightly browned, unlike the mushy version found in many other restaurants. Two eggs with bacon, ham or sausage, home fries and toast (white or rye only) cost $2.75. A cheese omelette is $2.50, a plain omlette, $2.25. Coffee is 40 cents.
The atmosphere at the Tune Inn is a little peculiar for early morning: deer and bear heads and mounted fish set the tone for the decor. The place is a bar, though, and a popular one. Don't go looking for a cute little breakfast nook, but do go expecting a good morning meal. Then you won't be disappointed. The Tune Inn opens at 8 a.m. and breakfast is served any time. The Tune Inn is open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Old Downtown: Federal Buildings
Reeves Bakery and Restaurant is an institution. At 1209 F. St. NW, the storefront facade is unassuming except for the revolving door, which rarely stops turning.
Inside, the rich interior, including dark woodward and big, brass chandeliers, envelops its occupants. Just inside the door is a glass case of beautiful pastries, featuring sinful amounts of whipped cream and fresh strawberries, rich chocolate and golden meringue. Then there is the restaurant. Wooden counters and stools line both sides of the narrow dining room, and there are a few tables in the back. The lighting is soft, but the noise level is usually high.
One of the best items on Reeves' morning menu is the homemade toast. Thick slices of cinnamon, raisin, cheese or plain toast are served warm with real butter at 55 cents a serving. Coffee is 45 cents a cup with refills. Hearty appetites can be accommodated, too. Breakfast No. 3 offers two eggs with ham, bacon or sausage, hash browns and toast at $2.50. Pancakes are $1.55. In the mood for something diffent? For $1.90 you can have creamed chipped beef. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11 a.m.
Early diners everywhere consider their breakfast incomplete without the morning newspaper, but at Vanessa's the diners put together the morning newspaper. Vanessa's is in the National Press Building, 529 14th St. NW. Margaret opens the place at 7 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on Saturdays, and a line forms almost immediately. If you're a regular, Margaret has learned your name, how you like your coffee and what you usually order. Some old-timers have only to show their faces and their breakfast wishes are fulfilled.
Vanessa's offers five different kinds of doughnuts, bagels and cream cheese, and a tasty breakfast plate special that includes two eggs, bacon, ham or sausage, hash browns and toast for $1.95. Coffee is 30 and 40 cents, small and large. Juices, yogurts and egg sandwiches are available, too. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. weekdays and 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The history of the Old Ebbitt Grill goes back to 1800, when the original building was erected at the corner of 14th and F streets NW. In 1926, the grill was moved a few doors down to its present spot at 1427 F St. Nw. During that time, the Old Ebbitt provided food and lodging for numerous statesmen, including presidents Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren G. Harding.
The grill's atmosphere is as rich as its history. Tuesday through Saturday at 8 a.m., the doors open for breakfast in the "omlette room" on the second floor. The steep wooden staircase opens into the small, charming dining room. Old, dark woodwork is hung with lovely antique art in gold-leaf frames. The hardwood floor is worn. Blue-and-white checkered cloths cover the tables, and in the middle of each is a vase with a single budding rose. Three windows look southward over Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tuesday through Thursday breakfast is served until 11 a.m. Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs from $4.95 to $6.95.
The specialty here is, of course, omelettes. These are huge omelettes, fluffy and generously filled with your choice of a list of ingredients. The omelettes are served with toast or an english muffin, coffee, tea or milk for $3.95 and up. A less hungry customer can get the continental breakfast of juice, english muffin and coffee, tea or milk for $1.95. The homemade oatmeal walnut coffeecake is very popular -- at $2.25 with juice and coffee, tea or milk -- so don't dawdle if you expect to get some before they run out.
The homemade biscuits at Eat Street, 625 E St. NW. are good enough to steal, and it's been done. A carry-out order disappeared one recent morning when it was left unattended by a thirsty customer seeking water. The customer was reimbursed with another biscuit, and no one seemed particularly ruffled over the incident. After all, the biscuits are awfully tempting.
The restaurant opens between 6 and 6:30 a.m., and breakfast is served until 10:30 a.m. Business is brisk from the start. On a cold morning, Eat Street is a cozy haven on an otherwise dreary city block. The big picture windows in front face southward, so the morning sunlight keeps the place bright. Just inside the door is a case full of pastries, including muffins, doughnuts and danishes. If you don't weaken there, you can pick from the cafeteria selection in the back. Light, golden pancakes served with ham or sausage go for $1.59. Eggs with toast and potatoes are $1.29. Grits are 49 cents, and coffee comes in two sizes: 35 cents and 45 cents. And those famous biscuits are 35 cents. 'New Downtown': K Street Area
The Connecticut Connection is an excellent solution for people who can't think first thing in the morning and who work near its location at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW. The lower level houses two breakfast spots offering completely different fares.
Radishes and Rainbows opens at 7:30 a.m. with freshly squeezed juices, yogurts and fresh fruit compotes. A standard breakfast of eggs, bacon or sausage and an english muffin is available for $1.85. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m.
Across the central dining area, which is shared with the other restaurants in the lower level that open for lunch, is What's in the Oven. At 7 a.m, people begin lining up to buy their favorite pastries from the extensive choice here: danishes, blueberries and bran muffins, bagels, croissants and coffeecake. Prices range from 37 to 55 cents for breakfast pastries, and coffee sells for 37 cents. Breakfast is served until 11:30 a.m.
One major advantage of eating at the Connecticut Connection is that diners with different tastes can all be satisfied under the same roof and share the same table.
Another connection in the area is the M Street Connection at 1720 M St. NW. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11:30 a.m. When you walk into the M Street, you usually enter with several other people -- the place is constantly busy, but not crowded. Five horseshoe-shaped counters offer fountain service on swivel stools. Service is quick and cheerful, and regulars are on a first-name basis with the waitresses. It doesn't matter what color your collar is, blue and white sit side-by-side at the M Street Connection.
Omelettes here come with ham, lox or corned beef at prices from $1 to $2.75. Three pieces of french toast or three hot cakes cost $1.50. Two eggs with ham, bacon or sausage, home fries and toast go for $2.25. Steak and eggs are $2.15. Coffee is 30 cents and is good enough to want the refills, which are free.
The Ambassador Drugstore's fountain is everything you'd expect from the old-fashioned, corner drugstore at 15th and K streets NW. The countertop is marble, and pies are displayed in glass cases at strategically located junctures. Ice cream sodas come to mind even at 7:30 a.m., when the doors open. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m.
The menu is somewhat limited, but the Ambassador has some of the best and stickiest homemade cinnamon buns in D.C., for only 55 cents. There are also seven varieties of doughnuts at 30 cents each. A biscuit and egg cost 64 cents, and an egg, biscuit and sausage combination is $1.35. Coffee is 35 cents and juices come in three sizes. Everything is good, but the cinnamon buns are the best.
Ziggy's, at 1015 18th St. NW, is a health food cafeteria with an ice cream and yogurt counter and a juice bar. Everything is made with natural ingredients, they say, and breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. Ziggy's is a small cafeteria with wooden tables and chairs and real plants. Customers sit inside the big picture windows in front and watch the early morning traffic build up on 18th Street.
The menu offers a wide selection at reasonable prices. Waffles are $1.25, $1.75 with eggs or meat.Two eggs with bacon, ham or sausage, home fries and toast cost $1.85. Egg sandwiches are 85 cents. Danishes, muffins, bagels and croissants are available each morning. Fresh orange juice is also available at Ziggy's. So are fresh fruits and an assortment of yogurts. Coffee is 35 cents and is served with Half-and-Half. Georgetown
Martin's Tavern, at 1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW, has been in Georgetown longer than most of the area's restaurants, and it sells breakfast for a longer period of time each day, too. The corner tavern has been there since 1933 and serves breakfast from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day. The decor includes a large bar, tables and booths -- all of dark wood. Stained-glass lamps hang from the ceiling, and the floor is brick. An elderly, white-haired waiter takes the orders.
Martin's breakfast menu is certainly not the cheapest in town, but is definitely one of the most extensive. There is the usual fare, and then there is Welsh rarebit, eggs Benedict, corned beef hash with poached eggs, deep dish quiche Lorraine and a Monte Cristo sandwich with apple butter. These choices cost from $3.95 to $5.50. The "early riser special" is $4.95 and includes coffee, juice, eggs with bacon, ham or sausage, hash browns and toast. For the price, the potatoes should be better.
Slightly less expensive, the pancakes and french toast at Martin's are $2.95, and an apple danish or english muffin can be had for $1.10. Coffee with refills is 60 cents.
Cafe '10' has been at 1206 30th St. NW for only nine weeks, but already is becoming popular for breakfast, which is served twice a day. From 9 to 11:30 a.m., breakfast includes eggs, omelettes, crepes and croissants, and from midnight to 4 a.m. a gourmet, early morning breakfast is served upstairs.
The crepes are a good choice at $3. Two thin, light crepes come filled with plum jam and a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar. On one morning the delicate crepes were a bit overwhelmed by jam, but otherwise the combination is very pleasing. In addition, two eggs with bacon or sausage cost $2.50, omelettes are $3.50 and eggs Benedict is $4.50. Croissants are $1 and english muffins are 50 cents. Coffee comes three ways: American, 50 cents with refills; espresso, $1, and cappuccino, $1.50.
The Cafe '10' is a charming place to dine. Watercolors by the owners adorn the white brick walls, wicker lamps provide gentle lighting, and fresh daisies grace every table. French windows face the east, where you can watch the sun rise over Washington.
You cannot sit down to breakfast at the American Cafe Market, 1211 Wisconsin Ave. NW -- it's strictly carry-out. But beginning at 8:30 a.m., you can purchase the greatest croissants the city has to offer, and possibly the best bagels, too. The croissants are the American Cafe's own -- fat and flaky. The bagels are from the Bagel Master in Wheaton, Md., which has a reputation for excellence.
A variety of pastries, muffins (both english and blueberry) and fresh fruit are also available. The croissants are 85 cents and the bagels are 30 cents. Prices of other pastries vary. Different special coffees are served each morning, including Mocha Java and Kilimanjaro. Service is friendly and fast, and the bag breakfast is perfect for an early morning picnic in the park, or in the office if you must.
The Cafe de Paris opens rather late for breakfast, but so do some businesses in Georgetown, so it may suit some people's schedules. On weekdays at 10 a.m., the petite cafe opens its door at 3056 M Street NW. Breakfast is offered until 11 a.m., on weekends from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. There are only six tiny tables and two booths. The floor is brick and the walls are decorated with pictures of French cafe scenes. A sign proclaims: "Tous nos Produits sont de Premier Choix." The accents are French, too.
The menu offers eggs, but the real reason to visit Cafe de Paris is the continental breakfast: french pastry and coffee. All the pastries are made with fresh cream and real butter, and no artificial flavorings or preservatives are used. Espresso and cappuccino are available at 85 cents and $1 respectively, and either is a flavorful accompaniment to the buttery croissants at $1 each. The prices of other pastries vary. The Cafe de Paris also makes its own French ice cream, but that's another story. DuPont Circle
One of the nice things about breakfast at Kramer Books and Afterwords Cafe at 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW is that one is never without something to read while dining. There are the books, of course, and then there is a wide selection of newspapers and magazines to choose from. The management does ask, however, that you pay for your media fix before taking it into the dining room.
Kramer's offers some unusual selections for breakfast. A bowl of familia, a tasty cereal made of oats, hazelnuts and apples, is $1.25. Quiche Lorraine is available at $3.50 per slice, but this version is quite rich and perhaps too heavy for early appetites. Fresh strawberries and melon in season cost $1.75, and fresh orange juice is 85 cents a glass. The morning menu at Kramer's also includes croissants -- chocolate for 95 cents, plain for 85 cents. Espresso is 75 cents and cappuccino is $1.25.
Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until noon.
Like other diners across the country that have become symbols of Americana, Trio Restaurant at 1537 17th St. NW has gained the affection and respect of its customers by offering unpretentious atmosphere and just plain good food.
The menu, served from 7:30 until 11:30 a.m., is early hungry American: pork chops with eggs, potatoes, toast and coffee for $2.85; liver with bacon, potatoes, toast and coffee for $3.10; steak and eggs with potatoes, toast and coffee for $3.25; two eggs with bacon, ham or sausage, potatoes, toast and coffee for $2.20. There are also hot cakes, french toast, doughnuts and cereals for people with less hearty appetities. Juices come in two sizes, 35 and 60 cents, and coffee is kept flowing for 35 cents. The waitresses who have been around a while know the regulars who have been, too.
At 6:30 a.m., under the green awning at 1605 Connecticut Ave. NW, Tastebuds! opens its doors for breakfast. There are eight tiny, green tables with matching chairs and wallpaper.
A ham-and-egg sandwich goes for $1.50. For $1.19 you get scrambled eggs, toast and jelly; for $1.69 bacon or sausage come, too, and for $1.89, a cup of coffee or tea is served as well. Bagels with cream cheese, lox, onion and tomato cost $2.75, and a variety of breakfast pastries are available. Tastebuds is busy but not crowded, and the service is friendly. The newspaper is sold there, too, and the proprietors are always ready to discuss its content with customers. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The Bread Oven, 1220 19th St. NW., sells breakfast buffet style from 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday. It is a very busy place. People line up to choose from a variety of delicious pastries, fresh orange juice and steaming coffees and teas. They may also, however, wind up standing with their breakfasts in their hands while they wait for a spot to sit down.
Despite this minor inconvenience. nowhere will you find a more jovial crowd in the morning. The dining room is filled with loud, buzzing conversation -- no one cares if you hear what they're saying, but a whisper would go completely undetected. Long baking tins laden with warm croissants and french bread are ushered from oven to shelf. Pastries are everywhere.
Plain croissants sell for 60 cents, chocolate croissants are 70 cents, cinnamon-raisin sweet rolls are 70 cents, and coffees vary in price: American is 50 cents, expresso is $1.05 and cappuccino is $1.15. Whether you're in wing tips or tennis shoes, T-shirt or tie, the Bread Oven has a place for people who don't mind a little wait.