Hours: Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 1 a.m.
Atmosphere: Sleek, elegant, sophisticated.
Price range: $3.75 for breakfast; $5.95 to $16.95 for dinner entrees.
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diner's Club.
Special facilities: Sidewalk cafe with a view of Eastern Market. Sidewalk is accessible to patrons in wheelchairs, but steps lead to indoor restaurant. Booster chairs available.
Breakfast in or around a produce market is a time-honored tradition, and the District's Eastern Market is no different. Although the market has more than one place in which to breakfast, if you want table service and real china you can go across the street to Tunnicliff's Tavern.
Breakfast is served Saturday mornings in the umbrella-shaded sidewalk cafe' and in the elegant, air-conditioned restaurant. The breakfast choices on the morning our family visited Tunnicliff's consisted of pecan pancakes, cinnamon french toast, ham and swiss cheese omelet or two eggs any style, all served with sausage or bacon, fried potatoes, coffee and orange juice (not freshly squeezed). The price for any breakfast is $3.75.
Strawberry pancakes sometimes are on the menu, and our daughters, aged 8 and 6, would have ordered them without giving thought to the rest of the menu. But on this morning they shied away from the pecan pancakes and chose the french toast. My husband ordered two eggs over easy, while I picked the ham and cheese omelet.
Tunnicliff's is a beautiful restaurant--almost too beautiful a place to bring children, except for breakfast. The off-white walls are trimmed with oak, and the bar and restaurant are separated by oak stands topped with sleek onyx vases filled with fresh flowers. There also are flowers on the tables.
The menu will tell you that the original Tunnicliff's Tavern was a few blocks away at Pennsylvania Avenue and Ninth Street SE. Built in 1795, it was considered one of the city's most fashionable hotels, serving visitors who entered Washington by ferry across the nearby Anacostia River.
The building later became the home of a wealthy shipbuilder, then a beer garden, and finally a gas station. It was razed in 1931.
Today's Tunnicliff's occupies a row building that until recently served as a real estate office. Owner-builder Drew Scallan has done a wonderful job of renovating both interior and exterior, in spite of the permastone fac,ade, which remains.
After -- or before -- you read all the history, you can read about the food offered at times other than breakfast. Several sandwiches are offered, and other choices include a three-wurst sampler with sauerkraut or a mesquite-grilled boned chicken-breast in a lemon pepper marinade ($5.95 each).
For us, the breakfasts are excellent. The french toast was thick, made with french bread and neither soggy nor tough. The cheese in the omelet was properly runny, the bacon crisp, the sausage and potatoes not greasy and the eggs cooked to order. The price also was right: less than $20, including a well-earned tip.
Booster chairs are available, but not highchairs. So we pulled our baby's stroller up to the table -- something we wouldn't want to do at dinner when the restaurant might be crowded and waiters would need room to maneuver. We might, however, return for meals other than breakfast with our older daughters.