Children age 10 and under eat free at Stella Barra's pancake bar during brunch. (Anjali Pinto)

A complimentary bread basket and free coffee refills? That’s cute, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to grab someone's attention in Washington. The city’s brunch scene is robust, and weekend warriors have countless bottomless brunches and buffets to choose from.

To help you pick the best out of the bunch, we looked for brunch specials under $40 that offer a multitude of menu options. In other words, don't expect boring scrambled eggs and stale bagels. May your champagne glass runneth over.

Stella Barra

At this North Bethesda pizza joint, $16.95 gets you access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of classics with a gourmet twist. Think French toast made with caramelized brioche bread and roasted corn and poblano egg enchiladas. The small chain, which first opened in Santa Monica, Calif., and now has four locations, comes from L.A.-based chef Jeff Mahin, so expect a laid-back California vibe. Though craft cocktails are available for $12, you’d be wise to opt for a Bellini, Bloody Mary or mimosa for just $3 a pop. Kids age 10 and under eat free at an endless pancake bar.

$16.95 per person. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 11825 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda. 301-770-8609.

Palette 22

Many bottomless brunch menus present you with an unimpressive number of entrees to pick from. Not so at Palette 22. The cavernous Shirlington restaurant — housed in an old warehouse and designed to look like an artist's studio — offers an endless supply of dishes like crab arepas Benedict, shrimp and grits, and beignets. There are also five brick-oven pizzas and eight taco options. Did we mention the deal is only $25? Due to Virginia liquor laws, Palette 22 can’t offer bottomless drinks. But $2.22 for mimosas, Bellinis, cocktails and a Bloody Mary bar should help soften the blow.

$25 per person. Saturday, 10 a.m. 3 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 4053 Campbell Ave., Arlington. 703-746-9007.

The Balkan experience at Ambar on Barracks Row promises endless small plates and booze for $39. (Holley Simmons/The Washington Post)


Ambar has a two-hour time limit, so pray to the brunch gods you end up with a speedy server. At the bustling restaurant on Barracks Row, you can get “The Balkan Experience” for $39 per person, which includes unlimited small plates such as a roasted mushroom crepe, a zucchini burger and steak and eggs. Portions are teeny, so in the interest of time, front load your server and then enjoy a drink: four varieties of mimosas or a Bloody Mary, all of which are included in the price. The Arlington location offers a similar deal for $34, plus 25-cent drinks because of that liquor law.

$34 to $39 per person. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 523 Eighth St. SE, 202-813-3039; Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-875-9663.

Save up those quarters for 25-cent mimosas at Cava Mezze. The deal is available when you get the $35 brunch spread. (Cava Mezze)

Cava Mezze

Laundry can wait. Your quarters are better spent at Cava Mezze, where 25 cents scores you a mimosa when you order the brunch deal. For $35, have your choice of all-you-can-eat Mediterranean plates, including spicy lamb Benedict, gyro hash browns and Greek yogurt with honey and berries. Sweet tooths will appreciate the Nutella waffle with bananas and the French toast made with challah bread. Bonus: a rooftop patio and a spacious second floor means you probably won't wait too long for a table.

$35 per person, $0.25 mimosas. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 527 Eighth St. SE, 202-543-9090; 2940 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, 703-276-9090.

Johnny Pistolas offers a brunch special for $24.99, which includes a smattering of Mexican dishes. (Johnny Pistolas)

Johnny Pistolas

The “bruncheria” at this Adams Morgan taqueria and bar is legendary. For $24.99, you’ll receive a never-ending parade of food — plus, for an additional $14.99, bottomless mimosas, sangrias, Tecates and Bloody Marys. Rather than ordering a la carte, the chef sends out dish after dish from the hefty Mexican-leaning menu, which includes huevos rancheros, carne asada, churros and quesadillas. Reservations are strongly suggested, and manager Jordan Askarinam says he can’t remember a weekend when the restaurant wasn't booked solid four days in advance. If your crew runs deep, the restaurant can accommodate parties of up to 30 people.

$24.99 per person, $14.99 for drinks. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2333 18th St. NW. 202-817-3255.

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