Why #squad is so essential

YBJ squadron. #issabrunch

YBJ squadron. #issabrunch

The older I get, the more I realize how essential friendship is. When I was a young, angsty teenager, I would always say, "I don't like people" or "I run solo." True -- I do like my alone time. It allows me to recharge and recalibrate. But I appreciate the company of dope people.

This past weekend, some friends and I hosted a brunch for some of the young, black journos in D.C. It was super casual -- I put out an invite on Facebook to people I knew and told them to bring a friend. The idea to do a brunch for journalists came about on a whim. I wanted to give folks a safe space to drink, connect and laugh. I'd say it was a success. Over 20 people showed up! I made some new friends and reconnected with old ones. Everyone was super chill and

We had brunch at Pursuit on H Street. What I love about Pursuit is how excellent the service is. The staff took excellent care of us. We had the entire second floor to ourselves, they let us play our own music, and we had unlimited food and drink for three hours. We ate shrimp and grits and chocolate blueberry waffles and threw back mimosas for hours. The staff was gracious and accommodating. It's one of my favorite spots to brunch at in D.C., and I'll be back. 

It's been a stressful few weeks in the news. What we do is hard. And as black folks, we sometimes feel undervalued and underappreciated. We're smart and strong, but it sometimes takes a toll. But giving people the space to be themselves, to connect, to form relationships, and to form a #squad is meaningful to me.

I owe my #auntiesquad, my #worksquad, and my #journosquad a lot. My heart is full from Sunday afternoon. I love bringing people together and I can't wait to do it again in the future.

Affordable bottomless brunch spots in D.C., a non-comprehensive list

Brunchin' at  Nopa  in Penn Quarter.

Brunchin' at Nopa in Penn Quarter.

If we're friends – and even if we aren't – you've probably gotten a "brunch?" text from me at some point at 10:00 am on a Sunday. I'm about this brunch life. I've brunched all over D.C. – from cheap, reliable spots to bougie places. My only rule for brunch is this: "if it ain't bottomless, it's breakfast." I try to only frequent restaurants that serve bottomless mimosas because my money goes further, and nothing beats being buzzed on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. 

Because brunch is such a big thing in D.C., it can be hard to find an affordable, reliable place to get your eat and drink on. Many restaurants have gimmicks and promotions to stand out from the crowd.

But sometimes, you don't want all of that. Sometimes you just need that spot where the server leaves the mimosa pitcher at the table. When it's the Sunday before payday and you're hungry but you don't feel like cooking breakfast. When you're broke but you still want to hang with the homies. When you rolled outta bed at 11 am and want to make a last minute reservation and it seems like every restaurant you've called is completely booked.

Below is a (non-comprehensive) list of reliable, fairly cheap brunch spots in the D.C. area.

Brunch at  Bin 1301  on U Street in 2015.

Brunch at Bin 1301 on U Street in 2015.

Red Rocks (H Street)
One word: reliable. I can always make a reservation here, even if it's an hour before. The service can be so-so and the food is aiiiiiight, but the mimosas are strong. They're served in huge wine glasses and you can choose from orange, grapefruit, and cider. They also have really fun brunch + day parties and a huge rooftop.

Local 16 (U Street/16th Street)
Another reliable spot. The food is decent and really cheap, but the mimosas really are the selling point. This a place where they leave the pitcher on the table, which a lot of places don't do. It can be hard to make a reservation here the day before or day of, so make sure you make yours a few days in advance.

Cava Mezze (Barracks Row/Capitol Hill)
This is easily one of my favorite brunch spots in the District. It's like tapas style, but for brunch plates. You order a bunch of brunch plates and share with your friends. They have a cute rooftop that overlooks the Barracks Row neighborhood. The service is great. Every time I've been, I never had to wait for a refill.

Front Page (Dupont Circle)
This is the only restaurant on the list with a buffet brunch, which means it's the only truly bottomless brunch spot on the list. They have a buffet with the standard brunch stations: a waffle station, eggs, grits, and bacon. The biscuits and gravy are really good. They're super accommodating if you need to add a last minute friend or if someone's running late, you can still get seated. The music playlist is solid, and you can chill with your friends sipping mimosas and eating bacon and grits.

Pursuit (H Street)
This place is like a hole in the wall. If you walked past it on the street, you might miss it. But it's a really cute two-story restaurant on the far end of H Street. The plates are kind of small but the food is really good. I recommend the blueberry and chocolate chip waffles. They serve liters of bellinis and mimosas. I usually get the pitcher of the "blushing mimosa."

Ozio's (Dupont Circle/Downtown)
If you like your brunch with a side of turnup, this is your spot. Ozio's is mainly known for its brunch + day parties (like Wings & Mac). I've never been myself, but you can't beat a bottomless brunch and day party for around $40. 

Bin 1301 (U Street)
I went here a lot in the summer of 2015 after graduating from Howard. Back then, it was one of the only places we could stroll into at noon without a reservation and be immediately seated. The food is good, with standard brunch plates like french toast. It's super cheap, too, which was a perfect setup for my broke recent grad friends and me.

Honorable mentions:
I'd be remiss if I didn't include the GOATs of cheap brunch spots in D.C. Long live Irish Whiskey and its $1 champagne, and Tap & Parlour's $7 bottomless mimosas. #NeverForget. RIP. (h/t JQ)

Sound off: What's your favorite cheap brunch spot in D.C.? Did yours make the list?

In D.C., brunch is an institution. In NYC, it's a party


I brunch — a lot. There's nothing more that I love on a Sunday afternoon than bottomless mimosas and chicken and waffles. I like my mimosas strong, and I love different flavors other than the standard orange. Bonus points for any brunch spot with a passionfruit mimosa on the menu.  

In D.C., brunch is a way of life. Even serial brunch-haters will attend just so they don't miss out. Day drinking is not only acceptable but fully encouraged in the District.

I spent last weekend in New York, catching up with my Unfriendly Black Aunties, and I wanted to check out the brunch scene in the city. The last time I had brunch in the city was in 2014 at some place fancy place in Flatiron. I'm an older and more seasoned bruncher now, and I wanted to experience the city's scene.

D.C. and New York brunches have some similarities, but are vastly different. Most people I've spoken to who've experienced both say that D.C. tops NYC's brunch scene. I have to agree – when it comes to the food and unlimited drinks. Most places that serve brunch in D.C. have bottomless mimosas, but that isn't the standard in NYC. 

But New York beats D.C. in brunch/day parties, hands down. I met up with my fellow Auntie Alana and another homegirl at Angel of Harlem, where we got shrimp and grits and endless rum punch. It was great! After the drinks stopped flowing, the music started. The DJ got the crowd amped with a mix of Northern and Southern hip-hop, with infusions of DJ Khaled and Carlos Santana

Many D.C. brunches turn into day parties, and a lot of them are fun. But some dartys can be pretty pretentious and full of folks who want to flex and be seen.

There was no posturing in New York. People were turnt, the drinks were strong and the crowd was great. I have a feeling I'll be brunching in New York more often.

Sound off: Do you prefer brunch in D.C. or NYC?