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Jul 13, 2008 11:27 AM

Breakfast like Chicago in Northern VA

I just moved from Chicago where places like Lula, M Henry, Bongo Room, Tweet, Nookies, Orange, Toast, Lou Mitchell, Ann Sather, Victory's Banner are in abundance --- in Northern VA it seems there's nothing between the nice hotel breakfast and diners.

Where can I find a Bongo Room in the DC, NOVA area?


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  1. Hi and welcome!
    Not being familiar with Chitown, can you elaborate on what you're looking for? I'm sure we can hook you up once you tell us about the Bongo Room.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      Looking for a full breakfast that's a step up from a diner with fancy pancakes (Orange's red, white and blue), spectacular Spanish omelletes (Lou Mitchells), french toast with great fruit flavors (Lula), and creative breakfast burritos. See the Lula menu ( and see the Brunch! menu. An atmosphere of a comfortable, nice, casual, neighborhood place. Bongo Room menu here (

    2. Ohhhhh...Ann Sather cinnamon rolls...that brings me back!

      Where in Fairfax? Where are you headed for work? That might help.

      You can pick up decent coffee and delicious pastries at Heidelburg or Pastries by Randolph on Lee Highway, both open early. There's a place in Falls Church on Route 7 called Baguette Republic that's supposed to be pretty good.

      In Fair Lakes, there's a bagel place in the shopping mall with the Bloom grocery that has good bagels.

      Does this help?

      5 Replies
      1. re: FoodieGrrl

        Looking for more than just the cinnamon rolls (which as you know are to die for)...also looking a full breakfast that's a step up from a diner with fancy pancakes (Orange's red, white and blue), spectacular Spanish omelletes (Lou Mitchells), french toast with great fruit flavors (Lula), and creative breakfast burritos. See the Lula menu ( and see the Brunch! menu. An atmosphere of a comfortable, nice, casual, neighborhood place --- Thanks!

        1. re: FoodieGrrl

          Oh...I'm driving from Gainesville to Falls Church, so anything on 50 or 236 or in Centreville or Vienna or Fairfax or Annandale...well, you get the idea!

          1. re: rharrisjrphd

            Amphora might fit the bill - the one in Vienna for you. Give it a try.

            1. re: rharrisjrphd

              Eggspectationi n Chantilly- not too far out from Centerville, on Rt.28, Westfields exit. fancy benedicts, french toast, omelets, muffins, delicous herb home fried potatoes, even sandwiches, salads- great coffee... i think it may satify your craving for a full on breakfast!

              1. re: rharrisjrphd

                Oh. *sorrowful FoodieGrrl* There aren't really very many good breakfast places in these parts, I'm sad to say. As others have suggested, Amphora might scratch the itch, but it's a diner so it has some fairly standard fare.

                I like going to the Original Pancake House (Broad Street, Falls Church) or Chutzpah Deli (Fairfax and Tyson's) for breakfast. OPH is a chain, but I like all the fun flavors of pancakes and variations on eggs benedict. And the Chutzpah breakfasts are pretty good - and huge. You wouldn't want to eat lunch until about 3PM.

                There are a few other places that aren't along your route, like Carlyle in Shirlington, or Metro 29 Diner in Arlington, that may be worth a try sometime, but doesn't really help with your question about where to eat on your way in.

                On the bright side, dim sum here is much better than it is in Chicago...

            2. I'd like to know, also. My wife and I like to take long crack-of-dawn weekend bicycle rides and go have breakfast that is defintely not mere bagels and pastries but the real deal, like Lou Mitchell's (go there nearly every time I am in Chicago) or the #1 breakfast place in America IMHO, Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis (spciy cornmeal and red pepper waffles, buffalo sausages, real bacon cut a quarter inch thick, fabulous breads and rolls), Here it seems we have IHOPs and coffee shops and ersatz European bread and pastry places but nowhere that serves an honest breakfast. The diners serve "Belgian" waffles that are as Belgian as sushi. This dreadful situation afflicts Montgomery County as well as NoVA. At least in Baltimore we have the Blue Moon and Theresa's and the Sip and Bite. My Baltimore side (I have homes in both Baltimore and Gaithersburg) is well served. But in the D.C. area, they're telling you to wait for lunch or settle for second rate.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jkosnett

                I can tell a man after my own heart. You've described the situation perfectly --- hopefully we'll find something.

                1. re: rharrisjrphd

                  I'm sorry to say that 2+ years after moving here from Chicago, I have yet to find what you are looking for. I am also in NOVA and haven't found anything approaching an Ann Sather/Toast/Lula breakfast. I hope someone can help! I have heard that Tabard Inn in DC has a great brunch, but haven't made it there yet.

                2. I am from Chicago. There is no good food here. Prepare to be underwhelmed. There is not even one place resembling a good Greek joint for breakfast. Over near Dulles Town Center, there is a place called Mimi's Cafe that is a chain restaurant (everyone loves the chains here). It's pretty good. But no Bongo Room. We go to IHOP.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: meffie

                    Of course there is good food here (and they aren't even all chains). For breakfast I like Leopolds in Georgetown. It's solid, and a step up from a diner. As a suggestion.... go to and search for breakfast and their different designations (100 best, cheap eats, etc). I'm sure you'll find something worth trying. And better than IHOP.

                    1. re: meffie

                      Yeah, DC sure does suck. What with all the James Beard winners and Food and Wine Best Chefs and "good food" here. Move along now.

                      1. re: monavano

                        I have to agree. Something that has bothered me since the beginning of this thread is why not try to enjoy the offerings that ARE here rather than trying to duplicate what you find in another part of the country?

                        Not trying to start anything..just an observation.

                        1. re: anni

                          Not trying to duplicate Chicago -- but it's a style of neighborhood breakfast/brunch places that I enjoy.

                      2. re: meffie

                        stay away from Mimi's -- far, far away. it's dreadful.
                        -- Martha

                        1. re: meffie

                          A good Greek-owned restaurant for breakfast is the Amphora in Herndon and Vienna.

                          1. re: Martha

                            Also in Vienna: Pan Am Family restaurant (and for dinner - the pizza). Though I don't think that's what the OP is looking for.

                        2. I second the recommendation for Carlyle, but here are some other places of note:

                          Tallula- their brunch is wonderful, they have really good ricotta, cherry pancakes, good homemade corned beef to go in their corn beef hash and good omelets. It is one of my favorite brunches in the area. The only thing I haven't liked were the biscuits and gravy. Oh they also have really good nice thick done just right bacon.

                          Harry's Tap Room- they have good french toast and really good egg benedicts, I particularly like their eggs chesapeake. I really enjoy their brunch.

                          Luna Cafe in Shirlington- they have a pretty good breakfast burrito, and some nice other brunch options.

                          I have yet to try Grand Cru or Liberty Tavern, but they are on my list.

                          Also for mexican style breakfast items I like Taqueria Poblano.

                          None of these are in Fairfax, but they are worth a try. Some of these places do both breakfast and brunch, some are only brunch, like Tallula, but it is well worth it.

                          There are some other good options in DC, that I have omitted, but they are on threads I am sure.