When visiting Washington DC from Charleston, SC, the first thing any true Southerner starts to miss is sweet tea. Even southern transplants like Lauren find themselves craving that sweet nectar that, for some reason, is only found in the south. Asking for sweet tea and receiving a glass of unsweetened tea and a packet of Sweet’n Low, just isn’t the same. Not by a long shot. Which is why Lauren decided to we needed to eat brunch at Eatonville, because they have “homemade sweet tea” on the menu.
I was worried that they were going to try to cater their sweet tea to more northern palates, but they surprised me by actually having legitimate southern-style sweet tea. It was delicious. Plus it came in mason jars with plenty of ice, which for a moment made me forget I was in DC. Our waiter had personality oozing out of the ears and was hilarious, attentive, and generally just a very fun dude. I wish more waiters were like him. The restaurant itself was also very cool. The whole restaurant is themed around Zora Neale Hurston and is in fact named after her Florida hometown. They have lots of cool murals on the walls, which I quite enjoyed looking at while eating my brunch.
We were joined by Lauren’s roommate Ashley and friend Sara (who’s a vegetarian. But a real one, not like Naomi). Sara got the arugula-spinach frittata (sautéed shiitake mushrooms, grape tomatoes, avocado, crumbled feta cheese, basil pesto with a buttermilk biscuit). It actually looked delicious, and I’m assuming it tasted good, too, as Sara definitely did some damage. They do a really good job of identifying vegetarian- and vegan-friendly items on the menu, so this is a good place for herbivores and carnivores alike. Sara also got a mimosa, which she said was especially yummy because they used fresh squeezed orange juice instead of that slop from a carton. The rest of us skipped out on alcohol with brunch because we were recovering from the night before.
Lauren stuck with your basic breakfast fare of scrambled eggs, bacon, and a biscuit. She also ordered a side of fried okra, which came unlike I’ve ever seen fried okra before. They cut the okra into strips before breading them and frying them, almost like okra fries. I actually liked them a lot, despite how different they were. Lauren loved them and ate all of it, which is surprising because she doesn’t actually eat real food.
Ashley opted for scrambled eggs with cheese (which looked delicious), macaroni and cheese, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a biscuit, which she seemed to enjoy.
I was the only one who didn’t get eggs. I decided to get “The Callahan,” a fried chicken breast on a buttermilk biscuit, covered in jalapeno-sausage gravy, served with a side of mac and cheese. I thought the the mac and cheese was delicious (hooray cavatappi!) and I applaud any restaurant who decides to serve macaroni as a bunch side dish. My only complaint is that I would’ve liked a more detailed description of what cheeses it was made with on the menu. I thought the fried chicken biscuit was delicious; the biscuit was perfectly buttery and flaky and the chicken had just the perfect amount of breading. The jalapeno-sausage gravy was good, although I was a bit thrown off by the fact that it was brown (it’s camouflaged in that picture, blending in with the chicken), but it was still tasty. I do wish they would’ve put more on than the tablespoon I received. I like lots of gravy with my biscuit. I also thought the collard green garnish was a nice touch.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to try their jalapeno-gruyere grits because I’d never had grits with jalapeno before. I think part of me wanted the grits to be bad so I could hold onto some shred of superiority, but I was sorely disappointed, when they turned out to be de-freaking-licious. They came out after we’d all pretty much finished eating, and although Lauren had been complaining of being “stuffed” only moments before, she miraculously regained some of her appetite after one spoonful of grits. They were that good.
I didn’t expect to get good southern food at a restaurant in DC, but Eatonville pleasantly surprised me. Whether you’re a seasoned Southern cuisine connoisseur or have no idea what “grits” are, I’m confident you’ll have a positive and memorable experience.
2121 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009