After enjoying an afternoon show at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring, I was reminded of one of the best plates of food in the DC area, the bandeja (sampling platter) at Cubano's. I always ask for a cup of their cilantro aioli on the side. Wow, it was as great as ever. At about $15, it is more than enough food for two hungry people. This makes for a great night, even for those traveling on the metro or by car from DC.
There are a lot of good choices within a few blocks of the Willard if you're tired in the evening.
Ceiba has Latin/Caribbean food. Tosca offers fabulous upscale Italian - among the best in town. Butterfield 9 has great seasonal menus and also small plates at the bar. M&S Grill has good American fare but won't knock your socks off. Oceanaire has excellent fresh fish with pretty straightforward presentations - part of a high-end chain. Old Ebbitt Grill has a good oyster bar and American fare.
A little further east, Michel Richard's Central is his new moderately priced offspring of the 4-star Citronelle. It's worth the 4 block walk to 10th and Penn.
High Noon on F Street is one of a group of local sandwich shops that are well above average - much better than the Subway next door to it. There's a regular old food court at National Place where you can find 5 Guys a local hamburger place that has now gone franchise. Decent burgers. Even a McDonand's at 13th and F if the kids get restless. Reeves Bakery on G Street has been a Washington institution for more than 100 years and its a great place for an afternoon snack. Ollie's and Harry's on E Street are decent for quick meals.
All of these have been mentioned before on CH so you can search for opinions here or on the internet for specific addresses and hours. The area around the Willard does tend to shut down at night except for the better restaurants since it's mostly office buildings. Fortunately, Washington's cabs are cheap so you can easily try anything you wish if you decide to venture further afield.
If you want to experience what Washington was like in the gilded age, try the Willard Room at the hotel where you're staying. You'll feel like you're a Rockefeller. The food will be excellent, if not too imaginative. Other places nearby that I like are Central and Tenh Penh, both just down the street on Penn. Ave. For a simple but unique breakfast, walk over to Teaism; it's just a few blocks away but I forget the address. The Concierge will know.
Enjoy DC. Spring is gorgeous here.
Here's a list I've posted before for DC. Almost all are Metro accessible.
Good breakfast: Colorado Kitchen, Teaism
Fun lunch: Colorado Kitchen, CF Folks, Breadline, Jaleo, Zaytinya, Belga Cafe, 2 Amys, Pizzeria Paradiso, cafeteria at the American Indian Museum, Taqueria Distrito Federal
Nice dinner: Dino, Palena, Corduroy, Vidalia, Charlie Palmer Steak, Montmartre, Kinkead's, Blue Duck Tavern
Unique meal: One of the Ethiopian restaurants in the 9th and U Street NW area like Etete