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Suggest a Post-Inauguration Lunch Place (Takes reservations, $15 entrees)?

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I and 3 of my friends are coming into town as we have tickets to the inauguration Swearing-In. I am not completely unappreciative of the hassles we have to be willing to endure to be there. It does seem like the ceremony should be over by about 1pm and the parade should start at 2:30. I'm not sure I'll even try to see the parade after the swearing-in. My friend and I are in our early 30's and on a budget. So we are willing to walk a good ways if we can stay within our budget (Average entree price $15 or less). I think we will need a place that will take reservations in order to ensure that the crowds won't be our undoing. Any Thoughts?

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  1. Oh, by the way, one of my friends has to quickly head to BWI airport for a 4:45 flight. So we're looking for something like a 1:30 reservation time. He wants to take the Green Line to Greenbelt and the B30 express bus from there. He's have to leave at around 2pm to do this. But he also has an expensive, refundable Amtrak fare purchased for 3pm, departing Union Station, which he would rather refund than use. But it is an insurance policy.

    So I think we are looking for either a 1:15pm reservation nearish to a southern Green line stop. (like Navy Yard perhaps - which would put us at Eastern Market maybe, I don't know). Or if my friend takes Amtrak, then we would do a later reservation (1:30 or 1:45) and be able to go any place with a 30 min walk of Union Station.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nico_suave

      I think your friend is insane. They are calling for multiple-hour waits for Metro that day. Trying to leave downtown at 2pm for a 4:45 flight, I'd give him maybe a 20% chance of making his flight.

      I think you're better off getting out of the city ASAP, and if you happen to have a few minutes, grabbing something in Greenbelt.

      1. re: DanielK

        I have agree with Daniel on this. To catch the green line, you should head north to Gallery Place (7th st NW) . The parade route will be between you and the station. So head north to G or H street and walk west to 7th.Union Station is closer to the Capitol but you will need to transfer at Gallery Place. There are tons of great places to eat around Gallery Place, but I have doubts that anyone will accept reservations that day.

      2. re: nico_suave

        Best of luck on all counts. If your buddy needs to make a 4:45 at BWI, he's better off skipping DC altogether. The crowding at this event will make July 4th of 1976 look like a church picnic. It's gonna be nuts. Pack a few sandwiches and concentrate on survival.

      3. Thanks for your feedback on the travel plans.

        I agree that my friend is somewhat insane to want to take the Metro route to the airport when his schedule is so tight. That's why I bought him an Amtrak ticket, though its $55 for a 20-min ride (Dep. Union Station 3pm, Arrives BWI at 3:20pm. His flight is at 4:45pm. He's checking no bags and will have already printed his boarding pass.) I am basically assuming we'll ultimately fall back on that.

        So I guess I'm now asking, is there a place, north of the parade route, that is inexpensive-ish, recommended, within a brisk 30-minute walk of Union Station, and usually takes reservations? I can call around and check if any such places are actually taking reservations on Inauguration day and report back here.

        8 Replies
        1. re: nico_suave

          $55!!!!! Good Lord!! Don't you know about the MARC trains?
          http://www.mtamaryland.com/services/m...
          They're a fraction of the cost of Amtrak and run on the same tracks from Union Station to the BWI stop. Then there's a free shuttle to the airport, timed to the MARC train arrivals.

          Go straight from the Swearing-In to Union Station. There are lots of restaurants there where you can find something.
          You will probably have to go around the back (East Front) of the Capitol Building because they may not allow you to cross the Parade route on the West Front of the Capitol. They haven't in prior years. Begging and arguing will get you nowhere. Even our press passes didn't work and one year when I worked for the Inaugural Committee I had a hard time.
          Watch the Washington Post for directions on pedestrian routes following the Swearing In and check where they are forming the parade.

          We could give you lots of suggestions near Union Station but you might have a very hard time just fighting the crowds to get to the Dubliner, Johnny's Half Shell, Irish Times, White Tiger, the Monacle or Capital City Brewing.
          There's an acceptable food court inside Union Station and even that is likely to be mobbed.

          1. re: MakingSense

            Ummm, except MARC trains only run during rush hour.

            From their website:
            Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies - January 20, 2009
            MARC service will operate reserved trains on special schedules. Round trip tickets cost $25.00 (no regular MARC tickets will be accepted).
            MARC Train service will operate inbound to Washington between 5:00am until 9:00am and outbound from 4:00pm until 9:00pm on all three lines (Penn, Camden and Brunswick).

            I'll bet even Amtrak is slammed on that day.

            Really, if you sprint from the inauguration to the train station, you MAY make your flight, but you still have a good chance of missing it.

            1. re: MakingSense

              Ok thanks for these recs:

              Dubliner
              Johnny's Half Shell
              Irish Times
              White Tiger
              the Monacle
              Capital City Brewing

              I'll see if any of these guys take reservations that day. Even if my friend has to bolt catch a train, the three of us remaining would like to try to eat somewhere if we can get a reservation.

              By the way, I looked into MARC trains. They are running on a special schedule on Inauguration day. The very first northbound train to BWI that day leaves Union Station at 3:51pm. That will not work for a 4:45 flight. Amtrak is our only option for a reserved seat to the airport, on a schedule we can rely on (they do not contend with street traffic).

              Also, if the swearing-in ceremony in fact wraps up before 1pm, I'm not positive that it would neccessarily take me more than an hour to go the three blocks i need to go our Union Station platform (ticket already in hand). Maybe some of this depends on where in the ticketed viewing area I am placed. If I happen to be put in a ticketed section that is on the north side of the area, then perhaps I will exit out towards union station. If I exit on the south side I might have to walk around a big perimeter. My position is unknown right now.

              I would also like to say that I appreciate and will definitely heed all your caution. But I am a pretty savvy traveller. I'm expecting surprises and and I won't put my one friend in a situation where he risks missing his flight. I will also expect crushing crowds like I've never seen before. (I was in Denver for the Democratic convention and I've been to Times Square for the ball drop) But I will also assume that if they give me a reservation (on Amtrak or at a restaurant) that they will honor it and I will be able to get to it, even if I have to walk around a big security perimeter at the mall and push my way slowly through crowds.

              That said, I don't know DC well, I have an utmost respect for this board for restaurant and other advice. And I would still genuinely be interested in this board's recommendations for a inexpensive-to-moderately priced ($15 avg entree price) north central DC place that (usually) takes reservations.

              1. re: nico_suave

                By the way, I looked into 1:30pm Inauguration day reservations at these restaurants, thanks for the recommendations.

                Here's the run down:
                Capitol City Brewing Company - NOT taking reservations
                The Monacle - taking reservations via Opentable.com - Nothing after 1pm available now
                Irish Times - NOT taking reservations
                Johnny's Half Shell - taking reservations via Opentable.com - No reservations available
                Dubliner - The guy on the phone was pretty sure they're not going to be taking reservations for groups of less than 8

                Opentable.com also had reservations available for two restaurants that seem to be within about a 20-minute walk of the Capitol and Union Station (I know it will take longer in these crowds). Both of these restaurants seem to be well recommended on this board:
                Rasika
                Jaleo

                So I made a reservation at Rasika. Do you think I should have gone with White Tiger or Jaleo instead? Or something else? I still may have time to change it.

                1. re: nico_suave

                  The food may be better at Rasika but White Tiger is A LOT closer to Union Station. I walked from around Gallery Place (near Jaleo and Rasika) on the night of July 4th and it was no 20 minutes, although I agree on a normal day it could be.

                  1. re: nico_suave

                    Getting to Rasika might well be a nightmare. It's going to be swimming against the tide since it's just off the Inaugural Parade route.
                    Same with Jaleo. Both are more than 7 blocks from Union Station.
                    White Tiger is in the opposite direction from the way the crowd will be surging and closer to Union Station. Only about 3 blocks from the Station.
                    Of the two, I much prefer the Indian food at White Tiger. So does the staff from the Indian Embassy. It's where they threw a going away party for the last Ambassador and a welcome party for the new one.
                    Indian-American Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal always used White Tiger for fundraisers when he was a Congressman. Pelosi uses it too as do a lot of Members of Congress. Neat place.

                    Cafe Berlin in the 300 block of Mass has German food. Might be great after sitting in the cold for a few hours. Our recent meal there was very good.
                    Leave room for dessert. Lots of terrific choices spread out on a display table as you walk in the front door. Germans can really bake!!!

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      It has no tables, but Taqueria National on the right rear side of Johnny Half Shell is a good option, even if time isn't a major factor.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        Thanks. I have changed my reservation to White Tiger. If its good enough for the Indian Embassy, its good enough to me. and the potentailly lower hassle factor helps me make this decision too. I feel good about this. Thanks for the help.

              2. I hope you'll tell us how it went -- and if your friend makes his plane!