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Mar 23, 2009 05:02 PM

Lunch tomorrow near Capitol

Family with two teens looking for recs for lunch tomorrow. We are visiting the Botanic Garden in the morning, and have an afternoon tour of the Capitol building. Looking for something moderate, casual,sit down. So far our lunches have consisted of hot dog stand and mediocre chinese. Help me find something good!!Not chinese, sushi or middle eastern. Thanks!

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  1. Le Bon Cafe (although it has limited seating), or I've heard the restaurant in the Native American Museum is pretty good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Doh

      Mitsitam, the cafeteria at the American Indian Museum, is really a great idea -- and very convenient to the Botanic Gardens and the Capitol.

      ETA -- I see you said sit-down -- it is a cafeteria, but then the seating is nice, but no waiters. I still think it's a good idea for you. It can get very very crowded. (Le Bon Cafe is also not waiter service, only a few tables.)

      1. re: mselectra

        I heartily concur with the suggestion of Mitsitam, the native foods cafe at the Museum of the American Indian. This is the most upscale 'cafeteria' you'll ever encounter. It serves foods of the Americas, North, Central and South America. There is ample seating and some of it overlooks the water features outdoors. Not only is the food unique, it is quite good.

        1. re: mselectra

          It's unanimous: The American Indian Museum is the best idea in the area. The food is good and interesting. They have food inspired by different Native American regions -- fry bread, quinoa salads, wild rice dishes, sometimes duck. It's so close. It's nice food.

          LOOK OUT: The address of the Museum below is wrong. It is right next to the Botanic Garden, not all the way on Ninth Street.

          Even the other interesting options nearby are "cafeteria" style -- the House office building for basic food, the National Gallery cafeteria for good food and a chance to look through the art gift shop, or Teaism on 8th Street (a long walk) for Asian-inspired food and good teas.

          The only sit-down worth the walk would be sausage sandwiches at Cafe Berlin. But that is a serious walk around the Capitol on the north side.

          Teaism Penn Quarter
          400 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

          Museum of the American Indian
          950 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC

          Cafe Berlin On Capital Hill
          322 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC

          National Gallery of Art - West
          333 Constitution Ave, Washington, DC

        2. re: Doh

          I 2nd Le Bon Cafe. It's one of my favorite lunch spots on the Hill. Their salads are nice (salmon and tuna) as are their sandwiches. Cute little french-style lunch spot.

          The Native American Museum Cafeteria is also really good.

        3. I guess I'm the lone dissenter on the Museum of the American Indian. The museum is a monumental waste of space. The cafeteria serves very interesting but mediocre food. If it is crowded, by all means go anywhere else.

          The best thing you can eat on Capitol Hill are the milkshakes at the Good Stuff Eatery at 3rd and Pennsylvania. Toasted Marshmallow and Milky Way are outrageous. Mushroom burgers are also outstanding. Regular burgers and chili round out the menu, though I have not had these items.

          Sonoma, also near 3rd and Penn, serves California-Italian fare. High, high quality. Casual, but a tad pricey.

          The best of both worlds would be to sit down and eat a light meal at Sonoma and then go to Good Stuff for the milkshakes.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            I'm with Steve on the Museum of the American Indian. Just because they call it "Native American" food, doesn't mean that it isn't still a taco or a burger. I don't think they ate that.
            You can do better.

            Good Stuff Eatery is good and your teens will like it. It can get really crowded at lunch so it your timing is tight, that may be a problem.
            The Hawk and Dove could be a good alternative. It's the oldest pub/tavern/whatever in town, sharing the honor with Clyde's in Georgetown, and gets a good crowd from the Capitol Building and the local neighborhood. Good basic burgers and other bar food.

            Another choice is the Supreme Court Cafeteria which gets you another quick sight-seeing opportunity. It closes briefly for about 15 minutes at the top of each hour so the staff can have a free shot at the line to grab their food and get back to work. Then you can go in again. See hours, etc.
            Great gift shop. And it's right across the street from the entrance to the new Capitol Visitors' Center where tours begin.

            1. re: MakingSense

              Hawk and Dove has been hit or miss with me. Tune Inn down the block is consistently good in the bar food department, and cheaper. Plus there's all that whacky junk on the walls.

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                The Tune Inn is my hands-down favorite. If they ever close, I may sell my house and leave Capitol Hill and DC forever.
                I've always had good food at H&D. Sort of a fun political vibe for out-of-towners. Almost always good for a political sighting or two. Or not, if you have no idea who those Members of Congress are. Maybe it's better not to know these days?

              2. re: MakingSense

                I'm glad I'm not the only dissenter on the cafeteria at the Museum of the American Indian. It can get very expensive (compared to the other options recommended here) and I think the food is bland. It's not too far to walk to the Capitol South or Federal Center SW metro which make all options near Eastern Market accessible.

                1. re: dcandohio

                  Yes! I too am so glad to learn I'm not alone in believing that the Indian Museum cafeteria is bad. The building is awesome. But the cafeteria has been mind-blowingly crowded every time I've ever been - so crowded that it's really time-consuming and unpleasant - and the food has been lukewarm, expensive, and bland.

                  I had a perfectly good salad in the Rayburn (House Office Bldg) cafeteria yesterday.

              3. re: Steve

                I'm sorry to day that Good Stuff ain't so good. Burgers are greasy, toppings mostly uninteresting and the shakes are ok. All this and a high price and a long wait too!

                1. re: ClevelandDave

                  You should try the mushroom burger sometime at Good Stuff Eatery. It rocks. A perfect sandwich. I followed recs on this board for the toasted marshmallow shake and I have to agree it is sensational. Sorry you don't like, but I can't imagine a more luxurious flavor.

              4. It really depends what side of the Capitol you'll be on; however, I'll assume the House side. There aren't too many great options right around there IMHO, but the Capitol has some good cafeterias with some yummy, healthy, eco-friendly, kid-friendly, diverse options among the different buildings (Rayburn, Longworth, etc). If you want to eat in a regular restaurant and are in the mood for Tex-Mex, Tortilla Coast is a big Hill hang out. They have decent Mexican food that your kids will enjoy. It's not the best or most authentic stuff, but it will fill you up and isn't too expensive.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jacey

                  Uhg. Stay far away from the House cafeterias. They are overpriced, over crowded, and have an eye-rolling amount of focus on "greening" - which means your biodegradable spoons will melt in your free-trade/overprocessed soup. If you must eat in the capitol complex, go to the newly opened Capitol Visitors Center cafeteria which is built for tourists so that stressed-out hill staffers can get their soggy sandwhiches in the regular cafeterias in relative peace.

                  1. re: scotcheroo

                    I totally disagree. I eat here often and always have fresh food with lots of healthy options. What's wrong with having things green? Yeah, let's hurt the environment more, Mr. Republican. Are you one to double bag when you buy a pack of gum when you can easily put it in your pocket?

                    1. re: Jacey

                      Yep! I fully support the plastic bag manufacturers. Also, I fully support tastey, well priced food which the cafeteria simply does not not offer.

                      1. re: Jacey

                        Watch that political stuff, Jacey.
                        Even the Democratic staffers were complaining about the PRICE increases as soon as the Democrats took over the place, got rid of the old favorites that had been on the menu forever, and made everything "extra" instead of included.
                        Poor underpaid Hill Staffers are a captive audience.

                        I hate the vegetarian chili.

                  2. I'm surprised no mention of Johnny's or Tacqueria . Check prices at Johnny's first - but you really get what you pay for.


                    There are some more options if you get over to Eastern Market after the Capitol. Short walk and you get to see the market and the surrounding (cool) neighborhood. I'm not the most versed in that section, though (but there are many threads on just the market area).

                    Finally - it'd be just above the fare you've been having, but a truly classic Cap Hill place is the Tune Inn. Mostly a bar, but it's legendary, quite the experience, and the food is passable bar food. I know it's probably not what you're looking for, but when I think Cap Hill, I have to mention it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dennis S

                      Dennis is right! The food at Taqueria National is fantastic and the prices are very reasonable, but it isn't really a "sit down restaurant." You order at the counter and there are a few tables. Le Bon cafe is very cute, but tiny. Eastern Market is fun, but really only on the weekends. There is food in the temporary building, but the I find the overpowering smell of the fish vendor unappealing during lunch. Have a great trip!

                      1. re: marie m

                        I've found the aroma of rendered fat at Market Lunch more than overpowers that of the fish vendors.


                    2. Thanks for all your replies. We opted for Sonoma and had a wonderful (though somewhate pricey) lunch. The pizzas there are fabulous. We also enjoyed a cheese plate and glass of wine. Unfortunately, no "room" for the milkshakes after. This was a great choice!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rocknroll52

                        You chose wine and cheese over milkshakes. A classic Chowhound dilemma.