The Mall and Visitors
I volunteer once week at The Mall in DC (west end near Lincoln Memorial). Get more then a few questions about where to get something to eat besides the "snack food vendors".
The Museumm of the American Indian has a dining room but that's a long walk...The Reagan building has a cafeteria but requires security screening...Is there any "natives" who could give me some ideas that are within a reasonable walking distance that I could suggest....
sometimes folks are just looking for a pizza, other times a more upscale site...Any and all suggestions would certainly be helpful..
Thanks in Advance
Reagan Building food court and Agriculture cafeteria are both open to the public with picture ID. You need to go through a security checkpoint but it is doable for anyone who is not carrying a concealed weapon.
Otherwise, I'd send them up 23rd St. towards GWU. There is a Potbelly and a Chinese place on 23rd and turning right on F or G takes you to a bunch of other carryout/casual/less casual options within a few blocks of the Marvin Center.
I second the USDA cafeteria. There is a security check and you show id. It's cafeteria style, big, nice, lots of selections, inexpensive. About half a block from Holocaust Memorial museum. They are encouraging tour groups now -- and with Old Post Office Pavilion closed, they did get more business during the spring tourist season, but there's room for a few busloads in there.
You don't need picture id at Reagan any more, btw, but there's still security, of course. Once you get to Reagan, you're near other restaurants, so don't know how often I'd suggest it, and personally not sure it's much of a step up from the vendor there by the Lincoln Memorial.
Near Lincoln isn't easy for food. Going up towards Foggy Bottom is a good idea, as tcamp suggests.
I haven't been in years, but if they're going to the east end of the Mall, another govt cafeteria is the one in the Labor Dept building, with its amazing view. I think that's still open to the public (with pic id)?
You know, there's also that pretty nice food court connected to the L'Enfant Plaza metro station and hotel. It's got a Roti, Five Guys.... Just trying to think of places near memorials, if they're walking from Lincoln to Jefferson that or USDA could work okay. And the Maine Ave fish market is still open through the SW Waterfront construction, as far as I know.
They could also walk across Memorial Bridge and then metro to Rosslyn or Clarendon areas, I suppose.
That's a bit rambling response!
Hue, are you one of the yellow hat volunteers?
If you are near the Lincoln memorial, it's a significant walk to anything. Most people walking all day will be in 'taxi' territory by that point. Bob Kinkead opened up a new pizza and sandwich trattoria in the Watergate complex called Campono. I think it's counter service, but I haven't been yet:
Very closest is probably Sizzling Express at 23rd and E Sts.
That really is a culinary desert near the Lincoln Memorial. I got curious and started checking out options near there. The State Department cafeteria isn't open to the public and that's probably no loss, since it is mandated to meet USDA nutrition guidelines for salt, trans-fats, hormones, etc.
Sadly, the Institute for Peace's cafeteria, which is very close, also isn't open to the public.
According to Google Maps, the Sizzling Express at 523 23d Street is a 12 minute walk from the Lincoln Memorial, which is a long way to go for mediocre food.
I think your recommendation of a cab is the right way to go.
As others have suggested, the best dining options when visiting the Mall will likely involve a taxi or the Smithsonian metro stop. With those, your options are virtually unlimited.
If people are willing to go to the Reagan building then it's another block to the food court in the shops at national place (or District Taco/Roti).
I think the food trucks go to L'Enfant sometimes too-- foodtruckfiesta (app or website) would be handy for checking that.