For your information, here's a 2006 review of the cafe at the Native American Museum from the Washingtonian Magazine:
Mitsitam Cafe National Mall
Tucked inside one of the curves of the Smithsonian’s American Indian museum, the Mitsitam Cafe is a treasure—a museum cafeteria where you might learn as much as you do from one of the exhibits.
The cafe, with its curving booths and glass walls that let the sun stream in, echoes the museum’s fluid layout.
There are five food stations, each with a different menu focusing on a Native American region and its indigenous ingredients. The downside: It’s hard to figure out where to start after you’ve grabbed a plastic tray. And at peak times, crowds of zoned-out tourists can create traffic jams at each counter.
Though menus shift daily, the South American station near the entrance is the best all-around bet. Beneath the husks of the chicken tamales is a wealth of smoky cornmeal, tender dark meat, peanuts, and green chilies. Quinoa salad, with its fine dice of cucumbers and fruity vinaigrette, feels like something you might find at Komi.
A heartier dish is a spicy stew of yucca, tomatoes, and chicharrón. Plantain empanadas, lightly fried and filled with sweetened milk, are billed as a side but make a fine dessert. And while other stations have sodas or mini-bottles of Woodbridge Chardonnay, this one offers chicha fresca,
a smoothielike mix of blue-corn meal, pineapple, and citrus juices.
Head over to the Northwest Coast area for a cut of salmon roasted on a cedar plank plus a bright salad of fiddlehead ferns, charred onions, and fennel. Skip the gloppy vegetable salads and kiddie-geared chicken tenders at the Great Plains stand, but don’t miss its fry bread—warm puffs drizzled with honey and cinnamon.
Entrées $7 to $13.95. Mitsitam Cafe, National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth St. and Independence Ave., SW; 202-633-1000; nmai.si.edu. Open daily for lunch.
It's an interesting dining experience. I had the salmon at the Northwest area when I was there a year ago. It was overcooked (as it often is at places that don't know how to prepare fish), but I didn't try the South American station, which looks like the best bet. If it sounds like something that you would like, go for it. A couple of other nearby options are Ollie's Trolley and Matchbox. Ollie's Trolley, http://www.olliestrolleydc.com/index.html
, at 12th and E streets NW, is basically a burger-and-fries place that has a very good, inexpensive crabcake sandwich. It is of decent size, has very little, if any filler, and costs eight bucks, which is pretty good for crab meat of its quality. For a couple of bucks extra, you get their good fries, a drink and a scoop of cole slaw. The burgers are big and look good (I haven't tried them), but this place gets its recommendation from me for the crabcake sandwich.
, located in Chinatown, is a short subway ride (two stops) from the museums. The things to order here are pizza (thin crust baked in wood-fired ovens) and the "mini-burgers," small black-angus burgers on brioche, cooked to order and served with a mound of very good fried onion "straws." Delicious.
post edited by rbpalmer - 2009/04/09 09:56:36