Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian?

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2009/04/07 19:38:18 (permalink)

Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian?

We'll be in DC this weekend and will spend part of the time at the Smithsonian.  I know that there a number of eateries at various museums.  Suggestions on which ones are worth it?
 
Also, we'll be staying a couple blocks north of the Mall (16th and K).  Any suggestions for that area?  Thanks!
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    rmaleh
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/07 20:07:31 (permalink)
    What a great time for you to come to DC!  The Cherry Blossoms are out - but it is unseasonably cold here - still beautiful and a wonderful city.  Just so you know 16th and K is a great location and you can walk to the Mall/Smithsonian but budget about 20-30 mins - they are LONG blocks.  Metro is very easy to use, safe and clean.  I take it to work every day and there are a bunch of tourists using it.
    Here are some dining recommendations
    By your hotel:
    Teaism on I St between 17th and CT., NW - especially nice breakfast
    Olives - on 16th towards the White house-not cheap, not good and some deals/specials
    Georgia Brown's - I'm not a huge fan, but people swear by it.
    Over by Vermont, K and 15th there is a great burrito cart; in the same area you'll find an organic sandwich place, a cuban chicken place and an empanada (Julia's) - you can't go wrong with any of those places.

    By the mall:
    the cafes in both the Native American and National Gallery of Art are pretty reasonable and good - but make sure you go to the cafe, not the restaurant - which is pretty good, but pricey.
    You can also grab a sandwich on your walk down to the mall and picnic before you go into museums - plenty of park benches and lawn.

    A better option for food after musuems is to go up to gallery place/penn quarter (that is also the name of the metro stop).  7th is the main drag...you'll find your typical chains there, but also some local favorites - Jaleo (killer sangaria and tapas),  Cowgirl Cremery (cheese shop with great sandwiches), Cafe Atlantico (home of the famous minibar), another Teaism outlet, RFD (great beer selection) and some lone chinese restaurants.  Gallery Place use to be Chinatown here, but with redevelopment most of the ethnic restaurants left town for the suburbs - but there are a few.  Try Full Kee on H St.

    If you venture farther than your hotel and the Smithsonian there are some gems in Georgetown - Ching Ching Chai (tea house), Aditi (veggie Indian), Pizzaria Biero (great selection of belgium beer and excellent thin crust pizza), Boyemonger for overstuffed sandwiches, Cafe Milano & Paolo to see and be seen(pricey though, but you're bound to run into a celeb).

    In dupont grab drinks at the Tabard Inn on N St, between CT and 19th; happy hour and food specials at Hotel Helix, Rouge and Madera (all kimpton properties) - Helix has a half price burger and drink special but I'm not sure if they offer it on weekends.

    A great resource for cheap eats and food in DC is www.washingtonian.com or the washingtonpost.com(go to food and dining, tom Sietsema local food critic).
    Hope this is a good start and enjoy, it is a great place!


    #2
    paulcarey
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/07 21:04:41 (permalink)
    If you don't have kids try Granville Moore's: Mussels, Fries and Beer
    http://www.granvillemoores.com/

    Ben's Chili Bowl
    http://www.benschilibowl.com

    Florida Avenue Grill
    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=1404&RefID=1404


    #3
    rbpalmer
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/08 09:58:21 (permalink)

     

    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.
     
    Matchbox, http://www.matchboxdc.com/ , 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
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    Greymo
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/08 10:40:03 (permalink)
    I think eating at the Museum of the  American Indian is a "must-do".  The museum is wonderful and takes a long time to fully enjoy so eating there saves time, plus, the food is great!
    #5
    jmckee
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/08 11:43:17 (permalink)
    I third (fourth? I lost count) Mitsitam in the National Museum of the American Indian. The place is really good. We enjoyed our meal there most heartily a couple springs back. Among other things, we had oysters broiled with celery and bison burgers and Salad of the Three Sisters (squash, corn, and beans, which I have successfully reproduced at home). It was one of best meals we've had in several years of heading to DC after our annual beach vacation.

    My son took all his buddies there last fall when he was a participant in the National Young Leaders Conference. (Other dads may be richer, cuter, or more athletic than I; but Ian called me every day for where they should eat lunch, so guess which dad they remember best!)
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    Tony Bad
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/08 12:31:57 (permalink)
    I'll add to the list who recommended the restaurant at the National Museum of the American Indian.


    It was good and had a great variety that please everyone in my group.
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    jmckee
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/09 11:33:34 (permalink)
    Also, for later in the day, beer and wine are available. Should you so choose.
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    Robearjr
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/11 09:43:34 (permalink)
    Yea, I'll join in on the cafe at the Indian Museum.  Most museum cafes are either chicken tenders or chicken salad, but the Mitsitam offers everything from fry bread to ceviche and from wild rice to bison. I really like how I can mix and match foods from all the different regions.
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    tfrielin
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2009/04/20 11:26:05 (permalink)

    rmaleh wrote:

    the cafes in both the Native American and National Gallery of Art are pretty reasonable and good - but make sure you go to the cafe, not the restaurant - which is pretty good, but pricey.


    I can't speak for the Native American cafe, but the cafe with the waterfall downstairs in the National Gallery is an excellent choice--real entrees, pasta, salads as well as sandwiches--a diverse selection. Many other of the Smithsonian museums on the Mall offer only fast food type options, so the Natl Gallery is the best choice for eating on the Mall. They also serve beer and wine and that's a nice touch when you're taking a long lunch break from all that culture.
    #10
    i95
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2011/05/17 11:46:06 (permalink)
    rmaleh

    ...Cafe Atlantico...

     
     
     
    The Travelin Man must have made reservations for June 13th as
    the Washington Business Journal reports today that the Jose Andres
    restaurant will close on June 12th.

    #11
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2011/05/17 13:12:01 (permalink)
    Dang.  My plans are shot.
     
    Maybe I will shoot down to Richmond and go to Freckle's instead?
    #12
    i95
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    Re:Where to eat at or near the Smithsonian? 2011/05/17 13:59:29 (permalink)
    The Travelin Man

    Maybe I will shoot down to Richmond and go to Freckle's instead?


    Good idea. Make sure to order the regionally-appropriate spoon bread!
    #13
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