You just can’t beat the atmosphere (political) and value (cheap—your meal isn’t taxed!) of the all-American food served in dining spots inside the Capitol, its office buildings, and the Supreme Court. Keep these places in mind while touring the Hill:
The Supreme Court and its Cafeteria (tel 202/479-3246), where you may spy a famous lawyer or member of the press but not any of the justices, who have their own dining room. The cafeteria is open weekdays 7:30am to 4pm (though it may be closed briefly between noon and 1pm to accommodate Supreme Court employees).
The House of Representatives’ immense, full-service Rayburn Café (tel 202/226-9067), which is Room B357, in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building, at 1st Street and Independence Avenue SW. Adjoining the cafeteria is a carryout that sells pizza and sandwiches.
The Longworth Café (in the Longworth Building’s Basement, Independence Ave. and S. Capitol St. SE; tel 202/225-6372), where you can grab a bite from a fairly nice food court.
Southside Buffet (in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, 1st St. and Constitution Ave. NW; tel 202/224-4249) The fried chicken, a carvery station, and a dessert station are highlights and popular among the Senate staffers who dine here.
All of the House and Senate eateries are open weekdays only. The carryouts usually stay open until late afternoon, while the other dining rooms close at 2:30pm. For a complete listing of House of Representatives dining services, go to http://go.compass-usa.com/house/content/menus.asp, and for Senate dining services, go to http://go.compass-usa.com/senate/content/menus.asp.
A final, less insidery suggestion:
The Capitol Visitor Center’s (tel 202/593-1785) mammoth dining hall, which is open 8:30am to 4pm Monday through Saturday, seats 530 people and serves “meals and snacks that reflect the diverse bounty of America,” which translates into the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, croissants and bagels, pizza and pasta, but also specialty sandwiches associated with different pockets of the country, like the New England lobster roll and the Chesapeake crab cake. You won’t see any members of Congress or other political types at the CVC restaurant, but you’ll be dining in good company with fellow tourists.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.