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), Room 2063, in the Rayburn House Office Building, at 1st Street and Independence Avenue SW.
The Longworth Café (tel. 202/226-4359), Room B223, in the Longworth Building’s basement, Independence Avenue and S. Capitol Street SE, 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 https://thehouse.misofi.net. For Senate dining services, go to http://radining.compass-usa.com/ussenate/Pages/Home.aspx.
A final, less insidery suggestion:
The mammoth dining hall of the Capitol Visitor Center (www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/restaurant-menu; tel. 202/593-1785) is open 8:30am to 4pm Monday through Saturday and seats 470 people. It offers the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, pizza and pasta, but also specialty sandwiches such as lobster rolls and crab cake sandwiches. Items run $2 to $20, with most under $10.
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.