Is the Monocle another branch of the U.S. government? It sometimes feels that way. Senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices, and their staffs often dine here at lunch and dinner, as they have since 1960, when The Monocle opened. (The Monocle backs up to Senate Office Building property.) Owner John Valanos, maitre’d Nick, and longtime staff greet frequent customers by name and with warmth, whether the patron is a lobbyist or a Senator. There’s no other place like it in the capital. The food’s pretty good, too. Usually the best picks are the specials, the salads (especially the Federal Salad and the BLT Salad), and the shrimp and asparagus orzo. Enjoy “Luncheon at the Bar,” served 11:30am to 3pm, for the best deal going: a pair of cheddar cheese and bacon-topped angus beef sliders for $8.
- Elise Hartman Ford