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Is the Monocle another branch of the U.S. government? It sometimes feels that way. Senators, representatives and their staff, Cabinet members, and a Supreme Court justice now and again, are known to 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 a meal at the bar after 5pm for the best deal going: a pair of Angus beef sliders (topped with cheddar cheese and bacon) for $8.