When visiting the District, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself touring along the National Mall, the central park area of Washington DC. This grassy expanse is lined with DC’s most popular landmarks like the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the majority of the Smithsonian Museums.
When you visit, there’s one big thing to consider. Where to eat? The long walks in and around the topnotch destination will leave you in need of a refueling station.
Problem is, this area is known for touring – not for eating. Outdoors, the most obvious food options you’ll get is, "Would you like a hot dog or pizza?" from one of the many monotonous food stands. You might find a more unique food stand, but you’re guaranteed to find the dogs.
If these foods are your "thing", then by all means, grab a dog. There’s also a McDonald’s outside by the Air and Space Museum (but it’s overpriced with a limited menu), and a few stationary food stands near monuments like the Lincoln Memorial an Washington Monument.
But if you want a healthier, more substantial meal to get you by, head indoors. In the many museums lining the Mall, you'll find large food courts. The quality of each food court varies. Some have only pre-packaged salads and sandwiches, like the National Building Museum. But others have a pretty tasty selection. As a bonus, you'll also get a nice comfy seat to rest your feet amidst air conditioning or heat, depending on the time of year.
Best Museums to Grab a Flavorful Bite
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is, hands down, the best museum for dining. Here you’ll find a food court, called the Mitsitam Cafe, serving up a range of traditional North and South American Indian cuisine. Sample seaweed salad, juniper salmon, blue cornbread or get really unique with cornmeal crusted frog legs. Burgers and fries are also on hand for those with less adventurous food cravings.
One of DC’s newer museums, Newseum, seeks to impress with its grand collection of journalistic history. It’s food court, called Mitsitam, is not as noteworthy as the Museum of the American Indian, but it does offer an impressive salad bar selection and a range of meals like made-to-order sandwiches and pasta.
Newseum a great place to eat because perched at the base of the building is The Source by Wolfgang Puck. The celebrity chef restaurant is accessible from outside rather than within the restaurant. It’s menu is "Asian-inspired modern American" fare. This menu includes dishes like pan seared scallops with coconut peanut sauce and drunken noodles or Thai style chicken salad. On Saturdays, it’s worth a visit to the dim sum brunch. Specials include five tastings for $30 or eight tastings for $40.