"Secret" Food Locations in Washington, D.C.

The Course Leaders I work with in Washington, D.C.  are among the most seasoned connoisseurs of our capital city. Part tour guide, part educator, part fixer-historian-planner-entertainer-leader-fun-fact-knower, they lead programs in and around our nation’s capital day after day and they have been around the block – literally! In doing so, they’ve picked up lots of great tips about FOOD. At a recent training, we asked them to share some of their secrets, and here are some of their favorite, lesser-known places to get your grub on for a quick bite in D.C.

Museum Munchies

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden – Need a bite while visiting the National Gallery of Art? The Pavilion Café offers panoramic views of the Sculpture Garden, and a casual menu of pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Your lunch with a view will include sculpture works from the Gallery’s ever-growing collection as well as pieces on loan for special exhibitions.

Museum of the Bible Manna Restaurant – Manna, according to the Bible, is divinely supplied spiritual nourishment. Manna also happens to be the name of the restaurant at the Museum of the Bible, and hungry visitors are in for a divine eating experience at this establishment. Chef Todd Gray connects diners to history through food with a menu of dishes like falafel, of which its ingredients are changed seasonally depending on what’s fresh (green garlic, sweet peas, squash, etc.) Other eats include flatbreads, soups, burgers, and divine desserts!

National Portrait Gallery – The Courtyard Café at the National Portrait Gallery offers a quiet place to sit to enjoy a coffee or lunch. Using primarily local, organic ingredients, the menu includes salads, soups, quiches, sandwiches, and a lovely selection of cheeses. Planning a party? The Café hosts children’s parties (cupcakes included!) and wine and cheese receptions.

The Holocaust Museum – The United States Holocaust Memroial Museum features its own café if visitors are hungry after a somber walk through the fascinating museum. The matzoh ball soup is a delicacy inside, and apparently there is a stand-out hot dog stand usually parked beside the museum, according to our Course Leaders.


Scholarly Sustenance

GWU Food Court – Apparently it’s not just for students, and the delicious options are endless at the George Washington University food court.

National Academy of Sciences – Dedicated in 1924, the National Academy of Sciences Building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and yes, it is open for visitors. Learn all about its mission, explore the galleries, take a photo with the famous Albert Einstein Memorial (#PhotosWithAlbert), then grab a delicious bite to eat – brain fuel anyone?


Political Provisions

Supreme Court – Order in the…cafeteria! Visitors won’t be judged if they dine at the cafeteria at the Supreme Court building. The cafeteria serves a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, and beverages for the public to enjoy.

Longworth Building – The Longworth House Office Building is one of three buildings used by the U.S. House of Representatives. Our reps. get hungry too! Diners will be shoulder-to-shoulder with our representatives when they eat in the bustling Longworth Building cafeteria.

Department of Agriculture Café – Serving breakfast, lunch, and snacks, the USDA Café changes their menus weekly, and yes, it’s open to the public!


High-Flying Foods

Kennedy Center RooftopRoof Terrace Restaurant at the Kennedy Center overlooks the Washington Harbor, making it a beautiful place to enjoy dinner or Sunday brunch with a view. Did we mention the brunch is a buffet? FYI, reservations are strongly encouraged!

Top of the CEB Building – Speaking of views, the CEB Tower in Arlington opened its observation deck to the public in June of 2018, and the 360-view of D.C. are nothing short of spectacular! The deck featured a grab-and-go café where visitors can grab a bite before taking a self-guided tour.


Satisfying Sweets

Lavender Moon Cupcakery – Did someone say cupcakes? Lavender Moon is a cozy little space that serves up organic cupcakes baked fresh daily using farm fresh, and seasonal ingredients. What makes it even more special? The flavors change daily!

Astro Donuts & Fried Chicken – The combo you never knew you needed. Not only are Astro’s donuts unique and delish, they also feature fried chicken in a variety of creative flavors and renditions.

Captain Cookie and the Milkman – Just the name of this place is enough to make you want to check it out! Homemade cookies and ice cream sandwiches, say what? This mobile bakery (and ice cream truck) is well…mobile, so the location changes. Be sure to check their website to find out where they are at any given time on any given day.


Who’s hungry? Thanks to our Course Leaders, you are now ready to explore all the cool, secret dining spots the next time you’re in Washington, D.C.

Article written by Wendy Amato

Wendy Amato
Wendy leads education efforts across WorldStrides' family of brands, demonstrating to educators and students of all ages the transformative learning opportunities that come with travel. When she's not planning or presenting innovative professional development for teachers, writing online courses for students, or inspiring WorldStrides employees across the globe, she likes to spend time enjoying the company of her many friends and family. Follow Wendy on Instagram @wendy_education.