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Know of any good office cafeterias downtown?


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Within the last few months, I was introduced to the cafeteria at the National Education Association building -- at 16th and M streets, NW. When you walk in they give you a little visitors' badge so anyone can go in to eat.

Although not dirt cheap, they give you a lot of high quality food at reasonable prices. Their sandwiches (at $4.95 incl. chips and pickle) are so dense I usually split it over two days. At $5.25 they also have a grill that cooks up hearty meals, usually high quality meats with two sides. They have a good pay-by-the-pound salad bar as well. I was there last Friday and they had a Haagen-Dazs booth set up and they were practically giving the stuff away (well, compared to what it usually costs).

I was wondering if there were any similar good-bang-for-your-buck places like this in the city. I'm told the World Bank has a phenomenal set up, but you need to have somebody on the inside to get in.

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National Geographic has an awesome office cafeteria setup with fresh pasta bars, salad bars, etc... But I'm pretty sure you need an employee to get you in there as well.

Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar

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Just north of Union Station on 1st St NE is a Dept of Energy building. You walk in the main door and go up the stairs ahead (the security entrance to offices is to the right). Very good cheese steaks.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I haven't been in a few years, but the Brookings Institution cafeteria on Mass near Dupont was wonderful the last time I tried. The ingedients were high quality and the prices beat most in the area.

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National Geographic: Nope, just subscribe to the magazine. They'll send you a membership card, and that will get you into the cafeteria every day that you'd like. The food is cheap enough that the membership will pay for itself, if you eat out a couple times a week, though I actually like the magazine itself. And the food and atmosphere is much better than the the NEA 'atrium': there's a little half-garden outside with real sunlight and some decent bbq whenever the moon turns blue. Plus eavesdropping on gossipy NG employees is much more fun than doing so on NEA folks. :raz:

Government office buildings: it's been a long, long time since I've been stuck in one of those, but my memory wants to claim that they _have_ to serve the public too. that said--I don't remember liking Labor's cafeteria much at all.

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and some decent bbq whenever the moon turns blue.

The moon "turns blue" more frequently than you might think. Perhaps a couple of times a year (assuming you are referring to the euphemism "once in a blue moon").

Edited to add: And there is one coming up on July 31.

Edited by mnebergall (log)
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Oh yeah, one more.

Basement of the Reagan trade buiding has a nice food court open to public. Haven't been in a while so can't tell you who is down there now.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Department of Labor had the best cafeteria

Not according to Federal Government Executive. Sorry I don't have a link to the article but I see it hanging in the Dept. of Commerce cafeteria! It lists Dept. of State as No 1 and Commerce as No 2 and had Labor pretty low. Any Federal employee can gain access to the Commerce building and, therefore, the basement cafeteria (with outdoor courtyard seating for nice weather). Others need to be cleared by an employee. I don't know if the same is true for the Supreme Court cafeteria but we used to go there sometimes when I worked in the Senate (horrible cafeteria -- House food court is much better).

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National Geographic: Nope, just subscribe to the magazine. They'll send you a membership card, and that will get you into the cafeteria every day that you'd like. The food is cheap enough that the membership will pay for itself, if you eat out a couple times a week, though I actually like the magazine itself. And the food and atmosphere is much better than the the NEA 'atrium': there's a little half-garden outside with real sunlight and some decent bbq whenever the moon turns blue. Plus eavesdropping on gossipy NG employees is much more fun than doing so on NEA folks. :raz:

Does National Geographic Traveler count?

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Definitely get a friend to get you into the World Bank cafeteria if you can. I ate there several years ago and enjoyed a respectable chickpea curry for something like $4 (including rice and bread).

DO NOT eat at FBIHQ's cafeteria if you ever have the misfortune to be invited or hired and therefore given access. I worked on the same floor and they were closed for a couple of days due to evidence of rodents. (We had glue traps all over the offices to catch the little buggers.) Everybody at the FBI eats out unless they're desperate for time or just want a donut delivered by Dunkin Donuts every morning. (Those, and the coffee, are "safe.")

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The Library of Congress cafeteria (open to the public) is pretty good - there's always a salad/fruit/make-your-own sandwich bar, various soups, and occasionally outstanding entrees. Thursday is fried chicken day, not to be missed; it's not quite Pollo Campero :wink:, but it's damn good. The pulled pork barbeque is also entirely acceptable.

The cafeteria in the Longworth House Office Building is also open to the public once you're through security. Highlights are the salad bar (twice the size of the Library's, with real honest-to-goodness crumbled bacon for the bacon bits), and the House bean soup (same recipe as Senate bean soup, just on the other side of the Capitol). It's also got a food court setup with Asian and other options. The Longworth cafeteria also did not at any time have "freedom fries" - they were listed as Boardwalk fries. I think the anti-French bias was confined to Rayburn and Cannon. :laugh:

As far as the Labor department cafeteria, it is, and I quote my spouse who used to work down there, "overpriced and bland."

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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Oh yeah, one more.

Basement of the Reagan trade buiding has a nice food court open to public. Haven't been in a while so can't tell you who is down there now.

Standard food court fare: Wall St. Deli, Sbarro, City Lights Express, Soup Nutsy, Subway, Caribou Coffee, Smoothie King, Kabuki Sushi, an ice cream place, a turkey sandwich place, the Great Steak Factory (or whatever it's called), a pita place, some sort of wrap sandwich place, and an Italian panini place owed by this cute little Italian woman.

Can you tell where I work?

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For those of us who remain somewhat clueless about DC's geography (in spite of living here for awhile), could you please post coordinates?

The Ronald Reagan International Trade Building is on the SE corner of Pennsylvania and 14th (?). I know it because it is the home of USAID, among other government agencies.

You can't miss it. It's the ugly thing that used to be the home of "jordan's"

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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For those of us who remain somewhat clueless about DC's geography (in spite of living here for awhile), could you please post coordinates?

The Ronald Reagan International Trade Building is on the SE corner of Pennsylvania and 14th (?). I know it because it is the home of USAID, among other government agencies.

You can't miss it. It's the ugly thing that used to be the home of "jordan's"

Sorry, that one I know. I should have been more specific.

My bad!

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Does National Geographic Traveler count?

nope. You have to be a "Member" of the "National Geographic Society." Which basically means shelling out $30 for a year's subscription, plus the occasional cool map.

and mr. doctor--not sure where you're located, but NG is half a block away from NEA, on M between 16th and 17th.

also, there's a surprisingly decent cafeteria on L street between 16th and 17th--it's right after the kid's art building. Called "To Market to Market," they have, for a buffet cafeteria, reasonable approximations of peking duck, bread pudding, fish, etc., depending on the day of the week.

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Oohh, the Federal Reserve has a GREAT cafeteria with a grill station, a pizza and pasta station, a soul-food station, a fantastic salad bar, and an ice cream bar. My recollection is that the food was routinely tasty and well-prepared. Don't know if you can walk in and get a visitor's badge, but I used to sign in as the guest of an RA there and eat - grilled entree with two sides, a salad, a soda and a sundae for something like $2.35

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