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Southwest Waterfront Restaurants

Find both quick bites and luxurious meals near Arena Stage and the National Mall.

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One of the microclimates surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian pays tribute to people indigenous to America's wetlands.

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Mitsitam Cafe at National Museum of the American Indian
A favorite locals' spot, this museum cafeteria features Native American-inspired dishes.

This museum cafeteria is astonishingly different than most, with several stations centered around a Native American region in the Western Hemisphere. The delectable menus change seasonally but could include buffalo chili tacos or cherry stuffed venison sausage, depending on whether you're in Mesoamerican or Northwestern Plains kind of mood. Be warned: prices are also a tad higher than your average museum cafe. A lunchtime meal easily costs $15 and a four-course tasting menu of small plates runs $55. Mitsitam has a local reputation for being one of the best places to grab a bite on the Mall with lunchtime crowds to match. Mitsitam, which means “Let's Eat” in the native language of Piscataway tribes, won Best Casual Dining in 2012 from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

The Smithsonian Castle was the first of the Smithsonian museums and is a great starting point for newcomers. In addition to artifacts, the Castle features an overview movie (starring Ben Stiller) and a map of the Smithsonians.

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Castle Café at the Smithsonian Institution Building
Enjoy a coffee break, sandwich and/or cookie in this quiet National Mall cafeteria.

Enjoy a quiet coffee break and cookie in this National Mall hideaway, which from the outside looks like, well, a castle. Inside, find free WiFi. When the weather's nice, catch your breath and plan the rest of your day on a bench in the gardens. When you have worked up an appetite while museum hopping, grab sandwiches, soups, salads, wraps, pastries in this cafeteria.