Since there is so much to see and do in the District for families, some meals are best eaten on the go. Fortunately, DC has you and yours covered.
Near the National Mall, in the Downtown/Penn Quarter/Chinatown area, kid-friendly local favorite Clyde’s of Gallery Place offers to-go food and quick service. Meanwhile, fast-casual eateries line 7th Street and nearby offshoots, such as Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Fuel Pizza & Wings, GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar, The Sweet Lobby, G by Mike Isabella and countless others.
Taylor Gourmet has delicious Philly-style sandwiches and multiple locations in the area. For French on-the-go eats, head to Le Pain Quotidien, which specializes in homemade baked bread with healthy, seasonal ingredients. If the Lincoln Memorial is on the docket, make a pit stop at Foggy Bottom neighborhood gem FoBoGro for deli sandwiches made with locally sourced ingredients and lip-smacking sodas.
And, of course, a trip to DC isn't complete without a famous halfsmoke from the legendary Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street.
Certain vacation meals call for heaping portions that parents, grandparents and kids can all enjoy. DC has no shortage of family-style restaurants perfect for such an occasion.
In the Downtown area, Carmine’s is a popular go-to for authentic Italian cuisine served in massive quantities. Buca di Beppo calls the Dupont Circle neighborhood home, serving affordable Italian dishes (including pizza). It also features a banquet room ideal for large celebrations.
If the family is looking for classic American fare, DC has fantastic barbecue options. Old Glory All-American Bar-B-Que in Georgetown has a menu featuring all styles of barbecue, along with a large pit that kids love. Hill Country Barbecue, located near the National Mall on 7th Street NW, offers up smoked and savory beef, pork, poultry and sausage with hot and cold sides like sweet potato bourbon mash and Texas black-eyed caviar.
Gordon Biersch has two locations in the District, boasting an immense beer list and a creative menu featuring the eatery’s legendary garlic fries, grass-fed beef sliders and crispy crab risotto fritters (don’t worry, there’s a kids’ menu, too). If you’re cruising through Downtown/Penn Quarter, you can catch a taste of Louisiana at Acadiana, or simply indulge in its acclaimed crab cakes. Penn Commons, located right next to Verizon Center, features the popular Six Buck Chuck that you can dress as you please. And while kids rave about the toppings-laden burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe, what they love even more is oohing and aahing at the self-described Embassy of Rock 'n' Roll's collection of music-related memorabilia. Meanwhile, Nando's Peri-Peri (7th Street NW and 18th Street NW) offers up 24-hour marinated Portuguese flame-grilled chicken and a soda machine with dozens of combinations.
Georgetown is also full of dinner options, including new kid on the block, Pinstripes. The menu offers Italian and American cuisines, and after you eat, enjoy bowling or a game of bocce. There’s also a year-round outdoor patio, making this an ideal spot for the whole family. Down by the Georgetown waterfront, head into Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place for beautiful views of the Potomac and an excellent selection of crabs, oysters, shrimp and all of your seafood favorites – patio seating is a must.
Graze while gazing at the wonders of the National Mall thanks to nearby cafes and food courts.
The Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian is known for providing seasonal fare along with exceptional fry bread. From the Pavilion Café in its Sculpture Garden to the Parisian menu at Garden Café, The National Gallery of Art has several worthy dining options. More cafes sate hungry travelers at the National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Castle, while an entire food court is at the ready inside the National Air & Space Museum. And if that weren’t enough, street vendors offering hot dogs and sodas are dotted throughout the sidewalks along the National Mall.
For a more formal dining experience, reserve a table at Art and Soul, whose chef served as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef. A few other faves include steak-lover’s favorite Charlie Palmer Steak, French-inspired Bistro Cacao or the popular Irish pub/restaurant The Dubliner.