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Family Friendly Dining in DC
Best bets for dining when you need a break from sightseeing
Eat and run
There is so much to see and do on a visit to Washington, DC, and for that reason, fast food often fits best into your touring schedule. Fortunately, there are many high quality fast food options near the National Mall.
For some tasty quick bites, try Potbelly Sandwich Shop in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter area. In addition to having multiple DC locations, the eatery serves sandwiches all day long, and your kids will appreciate the creamy milkshakes. Nearby, the Corner Bakery Cafe also serves breakfast and lunch. Along with fresh pastries and oatmeal for breakfast, Corner Bakery prepares made-to-order sandwiches, soups and heaping bowls of pasta. Cava Grill offers a Mediterranean mix customized just for your taste buds. The steps are easy: you begin with a base, throw in a few delicious dips and spreads, stack it with a protein like braised beef or lamb, then top it off with crumbled feta, pita crisps, cucumber salad.
For something altogether unique and memorable, have a Mediterranean-inspired lunch or coffee and cake at Kogod Courtyard Cafe in the National Portrait Gallery. The breathtaking architecture and expansive open space provides room to explore for the little ones.
Located in the lower level of the National Museum of the American Indian, the Mitsitam Cafe provides a stellar view and cuisine from different regions of the Americas. Native American chefs showcase distinctive food cultures with seasonally inspired dishes; try the fry bread, chili or buffalo burgers.
The National Museum of American History has a very bright and busy cafeteria called the Stars & Stripes Cafe on the lower level. Open for lunch only, the cafe uses sustainable food products to make their pizza, barbeque and desserts.
During the winter season, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden offers meals at the lively Pavilion Cafe. Settle in to watch the spinning skaters while you enjoy pizza, pasta, sandwiches and soup. During the summer, the Pavilion has panoramic views of the fountain and gardens, and on Friday evenings, the restaurant is transformed into a Jazz Cafe.
Washington’s historic market
Love exploring local farmers markets? If you do, plan to visit the famous Eastern Market, a historic community hub located on Capitol Hill. Inside, you will find vendors selling fresh seafood, flowers, produce and meats.
Pick up a spicy empanada, a custom-made deli sandwich or sample local cheeses. Find a table at Market Lunch and order their beloved blueberry pancakes. On weekends, the Flea Market at Eastern Market opens next door to include more locally sourced products and artisans selling handmade crafts. Kids will love the street performers, too.
A good meal and local brews
The District has many beer-centric pubs where kids feel welcome, and adults get to sample from an impressive selection of local, national and international brews.
City Tap House in Chinatown is known as a gastropub, because the dining room serves top-notch, family friendly fare along with 40 draft beers. Nearby, RFD has both indoor and outdoor seating to go with its 30 regional beers and regionally inspired menu.
If you love Belgian beer, treat yourself to Brasserie Beck. The upscale restaurant carries more than 100 Belgian beers, including Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s own Antigoon brew.
Notable hotel restaurants
Several DC hotels have restaurants that cater to families on the go. The newly renovated Avenue Cafe and Lounge, inside the Holiday Inn Washington DC (near the White House), offers breakfast and dinner buffets, where even the pickiest eaters will find something to love. If you’re a hotel guest, kids eat free.
Article One American Grill in the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill has a sunny five-story atrium and serves a deluxe breakfast buffet. In the evening, the Grill fires up the steaks and fresh seafood, but they also offer vegetarian and “Stay-Fit” healthy options.
Sit down restaurants
With locations in Dupont Circle and Georgetown, the Daily Grill offers families traditional American favorites. In addition to providing an extensive kid’s menu, the eatery features a healthy lunch and dinner menu with 600 calorie meals.
Formerly a pharmacy with a soda fountain, Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy is located in a historic building in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood near the George Washington University campus. The restaurant specializes in hearty comfort food, and in good weather, Tonic serves meals on an outdoor patio and garden.
Need more help with family friendly dining options in DC? Read through our 12 Family Friendly Restaurants Your Kids Will Love.