Best Politico & People Spotting in Washington

Rub Elbows With Political Elite At These D.C. Restaurants

Celebrity sightings in New York City and Los Angeles usually mean actors and musicians but when it comes to Washington, D.C., we are all about the politico and people spotting. Presidents. First Ladies. Members of congress. Supreme Court Justices. Well-known political journalists. Those are the people we want to sit across from while feeding out foodie cravings.

Steak houses and power lunches/dinners go together like cool water on a hot day. The Palm has many cartoons and characters of Washington power players on the walls but don't be surprised to see the real life inspirations seated at a table nearby. Located steps from Capitol Hill, Charlie Palmer Steak features USDA certified angus beef aged 21 days steak entrees. 

The Georgetown-based Café Milano is an upscale Italian dining experience offering an abundance of pasta dishes along with seafood, salad and meat dishes. Want a taste of France right here in the district? Head to Le Diplomate, a bistro which offers an incredible comfort food menu and gives you the feeling that you have stepped inside a Parisian café.

Instead of watching politicos and people on television, get the opportunity to see them in a relaxed, upscale setting while also satisfying your hunger for great food at these top spotting restaurants.



When Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Teddy Roosevelt were in need of libations, they came to here. Established in 1856 and boasting of being Washington, D.C.'s oldest saloon, the restaurant features Victorian-styled rooms perfect for tourists, locals and politicians. The upscale American lunch menu is sure to appease with great choices like the grilled swordfish, trout parmesan, chicken milanese and butternut squash agnolotti. Be sure to check out their menu devoted solely to oysters. The dress code is anything goes so it is perfect for Washington elite along with tourists stopping for a bite to eat just steps from The White House. METRO: Metro Center.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: A Victorian era saloon, the Old Ebbitt Grill has been a presidential favorite for more than 150 years.

Gina's expert tip: Check out the decor as many items are reproductions that could not be salvaged from previous locations.

Read more about Old Ebbitt Grill →

While many steakhouses feature a dark color palette, this venue favors white and large windows to let in an abundance of natural light. Located in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters building near Capitol Hill, this upscale restaurant has a floating wine cube that features more than 6,000 bottles. First courses contain raw bar and cold and hot dish selections. Move on to USDA certified angus beef aged 21 days steak entrees like the European cut filet mignon, bone-in cowboy cut ribeye and the pepper crusted culotte steak. Be sure to add on sides like the poached blue crab, roasted prawns or seared foie gras. METRO: Judiciary Square.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: Located close to where Washington power players work, this venue serves up big, bold American dishes.

Gina's expert tip: Looking to host a meeting? Book the rooftop terrace which accommodates 400 guests and gives gorgeous views of the district.

Read more about Charlie Palmer Steak →

With a focus on modern interpretations of traditional French bistro fare, this restaurant is where Capitol Hill dines out. Patrons will find a warm yet sophisticated atmosphere upon their arrival including a tiered dining area and a bar ready to make classic French cocktails. Savor lunch entrees like the Bis burger, salmon Normande, trout l'ardenaise, crab cakes and the salad grecque. The brunch menu is worth getting out of bed for on the weekend with selections like the risotto au pistou, quiche Lorraine and tuna salade nicoise. METRO: Union Station

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: The warm yet sophisticated atmosphere brings in well-known names to dine on fabulous French fare.

Gina's expert tip: Parking can be an issue during lunch time. Might want to just take the Metro here.

Read more about Bistro Bis →


Bringing a modern American steakhouse to the nation's capital, this venue is known for its mouth-watering Certified black angus and USDA prime steaks. Sink your teeth into a prime hanger steak, an American wagyu skirt steak or filet mignon. If you are looking for a meal other than steak, try the grilled spicy miso tuna, lemon rosemary chicken or rack of lamb. Sides are separate from the main course but are not to be missed. Try the mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and grilled asparagus. Be sure to pair your meal with a cocktail or a choice off their impressive wine list. METRO: Faragut North.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: Famous and powerful come for the high quality steaks and impressive wine list.

Gina's expert tip: Be sure to try the crepe souffl�ith passion fruit sauce for dessert.

Read more about BLT Steak →

Opened in 2011, this much buzzed about restaurant is Chef Fabio Trabocchi's first in D.C. With a modern upscale vibe, this venue changes menus every day to reflect the freshest ingredients available for its regional and contemporary Italian cuisine. The menu includes selections of pasta, meat, fish and salads. If you are looking to make more healthy choices, look at the Maria menu Monday through Fridays which offers three courses of Mediterranean style dishes that are low on sodium, calories and fat. The bar offers its own lunch menu called PRESTO! where guests may chose a select beverage and entr�for one price. METRO: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: Daily menu changes bring in well-known faces to this must-eat destination.

Gina's expert tip: The venue is closed on Sundays.

Read more about Fiola →

Le Diplomate
Photo courtesy of Le Diplomate

For a taste of France right here in Washington, D.C., head to this bistro which offers an incredible comfort food menu for brunch, apr�midi and dinner. Brunch options include breakfast favorites like steak and eggs and spinach omelet and entr�choices include lamb sandwich and trout amandine. Dinner offers succulent hors d'oeuvres, tasty entrees and a full wine and dessert menu. Try to grab a seat outside to enjoy conversations with friends and people-watch. You may even see well-known political figures. First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry have all been spotted here. METRO: U Street

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: Some of the most powerful names in district have all been known to dine here.

Gina's expert tip: Be sure to try the eggs Norwegian which features smoked salmon with sauce hollandaise.

Read more about Le Diplomate →

Joe's Seafood Prime Steak and Stone Crab
Photo courtesy of Joe's Seafood Prime Steak Stone Crab

Born from the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group, this venue opened its doors just a couple of years ago but is already known as a great spot to see the politically powerful. For those who love seafood and steak, you will find a bevy of menu options but don't leave without adding sides to your main dish. Jennie's mashed potatoes and Joe's grilled tomatoes are great choices. Be sure to check out their cocktail hours every day from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the banking hall. Nosh on Alaskan king crab roll, blackened rockfish and oysters on the half shell.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: Known as one of the best power dining spots in the district, many Washington elite come here to dine and discuss issues.

Gina's expert tip: Check out their website section 'What's crackin' to see dates for their sommelier series.

Read more about Joe's Seafood Prime Steak and Stone Crab →

Fiola Mare
Photo courtesy of Fiola Mare

With gorgeous views of the Potomac River and a seafood market counter to evoke a Mediterranean feel, this restaurant can not be missed. Opened in early 2014, this is the third restaurant Chef Fabio Trabocchi has opened in the district and it continues to be must-go destination for foodies. Menus change daily based on fresh ingredient availability so be sure to check out their website before you make a reservation. While this restaurant is great for lunch and dinner, you should also check out their top notch brunch menu which will give you a major reason to get out of bed early on a weekend.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: One of the best restaurants in the nation's capital, power players are know to feast here.

Gina's expert tip: Can't find a place to park? The restaurant offers valet parking for an additional fee.

Read more about Fiola Mare →

When The Palm opened its first location in Manhattan, the owners had no money for decorating. Lucky for them, their restaurant was near a comic syndicate headquarters and many cartoonists would pay for their meal by drawing a picture on the wall. As the restaurant branched out, the cartoons and caricatures became a fun staple of the restaurant. After you have focused on the walls, give all your attention to the plate in front of you because the food is not to be missed. Try their bite sized gourmet menu items or head straight to their superb steaks that are corn-fed USDA prime beef that has been aged a minimum of 35 days. METRO: Dupont Circle

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: A place know for its savory steaks and attracting power players.

Gina's expert tip: Have fun picking out faces on the wall. You never know if that individual may be in the restaurant.

Read more about The Palm →

Italian culture is the focus of this upscale Georgetown staple where politicians, lobbyists and journalists are known to mingle. The décor harks back to a Milan boutique with hand painted coves and framed designer scarves adorning the walls. Patrons will dig into a Southern Coastal Italian cuisine menu featuring an abundance of pasta dishes along with seafood, salad and meat dishes. Italian dishes tend to fill you up fast but ordering off the dessert menu is a must with choices like the vanilla panna cotta and flourless chocolate cake. Daily specials are listed on their website so check it out before you head to the venue. METRO: Foggy Bottom.

Recommended for Politico & People Spotting because: Cafe Milano has been a hot spot for diplomats, politicians, journalists and DC celebrities for more than 20 years.

Gina's expert tip: During warm weather months, grab a seat on their sidewalk patio.

Read more about Café Milano →


Meet Gina Gallucci White

Gina Gallucci White is an award winning freelance writer with articles appearing in such regional publications as Frederick Magazine, The Daily Record, Montgomery Magazine and The Gazette. She...  More About Gina