Best Restaurants and Dining Near the Mall in Washington, DC

Picnicking, Museum Dining and Food Courts on the National Mall

National Air & Space Museum
••• Food court at the National Air & Space Museum. Don DeBold / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Where are the best restaurants and places to dine on the National Mall in Washington, DC? The National Mall is the center of most visits to Washington, DC, but finding places to eat in this area of the city is not so obvious.

You can bring a picnic and eat on the grassy areas when the weather is nice. For just a few dollars you can buy a hotdog and a soda from a street vendor. The National Park Service operates a few refreshment stands, located in front of the Natural History Museum, near the National Mall Carousel, near the Lincoln Memorial and on the Tidal Basin near the paddle boat rentals.

See a map of the National Mall

The museum cafe's are expensive and often crowded, but are the most convenient place to eat lunch. Most of Washington, DC’s museum cafes are open the same hours as the museums themselves.

Museum Café’s and Restaurants

Most Variety: National Gallery of Art
Most Interesting Cuisine: The American Indian Museum

  • National Air & Space Museum - Wright Place Food Court features McDonald's, Donato's Pizza and Boston Market. Mezza Café offers sandwiches, soups and salads. An outdoor kiosk is open during the spring and summer.
  • National Museum of American History - The Constitution Cafe offers sandwiches, salads, soups, and hand-dipped ice cream. Stars and Stripes Cafe offers American fare.
  • National Gallery of Art - In the East Building, the Cascade Café offers soups, salads, specialty entrees, wood-fired pizzas, sushi, sandwiches, and fresh-baked desserts. The Expresso and Gelator Bar offers a full espresso bar offers homemade gelato, panini, and sweets. Café Dada offers a coffee-house style menu of sandwiches and salads, desserts and hot beverages. The Pavilion Café has a panoramic view of the Sculpture Garden, and serves specialty pizzas, sandwiches, salads, desserts, and assorted beverages. In the West Building, Café Provençal at the Garden Café is a a French-style bistro, offering an à la carte menu and buffet.
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - The Outdoor Café offers sandwiches and salads and a nice view during the spring and summer months.
  • Natural History Museum - Atrium Café provides fast food options. Fossil Café features soups, sandwiches, salads, Gelato and an Espresso Bar. IMAX & Jazz Café, live music most Friday evenings.
  • National Museum of the American Indian - Mitsitam Café features native inspired sandwiches, entrees, soups, desserts and beverages from five regions of the Native Americans.
  • Capitol Visitor Center - The cafeteria-style restaurant is on the lower level and is open Monday through Saturday. The menu includes soups, salads, specialty entrées, pizzas, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages.

More Dining Options Near the National Mall

  • Union Station - The Food Court at Union Station is a great place to enjoy a snack or take the whole family for a quick and inexpensive meal. Full service restaurants include America, B. Smith, East Street Café, Station Grill, Thunder Grill and Uno Chicago Grill.
  • Best Capitol Hill Restaurants - Looking to sit down and enjoy a meal at a fine dining restaurant? Here are the best restaurants within walking distance of the Capitol.
  • Eastern Market - Located on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the farmers market and flea market offers everything from local produce and flowers to fresh fish to arts and crafts.
  • The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center - This landmark building has a food court and an outdoor atrium open during the spring and summer.
  • L'Enfant Plaza - The recently remodeled shopping and dining area offers a variety of casual eateries.

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