Top 10 Places to Eat With D.C. Big Shots

Here are the top people watching restaurants in Washington, D.C.


By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Twenty-six years of covering official Washington has given me a special look at just where the high and mighty, the powerful people, and Hollywood visitors wanting to make a mark in politics like to sip their soup and cocktails. So, starting today, we're going to share some of that fattening knowledge, starting with a top 10 list of places to find politicians, stars, and lobbyists you may have read about in the papers. In the future, we'll reveal the top fundraising restaurants, the dives favored by Hill staffers, and where top federal officials huddle for after-dinner drinks, Of course, no list is THE list, so send in your faves or suggestions for the next one.

Top 10 People-Watching Restaurants

1. Cafe Milano , Georgetown. Want to see Bill and Hillary Clinton while munching on one of the best pizzas or high-end fish dishes? This spot a block off Wisconsin Avenue is it. It often hosts major media parties and book debuts. One prob: Wicker chairs aren't so comfy.

2. Charlie Palmer Steakhouse , Capitol Hill. CP's is for beefy appetites among House and Senate Democrats and Republicans. Lobbyists hold court in the restaurant and the rooms used for fundraising. There's a glassed-in area where lawmakers do media lunches. Get the steak salad. You can't eat anything else.

3. Bistro Bis , Capitol Hill. I once sat next to Julia Child and Mayor Adrian Fenty. Senators love this trendy place. Beware: It's loud, but the food is great.

4. The Palm , downtown. The top people-watching place on many lists, here you can find James Carville at one table and Obama economic adviser Larry Summers at another. Just get the burger: Saw Summers eat his à la Atkins, or sans bun. Loud but fun and the best pickles in D.C. The Tysons Corner, Va., version is lower key, but there you can find CIA execs and local business titans from AOL, Capital One, and MicroStrategy.

5. Equinox , downtown. One of our faves, this Todd Gray restaurant hosts White House, treasury, and banking patrons. Even the Obamas ate here after the election. With the check sometimes come candies and jellies. One prob: The leather seats can make you sweat.

6. Capital Grille , Capitol Hill. Big hangout for lobbyists, lawmakers, and interns looking for full-time work. Jenna Bush even ate here.

7. Bourbon Steak , Georgetown. It's in the Four Seasons Hotel, which is ground zero for any Hollywood star visit. Arnold Schwarzenegger has eaten here, as have lots of Defense Department biggies since it's not far from the Pentagon. For big events, like the inauguration or the White House Christmas party, this is where the Left Coast huddles. And then you can walk through Georgetown.

8. Blue Duck , Foggy Bottom. Hip, somewhat new, serves an awesome apple pie. See lobbyists, Bono, and Chelsea Clinton. Very loud at night.

9. Tosca , downtown. Arguably the best Italian restaurant in town and home to guests like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and all the expensive lobbyists. Diplomats also like the quiet white table ristorante. Everything is fab, but you can start and end with the prosciutto and parma.

10. Twigs , in the lobby of the Capital Hilton downtown. This is an offbeat choice, but it's where you will find Ben Bradlee and lots of big-shot columnists and federal officials.

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