Procrastinator’s Guide to Inauguration Weekend Dining: Presidential Edition

Want to eat at a presidentially vetted restaurant? You may still be able to snag a table at one of these spots.

A table is readied for dinner service at Blue Duck Tavern. Photograph by Scott Suchman

So you didn’t score a ticket to an inaugural ball or one of the exclusive dinners
around town. No big deal. One of the wonderful things about a First Couple that gets
out and about in the restaurant scene is that you can have the same dining experience
as Barack and Michelle any night of the week (minus the Secret Service, food testers,
motorcade, etc.). And lucky for procrastinators, that night could be this weekend.

We checked in with a number of restaurants approved by the President and/or First
Lady. While most don’t have prime-time reservations—especially on Saturday, when many
places are fully booked—tables are still open and waiting. Diners willing to eat early
(think 6) or late (after 9) are especially in luck, as are those not balling on Monday,
when plenty of reservations are available across the board. Also don’t forget to check
our big Inauguration Guide for other deals, parties, and events.


One of the best chances you have to dine like FLOTUS is at Acadiana, which has availability
here and there, for two- and four-person tables especially. Larger parties can always
try, but may walk away empty-handed.

BLT Steak

One of the First Lady’s favorites can accommodate small parties on Saturday after
9:30, and is fairly open on Monday. Closed Sunday.

Cafe Milano

The latest restaurant to receive the presidential seal of approval is booked for private events both Sunday
and Monday. Try Saturday before 7 or after 9 (the main kitchen closes at midnight
for the night owls).

Blue Duck Tavern

Monday lunch is your best bet for a table in the Park Hyatt’s airy dining room, which
hosted the First Couple for their anniversary. Otherwise you’re looking at after 11
on Saturday and Sunday night, and after 9:30 on Monday for dinner.


The restaurant may be hush-hush about what the First Lady ate, but it’s fairly open
for dinner reservations on Sunday and Monday. Saturday sees fewer free seats, as does
the special Fancy Hats & Fans brunch on Sunday
from 9 to 3 (though it’s still worth trying). The ceremony will be shown on the big


You’ll feel close to the First Couple at this downtown spot, both in the dining room—they
visited for “date night”—and in proximity to the White House. Try for a late or early
reservation Saturday, or the special Sunday brunch. Monday is relatively open for
both lunch and dinner.

Georgia Brown’s

Make a stop like the First Lady at this indulgent Southern downtown eatery, which
has tables available on Sunday and Monday.


It’s a night owl scene for those who want reservations like Michelle at José Andrés’s
Mexican joint on Saturday and Sunday. The place is pretty much booked through 10 on
Saturday and Sunday, though the kitchen is staying open until 11:30. Monday night
brings refreshing availability.


President Obama chowed down on a burger at Lincoln, and you can, too—find it on the late-night menu,
which runs until 2 AM Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Otherwise the restaurant is almost
fully committed on the latter two nights, though you’ll find tables on Monday.

Mintwood Place

Contest winners got lucky dining with Obama at Mintwood place, and you’ll have to
rub a rabbit’s foot, too. There are only one or two tables left at 5:30 on Saturday
and Sunday, and a few after 10 on Saturday. Closed Monday.


This Michelle-vetted restaurant is basically booked for Saturday, and doesn’t have
too many openings for Sunday and Monday. Your best bet: a walk-in spot in the bar/lounge
area, where you can order from the regular menu. Bonus: Get specialty glasses of bubbly
for 30 percent off.

Restaurant Eve

You’ll have to like dining late for a table this weekend at Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s
Alexandria eatery. It’s closed Sunday and Monday, but a few tables are available Saturday
starting at 9:15.

Restaurant Nora

You probably won’t find a table at Washington’s first organic restaurant on Saturday,
but the early/late slots are worth a shot on Sunday (the restaurant opens especially
early, starting at 4:30). Best chances are still on Monday.


Dine like Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel on inauguration day at this Georgetown
institution. Unfortunately it’s near capacity Saturday and Sunday, with limited early
and late reservations.

The Source

Sadly you won’t find a reservation at Wolfgang Puck’s Newseum spot on Saturday night.
Happily, you can still try for early (5:30) and late (after 9) tables on Sunday and


Another date-night spot for the Obamas is booked on Saturday, though your chance to
romance like the First Couple is better on Sunday and Monday (especially the latter).
Big parties can also try their chances on Monday evening, as tables are currently


You’ll have to make it a late date night on Saturday to copy the Obamas; the only
tables available are 9:30 or later (the kitchen stays open until 11). Sunday is pretty
much booked, though Monday shows availability.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.