Food

You’re Welcome Obama: These Are the Best Lunch Spots Near Your New West End Office

After eight years with a personal chef, you may need help finding your own lunch again.

President Obama eats a peach after a meeting at Kroger's. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

It turns out you can only golf in Palm Springs and kitesurf in the Virgin Islands for so long. But now that you’re back in town Mr. (former) President, we thought we’d ease the transition by suggesting a few places to grab a bite near your new office. It can’t be easy to move from the West Wing to the West End.

As you watch the new administration, there must be times when you just want to curl up, eat some ice cream, and flip on SportsCenter. Fortunately, there’s a Shake Shack not far from your 24th and N office. Next time Donald Trump gets going in the East Room, walk on over and drown the disbelief with a frozen custard and a cheeseburger. If the last press conference is any indication, you’ll have 77 minutes to get back.

Michelle’s not going to be happy though. We suggest shaking off the ShackBurger at Beefsteak, José Andrés’ vegetable-driven fast-casual joint. The Eden Bowl looks like it was made for you. It has your favorite food—broccoli—and can be paired with the usual salmon too. Or grab a tomato burger when summer starts. 

If Jeff Bezos or another one of your new neighbors in Kalorama are joining, you’ll probably want something more presidential. Blue Duck Tavern is the obvious choice. It’s 351 feet from your office and has both salmon and burgers. The lunch entrees will set you back about $35, but let your guests pay for it. Conflicts of interest are a thing of the past. If you’re with Michelle, don’t forget that that you went here for your 17th anniversary.

You could also check out the stellar Indian food at Rasika West End. The First Lady went there with some girlfriends in 2009. She’d probably let you come along this time. An added bonus is that you’re unlikely to see your successor. Beetroot uttapam might be a bit much for someone whose tastes veer toward Quarter Pounders and KFC. Ditto for the upscale takes on Thai street food at Soi 38. The tom yum beats a taco bowl.

The Rasikas and Blue Ducks of the world can take time you don’t have. Do what we do and embrace the sad desk lunch. Trader Joe’s is three blocks away. Walk over, buy some frozen tikka masala, and hope your colleagues don’t catch you watching NBA highlights at your desk. And don’t forget the almonds. At $5.99 a pound, you can get 53 servings of your seven-almond indulgence for less than a beer.    

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with having a drink. There’s this thing in DC called happy hour, and it’s pretty great. It might be worth checking it out. Stopping in at McClellan’s Retreat on the walk home to Kalorama is a safe bet. Eden’s Folly seems like the most appropriately-named cocktail these days, but the sprawling list of American whiskeys is more your speed. So stop on over and knock back a bourbon, or two, or three. They might even pick up the tab.

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Editorial fellow

Noah Lanard is an editorial fellow. Before Washingtonian, he freelanced for the Guardian, Fusion, and Vice in Mexico City. He was born in DC, grew up in New Jersey, and went to college in Montreal.