Congress Gets a Speakeasy-Style Carryout With “Point of Order Pasta” and “Pro Tem Tots”

The Hideaway is the House's newest eatery

Order by QR code at the Hideaway, the Capitol's newest eatery. Photograph by Victoria Knight.

A new eatery inside the US Capitol unveiled itself like a speakeasy. Dubbed the Hideaway, the secret-sounding spot for House members and staffers was advertised in a mysterious email as “166 years in the making” with a cryptic image of the key.

Axios healthcare reporter Victoria Knight—who moonlights as Capitol Hill’s de facto food critic—was the first to report on the opening. “Everyone started hypothesizing it was going to be a speakeasy or whatever,” Knight says. “I was envisioning a little side bar room off of the Members’ Dining Rom where people could get a drink… I definitely thought it was some kind of exclusive area.”

Unfortunately, this is not a haunt where you’ll find AOC sipping an espresso martini under a “good vibes” neon sign. Turns out the Hideaway is just a carryout counter. No Man in the Green Hat here. In fact, Knight found no one there at all on opening day. Just a sign with a QR code to download an app to order your lunch.

Inside the Capitol’s new eatery, the Hideaway. Photograph by Victoria Knight.

The small space adjoining the Members Dining Room, founded in 1858, has been used over the years as part of members’ “bathing rooms,” space for the Committee on Printing, and a storeroom. Now, the glorified closet is a quick lunch destination for “Point of Order Pasta” (literally just penne with olive oil that a toddler would eat),”Quorum Wraps” (roasted turkey with Sriracha cream cheese), and “Pro Tem Tots” (Please yield the ketchup?). There’s also a House Bean Soup angling to give the more famous Senate Bean Soup a run for its money.

Samantha Carter, spokesperson for the House’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, which is overseeing the eatery, tells Washingtonian that the Hideaway is a direct response to feedback from staffers who wanted “quick, fresh, quality lunch options in the Capitol.” The menu is totally different from the House Members’ Dining Room, which the Washington Post’s food critic Tom Sietsema slammed with a half-star review in 2019. The one exception is the bean soup—a “secret” recipe, Carter says.  The eatery is open only to members, their staffs, and visitors on days Congress is in session.

So how is it? Knight called her inaugural meal “actively bad,” rating it a four out of ten. She found the pasta bland and cold, and the soup was more just a cup of beans than a soup. She says the meal was also more expensive than other options in the Capitol Building. The tater tots, for example, are $7, “which is insane,” Knight says. “You can get tater tots in the Capitol for probably $3 to $4.”

Knight is still holding out hope that someday her speakeasy vision will come true on Capitol grounds: “People would love a little bar. It’s an untapped market. Maybe they’ll see the demand online now.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.