If you’ve ever celebrated Independence Day on the Mall, then you know that finding food near the fireworks is not an easy task. For the hundreds of thousands of spectators, there are just 11 Mall concession stands (you can imagine the lines). But cafes and restaurants are out there; just look at one of these five places to forage for provisions Monday.
1 For a hearty meal: Poste on Eighth Street -- just a little bit of a hike from the Mall -- is hosting a picnic-style gathering on its vast patio on the Fourth. You’ll have to make reservations for the price-fixe meal, which will come fresh off the grill (main options include a high-end hot dog or burger, or root-beer glazed pork spare ribs, plus fixings and dessert). The dinner, served from 2 to 8 p.m., costs $27 for adults and $14 for kids.
1 Fast food for the family: The below-ground food court at the Ronald Reagan Building, at Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street NW, is just blocks from the prime fireworks-viewing at the Washington Monument, and it’s packed with familiar chains. With Quick Pita, Subway, Sbarro, and gelato and sandwich shops, it will feed a hungry fam in a pinch. Many stands will be open till 7 p.m.
1 For a family on the go: If you prefer to stake out a spot on the Mall early in the day, pick up provisions that are already packed and ready to go at Pret a Manger (11th and F streets), which will be open on the Fourth from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The restaurant specializes in grab-and-go salads and sandwiches, and has options for vegetarians and vegans. Cowgirl Creamery will pack a spread for you, or you can pick up ready-made sandwiches filled with gourmet ingredients such as the creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese and fig spread.
1 For culture and kabobs: Don’t forget about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which is not only open for business July Fourth, but is also the spot for international food and ice-cold beers and lemonade. This year, the food is inspired by the palates of Colombia, Southeast Asia and West Africa, with a little American barbecue thrown in for good measure. Food will be served until at least 8 p.m., and all of it is priced under $10. Check out our rundown of the Folklife fare, and don’t forget to bring cash.
1 Don’t forget the museums: Museum cafes (and bathrooms!) can also be an option during museum hours; the cafes at the Natural History museum will be open until 8 p.m. Air and Space will be open till 7:30 p.m.