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    Searching for Celebs? Try Their Favorite Haunts on the Hill

    By Denyse Tannenbaum
    Special to washingtonpost.com
    Tuesday, June 17, 1997

    When you come to Capitol Hill, you'd be remiss not to spend some time sightseeing: in the Capitol, gawking at the magnificent art inside the dome; the Library of Congress, sailing through exhibits and collections; and the Supreme Court, sitting in on an historic case. You have to face your friends back home.

    But if what you'd really like to do in Washington is spy your U.S. senator or representative outside the political spotlight, Capitol Hill may be the ideal place to start. Members of Congress like a good meal as much as anyone—some maybe more, judging by their girth. And it is only natural they haunt the best restaurants within a 10-minute walk of their offices.

    La Colline, at 400 N. Capitol St. NW, and The Monocle, at 107 D St. NE, are two of the favorites of members of both parties. Both restaurants also attract out-of-town celebrities and welcome the paparazzi. Both are an easy walk from the Union Station Metrorail stop.

    Legends abound about the irreverent behavior of two senators who, one night more than a decade ago, had a few drinks too many at La Colline. The revelry got so wild, serious damage was done to a number of framed photographs of Congress members who were restaurant regulars.

    At least one of the photos has since been re-hung, the restaurant manager said. Members and other celebrities continue to visit.

    The restaurant has an elegant atmosphere, expert staff and an inviting decor of upholstered booths and light wood paneling, slanted ceilings and sunlit windows. In warm weather, you can eat outside under canopied tables.

    The average price of a three-course lunch is $20. Dinner, replete with classic French foods such as foie gras and bouillabaisse, is about $30 unless you order the prix fixe, a good deal at $21.75. The prices do not include drinks.

    The Monocle, which serves American cuisine, has been a favorite of House and Senate members since 1960, when it opened. Restaurant staff are said to have often delivered roast beef sandwiches to President Kennedy at the White House.

    If you are in town when Congress is in session, your best bet is to visit The Monocle for dinner, if you want to run into a politician. But even if you don't meet your congressman, the pointed quotes painted on the ceiling and walls from past congressional and presidential visitors will help you understand the city better.

    One says, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

    The average lunch entree costs about $15. Dinner entrees average about $16 but with salad and drink would average about $25, the manager said.

    Back to offerings

    Irish Beer, a Book and Song
    A great thing to do, especially in June, is visit the Irish Times, a lively saloon at 14 F St. NW, just a few blocks' walk from the Union Station Metrorail stop. You can sit back, sip a stout and listen to a marathon reading of James Joyce's "Ulysses."

    The reading used to go on for one 36-hour stretch every year. But now, readers recite for shorter stints on a few June evenings in the downstairs bar of the friendly, often-crowded pub. Red and white checkered tablecloths, ceiling fans, solid pub fare and good Irish Guinness on draught complement a visit.

    Live music, Irish of course, is heard Wednesday through Saturday nights.

    If these tunes haven't sated you, try the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub a few doors down, at 4 F St. NW. Merry entertainers expect you to join in with them as they croon "Molly Malone," "Danny Boy" and other Irish favorites.

    For two more favorite pubs and Hill landmarks, try the Hawk and Dove Restaurant, at 3 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, which used to be serious journalists' watering hole, or the Tune Inn, which opened in 1947 and hasn't changed much since.

    You can reach both from the Eastern Market Metrorail station if you're wearing comfortable walking shoes. But don't walk alone at night.

    At the Hawk and Dove, you can play a game of darts or pool in the back room or watch a sports game on one of three TV monitors.

    The Tune Inn, at 331-1/2 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, stays open nightly until 2 a.m. and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It is an unpretentious neighborhood joint where you can get a good hamburger and beer for under $6.

    Back to offerings

    Going to Market
    The weekend is the best time to visit Eastern Market, on 7th Street SE between South Carolina and Pennsylvania avenues. It, too, is accessible from the Eastern Market Metrorail station.

    On Saturdays, artists and crafters from throughout the area sell their wares alongside farmers offering the freshest produce of the season.

    African art, New Mexican silver jewelry, locally made hats, silver earrings, Persian rugs and tie-dyed children's clothing represent some of the colorful outdoor merchandise.

    On Sundays, the arts and crafts people are back, this time sharing space with antique dealers, traders of old books and records and flea marketers.

    The market remains open all week, except Monday, for groceries, fresh fish, cheese, meat, flowers and more.

    Back to offerings

    Tasting Russia
    If you get hungry or bored with browsing, the market area serves up an interesting variety of inexpensive ethnic foods and colorful characters.

    Misha's, a Russian cafe across the street from the market, at 210 7th St. SE, is one of the locals' favorites as much for the toe-tapping tunes of its Balalaika performer as its hyperactive owner.

    Owner Misha Vasilevsky, who is almost always on site and ready to offer advice to anyone who will listen, serves up an eclectic mix of Russian caviar salad, stuffed grape leaves and potato and broccoli knishes with mustard. He also offers cherry or cheese blintzes, stuffed cabbage rolls and an array of homemade desserts.

    For a different ethnic experience, you can find delicious Turkish food around the corner at Anatolia's Turkish Cafe, at 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Try scrumptious Pakistani fare at Aatish on the Hill, at 609 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Or get a good Salvadoran or Mexican meal at Las Placitas, at 517 8th St., SE.

    © Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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