Dinners in Washington, often, are remembered for more than the food.

There, over the veal scallopini, past the bottle of wine, over the basket of warm bread, beyond the tuxedoed ma.itre d' -- there, shadowed by the soft glow of a candle in a quiet huddle with . . . Wait a minute. Is it? Can it be? Indeed.

Mick Jagger, Art Buchwald, Barry Goldwater, Ted Kennedy, Joe Theismann: They're all famous and they all have to eat and drink. From the performers in the Capitol to the performers at the Kennedy Center, you'll find the stars wining, dining, wheeling and dealing all over town.

For restaurant rubbernecks, this town is a smorgasbord of stars, though stalking the celebrities is more expensive than catching them on the silver screen, the tube or the front page. Your favorite politician is likely to dine at expensive, intimate restaurants; artists and theater folk gravitate toward the more moderately priced restaurants; and sports figures favor casual places where the drinks flow.

On almost any Sunday evening when Vice President Bush is in town, you can catch him and his family at GERMAINE'S restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue, quietly enjoying glazed chicken or pine cone fish at a corner table. On the opposite side of the room might be the David Brinkleys, who, says Germaine, are partial to the spicy dishes. You can go to almost any Capitol Hill restaurant on practically any day of the week and chow down with our nation's lawmakers. If you don't have time to sit in on a session of Congress, drop by either DUDDINGTON'S or the HAWK AND DOVE on Pennsylvania Avenue where, says manager Jeff Young, "all the members of Congress have come in at one time or another" for lunch or evening cocktails. If you're really lucky at the Hawk and Dove, you might glimpse a Supreme Court justice or two supping on a hamburger or relaxing after a hard day at court. At MORTON'S OF CHICAGO in Georgetown, the huge steaks and big stars rival each other for attention. One regular is Representative Dan Rostenkowski, who's big on the steak and the tomato salad and sometimes splurges with a shrimp cocktail. If you feed on national politics, it can be expensive to sate your appetite. Republican congressmen and senators belong to the prestigious members-only CAPITOL HILL CLUB, while Democrats frequent the MONOCLE restaurant. In fact, says manager Nick Selimos, so many member of Congress dine at his place that he often gets phone calls from the Senate and House cloakrooms advising his political patrons that they're wanted in the chamber for a vote. Some regulars at the Monocle include Senators Thad Cochran, Ted Kennedy and Walter Huddleston. Members of the House often stationed at the 23-year-old restaurant are Representatives Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill, Joseph P. Addabbo and Nicholas Mavroules. The Monocle is also a favorite of some Supreme Court justices, including William Rehnquist, Byron White and Lewis Powell, says Selimos. "Even Chief Justice Burger is one of our regulars." Another Capitol Hill hangout where freshman and seasoned legislators dine is 2091/2, where Senator Kennedy is labeled the "favorite customer" by the owners. And don't forget to peek into HUNAN ON CAPITOL HILL, BULLFEATHERS, the DUBLINER and the BRASSERIE for a further look at the real Capitol Hill scene. Senator Barry Goldwater is known to stray from the Capitol Hill dining scene and entertain at Germaine's. Germaine says ambassadors from GreatBritain, Switzerland, Japan, Barbados and Tunisia are also good customers and add a United Nations-type atmosphere to the Asian- cuisine restaurant. And when Mick Jagger stopped by without reservations, he brought a style all his own. White House staffers don't wander far from their home base to wine and dine. One block from the White House on F Street is MAISON BLANCHE, a French restaurant that occasionally doubles as an office for top Reagan advisers Edwin Meese, Michael Deaver and James Baker. "Sometimes the three of them come in here together and sit and talk where it's a bit more quiet," says Ann Hartley, vice president and co-owner. Among the executive branch officials who dine regularly at Maison Blanche are Attorney General William French Smith, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and national security adviser William P. Clark. Helene von Damm, who used to be White House personnel chief before being named ambassador to Austria, was a frequent patron, too. Bold autograph-seekers in Maison Blanche should remember before approaching any Cabinet member that the Secret Service force will be with your every move. And anyway, says Hartley, those who eat in her restaurant usually know better than to ask the diners for anything beyond the salt. Former EPA chief Anne Gorsuch Burford used to go to Morton's, and her successor, William Ruckelshaus, went there to celebrate his wedding anniversary. Manager Michael Sternberg says he also once saw Vice President Bush put away a 24-ounce T-bone steak. Sternberg says he tries to discourage others from getting too close to his famous patrons, but when someone does, the celebrities "are usually quite amiable." Eyeing the Washington press corps is a bit trickier than picking up on the pols, as media types have roosts all over town. Among the most popular after-deadline meeting places is the CLASS REUNION bar on H Street NW, where such CBS News notables as Bill Plante, Ike Pappas or Fred Graham may be perched near the peanuts. Los Angeles Times bureau chief Jack Nelson and Marty Nolan from the Boston Globe are known to drop anchor there, too. Staffers of the Chicago Tribune, whose office is near the bar, have made Class Reunion their second headquarters, according to Joan Grbach, the bar's general manager. Grbach adds that many foreign correspondents also stop by to catch up on office gossip, and sometimes folks from the White House press office come in for a few rounds. MEL KRUPIN'S on Connecticut Avenue is a favorite lunch spot for members of the press, among them Art Buchwald, the Kalb brothers (Marvin and Bernard of NBC) and an ABC contingent of Frank Reynolds, Sam Donaldson (who enjoys the roast beef with red wine) and Ted Koppel who, says Krupin, "really likes the crabcakes." Fill your wallet and reserve a table at CANTINA D'ITALIA if you want to watch WJLA's Renee Poussaint cover the food beat. Sports-scanners can find members of Team America, the Washington Federals and various local rugby clubs heading for either the IRISH TIMES or the BOTTOM LINE after the games. "We've gotten the rugby players to go home and change before coming in," said Pancho Bait, Bottom Line manager. "We try to keep the wildness down." Beyond their $600 bar bill, the rugby players consume "sometimes 20 pounds of chili in 45 minutes." The soccer players are a bit more subdued, said Bait: "We usually feed them spaghetti. They're a nice crowd." The Washington Capitals hockey players frequent FAUNSWORTH'S in the Kettering Plaza in Largo after the games -- and even during the week for lunch. Tickets to the Bullets game sold out? Well, while you're visiting the Caps in the saloon-style restaurant, look around for hoopers, too. They sometimes break bread with the hockey players -- or come in to catch other sports games on the bar's six-foot cable TV screen. The ROYAL MILE PUB in Wheaton quenches the thirst of local running clubs and national champs who jog by when racing around town. Sports figures also tend to mingle with the music crowd: Billy Kilmer, Sonny Jurgensen, Joe on TV. After that, it's dinner at JOE AND MOE'S on Connecticut Avenue or out to the ALPINE in Arlington. And, of course, JOE THEISMANN'S in Baileys Crossroads is a big draw for football players and fans. FRITZBE'S in Reston is another hot spot to sight Redskins. And THE EVENT, a neighborhood bar in Herndon, has become headquarters for the Hogs, the Redskins' offensive line. A place to catch the stars catching other stars is the WAX MUSEUM bar and nightclub, which features local and nationally known musicians. Redskins George Starke and John Riggins checked in recently to check out a country music act. Sugar Ray Leonard has been at "the wax" (as it's commonly called) to hear Patrice Russian and Chaka Khan, and actor Gary Busey was there to see his buddy Jerry Lee Lewis perform. Rockabilly regulars Ratso and Tom Principato are there quite often, says Mark O'Brien, advertising and promotion director. The Wax is also a hangout for celebrity disc jockeys. Weasel and Diane of WHFS fame are always around and so is Adam Smasher from DC101. O'Brien says Q-107's Uncle Johnny comes in just about every weekend "but no one really recognizes him." Into jazz? CHARLIE'S OF GEORGETOWN is a swinging place to spot local jazz musicians. Maybe you'll find Keter Betts (bassist for Ella Fitzgerald) or Bertell Knox stopping by to say hello. And, sometimes, says Betty Martin, owner and vice president, Steve Novosel and Eddy Phyfe come in to jam with other local jazzists who dropped in for a bit. Martin also mentions that Al Jarreau, Phyllis Diller and Leonard Bernstein came around when they were in town recently. National Symphony Orchestra conductor Mstislav Rostropovich fancies the food at JEAN LOUIS AT THE WATERGATE. He's been dieting lately and orders mostly fish and other non-fattening foods. "But sometimes he has sauce on the side," says resaturant manager Marcia Martina. "He's such a cutie." Missed the latest performance at Dance Place or the WPA? Well, drop by HERB'S RESTAURANT on P Street NW, where the "artsy" crowd congregates. Seated in the bar/restaurant you may find choreographers Maida Withers and Danny West, sculptor Leon Berkowitz and artists Sheila Isham and Rebecca Davenport. Owner Herb White said other celebrity drop-ins included Phoebe Snow, Jody Powell, Helen Hayes and Jane Alexander. Can't afford the price of tickets at the Kennedy Center's shows? Fear not, because there's always the INTRIGUE -- a popular place for the performers after the show. Elizabeth Taylor, when she's appearing in town, usually has a party for the cast and crew in the restaurant. Hal Linden is also known to pop in whenever he's performing at the Kennedy Center; owners Peter and Barbara LaRicos say he's crazy over their bacon cheeseburger. The spotlight shines at the FOGGY BOTTOM CAFE for visiting theater folk, too. Actors Vincent Price and Peter Falk and actress Angela Lansbury recently dined at the small restaurant located in the River Inn. Robert Redford, Claudette Colbert and James Coco also stay at the River Inn and dine at the cafe when in town for performances. So does the Kabuki Company of Japan. So, whether it's burgers with Butz or crabcakes with Koppel, this town is really a great place to find the stars in their havens. You just have to know where to look.