Last week's Family Out on restaurants in the museums had several incorrect hours listed. The cafeteria in the National Gallery of Art is open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. In the National Gallery's Cascade Cafe and the East Building's Terrace Cafe the hours are 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Carousel in the National Museum of Natural History is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
Atmosphere: Ranging from elementary school simplicity at Capital Children's Museum to the aesthethic refinement of the National Gallery's East Building Terrace Cafe.
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; after April 1 until 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
Price Range: From 75 cents for a chicken salad sandwich to $5 for quiche and salad.
Reservations: Not taken
Credit Cards: Cash only.
Special Facilities: All museum food services are accessible by wheelchair. Parking for the handicapped available at the National Gallery of Art East Building. Call 381-5664 for information.
My growing-up memories of the nation's capital are full of museum trips. But those childhood recollections are less of the Wright brothers' Kitty Hawk or painted visions at the National Gallery and more of feeling starved.
I got hungry. Not to even mention thirsty. Since there was no place then for a quick revival of flagging spirits and rumbling tummies, my concentration was more on what I would order when we finally ate than on the exhibits meant to expand my horizons. So much for culture on an empty stomach.
Today's children are luckier. In the midst of museums dedicated to history, beauty and technology, there is food. Satisfying lunches, snacks and dinner can be found.
But try not to go at the height of lunch hour. Lines are long, service is impersonal and the wait, particularly with children, can be tiring.
Here, then, is a field guide to eating in Washington's museums:
Terrace Cafe, National Gallery of Art East Building, upper level. Constitution Avenue at 4th Street NW. Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; after April 1 until 7:30 p.m. Coffee and dessert until 4:30 weekdays.
This restaurant overlooking the giant red-and-black Calder mobile beneath pyramidal skylights has a view few other museum restaurants can match. And it's carpeted and quiet. So, if you'd like a brief respite over interestng entrees, an aperitif or glass of wine in beautiful surroundings, or the children crave Haagen-Dazs ice cream -- go.
For a family lunch or dinner, the menu is a limited one with not much selection for young children. Two 10-year-olds shared a large, delectable hamburger, at $3.25 accompanied by potato chips, lettuce and tomato, in anticipation of the hot fudge sundaes they had seen on the menu.
Unfortunately, the sundaes were so disappointing -- the chocolate sauce on the bottom was hardly hot fudge -- they were sorry they hadn't ordered two hamburgers. But they munched part of my fine quiche with mushrooms, bacon and broccoli, which came with a salad of fresh marinated vegetables, $5.
Fruits and vegetables are big items on this menu. Ratatouille with noodles Romanoff was a combination of fresh zucchini, green peppers, eggplant, tomato and onion, cooked al dente and flavored with melted cheese, $4.25.
A good bet here is the Gallery Special fruit and cheese platter for $4.75.
It's ample for more than one, but don't request an extra plate or silverware -- it will cost you $1. There is a charge, too, for additional cups of coffee.
A chocolate cake pastry with chocolate cream filling was delicious, and cappucino was a perfect fillip for the adults. Lunch at $20.65, with tax and tip was more expensive than at any other museum restaurant. But the same offerings at dinner hour would seem reasonable.
Cafeteria and Cascade Cafe, National Gallery of Art, Concourse Level. Constitution Avenue at 6th Street NW. Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. After April 1 until 7:30 p.m.
Under an accordion-pleated steel ceiling, a self-service cafeteria featuring a hot and cold buffet shares space with a limited-menu cafe at the National Gallery's main dining facility. Round, marble-topped tables with plexiglass and chrome chairs overlook a waterfall set off by plants, flowers and walls hung with Miro and Mondrian reproductions. Good for your digestive system, all that art and oxygen. What is not are the masses of people.
The Cascade Cafe's menu reads much like the one for the Terrace Cafe with a few different offerings. And, on this trip, the children were too hungry to wait for table service, so we tried the cafeteria.
A Carvery Deli Bar offers turkey, roast beef, tuna and ham sandwiches with trimmings. And there is a create-your-own-salad section, which costs $2.40 plus 25 cents for salad dressing.
From the fast-food area, a hamburger for $1.35 was fairly good but lukewarm, and the french fries didn't look appealing.
The best items were on the hot buffet. Macaroni, beef and tomato casserole for $1.55 and one-quarter barbecue chicken for $2 were both winners. The barbecue sauce was thick and tangy, and the macaroni casserole came chunky with ground beef and still-firm tomato pieces.
Lunch for four was $9.35.
Patent Pending, National Portrait Gallery. 8th and F Street NW. Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
When you consider that the owners of this food service, located in two small, art-filled rooms, also own 209 1/2 and formerly owned Hot Diggity Dog, you'll know why the food is so good. That might also explain why, when you order a kosher hot dog with chili or sauerkraut, the help yells back to the kitchen, "one hot diggity dog." And the hot dog with chili, topped with chopped onions, was so good, we wanted another.
As a bonus, in warm weather you can eat outside in a charming courtyard between two museums. The Courtyard Special is soup and salad, $1.55. But the ambiance of canebacked Breuer chairs, a fireplace and high ceilings may keep you indoors.
We tried the homemade soup of the day, 90 cents, a delicious tomato bisque with chunks of onion and zucchini floating on top. The turkey salad sandwich, $2.40, was overflowig with large pieces of white meat turkey on a thick poppy seeded roll.
There are excellent homemade goodies and fresh fruit for desserts. Everything here is self-service, and it never seems crowded. A very filling lunch for four was $10.16.
Cafeteria, National Air and Space Museum. 7th and Independence Avenue SW.
This is probably the best place of all for a Coke, but not much else in the third-floor cafeteria of this modern building was worth it. Large elevators disgorge hordes of hungry museum visitors only steps away from a revolving food carousel where kids are prone to grab soft drinks, french fries and chemically laden desserts before you have a chance to say, "How about an apple?" I know. Mine did.
Perhaps the best thing about this restaurant -- run by an institutional caterer, ARA -- is the view from the large windows overlooking the museum-bordered Mall. Fried chicken managed to be greasy outside and dry inside. But the coffee was hot.
Carousel, National Museum of Natural History. Constitution Avenue at 10th Street NW.
This revolving carousel full of fast food is brought to you by the owners of Roy Rogers, the Marriott Corporation. But the roast beef here, $1.50, is not hot and full of natural juices such as you might find at your local Roy Rogers. It was dried out along the edges and tasted as though it had been refrigerated a while.
Hamburgers, though, are good quarter-pounders for $1, juicy and fairly hot. And the cole slaw, with lots of celery seed, was fresh and delicious. But a tuna sandwich with wilting lettuce tasted as though it might have been made the day before.
Each booth here is decorated with pictures of animal and plant life. A plant-hung skylight and lots of greenery made it a nice lunch stop. Other pluses: a coffee bar with sanka and tea, to be refilled free, and a nonsmoking section.
The Mane Restaurant and Cafeteria, National Zoological Park. 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Lower parking area. Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours until 6 p.m.
While you're waiting in a long Sunday line outside, the wafting aroma of grilling hamburgers is irresistible. And, if you're lucky you'll get one that's medium rare, thick and juicy. This was the case in one out of three we picked. The other two were long overcooked and dry.
This cafeteria is a mixed bag: Campbell's soup by the cup for 60 cents, stadium grade all-beef hot dogs served with chili or sauerkraut for $1.10, barbecue beef sandwich on Ottenberg Bakery buns $1.25, and fish sandwiches $1.20.
Unfortunately, one hour before closing on the first warm Sunday this year, there was no more chili, or fish sandwiches, or barbecue beef, or ketchup, or straws. But there was real orange juice for 50 cents, a welcome change from soft drinks and, for dessert, what I find forever unchangingly good at the zoo -- popcorn.
An extra bonus: All cardboard popup trays bear words of wisdom such as, "Hippos can stay under water for five minutes," and "A giraffe's tongue can be almost two feet long."
Snack Bar, Capital Children's Museum. 12th and D Streets NE. Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In this medium snack bar you're liable to eat lunch next to kids with painted-on clown faces. And instead of masterpiece reproductions decorating the walls, there are originals done in bold tempera by schoolchildren from all over the country.
Nestor Hernandez, who runs this snack bar, and his daughter Yvonne make homemade sandwiches, cole slaw, potato salad and dessert good enough for family picnics at prices you'll remember from years gone by. A chick salad sandwich, made from a chicken roasted the night before, was 75 cents. It came on white bread with crisp lettuce and just enough mayonnaise.
Lunch for three was $3.59. In warm weather, everything can be enjoyed picnic style on the grounds.
Restaurant and Cafeteria, National Museum of History and Technology, lower level. Constitution Avenue between 1ith and 14th Streets NW. Restaurant section, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. until April 1.
My choice between these two revolving, carousel-type food services on opposite sides of the same room would always be the restauant. The food here is not much more expensive than the hamburgers and sandwiches in the fast-food area, and is certainly worth the difference in quality and variety. Both are Marriott operations.
First place was awarded the chicken. Moist, tender and meaty inside, it was crisp outside, and at $1.40 was the same price as the smaller, less attractive looking pieces across the room. Besides, it came on a real plate. So did the corned beef and cabbage entree, at $1.45 lean, tender, and ample.
A small carafe of California wine, which comes with its own glass for $1.50, is a nice touch for lunch in a museum.
We could have skipped dessert. The cheesecake with blueberry topping, 95 cents, was not the real McCoy. And vanilla pudding, though good and fluffy, was the instant variety. An apple was the best choice. Lunch here for four was $12.60.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Independence Avenue at 8th Street SW.
Beginning April 1, the Hirshhorn will again sell box lunches, wine, beer, sodas and giant chocolate-chip cookies for outdoor eating in the courtyard. Surrounded by sculpture, ablaze with colorful banners overhead, it is a great place for dining al fresco. Box lunches contain chicken, fruit and roll, or roast beef sandwiches and fruit. Prices and hours were unavailable at this writing.