The Hill Life: Best Places on the Hill

Yesterday, the good folks at Roll Call sent around a short survey about life on the Hill.  So I thought that I’d answer them here.

Sure, I could have responded to the survey for my chance to win a $20 Starbucks gift card, but I don’t drink Starbucks.  (I have an aversion to paying $4 for a drink whose primary ingredient is tap water.  I’d rather spend the money on clothes.)

Where is the best place on the Hill to…

1. …go for a discreet job interview?  If you’re interviewing for a job in another Congressional office, the best place to meet is in that Member’s office.  No one will think twice about a staffer being in the office of another Congressman. 

If you’re interviewing for a job off of the Hill and you are trying to keep it quiet, I recommend going to an area of the Hill that I refer to as the black hole.  If you walk past the Potbelly Sandwich shop on 3rd Street, and head south toward the freeway, there are a number of delis, restaurants and coffee shops.  The odds of you running into another Hill staffer at one of these establishments is practically zero because their primary customer base is federal employees.  Plus, these restaurants are close enough to the House Office Buildings to get you back to work in an appropriate amount of time for your lunch break.

Similarly, if you’re on the Senate side, I would head towards places like Third & Eats and the coffee houses near Judiciary Square.  These businesses are primarily frequented by court employees, not Hill Staffers despite their proximity to the Senate.

2. …take a coworker you like for a birthday lunch?  If you like a co-worker, you should show your affection by taking them off the Hill.  We all spend way too much time eating a T-Coast, La Loma, and Bullfeather’s.  But if you must stay close to home, so to speak, walk them down toward Eighth Street and hit up Belga Café or Ba Bay for something a bit different. 

3. …have a drink with lunch without your boss seeing you?  Maryland.  Unless you work for a Member from Maryland, in which case, Virginia. 

Otherwise, either don’t drink with lunch or drink a cocktail that can stay incognito like Jack and Coke. 

4. …get some work done on your laptop?  While the cafeterias have wi-fi, they’re usually noisy and/or dirty.  There’s just no way to keep up with the barrage of tour groups who eat there during the day. 

It’s a bit of a hike, but a friend recommended Pound the Hill.  Also, the upper floor of Cosi.  For my money, I would take my mobile hotspot from Verizon and head to the Botanical Gardens.  It’s quiet.  It’s picturesque.  And they have indoor and outdoor seating.

5. …meet a blind date after work?  Again, get off the Hill.  Just because we work here doesn’t mean we have to be tethered to this neighborhood like a toddler on a leash.  Branch out a bit. 

Also, this depends on the date.  I assume if it’s blind, you’ll need to get to know the person.  So you’ll want something quiet enough to talk.  Non-bar option?  I like Teaism in Penn Quarter.  The metro is right there and if it goes well you can move on to dinner nearby.  As for the bars, The Source, Sonoma and Cava are all good options.

I suppose the point I am trying to make is this, if you need to stay on the Hill, do.  But don’t choose a place on the Hill because you feel like you should stay nearby.  Chinatown, H Street, Eastern Market and Eighth Street are all close enough to be convenient and far enough away to help create a work-life balance. 

That’s right.  Life does exist off of the Hill. 


    leave a comment

  1. alex says:

    I had the hardest time with the 3rd question, but I think you nailed the answer!

    June 22, 2011/Reply
  2. Jane says:

    Three words about Pound the Hill: Iced Nutella Lattes.

    June 22, 2011/Reply
  3. Brittany says:

    For a place to go for discreet meeting, a great hideaway spot even closer than the Potbellys by Federal Center SW is the American Indian Museum. Amazing food menu and is pretty quiet during non- summer hours.

    June 22, 2011/Reply