While casually inhaling mimosas and scarfing down $10 French fries at brunch this weekend, I looked up between bites and saw Newt Gingrich and his wife at the table across from mine. Thrilling, right?
One would think that since I see congressmen all day, every day, the thrill of spotting them around town would diminish over time. But, in my opinion, the day you’re too cool to #fangirl over seeing nearly obsolete and/or little known lawmakers in public is the day you’re ready to leave Washington.
So for all my fellow political nerds who take pleasure in telling our moms about the ‘famous’ people we ‘met’ at happy hour, here are a few places where the hunting grounds are fertile for ‘celebrity’ sightings.
Old Ebbitt Grill
Situated in downtown DC – just a hop, skip, and jump from K Street, the historic Old Ebbitt Grill is a favorite among politicians and legislators. The food is good, the atmosphere is sophisticated, and because there are so many tourists that wander in there, our elected leaders can blend in without being hassled. The bartenders are on point too, which is rare in a city notorious for crappy service.
In the up-and-coming Navy Yard neighborhood, Scarlet Oak is cool, unassuming, and lousy with young legislators. It’s an easy 10-minute walk from the Hill, making it accessible, but far enough away from the crowded Pennsylvania Ave. bar scene that lawmakers can knock a few back without being blitzed by frenzied Hill staff assistants and interns. It is blocks from a slew of higher-end apartment buildings that are home to many politicos, which is another reason so many of them hang out there after a hard day of voting. It has good food, cute bartenders, and you’re most likely to find me posted up at the bar drinking a tequila on the rocks. However, since I’m anonymous, you can scratch that last perk.
Capitol Hill Club
Warning: Capitol Hill Club is a member’s only elephant crossing. If you plan to celebrity spot here, you need to be accompanied by a member. However, once you’re in the door, there are Members galore! Another way to gain entrance into this Republican haven of Congressional celebrities is by attending an event – which shouldn’t be hard because it’s a fan favorite of advocacy groups. It was here, at one such event, that former Speaker John Boehner once beckoned me into an elevator, a glass of red wine in one hand, as he called me beautiful. But that’s a story for another time… perhaps over drinks at Scarlet Oak?
The Capital Grille
If you’re feeling fancy, you can take your celebrity spotting skills to The Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s a classy joint right down the street from the Capitol Complex, which is why you’re almost guaranteed to see some top notch legislators there. However, if you don’t want to spend your last $50 on happy hour, I’d suggest finding a cheaper alternative.
Speaking of cheaper alternatives, there is always Cap Lounge. A popular hangout for interns, lovers of cheap beer, and Congressional softball enthusiasts, the Lounge is a happenin’ spot, especially on Thursday nights. While this may not seem like the type of place to spot congressmen, you’d be surprised who you’ll find hanging out by the upstairs bar. There’s one young, good looking congressman in particular that frequents this dive, but hey, I’m not here to name names.