Explore Washington D.C.

The First Diners: Where the Obamas Eat in Washington, D.C.

The presidential family's dining trail goes from healthy fare to burgers, business meals to date nights

Secret Service comes by, dogs sniff, staffers get background checks, tents go up at the door, police block roads, and counter-snipers peer down from roofs. The president is coming! It’s a protocol that often but not always holds with the Obamas. Like Bill Clinton before them, they dine out frequently in Washington, and their protectors have to adjust. Visitors can retrace the steps of POTUS and FLOTUS by eating as they do across the city, filling time between meals by discovering sights in each neighborhood. The president goes for fast food, the first lady models healthy choices, and together they seek out fine, new places. Follow our one-day D.C. itinerary and eat like the president and his family:

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict with pork belly (Courtesy Blue Duck Tavern)


POTUS and FLOTUS once celebrated a wedding anniversary with dinner at Blue Duck Tavern in the West End. The upscale yet rustic restaurant helped pioneer Michelle’s cause of local sourcing. Since that visit, breakfast has become a good reason to go: eggs Benedict with smoked trout, stone fruit French toast, short rib hash with hand-harvested eggs. An Obama friend from the Chicago days, Art Smith offers health-conscious breakfasts at Art & Soul near Capitol Hill.

Ceviche (Courtesy Oyamel)


Lunchtime finds the Obamas on divergent paths. Barack likes to treat staffers and hang with Biden over hamburgers and shakes. (His love of that particular fast food has inspired a burger watch blog.) But he also goes by Ben’s Chili Bowl to pick up a half-smoke. Michelle attended a Democratic women's luncheon at Toro Toro, the new Asia-meets-Latin spot on McPherson Square. On Valentine’s Day, the Obamas went to Penn Quarter’s Oyamel, a Mexican outpost in the José Andrés empire. FLOTUS had scouted it at lunch, then took her husband to this spot she calls a favorite in D.C. 

Fiola Mare Raw Bar
Fiola Mare Raw Bar (©Greg Powers Photography)


President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel dined on beet salad and beef tenderloin at Georgetown's 1789, elegantly hushed for conversation. The Obamas enjoy date nights and show up, after security sweeps, at restaurants like conscientious Equinox near the White House, the acclaimed Indian Rasika West End in Foggy Bottom and, surprising fellow diners, at Alexandria’s Vermilion. Recently daughters joined them at Fiola Mare, the new Italian at Washington Harbour.