By Spencer Ackerman
Apropos of the great think-tank-lunch debate, my FDL colleague Pachacutec points out a glaring culinary omission. While it’s not by any stretch a free lunch — if you don’t watch yourself, you can really plunk down a lot of money — the cafeteria in the Brookings Institution offers a stunningly tasty and nutritious menu.
No lie. Usually ordering fish at a cafeteria amounts to gambling with your life, unless you’re getting some frozen fillet or -stick tossed out of a bag and into a deep-fryer. But I’ve had a light and nourishing salmon, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice, and it’s neither toxic nor cooked to a rubbery husk. The same goes for their chicken selections. Baked chicken, properly prepared, and with healthy starches and whole-grain assortments to accompany it, to say nothing of the vegetable options. (Hope you like squash yearround!) Feel like a sandwich? There’s a DIY cold-cut station. It’s by no means a gourmet lunch — this is a cafeteria in the most establishment think tank in human history — but it is a satisfying one.
Looking out from my North Dupont office, I’m wondering whether I want to go so far as to say Brookings offers the best lunch in Dupont Circle. We’ve got some Circle-based IFAers here, so they can weigh in. You don’t suffer for a shortage of options here. There’s any number of sit-down places for taking sources or editors for leisurely meetings, plus you’ve got Chipotle and Cosi and Five Guys, and, if absolutely necessary, Subway. Not far away are the 19th Street power-lunch spots like the Palm, and in the other direction, the Adams Morgan reliables like Astor Mediterranean on Columbia. But for the mixture of value and taste and the likely company of John Judis, the Brookings cafeteria really stands on its own two.