Capitol Hill staffers looking to buy gifts for the foodie friends and colleagues among them should look no further than a gift card to one of the many eateries around town.
And for those who want to help support — as well as show off — the ever-changing Capitol Hill neighborhood, there are a host of restaurants to satisfy every price range and palate.
From upscale haunts replete with D.C.’s movers and shakers to hole-in-the-wall joints bursting with flavor, we’ve compiled a list with our best picks for Hill dining.
Sonoma Wine Bar
For the wine enthusiast, a gift card to this Northern California-themed restaurant is the perfect selection.
Experienced wait staff can point diners to the right wine pairing from the dozens of domestic and Italian choices on their extensive list.
Diners looking to dabble can choose from three different wine flights chosen by Sonoma staffers. Fans of bubbly can choose the “tiny bubbles” flight of three sparkling wines; red wine connoisseurs can sample three red blends; and a staff-pick flight features favorites from the restaurant’s menu.
Glasses are priced from $7 to $18, with bottles starting at $25 and peaking at $164. Dishes range from $10 — for personal pizzas — to $35 for a main course.
Gift card tip: A $25 gift card would buy a diner a few nice glasses of wine. Hike up the price to $75, and your recipient could splurge on dinner and drinks for two.
Location: 223 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Contact: 202-544-8088; sonomadc.com
Breakfast lovers will dig Ted’s Bulletin, a casual newspaper-themed restaurant on Barracks Row that’s gotten considerable press after President Barack Obama dined there in August 2011.
Ted’s is the place to go for breakfast-for-dinner enthusiasts, with favorites such as biscuits and gravy and stacks of pancakes, to the massive breakfast sandwich called the T.U.B.S. — short for Ted’s Ultimate Breakfast Sammy — a fried egg, scrambled egg, sausage, bacon and cheddar sandwiched between two slices of thick Texas toast.
Homemade Pop-Tarts and boozy milkshakes are also fun choices for friends with a sweet tooth.
Gift card tip: Spend $25, and your diner could get a breakfast and milkshake and even splurge on a Pop-Tart to go. (They’d be too stuffed to enjoy it there.)
Location: 505 Eighth St. SE
Contact: 202-544-8337; tedsbulletin.com
Johnny’s Half Shell
Perfect for the networkers in your social group, Johnny’s is the place to go to brush elbows with political types.
The seafood restaurant is the locale of choice for lobbyists and politicians hosting fundraisers as well as grabbing a drink after work with colleagues, so Johnny’s provides good people-watching and networking opportunities.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Johnny’s has many options to choose from, ranging from classic Maryland crab cakes to a fried oyster po’ boy. Entrees don’t come cheap, however, so for those on a budget, go for the happy hour menu with discounted food — such as fried calamari, raw oysters and a cheese plate — and drinks, including $8 cocktails and draft beers for $5.50.
Gift card tip: You’ll need to give $100 for a dinner for two at Johnny’s. But if you’re on a budget, $25 would get the recipient an appetizer and a beer or two during happy hour.
Location: 400 North Capitol St. NW
Contact: 202-737-0400; johnnyshalfshell.net
Good Stuff Eatery
There are a lot of places to grab a burger in D.C., but pioneer Spike Mendelsohn’s joint is one of the best.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Capitol complex, Good Stuff is a favorite lunch take-out spot for Hill staffers, making this restaurant the perfect place to buy a gift card for an office Secret Santa.
In addition to tasty burgers and crispy fries, Good Stuff also serves up hand-spun milkshakes and classic root beer floats at wallet-friendly prices.
Burgers start at just $5.95, with the most expensive option an $8.50 “Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown,” loaded with bacon and cheese on a double patty.
Gift card tip: A $15 gift card to this classic joint will keep you solvent and leave the recipient more than sated.
Location: 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Contact: 202-543-8222; goodstuffeatery.com