The National Museum of the American Indian

Over Veterans Day Weekend we were getting a little stir crazy at home with the kids so we dared to venture into DC in search of a place where the kids could roam free and my wife and I could take in some culture. Museums offer such a respite especially when its cold out. My wife had heard that the National Museum of the American Indian‎ is renowned for its food. Having been to Smithsonian museums as a child, I had horrible visions of overcooked hamburgers and stale fries at exhorbitant prices so I was skeptical. However, I needed some air so I agreed to chauffer the family into town.

After a pleasant drive down the GW Parkway (on my list as one of the top drives in the world), we arrived at the museum. Parking was surprisingly easy to find at the Capitol building and a short walk later we were inside. The museum itself is housed in a pueblo style building with a circular layout. The circles extend to the ceiling which you can see from my artistic shot above.

Fortunately the cafeteria, called the Mitisam Cafe, is on the first floor and is easily accessible via a ramp. (Being a father of twins, I have to keep the little ones in the stroller when foraging for food, lest they wander off so I’m always in search of “wheelchair access”). The cafeteria seating area is open and airy with lots of natural light and the “food court” is creatively organized by regions where “American Indians” lived, such as the Northwest, Great Plains and Meso America. I made my way over to the “Great Plains” section. I was intrigued by a Buffalo and Duck burger but was scared off by its visual representation which was reminiscent of the Smithsonian burgers of my youth. As I was waiting in line, one of the chefs at the station offered up to a nice young lady an eponymous dish called “Barry’s Special” which was extension of their famous “Indian Taco”. Seeing the heaping servings of buffalo meat drenched in a flavorful sauce on a plate of warm Indian Fry Bed and covered with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, the dish sounded heavenly. When I came up to order, I simply said: “I’ll have what the Lady had”. Chef Barry enthusiastically prepared my plate, commenting that I should come back after I had finished eating to tell him how it was. Excitedly, I grabbed a bottle of Illy Issimo Mochaccino Glass, paid my exhorbitant $17.50 for the combination and sat down. Digging in, it was almost heaven (the Fry Bred could have been a little bit softer) but the combination of the meat, stew and salad on the soft bread was delectable. Even after sharing half of it with my wife, I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the afternoon. My wife had a salmon dish whose sides were very good but nothing like my piece of “Barry’s Special!”

The museum itself was interesting, especially some of the top floor exhibits on Native Americans’ views of the Universe, but its definitely a place to stop for food. I imagine even a cup of coffee and a pastry would be delightful as well.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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