capitolhillAlabaster columns. Majestic bronze statues. Staffers rushing by in their finest Brooks Brothers suits, theclickclack of their heels or wingtips echoing through marbled halls.

The Hill, that anchor of the National Mall, tends to be a focal point of tourist paraphernalia (or the taboo political argument at the dinner table). Thankfully, you can put both preconceptions to rest, because the area surrounding the District’s most recognizable dome has come into its own – and it’s well worth the trek.

Convinced Georgetown and Dupont Circle lay claim to the best of D.C. food? Think again, and remember that even our congressmen and women (and their abundance of staffers) need dependable eateries close to work.

Venture over to Capitol Hill when you have the chance (and a bad case of cravings) and head straight to Good Stuff Eatery. You have yet to experience the best of burgers until you sidle up to the counter and order a Farmhouse Burger and a Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake at this two-story joint. Run by Top Chef all-star Spike Mendelsohn, this gem of the Hill entices politicos who storm through the halls of Congress as well as District natives. If homemade burgers don’t tickle your fancy, then walk right next door to We the Pizza, which will perfectly sate your hunger. Also owned by Spike, We the Pizza has some good wings, but true to their name, they excel in the field of pizza. If you want something light with loads of garlic, order a White Pie.

Torn between Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza? Fear not, for Matchbox Capitol Hill blends the best of each. With trendy appetizers and cocktails, this vintage pizza bistro is only minutes from the Eastern Market Metro stop, providing you easy access and cheap transportation. Should you feel adventurous, order the brussels sprouts side dish. Leave your childhood qualms at home, because these brussels sprouts are sliced, sauteed, tossed with bacon bits and topped with Gorgonzola cheese — an explosion of flavor that is well worth savoring. To top it off, Matchbox, though a destination restaurant, only has a minutes-long wait to get a table even when the place is packed. If you’re yearning for a slice of Capitol Hill that isn’t overrun by tour buses full of eighth graders, take a step beyond the halls of Congress.

A local favorite with eclectic fare, Eastern Market deserves a place on every Hoya’s to-do list. Operating for over 136 years, Eastern Market is D.C.’s oldest continually operated public market, and a fixture of the Southeast D.C. community. Inside the market building, merchants offer an array of fresh produce, meats and cheeses. The glass counter at the Fine Sweet Shop glows with a tempting assortment of homemade cakes, cookies, tarts and breads.

For one of the best breakfast deals in town, stop by Market Lunch, also located within the market. Just be sure to go early since they stop serving breakfast at 11 a.m. on Saturdays (and forget about heading over on a Sunday, when this eatery serves lunch exclusively). Forming a line out the door, customers here ache for their fix of blueberry buckwheat pancakes. “Blue Bucks” in the Washingtonian vernacular, these sweet treats are delicious, healthy (blueberries, right?) and a mere $5.25. If you’re craving something more savory, the market also cooks up a hearty breakfast sandwich, “The Brick.” As its name suggests, the sandwich is unabashedly oversized, its homemade biscuit filled with your choice of meat (bacon, sausage, or ham), cheese, eggs and fried potatoes. Or for a taste of local Chesapeake fare, sample the crab cake eggs benedict. For those among you who can’t roll out of bed in time for Market Lunch’s breakfast hours, consider a crabcake sandwich, Carolina BBQ pulled pork sandwich or a side of fried green tomatoes. Tap into your inner Southerner and wash it all down with a sweet tea.

On Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Flea Market houses roughly 100 exhibitors, spanning five continents and selling everything from vintage tablecloths to miniature Buddha figurines to alpaca hats. Featuring many vintage and antique trinkets, the market is an ideal destination for a distinctive gift that doesn’t cost you your whole student-guard paycheck. At some notable stalls, you’ll find silver jewelry from Tibet, tapestries from Ghana or hand-knit gloves from Peru. Just steps from the Capitol, you not only find yourself at the nation’s crossroads, but at the world’s, too.

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