An eatery for families or a lonely wanderer

Ever wonder what it’s like to sit in a $621 million dining room?

Well, the Capitol Visitor Center’s (CVC) restaurant may be as close as you get. The eatery, set on the ground floor of the multimillion-dollar marble behemoth, serves up standard breakfast and lunch fare to satisfy the touring family or lonely wanderer.

After roaming through unfamiliar marble halls and being bombarded with new facts, all tourists really want is a familiar taste. And that’s exactly what the CVC restaurant delivers.

But not willing to settle on the ordinary, the restaurant expands on its definition of standard fare beyond hamburgers, french fries and pizza. The 530-seat eatery also has a home-style barbecue selection, including chicken breast, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and coleslaw. If that’s not enough comfort food for the Northeastern family, they also have a fresh cream of mushroom soup and a New England clam chowder.

For those visitors who want to expand their horizons even further, the CVC restaurant has a rotating Global Cuisine station, which offers food from a different part of the world every day.

On a recent Tuesday, the Caribbean menu offered a shredded braised beef, Creole fried chicken, fish curry, coconut rice, sautéed chiote with garlic and herbs, mango and black-pepper salad, black-eyed pea and tomato salad and a curry rice salad.

Unlike the House cafeterias that use recyclable plates and corn-based cutlery, the CVC restaurant makes visitors feel at home with ceramic plates and real silverware. The decor is typical cafeteria-style, with four chairs per table (which can be moved to accommodate larger groups) and, along the edges, benches upholstered in patterned fabric.

But as you sink your teeth into a plate of roasted turkey and a side of mashed potatoes from the “American Bounty” station, you won’t feel the overpowering shower of fluorescent cafeteria lighting beaming down on you. Instead, lights point to the ceiling, creating a bright but not headache-inducing experience.

The eatery has been criticized by staffers for its prices, which are steeper than those of the House cafeterias owned by the same company. But officials defend the CVC’s $8.50 for a country ham, brie, arugula and honey mustard sandwich by pointing out that it’s on par with the prices of other area museums.

Open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.