Where to meet and greet

The Monocle doesn’t look like something to brag about, as its location is in the middle of a big parking lot, as close to the Senate side of the Capitol as you can get. But inside the small yellow building there is a piece of history hiding. People have come to network at the restaurant since it opened in the fall of 1960. The walls are filled with pictures of senators, representatives, presidents and even one of director Martin Scorsese, a 2007 Oscar winner.

Inside the restaurant are red tones and dark wood. On the beams by the ceiling, proprietor John Valanos has put 15 political quotes in gold.

“Now you can pretend that you are looking at a quote, when you actually are looking at some interesting person,” Valanos says with a smile.

One of the quotes was by President Reagan: “Washington is the only city where sound travels faster than light.” And this seems to be true when you speak of The Monocle. Every person asked where members eat said The Monocle. But how the restaurant owner built such a good reputation, he doesn’t know, since he hardly advertises.

“It’s my personality,” Valanos says, laughing. “When people come here they get a slice of history at the same time as they are having lunch or dinner.”

He also believes that people come for the moderately expensive food and the remarkable staff of 40.

The Monocle arranges about 15 events a week, such as fundraisers, anniversaries and birthdays. They also have breakfasts and dinners. One of their rooms fits up to 60 people dining or about 100 during a cocktail party.

For the smaller group, they have a room for about six to eight people. The intimate room has beautiful, dark wooden floors and furniture of the same material. Along one of the walls, they keep some of their red wine.

“Members are regular customers, and are mostly the ones who have these events,” Valanos says.

The secret behind why all of these well-known people come to this charming old restaurant to interact with old and new contacts may be the way the dining rooms are furnished. People can mix easily, and the staff allows its guests to walk from table to table.

“But we also respect a member’s privacy,” Valanos says. “We make sure a person is left alone, and that people who shouldn’t go to someone’s table [don’t].”

Although Valanos and his staff meet some of the most important political figures each day, they always try to treat everyone the same way, to make all customers feel that they are taken care of as much as everyone else in the restaurant.
It isn’t money or having famous people at the restaurant that makes Valanos satisfied. “My reward is seeing people walking in for eating and being satisfied when leaving,” he says.

It isn’t money or having famous people at the restaurant that makes Valanos satisfied. “My reward is seeing people walking in for eating and being satisfied when leaving,” he says. 

107 D St. N.E. • 202-546-4488 • www.themonocle.com 


Other restaurants popular with members of Congress

Bistro Bis
This French bistro, award-winning because of its interior, is a nice restaurant where many senators, congressmen, celebrities and powerbrokers go for lunch or dinner. While there, try some of the cheese, and eat it the European way: after the entrée and before, or even in place of, dessert.
15 E St. N.W. • 202-661-2700 • www.bistrobis.com

To be on the safe side, you should make reservations to enjoy the Sonoma restaurant and wine bar. When the weather gets warmer, try to grab a table outdoors.
223 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E. • 202-544-8088 • www.sonomadc.com

Charlie Palmer Steak
This big, beautiful restaurant suits every networking need, from private rooms with soundproof walls to a rooftop terrace perfect for a cocktail party overlooking the Capitol.
101 Constitution Ave. N.W. • 202-547-8100 • www.charliepalmer.com

White Tiger
The white tiger stands for perfection, and so does this restaurant. This is a great Indian place with a patio that gives the restaurant that little extra something during a nice summer night.
301 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. • 202-546-5900 • www.whitetigerdc.com

B. Smith’s
At one time, B. Smith’s served as a suite for the president and first lady when they were due to board a train at Union Station. The restaurant is very elegant, with a 30-foot ceiling and chandeliers.
50 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. (at Union Station) • 202-289-6188 • www.bsmith.com/restaurant_dc_home.php

Special event

Dare 2 Dream Gala
One of the biggest networking events that support youth entrepreneurship, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s Dare 2 Dream Gala is taking place May 2. Why not go network with present and future entrepreneurs?
Marriott Park Hotel • 202-237-0090 • www.nftegw.com 


Where to meet and greet
Harvard, Wharton business schools’ alumni forge connections