Mitsitam Cafe

Written by on November 21, 2013 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 1 Comment

( – National Mall, Smithsonian, SW Washington, DC

NMAI Mitsitam

How I heard of this place: Uncertain as to which of my friends first recommended Mitsitam, it has been on my list of places to dine for at least the past two years. Having been to the Museum a handful of times, walking by the Cafe and even joining friends at the end of their meals, I hadn’t had an opportunity to splurge at this award-winning (Winner of the “Best Casual Dining Restaurant” at the Rammy’s 2012) establishment until I planned to bring lunch home to my husband on this crisp fall morning.

NMAI Mitsitam Decor

Type of cuisine: “‘Mitsitam’ means “Let’s Eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway People.  The Mitsitam Cafe enhances the museum experience by providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy indigenous cuisines of the Americas.  The cafe features native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere. Northern Woodlands– Region that spans from the Atlantic Coast to the Mississippi and from Southern Canada to the Chesapeake; Mesoamerica– Home of the Papago or “Bean People” and spans from the American Southwest  to Mexico and Central America; South America– Region that encompasses the entire southwestern hemisphere; Northwest Coast– Region that stretches from Southern Alaska to Northern California; Great Plains– Region that stretched over the great landscape from Alberta, Canada to Texas. Each Station depicts the life ways and related cooking techniques, ingredients and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary Native dishes.”

NMAI Mitsitam Cafe

“A graduate of Baltimore Culinary College, [Executive Chef Richard Hetzler] worked at several fine-dining restaurants in the Washington, DC, and Baltimore area before joining Restaurant Associates at the Smithsonian museums.  Chef Hetzler was on the team that researched and developed the groundbreaking concept for the Mitsitam Cafe.  As executive chef, he continues to create and refine seasonal menus that showcase the Americas’ native bounty.”

NMAI Mitsitam Dessert

Ambiance: Reminiscent of a fancy college cafeteria, not unlike that of Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, the cafe can be accessed through the main entrance of the Museum itself. Enter the curved walls of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), make your way through security and follow the hallway as it curves to the right.

NMAI Mitsitam Espresso

The Cafe is situated on the left, windows looking out onto Maryland Street and the corner of 4th Ave and Independence Ave SW. Seating is abundant as government workers and staff flood the space during the lunch hour. Now, at opening time (11:00 a.m.), it is calm, and I make my way across the spacious, hardwood floored kitchen where I make my gustatory decisions.

NMAI Mitsitam Register

What I ordered: To start, as the Cafe had yet to open, I sipped on a White Chocolate Caramel Latte ($4.50), saving my Chocolate Macaroon ($4.50) for dessert!

NMAI Mitsitam Espresso Order

Once inside the Cafe, I chose the Cedar Planked Wild Salmon with a Wild Berry Glaze ($13.75)

NMAI Mitsitam Cafe Salmon

NMAI Mitsitam Salmon

and a side of Wild Rice & Watercress Salad ($3.55).

NMAI Mitsitam Wild Rice Salad

NMAI Mitsitam Wild Rice

I also had to have the Trio of Sliders ($13.95) with a side of fries to share with my hubby.

NMAI Mitsitam Sliders

What I loved: At first, my breakfast latte. And then, as I began to take a bite of each dish, the salmon’s moist and flaky consistency, followed by each of the sliders, every bite better than the last. Each bite, each delectable, mouth-watering, satisfying bite hit the spot!

NMAI Mitsitam Takeaway

Why I loved it: Handsomely prepared, a focus on quality and sweet, friendly staff Chef Hetzler will not disappoint!

NMAI Mitsitam Sliders

Cost: High ($10 – $20 per entree)

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  1. Mo says:

    Wow! Never even knew this place existed. 🙂 Sounds great…

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