Charlie Palmer Steakhouse
Close enough to the Capitol to qualify as a third house of Congress, the streamlined, modern halls of this temple to red meat resonate daily with the sound of murmured deals, secrets, and tomorrow's front-page news. Power mongers and their minions plot the course of the nation from the roomy, steel-blue booths, dining on roasted foie gras, frothy seasonal soups, and of course all things steak, dry-aged, char-grilled, and succulently sauced. There's someone really important in the back room, but discreet sage curtains and multiple entrances keep you guessing long after the motorcade has left.
Tip: Dress snappy, or you'll be seated with the bodyguards (who, for that matter, are snappy dressers, too).
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.