These D.C. Restaurants Are Offering 'Government Shutdown Specials' to Furloughed Federal Workers

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but as the partial government shutdown enters its third week, restaurants and bars across Washington, D.C., are making an exception for furloughed federal workers.

A number of restaurants and bars in the area have started to offer "government shutdown specials" and even free meals to some of the 800,000 workers who are trying to make ends meet without paychecks.

Related: Federal workers across U.S. are launching GoFundMe accounts to help pay their bills amid government shutdown

According to Eater D.C., a food news and dining guide for the D.C. area, as many as 25 restaurants and bars have started offering food and drink deals to furloughed workers.

Spanish-American chief José Andrés was one of the first restaurateurs to get in on the act, responding to a tweet from President Donald Trump warning that there would be a shutdown on December 21 by saying that he would offer free sandwiches "to the poor men and women of the federal government, Republicans and Democrats, at every restaurant of mine in D.C. for lunch until they get paid again!"

And I will offer again Free Sandwiches to the poor men and women of the federal government, republicans and democrats, at every restaurant of mine in DC for lunch until they get paid again!

— Please wear a mask! Do it for the World please... (@chefjoseandres) December 21, 2018

So far, Andrés appears to be making good on his promise, with restaurants under his Think Food Group brand offering free lunches to furloughed workers.

But his restaurants are not alone. Here are some of the restaurants, bakeries and bars that have said they are offering special "shutdown" deals:


BBQ Bus, 5830 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20011

BBQ Bus Smokehouse & Catering said on Saturday that "fed friends affected by [the] shutdown" can get 25 percent off at its Georgia Avenue location "until everyone's back to work."

Charlie Palmer, 101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

At Charlie Palmer, anyone who shows up to the bar during lunch hours with a government I.D. can get a free fried-chicken sandwich, with the option of adding on a Blue Point Toasted Lager and fries for just $12.

DC Reynolds, 3628 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20010​

DC Reynolds's beer garden is offering a special lunch deal: $6 for a sandwich and a nonalcoholic beverage. All you need is a federal government I.D.

&pizza, all D.C. locations

This pizza chain is offering free pizzas for federal workers between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. throughout the shutdown.

Taco Bamba, 777 I Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Taco Bamba's Chinatown location will be handing out one free taco to every federal worker as the shutdown continues.


Baked by Yael, 3000F Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008

Baked by Yael is offering federal employees and contractors free coffee for the duration of the shutdown "while supplies last," the bakery said in a press release. It is also offering a free bagel sandwich or small soup each weekday while supplies last to essential employees at the National Zoo "who must stay at work to keep the animals safe."

The bakery is also offering free cake pop classes for federal employees and contractors, with owner Yael Krigman saying in a statement that she wanted to do whatever she could to "add some joy to a very stressful time for many people."

Bread Furst, 4434 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008

Bread Furst is offering a deal apparently aimed at making government workers feel like one of their own workers. A "sign of the times" spotted hanging outside the bakery by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema advertises a government employee discount. It says that "if you are a civil servant on furlough because of Presidential intransigence, please show your identification so that we may extend to you the discount we give to our own staff."


Capitol Lounge, 229 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. 20003

Capitol Lounge was an early responder to the government shutdown, launching a "shutdown cocktails" menu with $5 per drink for anyone with a federal employee I.D.

Some of the cocktails on offer? The "Nothing Really Mattis" with Mad Dog 20/20 and vodka; the "Mexico Will Pay for This" with Montezuma blue tequila, orange juice and grenadine; and "the AOC Bourgeoisie" made with Champagne Brut, peach and "Puerto Rican heat." The "Border Wall Banger" is also on offer, with tequila, Galliano, orange juice and "extra ice."

Carmine's, 425 Seventh Street NW, at East Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Carmine's has a "Hard Times Cocktail" for $6, as well as a happy hour menu, all day at the bar until the shutdown is over. Those with government I.D.s can also get a serving of meatball sliders at no cost.

City Tap Penn Quarter, 901 Ninth Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

During the shutdown, this D.C. sports bar has an extended happy hour menu from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. during weekdays, with draft beers at $5, house wine at $6 and a $7 beer and shot combo.

City Winery in Ivy City, 1350 Okie Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

Wine lovers who work for the government can meet up at the City Winery. Those with federal I.D. badges can get $1 glasses of the venue's label wine on tap.

Chef José Andrés leads a cooking demonstration in Miami Beach on February 26, 2017. Andrés is one of several Washington, D.C., restaurateurs offering free meals to government workers during the partial government shutdown. Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for SOBEWFF

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