The Members' Dining Room

In the Restaurant of the House of Representatives/tiles/non-collection/m/mdr_intro_harpers_restaurant.xml
In the Restaurant of the House of Representatives, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
This print shows the noisy, convivial atmosphere of the Members' Dining Room in the late 19th century.
Making it Alright with a Delegation/tiles/non-collection/m/mdr_the_dining_room_bar.xml
Making it Alright with a Delegation, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Before Prohibition led to its closure, Members frequently entertained guests at the bar at the Members' Dining Room.
House Restaurant Menu/tiles/non-collection/m/mdr_proprietors_burelson_menu.xml
House Restaurant Menu, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
This signed menu from 1948 was one visitor's souvenir from a lunch in the Dining Room with Member Omar Burleson.
As far back as 1834, Congress made arrangements for food and drink for Members and Capitol visitors. The relatively undeveloped neighborhood and the Congress’s regimented work schedule made the availability of food on site a necessity. Originally referred to as the “refectory,” local restaurateurs served menus of popular favorites such as oysters, beefsteak and partridge along with coffee, tea, beer and spirits.

Eventually, food service became more official moving to H117-120—including two dining rooms, a bar and dumbwaiters to ferry food from the basement level kitchen. The Members’ Dining Room continues to operate out the very same space, and has since 1858, when Speaker of the House James Orr directed that the space be used to provide “wholesome refreshments.”