Smithsonian’s Mitsitam Cafe Earns Rammys Nomination, Expands with Coffee Bar and Tribal Newsstand

June 18, 2012
News Release

The Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian is the first museum restaurant to earn a nomination for the Rammy awards, an annual competition dubbed “the Oscars of D.C. Restaurants” that celebrates innovative chefs and restaurateurs in the Washington, D.C., area. The Mitsitam is competing against four other local restaurants in a new category, “Best Casual Dining.” The winner will be announced at the 30th annual RAMMY Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., June 24. For more information on the awards, visit

About the Cafe

Mitsitam (mitt-SEE-tom), which means “let’s eat” in the Piscataway and Delaware languages, expresses the museum’s belief that sharing meals not only brings families and communities together, it also cultivates a greater understanding of the history, culture and values of those who prepare them. From Peruvian ceviche to pork pibil tacos, the museum’s Mitsitam Cafe offers a modern perspective on foods that have been grown, raised and harvested in North and South America for thousands of years.

Since the museum’s opening in Washington in 2004, the Mitsitam Cafe has become a destination in its own right with its unique Native American cuisine representing the entire Western Hemisphere. Featured on the Food Network shows Chef vs. City and Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels, the restaurant continues to entice and inspire visitors and food critics alike.

The cafe’s menu changes seasonally and incorporates the traditional foods of visiting tribes and communities. This summer, it will feature Choctaw cuisine during the museum’s Choctaw Days Festival, Wednesday, June 20, through Saturday, June 23, as well as indigenous dishes of Peru during the museum’s Kaypi Peru Festival, Wednesday, July 25, through Monday, July 30.

The summer menu, which begins Wednesday, June 20, includes:

  • Crispy Rabbit, Caramelized Plums, Smoked Eggplant Puree, Parsley Oil
  • Chilled Yellow Beet, Dill Spiny Rock Lobster Salad
  • Creamed New England Mussel Bisque, Azafran Foam
  • Grilled Sweet Corn, Roasted Fennel, Crushed Tomatoes
  • Chilled Purple Potato Soup, Crispy Jamon de Serrano
  • Papa Rellenos con Scallops Con Leche, Sauce Hogao
  • Lengua de Carne Relleno con Chili Poblano Occopa Sauce (Beef Tongue Ropa Viejo Stuffed Poblano Chilies, Occopa Sauce)
  • Lechon Roasted Whole Suckling Pig, Tomato Pipian

About the Coffee Bar

The Mitsitam Cafe recently expanded with the addition of the Mitsitam Espresso Coffee Bar, which serves pastries and casual fare from the cafe’s repertoire along with Tribal Grounds Coffee—organic, fair-trade coffee grown by indigenous farmers and imported, roasted and provided to the museum by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee of North Carolina. Specialty drinks include the “Trail South,” a cappuccino flavored with roasted chestnuts and cocoa powder, and “The Sequoyah,” a cappuccino with sweetened milk, cocoa and cayenne. The coffee bar’s menu will include Cherokee translations for each drink as part of the Western Carolina University Cherokee Language Program, which began in 2006 to boost the dwindling number of Cherokee speakers. For more information on Tribal Grounds Coffee, visit

Tables in the coffee bar are adjacent to the Potomac Atrium, the heart of the museum and the site of many cultural presentations and festivals. A lending rack of tribal newspapers is available for visitors who want to catch up on news from Indian Country. The tribal newsstand is located near the museum’s 20-foot totem pole carved by Nathan Jackson (Tlingit).

About the Newsstand

The museum’s new tribal newsstand allows visitors to browse Native-owned publications from across the U.S. and learn about local and national issues from an indigenous perspective. Publications include Indian Country Today, The Seminole Tribune, The Navajo Times, The Lakota Country Times, Osage News, The Southern Ute Drum, The Chickasaw Times, The Comanche Nation News, among others, as well as the museum’s own quarterly magazine, American Indian.

For more information, visit

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