The Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian (part of the Smithsonian group of museums) used to be my go to location when visiting anyplace within shouting distance of the National Mall. Sadly, it's time to find a different venue to dine. After bragging to my out of town guests about what a great job the Café (cafeteria style) does of clearly labeling every item with ingredients and allergy alerts I was totally disappointed to find that they now do basically nothing of the kind.
I went hurriedly from station to station, which still features Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, in search of the labels but my search turned up empty. In a slight panic I asked an employee if I could speak to the manager and what I learned was disheartening. It seems that instead of 5 kitchens they now have only one kitchen preparing all of the food. Additionally, she warned me that cross contamination is now probably the rule rather than the exception. Apparently some customers got sick so they decided to scrap all of their previous standards. I asked her point blank what she could recommend for someone who must eat gluten-free and her very direct answer was "nothing."
In spite of her warnings I still decided to look around at all of the stations. Clearly, I figured I must be able to find something. When I spotted white rice I had some hope, but that hope was dashed when I noticed the server using the same utensils for the rice and the fried potatoes. I saw some veggies that brightened my mood a bit until I saw the remains of other food in the same bin. I finally gave up got some juice and joined my wife and two friends at our table and proceeded to watch them eat their meal.
It's a shame that instead of enforcing standards they decided to do away with standards so as to not be liable for potentially misleading advertising. It's a big loss to the gluten-free community so the search for a National Mall food alternative begins anew.