President Obama has dined at some of the trendiest restaurants in the world, from Japan to Martha's Vineyard, to his hometown of Chicago and his childhood home in Hawaii. After six years in the White House, the first couple has found plenty of reasons to celebrate at some of Washington's top eateries, enjoying the city's best high-brow, and low-brow cuisines, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Plante.
"President Obama is eating at far hipper places than any other president in modern history, partly because Washington has hipper restaurants than we've had in a long time, but part of it has to do with the Obamas' taste. They seem to like going out," Washington Post writer Emily Heil said.
Washingtonians rarely saw president Mr. Obama's predecessor out on the town.
"As a diner, President Obama is so much cooler than President Bush," Heil said. "President Bush really didn't leave the White House at night very often. He didn't seem to enjoy dining out, and dining at hip places the way the Obamas do."
Restaurant Nora, a Washington D.C. fine dining landmark, has hosted the first couple twice, even opening up its special private room in 2010 for Michelle Obama's surprise birthday party. Nora Pouillon has owned the restaurant for 35 years.
While the president doesn't have a food taster, Pouillon said there is a member of the Secret Service watching every move.
"They're everywhere. They're at every entrance, they're in the kitchen, they're at the entrance door. Everybody who comes in the restaurant is checked," Pouillon said. "And in the kitchen there's at least one or two people who really check."
Camilla Rothwell handles special events for the restaurant and helped plan the first lady's birthday.
"It was a surprise party for Michelle Obama. I opened the doors and her guests and family were hiding out to one side, we raised the lights and everybody jumped up and said, 'Surprise,'" Rothwell said.
Rothwell admitted that while it's an honor to plan a dinner for the leader of the free world, it can be challenging.
"When you do get the president coming, or a VIP, the security take up tables. So for a restaurant, it's an expensive business because they have to give up valuable real estate in the restaurant to make sure that the security are seated at tables that have a direct line of view to the president," Rothwell said.
And they don't order food.
Former White House press advance Brent Swander spent six years planning trips for President George W. Bush and several White House hopefuls. He said it can take up to a dozen people and days of planning for one presidential night out.
"The Secret Service will be part of that planning process if we know a few days in advance, but we still limit that footprint, and we certainly do not make any reservations or let the restaurant know that it is the president coming. We keep that very under wraps," Swander said.