Michelle Obama’s girls’ night out

Michelle Obama guards her privacy closely as first lady,but still enjoys a night out with friends

Written by New York Times | Published: May 13, 2012 3:02 am

Jennifer Steinhauer

Girls’ night out! Lipstick,check. Phone set to vibrate,check. Secret Service outside the restaurant scanning other patrons,check – if you’re the first lady of the United States.

Michelle Obama guards her privacy about as closely as any modern first lady,but she still enjoys a night out now and then with friends.

Her canteen of choice is often BLT Steak,the offshoot of the New York-based chain of restaurants,where last week the first lady kicked back with roughly a half-dozen female friends,including Valerie Jarrett,a senior White House adviser and frequent first lady sidekick.

Soon after a large gaggle of Secret Service agents made its way into the restaurant during the tail end of happy hour,Obama swept in,smartly dressed in a white top cinched with a belt,and greeted surprised bar patrons as she floated by,Jarrett and other companions trailing behind. Obama and her friends then made their way to a private area of the restaurant.

Even in Washington,where snarls of cars in a presidential motorcade cause irritation,not fawning,and dignitaries and cabinet secretaries are as common as sitcom stars in Los Angeles,Obama can cause a little bit of a stir.

“I’m not going to lie,I was excited,” said Tara Mahoney,an elementary school teacher who was polishing off her drink. “I’ve never seen her up close. She’s skinny,she’s beautiful and she says hello and smiles.”

Those diners who came into the restaurant after Obama’s arrival were greeted by agents who ran a wand over them and had them empty their pockets before allowing them to enter. Some of her staff members repaired to a table near the bar,doing what people in those jobs do. Wait,basically.

What Obama and her friends ate —well,who knows what they ate,since the East Wing won’t say.

“I’m sorry,but we don’t provide any info on Mrs. Obama’s private outings,” said Kristina Schake,a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama.

A BLT spokeswoman was equally mum. But a giant basket of fluffy popovers,one of the restaurant’s signature items,made its way back to her group.

The first lady stayed a little more than two hours,departing the restaurant around 8:30 p.m. (which is not exactly a raucous night out,but certainly mom-friendly).

Obama is no doubt drawn to BLT Steak because it is a mere two blocks from the White House and offers her privacy and a reasonably good steak.

“I’ve seen her here before,” said Heidi Keller,31,who was having drinks at the bar.

In January the first couple celebrated Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday there over steaks and a red velvet cake.

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