Media credit: Auden Yurman | Master Photo Editor
Martin’s Tavern is most famous for its booths, known to have attracted presidents ranging from Harry Truman to George W. Bush.
Instead of wasting a meal at a chain restaurant, take your family to eat at one of these restaurants that have been an integral part of the city’s history.
Whether they have DC-themed décor, DC sports-inspired menu items, or underpin the city’s history, they’re sure to add to your family’s experience in the district. Visit these must-visit DC-area restaurants for a taste of culture and history during your family’s stay in the nation’s capital.
Few restaurants are as essential to DC history as Martin’s Tavern. Located in Georgetown, Martin’s Tavern has two sides of outdoor seating and plenty of seating in booths and tables inside. Martin’s is most famous for its booths, known to have attracted presidents ranging from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953 at booth #3, now named The Proposal Booth, where anyone can sit in their honor. Franklin D. Roosevelt even met his team to write New Deal programs in the back room nicknamed “The Dugout.” Enjoy the same food presidents have eaten with a menu that offers a variety of brunch foods and dinner options, including challah French toast ($12.95), grand- mother Martin ($24.95) and the classic apple pie ($8) for dessert. This extensive menu is sure to satisfy everyone in your family, so head over to Martin’s for a bite to eat and witness a piece of DC history.
Martin’s Tavern. 1264 Wisconsin Ave NW. Open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., Saturday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Bowl of Ben’s Chili
Take the family to 63-year-old Ben’s Chili Bowl to savor classic American cuisine and celebrate DC’s African-American history. Former presidents like George W. Bush and Barack Obama have visited famous joints with celebrities like Kevin Hart, Jesse Jackson and Serena Williams. The red, yellow and white colored storefront proudly announces the restaurant’s signature chili hot dog – the half-smoked – in large green letters. The location was once a silent movie theater called the Minnehaha Theater, before one of DC’s first black police detectives turned it into a pool hall. The restaurant has a stand, table and counter, and all the furniture has been there since day one. The recipes are also original, so be sure to check out the popular Ben’s Famous Chili Bowl ($8.79), Virginia’s Favorite Banana Pudding ($8.80), and the Original Chilli Half Smoke ($7.69). Head to Ben’s Chili Bowl to sample historic DC dishes on iconic U Street.
Ben’s chili bowl. 1213 U St NW. Monday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Restaurant of the Mont Vernon Inn:
Savor a meal at the former estate of George Washington at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, which offers a take-out food court and a sit-down dining experience. The venue was first opened to the public before the Civil War, when it served refreshments on a table outside the kitchen. Now the business has a food court with quick snacks including breakfast, pizza, sandwiches and ice cream and a restaurant that resembles 18th century decor through its wallpaper and draperies. The restaurant serves dinner and lunch daily and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to try the Fried Green Tomato Benedict ($14), pay homage to your alma mater with the GW Burger ($14) or the Peanut Soup ($5). Satisfy your sweet tooth and treat yourself to the colonial cornbread topped with vanilla bean butter ($4). Head to the Mount Vernon Inn restaurant to treat your family to a meal steeped in local and American history at the Washington Estate.
Restaurant at the Mont Vernon Inn. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121. Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant:
Head to Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant for a colonial experience like no other with service from workers dressed as if they just stepped out of the 18th century in colonial attire at a restaurant once frequented by a number of former US presidents. The site comprises two buildings – a historic museum that once housed the restaurant where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe once dined, and a former hotel that now houses the restaurant and a ballroom. The multiple rooms are all decorated from head to toe in colonial decor with historic chandeliers and paintings. The restaurant offers several menus for lunch, Sunday brunch, dinner and groups with options like Sally Lunn’s Rum French Toast, with Brie, Bananas and Bacon ($12), Martha’s Remedy ($9), à base of coffee, cocoa and brandy and Washington’s Favorite ($26) – a spread of duck, corn pudding, cabbage and orange cherry ice cream. Bring the family to Gadsby’s for a colonial experience they won’t soon forget.
Gadsby Tavern. 138 N. Royal St. Alexandria. Open Wednesday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., from Friday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Old Ebbitt Grill
No list of historic places to eat in DC is complete without Old Ebbitt Grill, the oldest restaurant in town. The restaurant was founded in 1856 and visited by the likes of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding and William McKinely. Old Ebbitt Grill was DC’s first saloon, although the restaurant has moved several times since then. Inside, guests can find priceless collections of antiques and memorabilia, like clocks and marble staircase paintings. Treat yourself to homemade pastas like Cannelloni Di Casa ($20.99), Trout Parmesan ($24.99) or a Bacon and Chilli Cheeseburger ($18.99). Whatever your order, this classic DC restaurant is a must-visit for out-of-town family members.
Former Ebbitt grill. 675 15th St NW. Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.