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Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown offers 1933 menu prices next week to commemorate its 90th year in business.
Martin’s Tavern/Facebook

These Classic D.C. Restaurants and Bars Are Still Worth a Visit

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Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown offers 1933 menu prices next week to commemorate its 90th year in business.
| Martin’s Tavern/Facebook

D.C. is a city brimming with history, and its restaurants are no exception. To qualify for the following list of classics, restaurants had to open before 1970 and stand the test of time inside District lines.

Even more stalwarts can be found in the suburbs, including Quarry House, Tastee Diner, the Original Ledo Pizza, Woodside Delicatessen, Old Angler’s Inn, and Crisfield Seafood in Maryland. In Virginia there’s Chadwicks, the Vienna Inn, 29 Diner, Bob & Edith’s Diner and L’Auberge Chez Francois.

Here are 20 must-try classics in D.C. And for a guide to the city’s most iconic dishes, go here.

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Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen

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Usually just called "Steak 'n Egg", the Tenleytown restaurant has been pumping out steak and eggs (of course) since 1931. Heard about the drunk guy and a zumba teacher who came to the diner?

Wagshal's Deli

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With a sandwich and meat selection that's hard to match, Wagshal's has been open in upper Northwest since 1925. Known for their pastrami, meatloaf sandwiches, and the iconic presence of Pam “The Butcher” Ginsberg, there are now multiple locations across the District. Its “Grand Bodega” opened north of the Palisades this summer.

Raven Grill

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One of D.C.’s ultimate dive bars, The Raven has been tucked away in Mount Pleasant since 1935. While it may have "grill" in the name, diners won’t find much more than Utz potato chips to go with the beer and rail drinks while settling into a vintage booth.

Mama Ayesha's

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Mama Ayesha's, originally called Calvert Cafe, opened in 1960. The founder was Mama Ayesha Abraham who operated 24 farms in the Middle East before moving to D.C. and cooking in the Syrian Embassy in the 1940s. Mama Ayesha's nephews and great-nephews run the restaurant today. The restaurant is also known for the mural of presidents on its wall.

Old Europe

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Old Europe is one of the city’s few options for Bavarian fare, and it’s been dishing out schnitzel, sauerbraten and more since 1948. Rows of antique steins, oil paintings, and piano music contribute to an old-world vibe.

Florida Avenue Grill

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Soul food pioneer Florida Avenue Grill has been visited by local politicians and African-American luminaries since opening in 1944. When it opened, the founders only had enough space for two bar stools and had to cook the meals in the basement. Current owner Imar Hutchins has updated some of the current menu to remain relevant to contemporary diners.

A scene from breakfast at Florida Ave. Grill
R. Lopez/Eater

Ben's Chili Bowl

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Around since 1958, Ben’s half-smoke covered in chili and cheese is arguably D.C.’s most recognizable dish that’s seeped in history. Find the citywide favorite at the U Street original, its newer outpost on H Street NE, stands in Nationals Park, and now, in Giant grocery stores.

A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Stoney's Restaurant (Multiple locations)

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The "boss of the sauce" has been open since 1968, but it’s moved locations to Logan Circle's P Street NW. The bar is perhaps most famous for its super grilled cheese sandwich.

Tabard Inn

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Attributed as the oldest continually running hotel in Washington, the Tabard Inn opened up in 1922. The charming spot near Dupont Circle with a covered garden patio recently tapped James Beard Award semifinalist Ian Boden as its new culinary partner. The chef-owner of The Shack in Staunton, Virginia steps in to reenergize the dinner menu with dishes like a mushroom tart with pickled chanterelles, black truffle, and nasturtium; lamb with eggplant and Meyer lemon; and escargot bourguignon with homemade agnolotti. A new brunch service will debut in October.

A. Litteri

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This traditional Italian deli has been around since 1926, and in its current location near Union Market since 1932. A favorite of nearby workers, the deli keeps limited daytime hours and is closed Sundays and Mondays. Go to eat Italian cold cuts or shop from a huge selection of canned goods, dry pastas, olive oils, vinegars, and wines.

Billy Martin's Tavern

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Established in the midst of the Great Depression, classic watering hole Martin's Tavern in Georgetown has hosted every president from Harry Truman (booth 6), through George W. Bush and his family (table 12). John F. Kennedy even reportedly proposed to Jackie at the restaurant in 1953. The tavern is currently owned by fourth-generation Billy Martin, Jr., and celebrated its 90th anniversary in September. To celebrate the milestone, Martin’s Tavern reverts to pricing from its original 1933 menu on October 2-5. That means a cup of clam chowder or corn beef sandwich is just 20 cents a pop; chicken ala king is 85 cents; and three fried oysters, coleslaw, and French fries is a cool 35 cents.

1789 Restaurant

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Since 1962, this fine-dining Georgetown mainstay has hosted Washington notables and plenty of politicians. Its stellar service includes the thoughtful attention of longtime waiters. Downstairs is The Tombs, which caters to the nearby Georgetown University crowd and is historic in its own right; it opened in 1962 as well and figures in the film St. Elmo's Fire.

Clyde's of Georgetown

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No one probably thought in 1963 that Clyde's would grow from one location in Georgetown to many locations around the region. But the original is still in Georgetown, serving up burgers, crabcakes, and more.

Loeb's NY Deli

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Since 1959, Loeb’s has been one of the few destinations in downtown D.C. to find pastrami, knishes, and more New York deli staples. It moved into its current location in 2010.

Old Ebbitt Grill

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This is one of those quintessentially classic restaurants — and it's the oldest on the list. Old Ebbitt Grill opened in 1856, when Franklin Pierce occupied the White House (which is right around the corner). The restaurant is home to a famed raw bar happy hour and is known for events like its annual Oyster Riot.

Round Robin Bar

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Established way back in 1847, the Willard’s world-famous circular bar wrapped in oak paneling continues to churn out one of the best Mint Juleps in town. Meanwhile, the 355-room hotel’s iconic space that long housed Occidental will turn into a new Stephen Starr restaurant.

SLUG: FD-COCKTAILS DATE: 12/12/2006 CREDIT: Bill O’Leary Jim
Jim Hewes is the longest-serving bartender at the historic Round Robin Bar.
Photo by Bill O’Leary/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Monocle

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A Capitol Hill institution since 1960, the Monocle is a known political hangout. Because it's a stone's throw from the Hart and Dirksen Senate buildings, don't be surprised to see politicians eating and drinking there.

Tune Inn Restaurant & Bar

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Tune Inn reopened in November 2011 after a fire shut it down for a few months. But before that fire, it had been a classic hangout since 1947. It’s less of a dive now but is still a beloved Capitol Hill hangout, serving up burgers, French dip sandwiches, and more.

Mr. Henry's Restaurant

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Long called the “Cheers of Capitol Hill,” this American pub is still going strong near the Eastern Market Metro station. The original Mr. Henry was Henry Yaffe, who opened the spot in 1966. Longtime regulars continue to flock here for jazz nights, burgers, sandwiches, and soups.

Mangialardo & Sons

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Since 1953, this Italian deli has been feeding Capitol Hill residents. And what do many of them order? The G Man — a sub that's packed with deli meats (the Big G is even more epic in size).

Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen

Usually just called "Steak 'n Egg", the Tenleytown restaurant has been pumping out steak and eggs (of course) since 1931. Heard about the drunk guy and a zumba teacher who came to the diner?

Wagshal's Deli

With a sandwich and meat selection that's hard to match, Wagshal's has been open in upper Northwest since 1925. Known for their pastrami, meatloaf sandwiches, and the iconic presence of Pam “The Butcher” Ginsberg, there are now multiple locations across the District. Its “Grand Bodega” opened north of the Palisades this summer.

Raven Grill

One of D.C.’s ultimate dive bars, The Raven has been tucked away in Mount Pleasant since 1935. While it may have "grill" in the name, diners won’t find much more than Utz potato chips to go with the beer and rail drinks while settling into a vintage booth.

Mama Ayesha's

Mama Ayesha's, originally called Calvert Cafe, opened in 1960. The founder was Mama Ayesha Abraham who operated 24 farms in the Middle East before moving to D.C. and cooking in the Syrian Embassy in the 1940s. Mama Ayesha's nephews and great-nephews run the restaurant today. The restaurant is also known for the mural of presidents on its wall.

Old Europe

Old Europe is one of the city’s few options for Bavarian fare, and it’s been dishing out schnitzel, sauerbraten and more since 1948. Rows of antique steins, oil paintings, and piano music contribute to an old-world vibe.

Florida Avenue Grill

Soul food pioneer Florida Avenue Grill has been visited by local politicians and African-American luminaries since opening in 1944. When it opened, the founders only had enough space for two bar stools and had to cook the meals in the basement. Current owner Imar Hutchins has updated some of the current menu to remain relevant to contemporary diners.

A scene from breakfast at Florida Ave. Grill
R. Lopez/Eater

Ben's Chili Bowl

Around since 1958, Ben’s half-smoke covered in chili and cheese is arguably D.C.’s most recognizable dish that’s seeped in history. Find the citywide favorite at the U Street original, its newer outpost on H Street NE, stands in Nationals Park, and now, in Giant grocery stores.

A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of D.C.’s classic restaurants
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Stoney's Restaurant (Multiple locations)

The "boss of the sauce" has been open since 1968, but it’s moved locations to Logan Circle's P Street NW. The bar is perhaps most famous for its super grilled cheese sandwich.

Tabard Inn

Attributed as the oldest continually running hotel in Washington, the Tabard Inn opened up in 1922. The charming spot near Dupont Circle with a covered garden patio recently tapped James Beard Award semifinalist Ian Boden as its new culinary partner. The chef-owner of The Shack in Staunton, Virginia steps in to reenergize the dinner menu with dishes like a mushroom tart with pickled chanterelles, black truffle, and nasturtium; lamb with eggplant and Meyer lemon; and escargot bourguignon with homemade agnolotti. A new brunch service will debut in October.

A. Litteri

This traditional Italian deli has been around since 1926, and in its current location near Union Market since 1932. A favorite of nearby workers, the deli keeps limited daytime hours and is closed Sundays and Mondays. Go to eat Italian cold cuts or shop from a huge selection of canned goods, dry pastas, olive oils, vinegars, and wines.

Billy Martin's Tavern

Established in the midst of the Great Depression, classic watering hole Martin's Tavern in Georgetown has hosted every president from Harry Truman (booth 6), through George W. Bush and his family (table 12). John F. Kennedy even reportedly proposed to Jackie at the restaurant in 1953. The tavern is currently owned by fourth-generation Billy Martin, Jr., and celebrated its 90th anniversary in September. To celebrate the milestone, Martin’s Tavern reverts to pricing from its original 1933 menu on October 2-5. That means a cup of clam chowder or corn beef sandwich is just 20 cents a pop; chicken ala king is 85 cents; and three fried oysters, coleslaw, and French fries is a cool 35 cents.

1789 Restaurant

Since 1962, this fine-dining Georgetown mainstay has hosted Washington notables and plenty of politicians. Its stellar service includes the thoughtful attention of longtime waiters. Downstairs is The Tombs, which caters to the nearby Georgetown University crowd and is historic in its own right; it opened in 1962 as well and figures in the film St. Elmo's Fire.

Clyde's of Georgetown

No one probably thought in 1963 that Clyde's would grow from one location in Georgetown to many locations around the region. But the original is still in Georgetown, serving up burgers, crabcakes, and more.

Loeb's NY Deli

Since 1959, Loeb’s has been one of the few destinations in downtown D.C. to find pastrami, knishes, and more New York deli staples. It moved into its current location in 2010.

Old Ebbitt Grill

This is one of those quintessentially classic restaurants — and it's the oldest on the list. Old Ebbitt Grill opened in 1856, when Franklin Pierce occupied the White House (which is right around the corner). The restaurant is home to a famed raw bar happy hour and is known for events like its annual Oyster Riot.

Related Maps

Round Robin Bar

Established way back in 1847, the Willard’s world-famous circular bar wrapped in oak paneling continues to churn out one of the best Mint Juleps in town. Meanwhile, the 355-room hotel’s iconic space that long housed Occidental will turn into a new Stephen Starr restaurant.

SLUG: FD-COCKTAILS DATE: 12/12/2006 CREDIT: Bill O’Leary Jim
Jim Hewes is the longest-serving bartender at the historic Round Robin Bar.
Photo by Bill O’Leary/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Monocle

A Capitol Hill institution since 1960, the Monocle is a known political hangout. Because it's a stone's throw from the Hart and Dirksen Senate buildings, don't be surprised to see politicians eating and drinking there.

Tune Inn Restaurant & Bar

Tune Inn reopened in November 2011 after a fire shut it down for a few months. But before that fire, it had been a classic hangout since 1947. It’s less of a dive now but is still a beloved Capitol Hill hangout, serving up burgers, French dip sandwiches, and more.

Mr. Henry's Restaurant

Long called the “Cheers of Capitol Hill,” this American pub is still going strong near the Eastern Market Metro station. The original Mr. Henry was Henry Yaffe, who opened the spot in 1966. Longtime regulars continue to flock here for jazz nights, burgers, sandwiches, and soups.

Mangialardo & Sons

Since 1953, this Italian deli has been feeding Capitol Hill residents. And what do many of them order? The G Man — a sub that's packed with deli meats (the Big G is even more epic in size).

Related Maps