Best Dishes Oysters on the half-shell; oysters Rockefeller; oyster stew; fried oysters; shad roe; bread pudding with bourbon-butterscotch sauce.
The Food: The traditional menu is mostly American--crab cakes, calves liver--but with a British streak: Corned beef hash, bread pudding, and Irish coffee are a tribute to the Martin family’s Irish heritage. Brunch is served daily until 4 PM, then the dinner menu and happy hour specials take over (some drafts and martinis are discounted, as are certain menu items).
The Scene: An intimate, fixed-in-time dining room helps Martin’s keep the old charm of a neighborhood tavern. The dark wood walls are decorated with fox-hunt-themed art, and there are two TVs for sports fans. Since 1933, celebrities, politicos, and even sitting presidents have mingled with the restaurant’s regulars. Look for a marker in one of the booths where John F. Kennedy asked Jackie Bouvier to marry him. A long bar draws a mixed crowd of middle-aged and twentysomething patrons plus Georgetown alums reliving their glory days.
What’s Nearby: Located near Georgetown’s central intersection (M Street and Wisconsin Avenue), Martin’s is surrounded by shopping and nightlife options. Both boutiques and major chains share the blocks between Georgetown University and the Four Seasons Hotel. Bars, clubs and restaurants fill the spaces in between. Head downhill to the historic C&O Canal and towpath, or further to the Washington Harbour waterfront promenade. Hop on a boat for a scenic river cruise or transportation to Alexandria, Virginia, Georgetown’s rival for wonderfully preserved historic neighborhoods.
Insider Tips: Ask servers and bartenders about the history of the restaurant: Many booths have been occupied by important figures in America’s past. Or check out the glass case outside the tavern for tidbits on the restaurant’s celebrity patrons.