The food: The menu focuses on upscale saloon food, but dishes change daily as chefs use fresh produce and seasonal ingredients from local farmers. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, or dessert, the menu is long. Even the under-12 set has a choice of ten items from the kids’ menu. Elsewhere, there are pork chops, steaks, meatloaf, burgers, and pastas, but the famous raw bar—which holds oysters, clams, shrimp and Jonah crab claws—gets the most attention.
The scene: Victorian accents, from gas chandeliers to mahogany and velvet booths, cast an elegant mood. But on any given night, there are both sneakers and stilettos walking the floors. Because it opens early and closes late, Old Ebbitt draws a range of customers: dealmakers, theatergoers, tourists, bridal-shower attendees, happy-hour crowds, and bar hoppers. The DC institution, established in 1856, has a rich history—a slew of past Presidents have sipped at its bar. It was bought by the Clyde’s group in the early 1970s. Grab a postcard and historical-information sheet before heading out the revolving door.
What’s nearby: The White House is two blocks away, and the Mall is a short walk down 15th Street. The Warner and National theaters are nearby, making pre- and postshow dining convenient.
Insider tips: It’s best to make a reservation, but if you haven’t, don’t let a packed lobby deter you from walking in and seeing if there’s a table. Even if the Old Bar is full, check the Corner Bar (up a few stairs to the left of the entry) or the Grant Bar (behind the dining room, to the left of the atrium).
Just behind the Grill is Ebbitt Express, a takeout operation that caters to the workaday breakfast and lunch crowd. Open weekdays from 7:30 to 11 AM for breakfast, 11 AM to 5 PM for lunch.
Valet parking is free after 6 PM Monday through Saturday and all day on Sunday.
Oysters and raw-bar items are half off at happy hour, Monday through Thursday 3 to 6 PM and 11 PM to 1 AM.