Classics Revisited: Martin’s Tavern

The restaurant world is notoriously fickle, but these15 places—all a half century old or more—have withstood the test of time.


About Martin's Tavern


1264 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
NW Northwest Dr
Silver Spring, MD

Georgetown’s oldest dining spot—it opened the day Prohibition ended in 1933—maintains the feel of a neighborhood tavern, even with tour groups stopping outside to see where John F. Kennedy allegedly proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier. (For more on that legend , see page 151.) The Martin family has hosted every President from Truman through George W. Bush. Today nearby residents dominate the space, outfitted with dark wood and vintage sports photos.

Affable barman John Blair holds court, topping off gin martinis and pints of Guinness or recommending snacks such as crab-stuffed mushrooms. You can make a meal of these appetizers, especially the Welsh rarebit, a skillet of lager-spiked molten cheese with bread for dunking. Such dishes don’t deliver fireworks so much as the comfort of a hearth. We like holing up in the “dugout,” a cozy room off the main area, and digging into the Irish classics: oyster stew, corned beef and cabbage, and tender pot roast alongside lightly caramelized vegetables. Daily breakfast fits a night owl’s schedule with service until 4 pm, from bacon and eggs to homey creamed chipped beef on toast.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch.

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