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Historic Restaurants in the Washington DC Area

Dining Landmarks in Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia


Many of the best places to dine in the Washington DC area are historic restaurants, taverns and inns that have such a distinctive ambiance that they have lasted more than a generation. Each of these restaurants is a historic landmark that offers something special and keeps customers coming back again and again.

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1. Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th St., NW Washington, DC. (202) 347-4800. The historic restaurant was founded in 1856, originally as a boarding house and later became known as Washington's first saloon. Over the years, it has moved to a few different locations in the downtown area. In 1970, the Old Ebbitt Grill was struggling financially and was bought by the owners of Clyde's of Georgetown. The current location, near the White House, has been its home since 1983. The restaurant's Victorian style and its collection of antiques and memorabilia make it a popular meeting spot for political insiders, journalists, celebrities and theater-goers.

2. 1789

1226 36th St. NW, Washington, DC. (202) 965-1789. Situated in a Federal period house in residential Georgetown, the historic restaurant has six dining rooms that are beautifully decorated with American antiques, period equestrian and historical prints and china. The building dates back to 1789, however the restaurant was established in 1960. In 1985, it was purchased by the Clyde's Restaurant Group.

3. Historic Cedar Knoll Restaurant

9030 Lucia Lane Alexandria VA (703) 799 1501. The original farmhouse that is Cedar Knoll today was constructed in the late 1800’s. Prior to that the land was a part of the Mount Vernon plantation which was owned by George Washington. The restaurant, opened in 1975, offers Mediterranean cuisine in a historic atmosphere, with fireplaces and views of the Potomac River. Outdoor seating is available weather permitting.

4. Occidental Grill

1475 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC. (202) 783-1475. The restaurant was built by Henry Willard (who also built the famous Willard Hotel) in 1906. The Occidental is known for its photos of presidents, cabinet members, senators, sports heroes, literary greats and celebrities. It was renovated in 2007 in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

5. Ben’s Chili Bowl

1213 U St. NW Washington, DC. (202) 667-0909. The Washington landmark that dates back to 1958 is located in the U Street corridor, which was once known as "Black Broadway." Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Cosby and even President Barack Obama have been seen eating and just "hanging out" at Ben’s. The casual dining establishment has won many awards and is recognized as a “must go” place to eat when visiting Washington.

6. Tabard Inn

1739 N St. NW, Washington, DC. (202) 833-2668. The Tabard Inn opened in 1922 as a guesthouse and restaurant in a Classical-Revival style rowhouse in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. The hotel is renowned for its fine dining.

7. Gadsby's Tavern

138 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA. (703) 548-1288. The historic landmark dates back to the 18th century and was frequented by George Washington Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and James Monroe. Servers are dressed in colonial period costumes. The Gadsby's Tavern Museum displays 18th century artifacts and hosts special programs for all ages.

8. The Monocle

107 D Street NE Washington, DC. (202) 546-4488. Established in 1960 and located just steps from the Capitol Building, the iconic restaurant is popular among members of Congress. The menu features steaks and seafood. This is a power dining spot with an elegant atmosphere and expensive prices.

9. Martin’s Tavern

1264 Wisconsin Avenue NW Washington, DC. (202) 333-7370. Established in 1933, the tavern has been a Georgetown landmark since the Great Depression. The menu features classic American food, local specialties and tavern favorites.

10. Tastee Diner

Three locations. 7731 Woodmont Avenue. Bethesda, MD. (301) 652-3970. 8601 Cameron Street. Silver Spring, MD. (301) 589-8171. and 118 Washington Boulevard South. Laurel, MD. (301) 953-7567. These classic diners date back to the 1930s and 40s. They are open 24 hours and serve breakfast, burgers, sandwiches and blue plate specials day and night.

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