Just 2 blocks from the White House, Old Ebbitt Grill serves locally sourced food and wonderful ambiance in the heart of downtown Washington DC
A few weeks ago I was back home in Maryland visiting family and friends. My friend Kara lives in North Carolina, but occasionally comes to town when I’m visiting. This was one of those times, and we had a 2-day funtivities excursion. Our funtivities are a lot more tame now than they were in college…probably a good thing.
The first day we did Annapolis, and went to a Washington Nationals game. The second day we toured DC, hitting a lot of spots neither of us had been to in a really long time. We went to the Jefferson Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Capital, and the Supreme Court. There were 40 black Suburbans with tinted windows outside the capital, so we knew they were in session. The cops asked if we wanted to go in and watch whatever they were voting on. They were really amused when I told them I’d rather watch paint dry. Little did they know I was dead serious. I’m not sure if you can ever go into the Supreme Court building, but it was pretty cool.
If you’ve never seen the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery, you need to go. It’s one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever seen. It’s a very elaborate, exacting ceremony that takes less than 5 minutes. In fall and winter, they change every hour on the hour; in spring and summer, the change is every 30 minutes. I was melting during the ceremony, so I can’t even imagine how hot they get in full dress.
By the time we toured the cemetery and took the metro back to DC, we were starving. We discussed options, and decided to go to Old Ebbitt Grill. I think I might have visited Old Ebbitt Grill in high school for a birthday dinner, but that’s about it. I’m not sure how that’s even possible, because we spent a lot of time in DC during and right after college.
Old Ebbitt Grill opened in 1856, and is the oldest bar in Washington DC. The location has moved around DC several times over the years, and it is now just a couple blocks from the White House. So it’s no surprise to regularly see politicians. The decor is quite ornate, with beautiful paintings on the walls, dark wood paneling, and fancy light fixtures. The servers wear white shirts with suspenders, bow ties, and long white aprons.
Old Ebbitt Grill is open for breakfast (weekdays), brunch (weekends) lunch and dinner, and even offers a late-night menu. The lunch & dinner menus feature appetizers, oysters, entree salads, burgers & sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. They also have an oyster happy hour, with half-priced oysters every day from 3-6pm and after 11pm. The restaurant itself looks upscale, but there is no dress code. Good thing, because we were super casual for walking all over the city.
We started with large glasses of water, and then promptly moved to prosecco
I’m a big fan of prosecco. It has the champagne bubbles, but is light and crisp, so it’s perfect for a hot day.
We decided to start with oysters. The Old Ebbitt Grill oysters change daily, based on what is the freshest available. We had several options, and chose oysters from New England and Maine
These oysters were delicious. Oysters are definitely an acquired taste, and I was in my late 20’s before I ever tried one. I’m very selective about oysters, especially since I’m from the East coast, and will only eat those I know are fresh. Because trust me, bad oysters will stick with you for a long time. The vinegar sauce was delicious, and has a very nice balance flavors. A unique Old Ebbitt Grill twist is horseradish in the cocktail sauce. I’m not sure how I feel about that; yes, it saves a step for those who like horseradish. But what if you don’t like it? And what if you accidentally get a huge chunk of horseradish? That’s not a pleasant scenario, but it certainly will clear out your sinuses.
Old Ebbitt Grill uses locally raised beef for their burgers.. Who can pass up on that?! There are 5 beef burgers, plus a salmon burger, on the menu. We both selected regular burgers. Kara added American cheese and sauteed mushrooms
I added bleu cheese and sauteed onions, and sriracha mayo on the side
The burger was awesome. The meat is juicy, cooked to a perfect medium, and there are chunks of blue cheese on top. I was very surprised to see the grilled onions on the side, rather than on the burger itself. I didn’t complain though, because you get more onions this way.
I’m a huge french fry snob. I have no qualms asking for a fresh order of fries, especially if they are not hot. I was very disappointed with these fries. They had good flavor, but were lukewarm. I believe we got at or near the bottom of the batch.I considered sending them back, but I was starving, and we still had a lot of ground to cover in our day.
Will I go back Old Ebbitt Grill? Definitely. I love the atmosphere, and the food is delicious. Besides, I need to give the french fries another chance.