Old Ebbitt Grill: Washington's Oldest Saloon
Let’s set the scene. You’re near the White House and you just finished your monument tour or visit to a Smithsonian museum. Or you’ve got a few friends visiting from out of town who want a classic DC restaurant experience. There’s one place on the top of everyone’s list: Old Ebbitt Grill.
As Washington, DC’s oldest saloon, Old Ebbitt Grill is filled with old-fashioned charm and history you might overlook if you aren’t paying attention. “If the walls could talk,” reads the sign that greets you as you walk in.
Locals will tell you the vibe reflects the current administration since the restaurant serves as a hot spot for staffers and people working near the White House. In my ten years working in and around DC, this is generally true but don’t let your politics dictate whether or not you visit. It is often just fun to know who might be around.
Old Ebbitt Grill was founded in 1856 and has called a few different locations home. It began as a boarding house owned by William E. Ebbitt and rumored to be located in present-day Chinatown. We can’t say for certain who frequented the saloon regularly, but it is said that it was a spot beloved by presidents, famous state leaders, and military heroes. Even though Old Ebbitt Grill calls a new location home these days, come have a drink with the ghosts of America’s past.
Clyde’s acquired Old Ebbitt Grill in 1970 and moved it to the current location near the White House in 1983. Today you’ll find the traditional Clyde’s menu including a large variety of entrees, sandwiches, and an impressive raw bar. Personally, I gravitate toward seafood at Clyde’s but the menu has something for everyone.
Old Ebbitt Grill doesn’t just have to be a traditional lunch or dinner spot. Join them for weekend brunch until 4:00 pm, weekday breakfast from 8:00 to 11:00 am, or late-night bites after 11 pm. Make a reservation or be ready to wait during peak dinner and lunch times. This is a beloved restaurant by both tourists and locals.
Keep up with the Old Ebbitt Grill’s daily specials and events on Instagram @oldebbitt.