Martin’s is over 80 years old and in its lifetime has served every president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. The tavern is best known as the place where JFK, then a U.S. Senator, proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier on June 24, 1953. Hardbacked wooden booths line the walls of the restaurant, and many bear a plaque identifying the former President or famous person who dined within; 3 is the “Proposal Booth.” Fourth generation Billy Martin is usually behind the bar, attending to the regulars who frequent the place. That’s largely what Martin’s is these days: a restaurant for folks from the neighborhood, many of them generational iterations of earlier customers. People who aren’t regulars sometimes feel left out, but that’s part of the experience, too. “Tavern” is exactly the word to describe Martin’s food, which is okay American and, in some cases, Colonial American: Shepherd’s pie and Brunswick stew are listed, and so is Martin’s Delight, which is roasted turkey on toast, smothered in rarebit sauce. Martin’s offers a bit of old-guard Washington and Georgetown you’re not going to get anywhere else, and that’s mostly why I recommend it.
- Elise Hartman Ford