It’s midnight and you’re starving. Where are you gonna go? Or maybe it’s 8am and you want to get a good jump on the day ahead. Who serves a full breakfast at this hour not too far from the National Mall? Or you want a taste of both the capital’s regional dishes and insider’s culture. Who brings that to the table? It’s the Ebbitt.

Old Ebbitt is that rare place that attracts tourists and the city’s movers and shakers in equal numbers. It could so easily be a tourist trap, with its saloon decor and old-fashioned ambience, only it’s not fake. Old Ebbitt has been around since 1856, first in another nearby location, and here since 1983, and some of its furnishings date from the early days. Regulars come here precisely because they find the atmosphere genuinely comfortable. Those regulars, by the way, include Secret Service agents, as well as the people they’re protecting; hotshot attorneys from nearby law firms; and politicos visiting the White House a block away.

It’s comforting to have a conveniently located place that’s nearly always open, with four capacious bars and a menu that’s known for its untrendy dishes, like the burgers, the trout parmesan, and the house pasta, which is stuffed with spinach, mortadella ham, and three cheeses and baked in a cream sauce. Oysters are the standout, among the best and freshest in town. (Daily 3–6pm and after 11pm, all raw bar items are half off.)