A staple of Georgetown-neighborhood history, Martin’s Tavern was one of the first bars to reopen after prohibition. The Georgetown establishment has hosted at least six presidents, and it famously stands as the proposal site of John F. Kennedy to Jackie. Martin’s Tavern recently celebrated its 80-year anniversary and has the brunch to prove why it is still in business.
On the inside, the restaurant has a classic and homey feel. While the dim lighting and dark varnish on all the wood render the interior a bit cavernous at first, the atmosphere complements a mid-morning brunch quite nicely. Trying to fit as many tables in and maintaining the integrity of its 1930’s design, the establishment is fairly cramped, with no waiting area in the front and tables positioned very close together. Sitting in the booth with my three brunch companions was not the most comfortable I’ve ever been; I felt like I was perpetually pitched forward on the hardwood bench, and there was not a ton of table space overall. Beyond the seating, however, the environment was lively and comfortable. Our service was prompt and friendly, and even though we were in close quarters with other patrons, it still felt like we were seated at our own distinct table.
Our group started the meal with a round of coffee, which Martin’s brews well and serves in large, steaming mugs. Their brunch menu is similarly priced to but more extensive than other places around Georgetown. More budget-conscious brunch-goers can choose eggs, pancakes, or sandwiches over the prime rib or crab cake options. We ordered a mix of breakfast and lunch foods: eggs benedict, corned beef hash, challah french toast, and the roasted turkey sandwich; all of which came with various sides like home fries, french fries, mixed greens, or fruit. We did not have to wait long for our food, and I never felt that our waitress forgot about us as she refilled our coffee and water regularly.
The food presentation was nice, but not extraordinary. I ordered the eggs benedict (the same meal as the first round brunch bracketeer). It was served with two English muffins each nicely stacked with steamed spinach, a poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce. The other plates were similarly arranged: the corned beef hash was spread across the plate and topped with poached eggs, the turkey sandwich was cut in half and held together with those fancy toothpicks, and the french toast was stacked sideways and sprinkled with powdered sugar. There was plenty of syrup, sugar, and salt available on our table for our group to spruce up our orders as we saw fit.
The quality of the food exceeded my expectations; I assumed that Martin’s served a historical Georgetown experience with a side of food. Instead, the meal was the best part of our visit. The chef has a knack for correctly combining flavors, and all of the elements of the dishes satisfied everyone’s expectations. The savory Hollandaise sauce perfectly complemented the eggs and spinach in the eggs benedict. The fruit and fries, though not spectacular, worked well as sides. The corned hash, eggs, and toast combined to create a traditional (and delicious) breakfast flavor, and the french toast offered a sweet and filling start to my companion’s day.
Martin’s Tavern is a perfect choice for a “treat yo’self” occasion. A typical brunch platter falls between $10-$19, which I consider reasonable for the history, atmosphere, and quality of the food, but not necessarily for a college student’s budget. Overall, this brunch is worth a try, especially to experience the history and atmosphere of a Georgetown staple. If presidential history is any indication, perhaps you will run into a current or former Commander in Chief stopping by to visit their favorite booth.
Diversity of Menu: 8