The Kennedy Homes of Georgetown
Martin’s Tavern is on the corner here. There is a sidewalk section for warm months and the door is around the corner on the Wisconsin side. Four generations of Billy Martins have run Martin’s Tavern since the first was opened by an accomplished Georgetown athlete for working class folks to dine on Irish fare. Today, the clientele is more upscale, but there’s no dress code if you’d like to come for lunch or dinner after the tour. For now, let’s keep moving. Head around past the door, cross the street and continue on N Street to 3038 N St about two blocks down while I keep talking about Martin’s.
John ate here on Sunday mornings after attending early mass at Holy Trinity. He sat in Booth 1, the first one on the right, because it was half booth known as the “Rumble Seat” named after early vehicles that had one bench as a back seat. John sat on the only bench so nobody could slip into to talk to him. He liked to read the paper in peace while eating his favorite, Eggs Benedict.
Legend has it that John proposed to Jackie in Booth 4, known now as “The Engagement Booth” where wedding proposals still happen today. John proposed on June 24, 1953 and the couple married in September. It sometimes seems hard to believe such a classy couple was engaged in a bar, but it’s a nice neighborhood place where they were comfortable.
Booth 2 was President Richard Nixon’s favorite spot while serving as a congressman, senator and vice president. Meat loaf was his favorite meal. And no, the booth isn’t crooked.
Booth 6 was Harry and Bess Truman’s choice. The president dined there while serving as a senator earlier.
Booth 24 was president Lyndon B. Johnson’s choice while serving as Senate Majority Leader.
A spy ring also operated out of Martin’s during the 1930s and ‘40s. Baltimore lawyer Alger Hiss was imprisoned for 3½ years for being a Russian spy, though the formal charge was perjury.
So what do I recommend when dining at Martin’s? I’m a sucker for Shepherd’s Pie. It doesn’t seem like a large portion, but even a big eater like me is stuffed when finished.
Brunch is big on Sundays. Oyster Stew and Brunswick stew are delicacies, and the Fried Green Tomatoes, Welsh Rarebit and Onion Ring Loaf shouldn’t be missed. For lunch or dinner, the roasted turkey chili, Caesar salad and crab cakes are winners. And for desert, New York-style cheese cake is delicious.
There are plenty of ales and beers from Ireland and England plus American beers like Coors and Bud so it’s not all fancy. The hot buttered rum is pretty good, too.