Since 1933, family-owned Martin’s Tavern has gained the reputation of an esteemed dining establishment for reasons that go beyond its food. Many of its wooden booths are imbued with political history, as future presidents dined at the establishment as rising senators or while visiting relatives in the city. Today, the pub draws visitors who hope to sit where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie Bouvier or where Lyndon B. Johnson was mentored by former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn.
According to Fritz Hahn from The Washington Post, the Georgetown spot has become a “well-worn and much-loved corner pub,” thanks in part to its roster of classic American fare and hearty pub favorites such as shepherd’s pie and Guinness mussels. But the real draw here is the history: The tavern makes it easy to see where soon-to-be-presidents dined, as plaques on the walls above certain booths and tables show many of these leaders’ favorite spots. From Booth One (also known as the “Rumble Seat”), where John F. Kennedy read his Sunday morning paper after Mass, to Booth Two, where Richard Nixon often dined on the tavern’s famous meatloaf as a senator and then vice president, to Booth 24, where Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn met in the 1940s, the space is full of political history. Even Harry and Bess Truman dined in Booth Six with their daughter, Margaret, while she was attending George Washington University. So inspired by the scene, Margaret would go on to incorporate Martin’s Tavern into one of her mystery novels.
However, for many visitors, the romantic history that occurred at Booth Three is what really draws them to Martin’s Tavern. On June 24, 1953, John F. Kennedy disappointed many other bachelorettes when he proposed to his sweetheart, Jackie Bouvier, in Booth Three. Since this historical event, many other couples have visited and left engaged after sitting in this very same booth.
Know Before You Go
The nearest Metrobus stop is Wisconsin Ave NW and Dumbarton Street NW. No parking is readily available, and reservations are suggested.