The Bar Belle: Martin’s Tavern

Martin’s Tavern
1264 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.

For most people, Thanksgiving weekend consists of overeating poultry and conversing with strangers who happen to share fragments of your DNA. In the Bar Belle family, our DNA is genetically altered so that beer and football are essential holiday components. This was the first year I hosted Thanksgiving, and my cooking skills extend to the Lucky Charms and milk composition. So I promised to stay out of the kitchen and plan the weekend’s entertainment. However, Thursday afternoon football at my apartment took a turn for the worse after I misjudged my ability to consume Bloody Marys. I decided perhaps we should venture to a sports bar for Friday afternoon’s game so I would have to moderately control my behavior. After shopping in Georgetown after lunch, we were disappointed to find that Rhino Bar was closed until 3 p.m. Luckily we found cold beers and the game down the street at Martin’s Tavern.

The interior of the bar/restaurant, with dark wood booths and floors, overhead Tiffany-style lighting and hunter-green upholstery, reminded me of what I had always thought a bar should look like since I was young. It gave off a “Cheers” meets Georgetown feel, although every one at the bar seemed to be tourists. The two televisions were fairly small and slightly hazy from the persistent cigarette smoke, but the the friendly bartenders easily made up for our viewing discomforts: they didn’t card and diligently replaced our Bud Lights.

At halftime, the five beers I had consumed led me up the steep staircase to the bathroom. While waiting to use the one-stall of the bathroom, I suffered a brief bout of frostbite, as the upstairs was at least ten degrees colder than the downstairs.

After returning from the arctic second floor, we decided to order appetizers. A nice insert on the first page of the menu detailed the restaurant’s 70-plus year history. It was refreshing to learn the restaurant had been family-owned for four generations rather than just another product of a trendy D.C. restaurant group. The story also boasted the restaurant as a local hangout for political celebrities, serving every president from Truman to Bush.

Our onion rings and fried oysters came out quickly. Both were excellent in terms of fried bar foods, but the price ($7-8) and small servings were disappointing. As our football game took a turn for the worse and our plates and bottles were emptied, we opted to face the crowded sidewalks once again rather than staying at the bar.

Bar Belle
Rating: 2/5

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