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Tabard Inn or Old Ebbitt for dinner? Or M&S?

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I will be returning for a visit to DC over Memorial Day Weekend after many years’ absence. Two of us want crabcakes, and one of us wants soft shell crabs, and oysters as an appetizer. Price range: entrees not exceeding $25 or so. Atmosphere – not too noisy (a little noise is okay, but not where you have to shout to be heard), pleasant surroundings (not a bar type atmosphere, but doesn’t have to be fancy), must take reservations, and I don’t want a place where you are squeezed in. I want my 89 year old father to be comfortable. Location – in D.C., not the suburbs. I have read a lot of the reviews on this website, and many of the seafood restaurants recommended have entrees in the $30+ range. Tabard Inn and Old Ebbitt Grill both have crab cakes, soft shell crabs and oysters at an acceptable price level, although the Tabard Inn is a little more expensive than I would have liked.

Is Tabard Inn or Old Ebbitt Grill better, in light of all of these factors? I don’t know anything about McCormick & Schmidt – I know it has seafood, but I don’t know about the atmosphere or whether or not the food is good. Should I consider M&S as well? Thanks for your help.

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  1. Tabard is generally a better restaurant, but for what you want, Ebbitt might be the way to go, since it has one of the best raw bars in the city. Just stick with your seafood wishes (since other menu items will likely be much better at Tabard).

    For seating, make reservations for the booths in either the side bar or the back bar. Ebbitt is beautiful, but large and loud in the main room. The side room and back room are going to be quieter. Also, they ahve extra seating in the office building that they are adjacent to - make sure they don't stick you there, since there is no ambiance.

    Don't bother with M&S!

    If you are up for a drink before dinner, do go to Tabard and sit in the lounge, which is homey and warm and lovely.

    1. Tabard Inn by a mile, they have a great outdoor patio. Stay away from M&S, poor value and food quality.

      1. Absolutely, positively not M&S. Tabard is my choice. Old Ebbitt is insanity right now b/c it's the height of tourist season- and all the hotels tell the tourists to go there as it's "very DC" (odd, since that's not at all what I would call it, as a DC-native). I walked past it twice in the last two weeks- and the wait was over two hours, according to folks standing outside; no reservations. Clyde's in Gallery Place might be the better choice, honestly- if it's seafood, crab cakes, and oysters you want...

        1. I would def. go with Tabard Inn. I think it has a lovely ambiance and seems to be what you are looking for. I've never had the crab cakes, but the salmon is really tasty.

          Plus if the weather is nice out you can try to get a table in their beautiful courtyard, which is one of the nicest retreats in the city.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Elyssa

            An 89-year-old will definitely be comfortable at Ebbitt grill. The food is consistently good, and the atmosphere is sort of old clubbish, lots of wood. Not very loud. I wouldn't say that the food is wonderful, but enjoyable. I've not been to Tabard so cannot compare them. I have given up on M&S.

            1. re: Potomac Bob

              Old Ebbitt not very loud? That certainly wasn't my experience.

          2. For me, Tabard has better ambiance (nice cozy old hotel vs. very nice bar but sometimes crowded at Ebbit and nice-enough chain at M&S). Also, generally better food than others, though don't know about crabcakes.