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Old Ebbitt Grill suggestions

My mother wants to go to the OEG sometime soon, mostly because her dad took her there when she was little. I've heard middling reviews about it, but it's what my mom wants and a Washington institution is always worth a try.

So, does anyone have any suggestions about a) what meal and b) what to order? We could do lunch or dinner, and I see they have a brunch menu. Does the menu have any standouts?

Please no "OMG, avoid it entirely" posts. We're going and I want to make the best of it.

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  1. They have a great raw bar- good oysters, huge jumbo shrimp for the shrimp cocktail that still have good taste and texture. Their cheese plate isn't exciting, but it is good and at least has a lot of accompaniments unlike others. I like their simple fresh seafood options (like their lobster or softshells). But they have a good burger. It is good for GP (general purpose) food. It really hits the spot now and again when you want normal food at a good price or can score the happy hour prices.

    1. Oysters, oysters and more oysters. They also tend to not screw up whatever the daily special is, and I've had credible rockfish and catfish in the past.

      1. I like your attitude! I happen to like the OEG for its history and certain DC feel. The food prices are a value, too.
        I highly recommend brunch, or lunch. Specifically, the rueben and hamburgers have never fallen short. My mom loves the clam chowder and the "Walter" (pastrami).
        ps....my biggest suggestion is to get seated in the main room and not the atrium. Make a ressy!

        1. I'm thinking my husband and I are of the same generation as your mother. :) Anyway, my husband absolutely loves the grilled pork chops, if they are still served. Years ago, the omelets were wonderful fare!

          1. Definitely sit in either the main dining room or the side bar (the one on the NW corner of the building) rather than the atrium. I'm not a dessert person but every time I am there I see a dessert go by and say "mmmm, that looks good." If you are at the side bar and Joe the bartender is there, chat him up - he's darling.

            1. Oysters. Burgers. Liver/onions/bacon if it's on the menu.

              1. Good burgers (especially blue cheese version). Pecan pie served hot ala mode, if you dare.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Potomac Bob

                  The brunch has been great every time I've been there, and there's a semi-open-air atrium kind of area in the back where you can sometimes sit which is neat.

                  I'd stick with straightforward American fare -- eggs benedict, shrimp cocktails, omlettes, and of course the oysters. The bloody marys are good too.

                2. For apps I'd echo the raw bar (check web site for half price times) and they have pretty good grilled oysters right now. The crab cakes are usually good (I know crab cakes in this area are a touchy subject, but I've always enjoyed them here), the soft shells aren't bad for the price but are a little batter-laden sometimes, and the petite filet bernaise sandwich (not the cardiologists favorite) is my go-to. If they still have the strawberry shortcake when you visit, I had it the other night and it was really good and fresh

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: genericeric

                    We like their spinach and artichoke dip as well as the steak salad. Agree on burgers and the main dining room as well.
                    I personally don't care for their brunch choices at all, but I have only been once for that.

                    1. re: ScarlyAngel

                      Just a little factoid:
                      Old Ebbitt Grill had the sixth highest sales of any independent restaurant in the country last year - over $23 million. Not bad considering that of the top 100, it also had the sixth lowest average dinner check ($24). That translates into 800,000 meals served in 2008!. They must be doing something right. http://www.rimag.com/info/ca6647983.html

                      1. re: crackers

                        If you sold me raw oysters for $3, $4, and $5 bucks a piece you'd make $23 million too!

                        1. re: Pappy

                          Maybe it also has something to do with being able to see that large Government check in the window across the street in Treasury from the restaurant!


                          1. re: Pappy

                            Pappy, are you sure about those prices? On the website I see them listed at $21.95/dozen ($1.83 per) fresh shucked. And they are half-price for happy hour and late-night hours.

                            It seems they're doing it on the huge volume of tourists who come pouring through town every day.

                            1. re: crackers

                              That is cheaper than I recall. I stand corrected. Margins on pasta are probably better than that.

                    2. I really like their chili--and I don't usually like chili. It's a sweet version.