Alexandria, Virginia is home to some of the key pieces of the dawn of the United States. Children study in history classes how the Founding Fathers met in taverns and pubs to draft the nation’s earliest laws and shape this nascent country. Did you know, however, that you can sit and dine where some of the greatest of these men ate, drank, and contemplated America’s future? Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria showed up on the “it scene” in the late 1700s serving the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Andrew Jackson and James Madison. A major center for social and political life in the 18th and 19th centuries you can almost picture Lieutenant Colonel Washington (he was still over 30 years from the presidency) recruiting like minded young men for the French and Indian War.
Gadsby’s is actually two buildings: a tavern and a hotel. The original tavern (constructed a few years before the hotel) has been turned into an amazing museum and the hotel is now an elegant and stately ballroom and restaurant. Refurbishment of the Colonial style brilliance of both buildings was begun in the 1920s, reopened to the public in 1976, and have been meticulously maintained to reflect their original splendor. The ambiance is romantic and immediately takes you back to the days of yore. There is even an antique ice well built in 1793 that was recently renovated. This particular ice well held about 68 tons of ice and served many purposes, including preparing ice cream for the presidential households.
Today at Gadsby’s Tavern you can enjoy many interesting food combinations and the servers will go above and beyond to make sure your selection pleases the palate. Items vary from more conventional modern fare like shrimp cocktail (with a light citrusy dipping sauce) and crab cakes (the rémoulade is delectable) to traditional period dishes such as grilled duck with corn pudding and rhotekraut (filling and absolutely delicious). The majority of the meals here are pure comfort food and really satisfy on a cold, rainy Alexandria evening. Portions are hearty and prices are actually quite reasonable considering the gorgeous historic setting and quality of the offerings (dinners are all under $30.00 and come with plenty of sides). Exceptional on every level Gadsby’s Tavern is an absolute whenever you are in the Washington, DC area.