The Occidental was built in 1906 by Henry Willard. The Occidental quickly became an incredible success and one of the best places to people-watch in the city. Early luminaries at the restaurant included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Robert Frost, and Calvin Coolidge. The Occidental quickly developed a reputation as the place where statesmen and sports heroes dine.
The Occidental was given a $2 million renovation in 2007 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The menu was revamped, and modern touches were added to the classic recipes. In many ways, it is fitting that such a classic American institution has a great version of another classic American institution. The burger at Occidental is seared on the grill and topped with applewood-smoked bacon strips, white cheddar, and red-onion marmalade for a hint of sweet, all on a brioche bun. Another dish that is classic Washington D.C. is the jumbo lump crab cake, the most popular dish on the menu. Everyone in the city has a crab cake, but at The Occidental, the fresh crab is combined with pumpernickel panzanella, served with avocado mousse, toasted almonds, and pink peppercorns, and lightly dressed with a pink grapefruit vinaigrette. The jumbo bacon-wrapped sea scallops with black mission figs, summer lettuce, sunchoke puree, and a pomegranate reduction are another great way to enjoy the cities proximity to fresh seafood. For dessert, the simple local honey creme brulee is a great way to put an exclamation point on a special meal.
Hot spots come in go in a city with as much change as Washington D.C., which makes Occidental Grill's longevity even more impressive. It is a classic and still a preferred spot for writers, dignitaries, sports stars, and presidents.
Cover photo courtesy of Andi Whiskey via Unsplash.