Eating Around Town – Park Tavern

202 M Street, SE

This edition of Eating Around Town was written by Abbey Becker. Abbey previously wrote about Little Serow. She lives near Eastern Market.

If you hang out on Capitol Hill, you’ve probably eaten (or drank) at one of the restaurants Xavier Cervera used to own—Boxcar Tavern, Hawk ‘N’ Dove, Pacifico, etc. Before selling his empire to a Boston equity firm a couple of months ago, he started work on Park Tavern (202 M Street SE), a more upscale option for Nationals game goers and residents of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

Even though he’s no longer an owner, Park Tavern still maintains the hallmarks of a Cervera restaurant—mediocrity.

Before some of you get upset, I’m sure his restaurants have their place. I’ve heard Pacifico makes a good margarita, and Molly Malone’s and Lola’s are perfectly acceptable bars on Barracks Row.

But living in a city, and with so many quality options that are easily accessible, it’s hard to make a winning case for Park Tavern, at least.

If you’re going to a Nationals game and you don’t want to face the throngs at Gordon Biersch, Justin’s Café, or The Bullpen, then Park Tavern is probably a good choice. They have what sounds like a creative cocktail menu and they offer a fair number of wine and beer selections. They’re a few blocks away from the main action by the park, so it’s likely quieter around gametime. They have a large outdoor patio where the skating rink is located in the winter that either looks out onto the play fountain or the new park, and it’s a pleasant place for a drink on a warm evening.

But if you’re looking for a great dining experience, or even a meal that’s better than something you could likely make at home, Park Tavern should not be at the top of your list.

I went with an old friend and her boyfriend, so we ordered a couple of dishes. I was feeling like a burger, and if you can make a good burger, I’m inclined to come back.

Unfortunately, their burger isn’t very good. I asked for it medium rare. I never mind if it comes out medium, but when it comes out well done, it’s a disappointment, which was the case here. It was surprisingly juicy, but it was otherwise unremarkable. I kept eating the fries, but I think it was because I was hungry. These were clearly frozen beforehand, which doesn’t ultimately doom a fry. But they were underseasoned and not real crispy.

The pastrami sandwich and blue cheese and pear pizza were received pretty much the same way—I’ll eat some of it, but I won’t order it again, and I’ll probably eat something else when I get home.

Overall, Park Tavern is a fine place for a beer and a snack before or after the game. I would absolutely go back for happy hour to sit on the patio. I’ll make my burger at home afterward, though.

9 Comment

  • It’s so disappointing that a restaurant in such a marquee location for the neighborhood, and with such an interesting design, has been such a letdown. Maybe this private equity group will sell it off to someone who actually cares about good food.

  • tried to eat here (yes tried) the second or third week tafter they opened

    TERRIBLE expierence

    everything was all over the place.
    needed seating for 4 people
    as we waited for 30 mins no one was seated while there were about three or four tables opened and cleaned off already. both inside and out

    we were told the reasoning for those tables remaining open were for the people before us on the list
    my thing is i sat there for 30 mins and watched none fo the be filled

  • How is a place that sells burgers and frozen fries “more upscale”?

  • Interesting article about the buyout. If the article is to be believe the group is run by Cervera’s brother.

    • So in other words, it’s never going to get any better. This guy is all about profits, which come mostly from the booze. Food and service really don’t matter much.

  • This place was so disappointing.

    As one of the few restaurants within walking distance of the stadium, they nevertheless seemed genuinely surprised at the crowd after a 4:00 Saturday game. They had one person working the entire outdoor patio. When she brought us our drinks, she said, “don’t expect refills anytime soon.” I mean…at least we were warned?

    For $25 I’d rather eat over-priced pizza at Nats Stadium.

  • I’m going to have to defend Park Tavern for two things:

    1) Their salds are pretty damn good. The lemon vin dressing is great, too/

    2) I rather enjoyed the pastrami quite a bit.

    3) The pizza is good. Not Red Rocks good, but I preferred it over anything else in the hood, Pi, and maybe even Matchbox.

    4) Beautiful design/environment, and a HH that goes to 7.

    The ribs used to have this drool-worthy vinegar dipping sauce, but they replaced it with some generic sweet BBQ crap. The octopus is great when it comes out tender, but seems to be often overcooked.

  • They’re getting a new chef next week…we’ll see what happens then.

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