Streets of Washington, written by John DeFerrari, covers some of DC’s most interesting buildings and history. John is the author of Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.: Capital Eats, published by the History Press, Inc. and also the author of Lost Washington DC.
One of the oldest continuously-operating restaurants in D.C. is German, the venerable Old Europe on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park, which opened in 1948. Beyond it, Washington boasts relatively few German eateries these days. That wasn’t always the case. In the late 19th century, after a wave of German immigrants settled in the area, German restaurants were common and among the city’s best. The thriving local beer industry, also dominated by Germans, went hand in glove with the restaurant business. Here are the stories of four of the most successful German eateries from the turn of the last century, all located on or near Pennsylvania Avenue downtown.
Postcard from Engel’s Hotel and Restaurant, circa 1900 (author’s collection).
One of the best known was Fritz Reuter’s. Reuter (1862-1906) had been born in Hanover and came to the U.S. when he was 21 years old. After spending a year in Baltimore, he moved to Washington to work in a saloon. He opened up his own gasthaus (inn and restaurant) in 1889 on the northwest corner of 4½ Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The building he took over had been a boardinghouse for many years in the early part of the century. Run by a Mrs. Elizabeth Peyton, it had catered to congressmen, Supreme Court justices, and other statesmen, including John Marshall, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun. (more…)