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For my final project, I created four TikTok videos that introduced viewers to restaurants where United States presidents have eaten in the DMV. The four restaurants I visited were Old Ebbitt Grill, Good Stuff Eatery, Martin’s Tavern, and Las Gemelas Taqueria. Without planning it, I ended up choosing restaurants in different pockets of DC, which is nice to show how the presidents meander all over the city for a good bite to eat.
Old Ebbitt Grill was founded in 1865, making it the oldest saloon in Washington. The saloon is believed to have been first located on the edge of present-day Chinatown, and after moving to several new locations, it currently resides in the National Press Building at 14th and F Streets NW. Numerous presidents dined at the restaurant, including Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding. President William McKinley is said to have lived there during his tenure in Congress. The history of Old Ebbitt Grill is so rich and interesting, and it’s paired with great food. Known for its raw bar, I ordered oysters and they were delicious. Although, I’m a sucker for any good oysters with mignonette. The environment of Old Ebbitt Grill is also really neat and I believe my TikTok did an adequate job showing how the restaurant has consistently been special in DC’s history.
Good Stuff Eatery is one of my favorite burger places. Ever. When my family and I first visited DC, I was 13 years old. I have a very distinct memory of eating at Good Stuff. On vacations, my parents do not believe in ubering or driving places, and instead like to walk everywhere to truly engage with a city. While I generally love this practice, it is not suited for the winter of DC. We visited in the middle of February and one day we were walking around in the cold rain trying to find somewhere to eat. Finally, after my sisters and I were sobbing at how distraught we were (the drama! but I stand by it), we stepped into Good Stuff and I don’t know if another burger will ever taste as good as that burger did. In 2009, to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, Chef Mendelsohn created the “ Prez Obama Burger” (now the “Prez Burger”) and the “Michelle Melt” (now the “Good Stuff Melt”). Well, that fateful day in 2014, I ordered the Prez Obama Burger and a milkshake. After learning how Obama took his debt team to the same location (Capitol Hill) in 2011, I knew I had to include Good Stuff in my TikTok videos.
Similar to Old Ebbit Grill, Martin’s Tavern also has a rich history. The Boston Braves’ 1914 shortstop William Gloyd “Billy” Martin founded Martin’s tavern in 1933, making it one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in D.C. Located in Georgetown, the restaurant has hosted each US president from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush. Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson (then a novice congressman) dined in Booth #24 numerous times in the 1940s. John F. Kennedy lived a couple blocks from Martin’s and visited the restaurant after Sunday’s mass. On June 24, 1953, JFK proposed to Jackie in Booth #3, which is now dubbed the proposal booth. President Bill Clinton remembers Martin’s as one of his ”favorite haunts in Georgetown.” I really loved the environment of Martin’s and they had delicious food as well as great service. I can definitely tell how this place came to be so popular. It is also my most liked video on TikTok with 73 likes (as of 11:29 am on 4/26/23).
Las Gemelas Taqueria is located within five minutes of where I live and I had eaten there twice before, so I was excited to learn President Biden ate at the restaurant. On Cinco de Mayo in 2021, Biden visited the restaurant. Las Gemelas was the first restaurant in the nation that Biden approved for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. I work at OrangeTheory Fitness to support me in school and when the members asked me about my TikTok project and I mentioned Las Gemelas, one lady told me she was there when Biden was! She told me Secret Service secured the restaurant and the street outside and everyone was perplexed by what was going on. But then they all quickly understood, and she informed me that Biden was very nice to everyone in the restaurant. In full transparency, I found myself least impressed with the food at Las Gemelas, but it was still decent.
I wanted to create this TikTok account to engage with younger audiences about their local and/or national history. I spent time carefully selecting my username, and I finally landed on @presidentsbesnackin because I figured it would resonate with younger audiences and others who are familiar with Gen Z lingo. I have not received an insane amount of traffic on my profile, but I’ve received more than I was expecting. So far, I have a total of eight followers and 143 likes. My Old Ebbitt Grill video received the most views and the Martin’s Tavern video had the most likes. I believe if I keep up with posting, I could potentially gain a good following, but it would take a lot of work to constantly put content out there. I love the idea of being a historical TikTok influencer, but I found myself feeling self-conscious filming in public, and I don’t know if that feeling would ever disappear. Overall, I’m pleased with how the videos turned out and I liked learning how my peers thought they were spliced together adequately enough! Maybe I can create more content when I have more time in the summer. I loved this project because it forced me to explore DC and good restaurants around town, and I learned a lot more about these places than I would have if I’d visited without the intention of this project.