Remembering Sir Walter Raleigh Inn

Sir Walter Raleigh Inn is fondly remembered for being a not-so-expensive steak house with a great salad bar that was included with your meal. Suitable for a homecoming dinner or birthday celebration, the Montgomery Village location (now the site of CVS), closed back in 2005.  What many people might not know, is that Sir Walter Raleigh had multiple locations throughout the DC Metro area.

In fact, the last surviving Sir Walter Raleigh was located near College Park and was open for business all the way up until last year! During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the company had additional locations in Baltimore, Bethesda, Wheaton, and Alexandria, VA.

Photo of the College Park/Greenbelt location courtesy of their Facebook page.

A copy of the menu, which included prime rib, French onion soup, and lobster tails, can be found here.

Of the décor at the Wheaton location, a 1983 Washington Post review said  “The decor at the inns was stamped out of the same colonial cookie cutter: the white frame “house” exterior with the electric candles in the imitation upstairs windows. The dark wood tables and the wainscotting. The pale stucco walls adorned with the collection of old farm implements, or pieces thereof. Stamped out or not, this is a comfortable place. The candlelight gives a soft glow and the carpeting yields relatively soft acoustics.”

A 1991 Baltimore Sun review said of the White Marsh location, “As enticing as the aroma was, the taste was even better. Seldom does beef served in Eastern restaurants reach this Midwestern level of tenderness and taste. “Mouth-watering” comes to mind. It was served with an equally good whipped horseradish sauce.”

While there are no more locations in the DMV, we were able to locate a Sir Walter Raleigh Inn at 22 High Street EX9 7ED East Budleigh in the United Kingdom! We spoke to someone from the UK Pub and he told us that they are a “small pub in the village where Sir Walter Raleigh was born and spent his childhood!”

Sir Walter Raleigh in England

What are some your memories of Sir Walter Raleigh Inn?


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Jan Abraham February 28, 2021 - 10:02 am

When I was a child we would visit the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn in Georgetown. . The salad bar was an experience with so many yummy choices. I think it was the first salad bar in the area. I would always get their prime rib which was so tender. I have not been able to find a decent prime rib since then. I really miss this place. The interior reminded me of Williamsburg. Truly wonderful family dining.

Fred February 28, 2021 - 8:31 pm

So comforting to know that someone can recall, with detail and class, just 20 years ago. There is hope for our country and community! Thank you

Ginny Wagner March 1, 2021 - 9:16 am

One of my family’s favorite places. We celebrated many special occasions with family and friends at the Montgomery Village location. After it closed, we discovered the College Park location. The owner would often come out and greet you at your table. We always had a wonderful meal.It was a family business and the last location closed after the owner passed away. We haven’t found another place like it.

W. Sturges March 3, 2021 - 1:06 pm

Thank you for this article. My father-in-law, Carl Sturges, was one of the founders of Sir Walter Raleigh Inn. The original restaurant in Bethesda held one of the earliest liquor licenses in Montgomery County. At their peak they had over twelve restaurants. As a family, we have many fond memories of dinners and celebrations at the restaurants. Yet, what we often reminisce on the most is how Carl always checked to make sure the bathrooms were clean!

Mark April 14, 2021 - 10:35 am

I used to work at the Bethesda location as a Waiter and Bartender. If Carl is the owner I remember you had better not serve him a draft beer without a considerable head of foam! For years I have tried to duplicate the marinade we used for the beef kabobs and steaks. I know it was dry vermouth based. is there any chance you would know how to make it? It was fantastic!!

John December 11, 2021 - 5:42 pm

Dry vermouth, light salad oil and red wine vinegar. Oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Simple marinade. I worked there for years, you’d have to pay me for the crab cake recipe LOL

Jon March 17, 2022 - 3:16 am

I worked there as well, in high school in the 70#and on breaks in college, some. And yes indeed the beef kabobs were awesome 😎

michae December 30, 2021 - 5:29 pm

Does anyone remember their recipe for Toasted Almond drink?

Mark April 20, 2022 - 1:58 pm

Sorry so late. Haven’t checked this thread in a while. It was a regular Toasted Almond but we used soft vanilla ice cream instead of milk or cream

Mark March 24, 2022 - 4:21 pm

One of my wife’s favorite restaurants. I’m not from the DC area so I didn’t know the place. When I started dating dating my wife, she suggested SWR and I thought “WTF?” I was pleasantly surprised.

Never had a bad meal there. I’ve been out of the DC area for twenty years now and I’m sorry to hear that the place closed down.

Pete Westbay April 7, 2022 - 8:03 pm

I worked at the Alexandria location in 79-80.
Sorry they closed!
We had an excellent team!
We had a Pac-Man video game in the corner.
We played so much we memorized the pattern!

Amy September 11, 2022 - 11:11 pm

I worked at the Ellicott City location in the early 90s! I started as a hostess and by the time they closed I worked every job but meat cut, grill and manager. I loved it there so much. The best staff to work with,
and great food, both of which I think about often!

Janessa Dawn Ringler October 21, 2022 - 3:50 pm

My brother “Buz” worked his way up from busser to GM…then they started to close. Some of my best memories with my dad when we visited him for a special treat at work! Very true, they don’t make them like that any more! That was my brothers place, and I’m so glad there are only wonderful memories! He is a stickler for details!

Katie December 27, 2022 - 7:56 pm

Grew up going to the College Park location for every special occasion. Cannot say enough wonderful things about that place, from the cozy decor (and wood burning fireplaces) to the cleanliness, to the hospitality.. and it breaks my heart they closed. The salad bar was legendary and their garlic bread was next level as well. So many great memories!


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