Postcards & Passports

Review: Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

The Green Dragon Tavern and Museum is a restaurant and (yep! you guessed it) a museum in Carlsbad, California. Not just any restaurant, but one patterned after the original Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, where the United States’ founding fathers used to meet. Daniel Webster called it the “Headquarters of the Revolution.” And so it was. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Dr. Joseph Warren and others met here to discuss life under the tyranny of British rule. It was even from the Green Dragon Tavern that Paul Revere began his famous “Midnight Ride.”

Why Build a New Green Dragon Tavern?

Unfortunately, the original tavern was demolished in 1854. Two men — Bruce Bartlett and John Lek — were instrumental in creating a tavern and museum that would pay tribute to our founding fathers and honor the original Green Dragon Tavern and the events inspired there. Owner Bruce Bartlett’s personal collection of Revolutionary War-era artifacts and documents are on display in the museum, and he is quite the history buff. And so is John Lek, who acts as General Manager. Together they have created a way to get closer to the events that shaped our nation and a venue for some amazing New England food. Why not re-create an atmosphere that worked over two hundred years ago?

The New Green Dragon Tavern

Not a lot is known about what the interior of the original tavern looked like, but it was common for Colonial taverns to be two stories, dimly lit with a stone fireplace, and have steep stairs to the upper floor. Much planning went into designing the new tavern with a similar layout.

The tavern has an authentic historic vibe. The architecture is similar to the original Green Dragon Tavern, and wooden tables and chairs match the theme and add warmth. Lanterns on the tables add period lighting.

Besides the tavern area with the fireplace, there is also a separate dining room with both tables and large booths. Again, the wood furniture is gorgeous!

How Did Green Dragon Tavern get its name?

There was a copper dragon-shaped sign hanging above the door of the original Green Dragon Tavern. As you know, copper turns green when it oxidizes. So there you have it — a green dragon!

So How’s the Food?

Menu prices are reasonable and the options are plentiful. My recent visit included my husband and I, and another couple. We all ordered something different, and it was all delicious! Everything was plated beautifully as well, and we didn’t have to wait long, even though it was a Friday night during peak hours. I also liked how the menu was divided into historic headings like “One, if by Land” and “Two, if by Sea.”

Here’s What We Ordered:

I’ve actually had the clam chowder before, so I know it’s good. This time around, my friend’s husband ordered it. With smoked bacon, red potatoes, and little neck clams, it’s chowder perfection.

My husband order the Shepherd’s Pie, a tasty combination of ground beef, peas, red bell peppers, corn, carrots, mashed potato, cheese, and gravy. I snuck a bite, and I completely approve! This is an ample serving, and there was even enough left to take home and have for lunch the next day!

My friend ordered a traditional Fish & Chips, except that there was nothing ordinary about it. The fries were actually parmesan fries. The battered cod was seasoned with garlic and came with tartar sauce and cole slaw. She really enjoyed this rendition of Fish & Chips.

And finally, my order was the Battered Fish Tacos — a mixture of New England and Mexico. I loved the chipotle cream sauce and the corn-onion-cilantro salsa. The fish was flavorful and tender, and the proportions just right for a dinner entree. It also came with colorful tortilla chips.

A Wedge Salad with maple bacon and blue cheese was the perfect pairing for my fish tacos, but it was a large serving. I split it with my husband, and that was just right.

If you’d like to see the menu for yourself, click here.

The Green Dragon Tavern Museum

It’s good to know that the museum is open any time the restaurant is open, and admission is free. You can visit the museum before or after your meal…or you can visit only the museum. There are many works of art, both beautiful and educational on the walls leading into the museum and in the tavern, too. Here’s just a sampling: (click on any photo to enlarge)

Just think how unique it is to combine a restaurant with a museum…you can enjoy a wonderful meal and also peruse the artifacts and exhibits. The museum collection is large enough that different artifacts are rotated in and out of the display regularly. Come back often to see what’s new!

My favorite display? The poster about the Mayflower passengers and how many of them survived the first winter. My husband actually has an ancestor who sailed on the Mayflower!

More About the Green Dragon Tavern & Museum:
  • Hours are  Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Green Dragon Tavern is also an events venue and there are banquet rooms available for meetings, weddings, school functions, and much more. The night we were there, a high school group was holding a sports banquet in the events wing of the tavern.
  • It’s close to I-15 so it’s easy to get to, and the large parking lot means you can always park close.
  • Museum tours for school groups and large parties are available
  • There’s something for everyone! This is a great gathering restaurant with room for large groups, families, co-workers, and friends. It’s a very welcoming environment with great food, and I think you’ll love the experience as much as I did.

If you’re interested in other historic posts, see my articles on Colonial Williamsburg and Philadelphia.

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