Cafe Riggs, Riggs Hotel, Washington D.C.
Tom Martinez was born and raised in the Bay Area, California, and he lived a lot of life before settling down behind a bar. A few years in Oregon, a few years in Africa, and a lot of time traveling the globe. He worked jobs including, writing, photographing, community organizing, and working both in front of and behind a live camera, before landing in Washington D.C.
As Tom traveled the world he’d found that he connected with people best in bars and hotels – so it only made sense to start working in them when he returned home. Since then he’s spent over a decade in some of D.C.’s best bars, including Columbia Room, Room 11, and Allegory, and now as the Head Bartender at the Cafe Riggs in the Riggs hotel, where he’s entering his 3rd year.
Opened by the Lore group in 2020, the Riggs Hotel was built in the historic headquarters of the Riggs National Bank, which dates back to the mid 1890s. The bank inspired the hotel’s design with sweeping views that recall the golden age of banking and the roaring 20’s. The Riggs has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best hotels in the nation’s Capitol. Located in the heart of downtown D.C, just steps from the National Portrait Gallery and the Capital One Area, the hotel has brought a new element of Glamour and Luxury into a neighborhood that has revitalized itself after covid.
Tom settled naturally into the hotel, where he found his previous life traveling the world gives him countless opportunities to make connections with the guests who visit the bar. Listed in the Michelin guide, the Cafe is an all day, every day space where there bartenders are equal parts expert cocktail makers and ambassadors to the city.
The Cafe has established itself as a force in D.C.’s thriving restaurant scene no matter the hour. On weekends you’ll find boozy bottle service mimosa brunches, power lunches and locals working during the day, and a bustling cocktail bar late into the night. Drop by in the evening and you’ll almost certainly see guests around the bar imbibing a Nitro Espresso Martini, which has become the hotel’s signature drink – in the busy season they’ll sell over 1,000 of them a month.