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AREA: Chinatown
Metro: Gallery Place/China Town

(Red/Green/Yellow Lines)
713 H St., NW
(202) 289-4441

Mon-Fri: 11:00am-11:00pm
Sat: 11:00am-12:00am
Sun: Closed
Beers on tap:

Allagash White, Chimay , Delirium Noel, Dogfish Head, Jever, Maredsous, Newcastle Brown Ale, Rogue Brew, Turbo Dog, Windermere, Yuengling

Daily Specials:

Monday: 4:00pm - 7:00pm:
Tuesday: 4:00pm - 7:00pm:
Wednesday: 4:00pm - 7:00pm:
Thursday: 4:00pm - 7:00pm:
Friday: 4:00pm - 7:00pm:


  • This pre- and post- MCI Center establishment is great for just that, pre- and post-. The problem arises when one wished to have only drinks. It's not very user-friendly towards the mere drinker. It is layed out to sit and enjoy the delicious brick oven style pizza.

    Upon first arrival, you think you've been air-lifted into one of the many chic bars in Soho or the upper West Side in NYC -- a trend for DC bars lately. But once you get a taste of the service (slow that it is), you realize you are stll in the nation's capital.

    There are two full dining areas upstairs, which again, is great if you are there for a meal. But the long and narrow stretch parallel to the bar is not condusive to the drinker not afforded one of the ten or twleve seats at the bar.
    - Big Pappa

  • It doesn't take a CIA operative to figure out how the owners of Matchbox came up with the name for their new restaurant in Chinatown.

    One obvious clue is that each of the tables is inset with several matchboxes collected from restaurants around the world. Tip No. 2: The three skinny dining areas, stacked up in three stories, have the proportions of, well, matchboxes. Finally, the big brick oven on the ground floor, visible from the bar, burns a nonstop orange, fueled by a forest of hickory, oak, cherry and other woods.

    All that heat is needed to turn soft circles of raw dough into crackling rounds of pizza, the restaurant's primary lure. Not just any pizza, the owners want you to know, but New York-style pizza, which is distinguished by a thin, crisp crust and a nice char from a blazing fire. It's a trick that the handlers here manage pretty well, fairly frequently.

    To help knock back a pie, there are a dozen draft beers, running from the plebeian (Budweiser) to the polished (Chimay from Belgium), and a wine list that nicely suits this uncomplicated cooking. Kudos to Matchbox for pouring respectable labels and keeping the markups modest.

    Burger enthusiasts should also plan a research trip to Matchbox, which features bite-size versions -- take your pick from three, six or nine, priced at $6, $9 or $12 -- among its short list of appetizers. Seasoned with crushed red pepper for some bite, the scaled-down hamburgers are also plump and juicy, slipped inside toasted brioche. Are the scrumptious onion strings, heaped in the center of the plate, trying to upstage the main event? They certainly appear to be. Light and lacy, dusted with parsley, oregano and Romano cheese, they do a Houdini, and vanish, as soon as you've tasted one.

    Burgers to launch a meal? Why not? They are better bets than the fried calamari teamed with frisee lettuce, red peppers and way too much balsamic vinegar, or the steamed mussels, smothered in a thick white wine sauce and paired with a clump of dill-flecked shaved fennel. Spinach salad is overdressed, with so much bacon and chopped egg that the greens get lost -- and dinner ends up tasting more like breakfast. A lighter option brings together peppery arugula, slivers of pear and walnuts, everything bound with a tangy apricot dressing. Nice.

    The area around Matchbox, in the shadow of MCI Center, is a sea of familiar brand names, most of which do little to raise local dining standards (and some of which, like Hooters, probably raise eyebrows). So even with its flaws, I welcome this pizzeria. It's got spunk. It's got personality. The service is genial, the tunes are fun, and a double-header -- good pizza and good burgers -- is a great way to slide into summer.
    - The Washington Post

  • Matchbox is a good name for this sparely decorated and always-crowded Chinatown restaurant. The wait for a table can be 45 minutes in the evenings, but the crowd of young professionals who make up most of Matchbox's clientele doesn't mind. They get seats at the bar or crowd into the narrow space between the bar and the tables along one wall and enjoy selections from the martini menu and the great collection of draft beers. If you have a choice of where to sit, the booths on the third level, away from the crowd and noise downstairs, are the most comfortable.
    Aside from the cocktail-party atmosphere, what makes Matchbox appealing is very good casual food. Among the most popular items are the platters of mini-hamburgers--three, six, or nine of them. These are not the soft little hamburgers you might remember from White Castle. The beef is hand-packed and grilled to a nice medium rare. They're served on a crisply toasted brioche bun. There's a slice of not-too-sour pickle. And the platter is topped with a pile of addictively crisp onion rings. Ketchup is served with the burgers, and there's mustard for the asking. The only other thing this Southerner could ask for is a little mayonnaise. A platter of these little burgers makes a great shared appetizer or even a light meal.

    Other good appetizers include a nicely done version of mozzarella in carrozza--fried mozzarella with a spicy tomato sauce--and a terrific pepperoni-and-prosciutto roll--big enough for two to share--cooked to a crisp-and-gooey brown in the wood-burning oven and served with that spicy tomato sauce. The only disappointment has been the fried calamari, served on a bed of greens with a too-sweet dressing that makes them soggy.

    The main attraction is what Matchbox calls "vintage brick-oven pizza." The pizza oven takes up most of the space on the ground floor that the bar doesn't. Chef Graig Glufling is aiming for a classic thin, crisp-crusted, New York-style pizza, and though I never close my eyes and think I'm at the original John's in Greenwich Village, the results are impressive. House-recommended combinations range from the Fire & Smoke with roasted red peppers and chipotle-spiked tomato sauce to a Q Special with chicken and marinated mushrooms. The most satisfying pizzas I've sampled have been those with the sparest toppings--heavy toppings tend to make for a soggy crust. The crust of a classic Margherita or Matchbox's Prosciutto White, lightly topped with prosciutto, olives, garlic, cheeses, and a sprinkling of good olive oil, can cook to the proper crispness.

    There's plenty more to like on Matchbox's menu. Crisp-skinned rockfish is served atop a tasty hash of rock shrimp, potatoes, and pancetta. Grilled pork loin, beautifully moist, is topped with a bourbon cream sauce and accompanied by sautéed rapini and crisp-fried polenta. A chicken breast is coated with a spicy pecan crust and served with mashed potatoes and gravy. Salmon was nicely grilled but accompanied by a too-sweet citrus sauce.

    Even though I've sometimes felt that just by walking into Matchbox I've raised the median age by several years, I like the place a lot. May Graig Glufling's success be an inspiration to other downtown watering holes--good drinks and a good time are not incompatible with good cooking.
    - The Washingtonian Magazine

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