Matchbox Opens on Barracks Row – Nichole Checks It Out

matchbox: capitol hill location, originally uploaded by aliciagriffin.


I have to admit only having been to Matchbox‘s original location a few times. Not because I didn’t enjoy it (I did) but more because it just didn’t occur to me that often. With their opening on 8th St. SE (Barracks Row) that is set to change.

The Hill/H St. area is sorely lacking in pizza places. The upscale pizza craze has largely ignored the area until now. Even the planned Radius at the Ohio on H St. seems to be tabled in favor of a Tonic. Apparently the city’s pizza purveyors don’t think we have any interest in their wares over here. (In fairness, I am a big fan of the very traditional pizza from Bistro Italiano on D St. NE behind Schneider’s, and Armand’s isn’t terrible. Regardless, there certainly isn’t a glut of options.)

bar, originally uploaded by aliciagriffin.


Matchbox opened on Friday the 5th, and I made it over for dinner on Sunday night. My friend and I got there just before 6, and were seated right away, but about 10 minutes later, the place was packed and stayed that way until we left. Not bad for a cold Sunday night. People familiar with the Chinatown location will recognize the similarities. What my friend (formerly a Hill resident, now a denizen of Southwest) and I most noticed was the variety of patrons. Lots of families, lots of folks watching the Steelers’ fourth quarter victory over Dallas at the bar, young couples and groups of friends all patiently waited to be seated or dined leisurely on the pizzas and burgers (I saw so many trays of burgers go by, it almost made me question our choice to split a flat-iron steak pizza.) The food was excellent, the service was speedy, and despite the fact that there was clearly a wait, we didn’t feel rushed to leave. Continues after the jump.

stairs, originally uploaded by aliciagriffin.


With the recent closing of both Marty’s and Finn MacCool’s, the timing of Matchbox’s opening couldn’t be better. (Not sure what is to become of Marty’s, the eternally mediocre, but nevertheless reliably so, “American restaurant.” Finn’s was bought by the folks at Lola’s, which will expand into the space.) Barracks Row has always seemed to me like a place that just can’t quite find its groove and the constant opening and closing of spots there seems to bear that out. (Yet Banana Cafe remains despite having really not good food. Do they stay open on the basis of mango margaritas, mojitos and the White Ray Charles alone? I like a piano bar as much as the next girl, but I’m amazed that they stay open year after year.)

matchbox miniburgers / parmesan onion straws, originally uploaded by aliciagriffin.


Matchbox is currently open for dinner and this morning started brunch. Next weekend they will be open for brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. They are not currently open for lunch, but will be soon. They also have happy hour specials, late night bites and take out. Overall it is great to have them in the neighborhood, and they seemed to really have it together even after only being open for 2 days. (One glitch – there was a piece of wood, that oddly resembled a matchstick, in her salad. She didn’t make a big deal out of it, it was more of an oddity than anything. Both the gentleman clearing our table and our server apologized, and we all just laughed it off, attributing to the construction that only just finished the day they opened.) I expect that it will remain pretty crowded for some time to come, but if you’re in the neighborhood (and despite what I say about it not quite finding its way, there are plenty of reasons to check it out, not the least of which is Backstage Costumes) you shouldn’t be deterred from stopping in for a bite.

Special thanks to Alicia G. for letting me poach her awesome pics! Mine didn’t turn out so well, and even on my best day, mine would never be as good as hers!


6 Comment

  • my boyfriend and i showed up there at 9ish on Thursday night and waited about an hour. They dont have annoucment system so we ended up getting skipped and waiting about 20 min longer then we should have since they have no room to wait and it was POURING so we crammed inside with everyone else waiting but were shoved towards the back of the bar and away from the hostess and were more or less standing directly next to a nice gay couple having dinner. They really need to either get something that buzzes or get a bullhorn.

    i wasnt really impressed, he’d been to the one in Chinatown and loved it and since hes in the army now i go where he wants when hes in town. my miniburgers were fine, but the wait wasn’t really worth it. The service was meh.

  • when i went on monday, they said they didn’t have any happy hour specials yet, but they should be up soon

  • Oh man Marty’s and Finn MacCool’s closed? BOOOO. They (well I guess really, Finn MacCool’s) were solid options on Barracks Row. That’s a bummer, I guess I haven’t been going out as much in that area. Glad to hear though that Matchbox is finally open. I’m not surprised with the long lines and lackluster service… that’s what you get in Chinatown too.

  • At least it is something new I am tired of what is available now. We are also getting a Le Pain Quotidien on the corner of 7th and Penn which I am definitely looking forward to.

  • Pretty crappy service in my experience – slow and several parts of the waitstaff (bartenders, hostess, server) independently managed to convey a strong “not my problem, i’m so tired, etc” atmosphere.

    With that said, the food is incredible. It’s rare to pay restaurant prices (roughly defined as having burgers on the menu, but for > $10) and feel completely satisfied with the quality of the food and skill of the chef. I did. There was a spicy red miso soup special; I didn’t even know red miso existed but damn.

  • A lot of the craptacular service criticism is because the place just opened. I’d give it a few months before the place settles down into a boring, predictable routine.

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