Microbreweries & other cheap eats in DC
I'll be in DC for a conference and hubby will be joining me later in the week. He loves microbrews and we've usually had good luck with the food at them. Any suggestions?
Plus, suggestions for other cheap eats for dinners.
We're staying at the Hotel Washington and would prefer walking or easy subway.
Kris in St. Louis
We're in town the first weekend of August (1st till 5th?). If you know of anything going on then, you'd make my husband one happy man! A local cooking school had a beer class tonight and he learned about pairing beer with food from a local microbrewery - it was one of the best father's day gifts I've ever come up.
OK, this is something you won't find elsewhere. Take the metro to Woodly Park/Adams Morgan and walk across the Duke Ellington Memorial Bridge to Adams Morgan. Walk south on 18th Street until you see the Reef on your right- it's towards the corner of 18th and Columbia. Go up to the roof and sit on the roof and have a beer with Brian, the bartender. He regularly travels to belgium and around the US to find beers for his bar. only 14 beers at the bar, but all are on tap and all with the exception of whatever light beer is on tap are stellar. The food for dinner is all organic and sustainable and very reasonable in price, though it is bar food.
"DC has not one good microbrewery where the beer is actually brewed in the dc metro area"
Not true. Franklin's in Hyattsville (which is definitely the "dc metro area" -- it's inside the beltway) brews a variety of beers on the premises. They mainly focus on what I would call American-style ales -- heavy on the hops, malt, and alcohol. I think the beer is very good, but whether you like it or not depends on whether you are a fan of this particular style.
I wouldn't recommend going to Franklin's for the food, which is, at best, mediocre pub grub. However, there are some very good cheap eats within a few miles of Franklin's, mainly up near College Park and Beltsville (including some of the best Mexican food in the DC area). I'd be happy to post a list if you're interested in making a trip out of it. However, it would almost certainly require access to a car.
Franklin's General Store
5123 Baltimore Ave, Hyattsville, MD 20781
While I think it's true that there isn't a good pure microbrewpub in the DC Metro area, I'd probably recommend the following if you're looking for a microbrewpub:
Old Dominion Pub - Beers brewed in Ashburn, VA with brewpub located near the Convention Center. Very good beer but the food I had during my one visit was horrid and the ambiance is more of a bad sports pub, so not a place that I will visit again for food or a non-beer related visit. Wife likes the Tupper Hop Pocket Ale.
Capitol City Brewing Co - Brewpub located at 11th and H Street, NW. I think the beer here is not bad (although not my favorite) and the food is pretty good.
Gordon Biersch - National chain brewpub located near the Spy Museum. IMO, beer is tasty and food is actually pretty good.
District Chophouse - A member of the small Chophouse & Brewery chain, the District Chophouse is located near 7th and E Street, NW. It's been awhile since I've been to this location but I recall enjoying the beer and the food was actually pretty good.
For microbrews from outside the DC area, I'd recommend The Brickskeller and/or RFD for the wide range of microwbrews in bottles and on-tap. You could also check out a place like Brasserie Becks (11th & K, NW - Belgian beers), Birreria Paradiso (Georgetown - Belgian beers) or Matchbox (Chinatown - Microbrews on tap, e.g. Rogue, etc.).
Hope this helps a bit.
Skip The Brick and RFD. These places are almost exclusively devoted to the *size* of their beer lists, and they have a lot of good brews, but they don't really take care of their inventory, the food sucks, and the atmosphere is just shy of frat-party-kegger. If you want a place with dozens of good micros on tap, you'll sooner find it in Cheyenne, Wyoming, than Washington, DC (seriously).
That said, Birreria Paradiso and The Reef are both good recs if you want (non-local) micros on tap and decent food.
Add Sweetwater, but you'll need to travel to NoVA for that.
alopez is mostly right on about Brickskeller, though I would argue that its crowds are more toward the geek, rather than frat, end of the spectrum. I would still say it's worth a visit, if only for one beer and a review of the list. They could be a bit more adventurous - especially for domestics, but it's still a pretty nice list.
Also, when you're in a bar and they have an ale or lager named for the bar (and it's definitely not a place that brews its own) then it's most likely a Dominion.
Anyone ever know of what happened to the place that used to be where Dremo's is in Arlington? They were brewing still way out west for a while but sold it to some folks who were saying they were planning on re-establishing a bar closer in to town. That's been at least 2-3 years now and I haven't heard a word.
I was in DC for a conference recently too, and I found the food at Teaism decent in terms of both quality and price. The one at Penn Quarter is open for dinner and isn't far from your hotel. It's definitely not a microbrewery, but I would call it a cheap eat.
Teaism Penn Quarter
400 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
I'll second Reef for beer. Any beer. Let Brian pick something out for you and you won't be sorry.
Brickskeller is fine if you go early and avoid the crowds. Just make sure you have 2 or 3 alternate picks for beers. They are pretty sloppy about inventory.
Can't think of anything cheap around Hotel Washington. Tourist central with appropriate pricing. Harry's Bar in Hotel Harrington is cheap, but noisy. Port of Piraeus has decent affordable Greek food. You may be able to get by at Occidental Grill if you eat at the bar. Mccormick & Schmick does decent happy hour appetizer deals, I believe with a 1 drink minimum.
You could walk/Metro to Gallery Place, where there are more options. You might be able to assemble a decent meal from a few carefully chose plates of Tapas at Jaleo, or walk around the corner to Burma if you're up for mango pork, green tealeaf salad, or pantay kauswe.
Your best option is to simply find a pub that serves Dogfish Head beer. It is truly the best beer in the region, and some of the best beer in the country. It's based on the Delaware coast, but now they have a location in Gaithersburg MD. But, you can now find it in lots and lots of stores and pubs. Raison D'Etre is a classic.
Another cheaper dining option in the downtown area is the weekday happy hour at Chef Geoff's (13th between E and F streets NW). In the bar area they serve cheap burgers ($5) and pizzas on weekdays from around 5 - 7 or 7:30. The happy hour also has a $7 special for 32 oz mugs of beer on tap which includes several microbrew options, including delicious dogfish head 60 min. ipa, blue moon, magic hat, and others. They also have a pretty good bottle selection of microbrews. http://www.chefgeoff.com/main/downtow...
HH starts around 5 pm so get there early because it fills up with young professional types and can be hard to get a table or bar stool. CG's main dining room is slightly more expensive, but reasonable for downtown, but IMO the food is nothing special. The burger is actually pretty good, especially for $5. The key is to get there early and stake out a spot in the bar area.