Cheap Eats 2008: Matchbox

Why go: This packed Penn Quarter townhouse gives the standard tavern standbys an upscale gloss: Delirium Tremens is on draft, the burgers are delicately downsized and sided with lacy onion straws, and the pizzas emerge from a brick oven.

What to get: Plates of mini-burgers—salt-and-peppery Angus patties topped with Gouda and pickles on buttered brioche; a calzonelike crust folded around layers of mozzarella, pepperoni, and spicy meatballs; apple-and-pear salad with Gorgonzola; brick-oven pizzas such as the fire-and-smoke, sausage-and-onion, and Matchbox meat varieties.

Best for: A posttheater or postgame bite; museum-hopping fuel-ups; happy hour, when Yuenglings are $2.75, other beers are discounted, and pizzas are $2 off at the bar.

Insider tip: Though a renovation more than doubled the no-reservations restaurant’s capacity, the line still spills out the door at peak times.

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch, Sunday for brunch, daily for dinner.

See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants 

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.