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Late Night at Matchbox

February 11, 2009

Matchbox Chinatown
731 H St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001
Nearest Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown

We decided for January’s meet up to be at Matchbox Pizza as part of our never ending quest to find the perfect slice.  Not only is the pizza amazing, but the restaurant is totally laid back and cool – the perfect place to hang out and have a late night bite.

If you are planning on going to Matchbox in Chinatown plan ahead because more often than not other Washingtonians have the same thing in mind. We arrived at the restaurant at 10:30 pm thinking we wouldn’t have to wait for a table, after all this is D.C., the city that closes early.  As usual we were wrong; we arrived to find  a packed restaurant and lively bar area.  Matchbox doesn’t take reservations for parties under six, but luckily we didn’t have to wait too long. Only about 20 minutes until we were seated at a super large, comfy pink booth.

Erin’s take…

I’ve heard so much about the Matchbox miniburgers being the “best in the city” so we ordered a plate.  The burgers can be ordered in 3’s, 6’s or 9’s so naturally we ordered nine with gouda and super crispy onion straws.  Well, the buzz is real.  These burgers are so good, warm and juicy with nice pink centers with perfectly crisp, crunchy onion strings… I couldn’t stop eating them.  We were all full before we even got to our pizza!  My only complaint was the cheese; the slices weren’t thick enough, I could barely taste the gouda.

Update:  I went back several weeks later, and had the burgers with mozzarella instead of gouda.  This cheese is a much better pairing.

Pete and I split the “oven-dried tomato/fresh buffalo mozzarella” pizza; personally I think the best way test the quality of the pie is to order the plain without the “fancy” toppings and see what flavors and textures come through.

The “plain” Pete and I ordered was delicious; it was true pizza heaven.  The crust was soft and chewy with a nice char and a slight crunch at the end; the sauce sweet but not overly so, covered in creamy circles of buffalo mozzarella and a generous sprinkle of basil.  Left overs for lunch the next afternoon were exactly what I wanted – this is probably one of the best slices I’ve had in D.C. yet.

and Peter’s take…

We did glance over the menu for appetizers, but there was no doubt we’d be starting off with 9 miniburgers for the table. The miniburgers are a MUST at Matchbox. We had ours cooked medium and topped with Gouda. They were cooked perfectly and the brioche was well toasted and all around the miniburgers are delicious. The onion straws that accompany the miniburgers provide for a perfect pairing.

In my younger days I used think that the best pizzas were the ones that came super loaded with all sorts of different toppings. I think my trip to Italy a couple years ago completely changed my opinion on what constitutes a good pizza. The best pizzas are fresh, simple, have a great sauce (but not too much of it), and use a subtle but flavorful olive oil. ET and I split the oven dried tomato and fresh buffalo mozzarella pizza. There was plenty of buffalo mozzarella and it was well prepared and quite tasty. The only ingredient lacking was the olive oil, but then again there’s no olive oil or pizza quite like the ones found in Tuscany. For me the freshly chopped basil is what brought all the components of the pizza together.

Yes, there are many notable pizza places in D.C. and there are also quite a few good burger joints. But, what sets Matchbox apart is that Matchbox offers simple, flavorful pizza and burgers without compromising the quality of either.

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