Chinatown is an up-and-coming neighborhood that is exploding with new and exciting restaurants, bars, and places to hang out. The craft beer scene is one thing that isn’t being over-looked.
DC’s downtown, anchored by the Gallery Place-Chinatown and Metro Center stations, has a number of great craft beer options. As you can see from the map, this is a pretty spread out geographic area, but don’t forego some of the awesome beer menus in this guide because you don’t want to walk a few blocks. Burn the calories, then drink the beer. You won’t be disappointed.
View DCBEER.COM – Chinatown/Metro Center Beer Guide in a full screen map
Iron Horse Tap Room
Iron Horse Tap Room is a motorcycle themed bar. Upon first entrance, you’ll think it’s fairly small. A cozy little bar to the left with 18 available drafts (no bottles). You’ll have a lot of the big names in craft beer available, such as Sierra Nevada, Heavy Seas, Lagunitas, and even some foreigners like Gouden Carolus. It’s fairly open the on the first floor, but if you’re looking for more space head downstairs. Ahead and to the right, as you enter, you’ll see stairs leading down to a huge basement area with skeeball, shuffleboard and a couple more bars.
This classy steakhouse is one of DC’s brewpubs. District Chophouse offers eight drafts at all times with a rotating lineup of beers brewed right on-site. If you’re a bit of a beer geek, you’ll appreciate their chalkboard which lists the available styles, their bitterness, body and color, and their original and final gravities. They usually have a lager, amber, IPA, oatmeal stout, and some other rotating seasonals. If you’re looking for a nice steakhouse and some one-of-a-kind beers, give District Chophouse a try.
Clyde’s is an upscale restaurant attached to the Verizon Center. Focused mainly on providing a great dining experience, its beer offerings take a bit of a back seat. However, they do offer a nice bar environment (which may get a little rowdy around hockey season) and have two downstairs bars and one upstairs bar. Their selection is fairly standard, Bud/Miller/Coors, Blue Moon, Sam Adams, etc. But you will find an occasional gem like Starr Hill or Sierra Nevada, which will certainly do in a pinch.
Located at 707 7th Street NW
Rocket Bar is a basement haven for drinking and drinking related games. They have 14 taps with a few standards that are always on and some rotating beers to give you beer drinkers a reason to come back. They have pool tables, skeeball, shuffleboard, and various arcade games to keep you occupied while you throw back your next brew. Be aware that it tends to get pretty crowded on weekends. So, prepare for the crowd, or get there early.
Located at 714 7th Street NW
Matchbox is well-known for its pizza and mini-burgers, but they do have a good offering of craft beer stand-outs. At their downstairs bar (you’ll see it when you walk in), there are 12 taps pouring the likes of Delirium Tremens, Bell’s Two Hearted, and Allagash White. Go for the food, but truly enjoy the beer. Matchbox is another place that tends to get crowded, so get there early!
This little Asian restaurant will surprise you with its bottle list. Located at the corner of 8th and H, Asian Spice has a small bar with a big list of delicious beer. They have 40 bottles with beers like Rochefort and Chimay hidden away, and Sapporo is on tap. Also, after a great meal, if you’re tired of those great beers, there’s always sake!
Located at 717 H Street NW
The quintessential Irish pub. Fado is decorated nicely with various Irish “artifacts” (my word, not theirs), and provides a great atmosphere for sipping a few pints of Guinness. The décor is quite impressive in the little location, but Fado truly excels in bringing Irish beers to the masses. You’ll find Kilkenny, Guinness, Harp, Bass, and Smithwicks, but not much else. Enjoy and pint or five, and don’t forget the shepherd’s pie.
Regional Food and Drink, known fondly as RFD, is brought to you by the people behind the Brickskeller. If you’re looking for beer in Chinatown, this is a great place to go. With hundreds of bottles and 30 drafts in a lineup that is constantly changing, RFD provides even the most seasoned beer connoisseur with choices that will boggle the mind. RFD has a large and spacious restaurant with multiple televisions and various seating areas throughout, including an outdoor patio and back room that can be rented for parties. The shining star, however, is the main bar with its endless supply of ever-changing beers.
Located at 810 7th Street NW
Robert Wiedmaier has amassed a Belgian beer empire that is prominent in the DC area but has since spread out to other locales like Atlantic City. Brasserie Beck is a real gem of a restaurant. Although the food menu can be on the pricey side, you get what you pay for. The Belgian beer selection here, however, is top-notch. Get to the bar, where you’ll find all of the appropriate glassware across a wide variety of Belgian styles, and get the delicious (and massive) charcuterie plate. Once you drink up an appetite, a little moules frites will cap off the experience. Oh, are you in the market for a private room for something like a rehearsal dinner? Inquire here, they’ve got ample facilities for just such an occasion.
Located at 1101 K Street NW
First things first. This is pronounced “ah-GWEN;” it’s Gaelic. Go with it. Againn is a contemporary gastropub with a wide selection of whisk(e)ys. Want to buy your own bottle of scotch and put it in a locker here? You can. We don’t think you’ll be drinking the beer they offer slow enough to use one of the lockers though. They’ve got a good selection of American, Belgian, and German craft here, but the English and Scottish styles are where Againn shines.
Capitol City Brewing
A Washington, DC mainstay for 20 years, Capitol City Brewing now does all of its brewing out of the Shirlington location. Cap City has four main styles (the Amber Waves Ale is quite nice and well-balanced), but something new is always being brewed and put on tap. All told you’re looking at 7-8 beers on at any one time.
Best known for its incredible cocktails, a lot of people don’t realize that The Passenger’s beer selection is tremendous as well. A fine selection of local, American, and foreign beers both on draft and in bottles (both 12oz and big bottles) will whet your beer appetite if you’re not into Moscow Mules, Campari Sours, or the ever-popular Tuesday Tiki Bowls. We’d provide you with a beer menu, but there isn’t one posted online and it changes constantly anyway. You won’t be disappointed. Trust us.
Located at 1021 7th Street NW
Mmm, Neapolitan pizza. You know what goes well with pizza? Oh, right. Beer. Ella’s has beer. The menu isn’t extensive, but it does have a good representative from all of the major craft beer styles. You’ll also find gluten-free beer (and pizza, if you’re into that), and some big bottles that you might not expect to see at a pizzeria (think Brooklyn Local 1, Uinta Crooked Smile, etc.)
District of Pi
I know we just touched on pizza with Ella’s, but District of Pi, the DC outpost of St. Louis’s venerable Pi Pizzeria, takes the idea of pizza and beer and cranks it to 11. With two dozen beers from all over the country, and thin and deep dish (seriously, it’s like a Thanksgiving meal deep) pizza, you’ll need to take an extended lunch to see all that Pi offers. Lots of snacks and appetizers round out a varied menu. Also, District of Pi is massive. You may get lost going to the bathroom. Don’t waste beer leaving a trail behind you to find your way back to your table though.
Gordon Biersch has locations all over the country, including one near DC’s Chinatown. Gordon BIersch’s beer follows the reinheitsgebot, and you can expect to see a lot of traditional German styles here. If you’re looking for American, Belgian, or British styles, you’ll have to roll the dice and see if one of the seasonals meets your needs.
Located at 900 F Street NW
If there are any places we’ve missed, please let us know in the comments. And also feel free to weigh in on your likes and dislikes for all of these locations.
Now, get out and explore the area around Chinatown and Metro Center and enjoy this craft beer hot spot!
Header photo from revellphotography.com