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Posted at 4:23 PM ET, 11/ 6/2007

Quittin' Time? Go to Matchbox

By Fritz Hahn

When Matchbox expanded earlier this year, I was looking forward to having more elbow room at the Chinatown pizzeria's notoriously cramped bar. Sadly, despite 7,000 additional square feet of dining space, there is little extra space. Even at 4 p.m. on a Thursday, every seat in the long, narrow bar is filled, and hawk-eyed tourists and workers from nearby offices lurk behind every stool, watching the occupants for signs of "Check, please."

Still, I'm willing to put up with the crowds for Matchbox's Quittin' Time Cocktails happy hour, which offers a selection of house-infused drinks for $4 every workday, as well as knock-down prices on beer and those famous house pizzas.

Washington's bartenders got serious about infusions a few years ago, steeping fruits and spices in vodkas and rums to create unique flavored liquors for their martinis. Why have the same old Absolut Orange, the thinking goes, when you can offer a creation of your own? Matchbox was an early adapter, positioning several huge jugs of spirits behind the bar. At the moment, they're offering vodka with fresh mango, watermelon, an assortment of berries and hot chili peppers, and have added pineapple to rum for a tropical treat. You don't need to add anything to them -- the light, sweet mango is a delight on its own.

While hard liquor is what I'd recommend, beer is also cheap(er) from 5 to 7, with pints of Yuengling for $2.75 and selections from Dogfish Head, Rogue and Allagash for $4 each.

And to soak up all the alcohol, you can take $2 off all of the restaurant's small pizzas: That's $10 for six slices of the Fire & Smoke, whose heat comes from roasted peppers, chipotles, spicy basil and a rich, smoky gouda cheese.

My advice is to go early in the week and go as early as possible: These deals are only available in the bar area and you can't enjoy a pizza unless you're seated.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | November 6, 2007; 4:23 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Matchbox is great! My only complaint is that they won't take reservations or even a call-ahead to the wait list. We live in Penn Quarter and frequent many of the restaurants, but Matchbox is one you can almost never get into because of it's popularity... Loyalty should be rewarded with the ability to make a reservation!

Posted by: Michael | November 7, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree with the above poster re: the reservations issue. For my birthday this year, I wanted to go. I called for a reservation, but they had to call me back after doing some sort of fancy quadratic equation apparently! Just join OpenTable....geez! Even CityZen, the fanciest place around, is on there!

Posted by: sigmagrrl | November 7, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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