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Bar Review: RFD Washington

Submitted by on October 17, 2009 – 12:08 PMNo Comment
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RFD Washington
820 7th St. NW
Washington, DC

Hours:  Mon. – Thurs.  11 AM – 1:30 AM

Fri. – Sat.         11 AM– 2:30 AM

Sun.                 12 PM – 12:30 AM

Best time to visit:         Dinnertime for food, after dinner for serious drinkin’.

RFD (Regional Food and Drink) in Chinatown looks like a restaurant, but serves like a brewhouse. When you step inside, you might not expect one of the best beer experiences DC has to offer. RFD has a restaurant feel, especially if you head in around dinner time, and especially if it’s the time of year when it’s still light out at that hour.  RFDThe place is almost too well-lit for a pub, and has too much space, and not enough seats at the bar.

But:  The Bar.

Like it’s older brother The Brickskeller (elsewhere in DC, serving bottled beer for ages), RFD carries literally hundreds of varieties of bottled beer.  But, what the Brickskeller lacked was beer by the pint.  Not so here.

When you get over the awe of fridges full of countless beers – more than you’ll taste in a year, even if you try a new one at the end of every work day – you can tilt your head to the left, and see one of the most astounding tap selections you’ll ever encounter.  About 30 beers spew forth on demand from two tiers of taps protruding from dark, barrel-like wood.  You may weep in ecstasy.

The prices are what you might expect; it’s a restaurant in the heart of DC, and those imported beers can’t be cheap to ship.  Good tap beers begin at $5.50, with smaller samples available starting at $3.  (I’m not including Miller, which the owners seem to carry only grudgingly.  In fact, where the prices for samples are listed, next to Miller it simply reads: “Get Real.”)  But, whatever your taste, you will find something to match it.

Between the bottle selection and the taps, in fact, hardly a region or style of beer is overlooked, and if they lack what you’re after, there’s probably a good approximation to be found.  The taps rotate regularly, in case you need another reason to come back.

Some days the afternoon or early-evening crowd is small and quiet, other times (like when one Oktoberfest beer per Happy Hour was offered at $3.50 per pint all week) it is clear that herds of DC workers were counting the minutes until they could close shop and migrate to RFD.  Evenings are similarly hit-or-miss, though weekends are generally well attended.  It is always best to go with a group, as most people come in bunches, and making new friends doesn’t seem to top the agenda.

So, though at times it can be a quiet place to enjoy making your way through the beer list, usually RFD plays to its restaurant side, and invites you to enjoy “cuisine a lá Biere.”  And while the food is good and often unique (“Chicken & Artichokes with Figs”), you won’t be there strictly for the dining.  Not with over three-hundred beers to choose from.

Pros:    SO MANY GOOD BEERS; local ownership with a love of fine brews.

Cons: So-so ambience; few good beers below $5.50.

Rating: 4 out of 5