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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Steakhouse, American
Casual restaurant

Sun–Mon 11:00am–10:00pm
Tue–Sat 11:00am–11:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Penn Quarter
509 7th St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 347-3434
District Chophouse & Brewery
Beer, beef, and big bellies

Located in what used to be an old bank building, District Chophouse and Brewery is the classiest kind of chain. Between the deep leather booths, towering ceilings, and private dining room (in what used to be the bank’s vault), it’s nice enough to escape most negative associations of restaurant clones. At the chophouse, big families chomp peacefully alongside big men in suits; everything—from the scale of the building to the patrons and the plates from which they sup—is large and loud and predictably American.

The menu at District Chophouse is exactly what you’d expect: fried appetizers, sharable pizzas, and lots of meat. The most exotic flavor on the entire thing may be a shiitake mushroom or two and some miso butter. Ingredients and descriptions pay homage to the cowboy beef-eaters that make America proud, and portions celebrate the excess that other nations mock.

The Chophouse’s food isn’t bad, but it’s nothing special. Fried goodies taste, well, fried, and taste the same as well done onion rings, calamari, and chicken tenders anywhere. Pizzas sound better than they taste. One version combines steak and mild cheese with overpowering amounts of rosemary that add a dusty flavor that doesn’t make sense with the rest of the ingredients. The overabundance of cheese turns the flatbread soggy very quickly.

Steakhouse classics perform somewhat better. A cartoonishly hefty 24-ounce porterhouse is served with a generous pat of Bourbon steak butter and salty, fluffy mash. They are not afraid to serve things rare. The culinary highlight at the District Chophouse is a cast-iron skilletfull of cornbread. Honestly, what could be better than a cast-iron skilletfull of cornbread? It has the deep flavor and rough texture of toasted corn; it’s sticky like cake and you can glaze it with sweet whipped honey butter that isn’t gritty like many of its peers.

The best reason of all, though, to go to the District Chophouse is their original beer—more specifically the Bourbon Stout: a cask ale made from oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels for six weeks. The result is a caramel-gold wonder of alchemy, a love child of whiskey and stout—mellow and smooth, with a port-like thickness, bitter like coffee, but spiked with licorice and mellowed with a touch of vanilla.

This is the place to celebrate the good ol’ US of A. As we go to press, you can even raise a glass of “Barack Bock” to toast the new prez. And the District Chophouse really is American in terms of its priorities; it is neither high art nor lowfat, but it sure as hell cares about its beer.

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