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By Phyllis C. Richman
Washington Post Restaurant Critic
From The Washington Post Dining Guide, November 1996

| 1523 22nd St. NW
(202) 293-1885

Hours of Operation and Prices
Open: M-Th 11:30 am-2 am, F 11:30 am-3 am, Sat 6-3, Sun 6-2

Entrees: $6.25-$16

Other Information
• All major credit cards
• Dress: casual
• Reservations accepted for 6 or more
• Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle

Beer is big news these days. Some restaurants are brewing their own. Others are collecting impressive lists of microbrews. But still none can touch the Brickskeller, which has almost a 40-year lead on these new beer purveyors. I don't know whether its claim to featuring the world's largest selection of beer is true, but its list of brews has climbed above 700, and the walls of this cellar are lined with their empties.

It looks like a fraternity hangout, but you don't have to be newly arrived at drinking age to enjoy the Brickskeller. The service is friendly, and the food covers a range from snacks (cheese board, pizza, tempura vegetable basket or spicy wings) to full meals (buffalo steak, rum-and-lime chicken, kalua pork or chicken flown in from Hawaii, or a shellfish assortment steamed in beer). There are even East European pierogies.

At the Brickskeller, though, I turn conservative. Every time I order something adventurous, I wish I'd gotten a hamburger. The other foods are perfectly acceptable: The po' boy is stuffed with excellent fried oysters, even if the bread is flabby and the dressing is dull. The rainbow trout is fresh, and the pierogies are heart-warming. But I've learned the hard way: If anyone at the table has a burger, I'm going to want one. These burgers are terrific, whether the Brickburger with its bacon-salami-onion-cheese topping, the Down Home, combining ground beef with Italian sausage, or my favorite, the Ale Burger, seasoned with caraway and you-know-what. The fries, too, are dark and slightly sweet, clearly made from appropriately aged Idahos.

As for the beers, some people have a system. They might start with the A's, or make their way through one country or one brand. I just leaf through the book and zero in on a few new entries, then discuss the matter with my waiter. These waiters know their brews.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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