Look for the flickering flame above the restaurant entrance and the line queuing up in front of it. That line could be people waiting for a table—Matchbox is awfully popular, and there’s not a lot of extra space inside for hanging out. Then again, it could be the line for the Chinatown bus, which happens to pick up New York–bound passengers at this exact spot. The sight of those lines may have prompted the owners to finally accept reservations; better yet for last-minute types, you can call ahead and put your name on the list, which reduces your wait time when you arrive. Matchbox won early acclaim for its thin-crust pizzas cooked in 900[dg]F wood-fired brick ovens (try the spicy meatball with crispy bacon and crushed red pepper), its appetizer of mini burgers on toasted brioche topped with onion “straws” (skinny fried onion strands), its chopped salad, and entrees like the honey miso salmon, and diners keep coming back for more. Saturday and Sunday brunch is big, too. This Matchbox is the original; look for other locations on Barracks Row (521 8th St. SE) and in the U&14th Street Corridors (1901 14th St. NW).
- Elise Hartman Ford