The Reef

The ReefThe Reef
The ReefThe Reef
Bar, Eatery

2446 18th St NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20009-2004
United States

// CLOSED //

View: Place Reviews
Recent ratings and reviews.
Photo of CuriousMonk
Reviewed by CuriousMonk from District of Columbia

3.56/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5
I've been here on a couple weekend nights now and have to say that I rather like the atmosphere, which is like a loud bar/club mixed with an aquarium, mixed with a good beer selection. Nothing mind blowing on the menu, but a couple belgian taps, Allagash White and a rotating tap of one of their special releases, A couple good IPA-type beers and some other ales and lagers. The selection was pretty different the two times I have been, which is a definite plus. There are fish tanks everywhere on the second floor, and plenty of tables overlooking the bustling 18th street Adams Morgan nightlife. The heated outside deck on the roof has its own bar with limited selection of taps compared to downstairs, but they will only serve plastic glasses. Too crowded for my taste.
Feb 18, 2011
Photo of bbarrows
Reviewed by bbarrows from California

4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5
They have two floors, the main floor is filled with several large saltwater aquariums with colorful fish and coral. The bar is asymmetric and curvy, and in the ceiling above the bar is a pane of glass with swirling water in it. It is a very unique atmosphere. Music is typically modern, sometimes there's a DJ, but it's never too loud. The top floor is a covered patio from which you can just barely see the capitol building and the Washington Monument.

All the beer is on tap. Rarely they will have bottled beer, like they did recently for their celebration of the 25th anniversary of Chimay in the US. They have about 10 taps, all quality brews, a mix of Belgians and American ales. Even on the busiest night I've been there, the server is well aware of when you might need to be refreshed.

The biggest downside of this place is on the patio, where they use only plastic cups for their beer. This makes even the best beer taste average.

As for the food, they pride themselves on using organic and sustainable foods, such as from the local farmers' markets. The mussels I had were quite tasty, I think they were steamed in one of their Belgian beers, but the frites were soggy.

Overall, the quality of the beer, the friendly service and the funky atmosphere on the main floor are enough reasons to come back for more.
Jan 02, 2009
Photo of ubermick
Reviewed by ubermick from California

3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3
Adams Morgan, for the non-DC folks reading, is like a year round spring-break location. Every weekend, on Friday and Saturday nights, the streets of this slumbering little neighborhood are filled to overflowing with stumbling drunken fratboys, hillrats, and sorority girls. That's not to say EVERYONE going out in AM is like that, and there are a few bars that cater to a more discerning crowd, and the Reef is one.

When this bar first opened, it was a Godsend. Very cool atmosphere, with aquariums full of fishies, bartenders who looked after their regulars, and served quickly, and a GREAT beer selection. Last time I was there, the service had slipped a little, and the clientele had definitely morphed more towards a "typical" Adams Morgan crowd, but the beer selection is still there, and is still one of the better ones in town.

A nice mixture of Belgian ales, local faves (Dogfish Head, Tuppers Hop Pocket), and east coast micros (Allagash, Smuttynose) will keep you in liquid happiness. All served at reasonable prices - at least they were a year ago, I understand they've gone up a $1 or so recently. The serve draught only, and no bottles are to be found.

If you find yourself in Adams Morgan on a nice evening, you could do far worse than enjoy one of these brews on the Reef's roof deck. If you find yourself in Adams Morgan on a Friday or Saturday night, may God have mercy on your soul.
Apr 08, 2008
Photo of alysmith4
Reviewed by alysmith4 from District of Columbia

3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 2
This place is slightly over-rated by the Adams Morgan Crowd, but it definately has it's plus side. For one, it has a rooftop bar and patio overlooking the city. Second, it has a great selection of beer and rotates a few new ones in every now and then. One of my favorite drinks they serve is a Belgian Sunset, that combines Allagash White and Raspberry Frambois.. it's absolutely delicious! I would not suggest going there on the weekend though, the rooftop patio can get pretty packed and it can take a while to get drinks. Plus, there is little to no standing room during dining hours so plan accordingly.
Jan 04, 2008
Photo of Atlas1
Reviewed by Atlas1 from Texas

3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5
I used to live just down the street from The Reef and my wife and went there a lot when it first opened. In the beginning, it was much more affordable, but the prices have risen steadily over the years as the place has become more and more popular. Still, it's not a bad deal, and you can get in and get a table before 8pm during the week with relative ease. During the summer they open up their rooftop patio, which is nice, but it fills up fast. They used to offer residents of Adams Morgan (the neighborhood in which The Reef resides) a discount on their meal if they could prove they live in the zip code. Not sure if they still do that or not.

The food is good, not great. They market themselves as a sustainable agriculture supporting restaurant and serve a lot of organic and free-range foods. Honestly, I think the quality of the food has gone downhill in the last few years (perhaps due to a change in chefs?) but it's still relatively good fare. The bison hanger steak is tasty, and they used to a good mushroom risotto which was hit-or-miss but was really good when they hit. I've also had the fried calamari, which comes with a nice spicy chili-aoli sauce.

The beer selection here, though, is why you go to The Reef. It's not overwhelmingly large, but it's consistently good and good quality. A nice mix of good German and Belgian imports along with a nice range of American craft brews. All on tap. And from time to time the restaurant hosts beer dinners, bringing in brewers or brewery reps to host and lecture. I met Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head there one night last year and it was awesome. We tried seven beers, including the just-released (at the time) Red&White and Black&Blue. They paired each beer with a dish. There was an excellent beet salad that was delicious with the Raison D'Etre.

The Reef is a good place. The food is slightly above average and the beer selection is very good. I like the atmosphere too, as they have about five or six huge aquarium tanks in the main dining room. Hence the name, The Reef. Worth visiting if you are in Adams Morgan looking for a good beer to go with your dinner. Try to get a table on the roof if the weather is nice.
Dec 07, 2007
Photo of shivtim
Reviewed by shivtim from Georgia

3.56/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5
The other reviewers pretty much hit this one on the head. It's probably one of your best options if you happen to be in Adams Morgan, but it's not worth going out of the way for. Because the second floor is pretty big, there's usually room to move around and sometimes sit down, even on weekends when the other (smaller) bars in the area are packed. Service here various tremendously, so don't expect much if it's 1AM on a Friday. Decent selection, nice decor, no cover, chill attitude. It's an all around good bar... but not a "beer bar."
Jun 22, 2007
Photo of ChrisBowers
Reviewed by ChrisBowers from Virginia

4/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4
Solid place in the Adams Morgan section of DC. In an area over-run by college frat-boy bars and euro-club wannabes, this place is a nice oasis. More of a young professionals crowd, its fairly laid back and casual. No dress code, no cover charge. Bar is three floors. First floor is slightly dungeony, dark. Second floor has high ceilings and looks out onto 18th street through huge windows. Area is populated by lots of fishtanks and a large square bar in the center of the room. Third floor is an outside deck. Great place to hang out, small bar on one end with a standing bar area around it, tables on the other end of the roof. Great views of the city and street below. Tap selection is very nice with offerings such as Allagash White, Chimay Tripel, Kasteel Tripel, DeKonnick, Kindl Weiss etc, though I was disappointed by the lack of anything darker. Maybe in the winter? Prices are very reasonable for DC... most pints are $4-5, Belgians are $5-7. Most served in proper glassware. Not sure if its worth a pilgrimage when you have the Brick, RFD, etc at your disposal, but if you live here its a great place for a night out.
Sep 06, 2005
Photo of hungryghost
Reviewed by hungryghost from District of Columbia

3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4
This place is a nice surprise in the Adams Morgan area of DC.
The first level is kind of classy, with lots of cool fish tanks. The rooftop deck is great on a nice evening. The food I had was very, very tasty.
The place can get kind of crowded with knuckleheads at times, as can the whole of Adams Morgan.
They have a decent amount of Belgian beers on the menu and good prices. I think they had some half price specials when I went on a Wednesday.
I lost my notes so will have to return and complete the review.
Good excuse to go back.
Jun 03, 2004
The Reef in Washington, DC
Place rating: 3.79 out of 5 with 8 ratings