The Reef, an upstairs pub on 18th Street in Adams Morgan, is an overlooked gem. I went there nearly two years ago shortly after it opened for a brew and liked the way it looked with all the huge saltwater fish tanks, and the friendliness of the owner. Last night, we took our 4-year-old daughter there for her birthday and she went crazy over the fish displays, looking for Nemo, of course.
They have an admirable ethic: or sustainable fish and humanely treated, free-roaming meat served. There's a long selection of unusual beers, several Belgian, with a price for all budgets.
We had a wonderful hummus with large pieces of warm pita as an app. The fried calamari was outrageously light and perfectly cooked, almost luminous. My wife had a perfectly cooked blackened catfish with deep fried pickles (would prefer a more tempura-like batter). I had a really succulent bison hanger steak smothered in fried shallots and nicely done French fries on the side.
The service was sooooo personable. Entrees were a bit late arriving, which seemed odd, because we got there early and were the first to be served. The waitress explained that the chef had not liked the looks of the first attempt at my bison steak, and had thrown it out and started fresh.
Prices are extremely reasonable. Our tab, with tip, came to $60, and that was with a tall vodka on the rocks, two pints of imported beer, two appetizers, two entrees, and two sodas for our daughter.
I have not seen any postings about The Reef and would urge you to give it a try. Apparently it is very, very busy on late Friday and Saturday nights, with all the barflies jamming the space. But dinner service is usually very leisurely, or so our waitress explained.
We used to hang out down on U Street. But we are switching to The Reef.