• Rugby Cafe

    Food & Drink  

    by Moses Y. Bension

    The first thing you notice when you walk into the Rugby Cafe in Georgetown is how much it looks like a Rugby store. The decor is unmistakably Ralph Lauren. The walls are cluttered with antique mirrors and an assortment of Americana; a Betsy Ross flag hangs from the ceiling. The first thing you notice when you bite into one of their burgers is that the Rugby Cafe is more than just décor. The menu features signature burgers that are out to prove that a restaurant that borrows its name from a clothing brand can still rival the best in our nation’s capital. Enjoy it with a cold beer from local brewery Flying Dog, whose tap handles adorn the painted‐black wood‐paneled bar.

    Photographed in Washington, D.C.

    We recommend the Holden Burger (named after the Pencey Prep expellee), a medium rare hamburger of Colorado prime Angus beef topped with smoked bacon, caramelized onions, a house barbecue sauce, locally grown beefsteak tomato, greens, and a slice of white cheddar cheese all on a brioche bun with a side of freshly cut French fries in a display of “top shelf gastronomic brilliance.” F.E. Castleberry tells the story of how, “at the end of one dinner I saddled up at the bar, and the bartender, some staff, and I lined up some shots after closing and just spent the night talking life. The vibe was extremely laid back.”

    Take a train into Washington’s Union Station and catch the bus to M Street & Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown. Walk 243 feet south. Limited sidewalk seating is available during the summer.

    1065 Wisconsin Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20007

    Mar 23, 2012 | Permalink (19) Total Comments

    Owen left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 6:09 PM:

    Does anyone know where I can get the shoes (or similar models) that the guy in the green polo has?

    Julius left a comment on 4/6/2012 at 11:05 PM:

    Nice post. I love Georgetown and the Rugby store there. Actually wearing a pair of Kelly green shorts I bought there last summer. Beer and burger next door had a laid back vibe. Looking forward to going back.

    Omni left a comment on 4/6/2012 at 10:45 PM:

    One beer they make worth drinking is gonzo imperial stout…I’d take lagunitas IPA.  As an aside I visited my girl friend last fall and we spent the day at georgetown…loved the rugby store there and loved the cafe.

    y. l. hollander left a comment on 4/6/2012 at 11:42 AM:

    I have family moving to D.C. in the very near future and trust I’ll be visiting there with some frequency. Rugby will certainly be on my “must visit” list. The room looks to be right up my alley and I’m all in favor of any establishment that’s proud to admit it will cook a burger medium-rare.

    JJ left a comment on 4/6/2012 at 11:28 AM:


    The DC/MD/VA cultural lines are so blurred that anything inside of an hour’s drive of the beltway (without traffic) should be considered local. This is especially true when it comes to craft brews.

    Mr. Castleberry,

    I recommend a visit to Annapolis the next time you’re in town. It’s a short drive from the district and should provide an appropriate introduction to the Chesapeake variety of prep. Annapolitans take summer seriously, they actually burn their socks in the spring.

    The annual St. John’s vs US Naval Academy croquet match is coming up and would provide the appropriate candy camera for your blog.

    Photos from last year’s Annapolis Cup: http://www.annapolissound.com/culture/2011-st-johns-usna-croquet/

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 4/6/2012 at 11:08 AM:

    @John—You seem to bear a misconception about what Unabashedly Prep is about and what this particular piece on the Rugby Cafe is. This isn’t a profile on Georgetown/D.C. Upon my previous visits to Georgetown, the Rugby Cafe has been a spot I like to grab a burger. That’s it. It’s what I like (and not to mention a place that actually allowed me to take pictures for an article). This isn’t some Georgetown/D.C. travel guide piece where I recommend a place based on some consensus of votes or popularity. And please, drop the bit about the beer. Is Flying Dog the only beer on tap at Rugby Cafe? Of course not. But it’s brewed only 40 miles from Rugby Cafe. Semantics aside, I considered it local given the International scope of the alcoholic beverage business. Where I’m from, 40 miles is only the opposite side of town.

    Have you ever actually eaten at Rugby Cafe, John?

    John left a comment on 4/6/2012 at 8:55 AM:

    @emjkmj - I think the general issue is that a profile of Georgetown/DC has been offered, with recommendations for the Rugby Cafe and beer from exurban Maryland. I think we can agree on a handshake that Fred/Moses simply aren’t DC residents, experts or travel guides.

    I live in DC. While some suburban MD residents may consider Flying Dog local beer, no DC residents do. Not only does DC have it’s own breweries, there are also great VA breweries that are only minutes away, just across the Potomac.

    emjkmj left a comment on 4/5/2012 at 6:30 PM:

    @ DJ REN- in the food and beverage industry, as-well-as the eat local, “locavores” movement,  anything produced and consumed within a 100 miles is considered local.  It may seem far (40 miles), but when considering how far that, Coors, Miller Lite, Bud, let alone Stella or Guinness traveled.  40 miles is around the block.

    emjkmj left a comment on 4/5/2012 at 6:15 PM:

    I love Georgetown.  My wife and I have thought about buying an apartment/townhouse there.

    Mac left a comment on 4/5/2012 at 10:28 AM:

    This place looks so gosh darn cool I’m gonna call my buddy up and fly us on over there for lunch in my private jet aeroplane.

    DJ Ren left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 4:18 PM:

    @FEC, local to you perhaps, but some of us live here in DC. Baltimore is also 40ish miles from DC (where I reside). As WMM notes, Natty Boh isn’t “local” to DC - it’s a Baltimore beer. Flying Dog is a Frederick beer (and a good one). Neither are local to DC - at least to this DC resident.

    Stephanie left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 3:58 PM:

    Love the idea of Rugby Cafe. Worth the added wait time to go to The Tombs as well.

    Jeff left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 2:20 PM:

    Have not yet enjoyed the Rugby Cafe, but would highly recommend the other Ralph-related restaurant in Chicago. Excellent food/atmostphere and great bartenders. http://www.rlrestaurant.com/

    WMM left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 2:18 PM:

    @DJ Ren, DC Brau is amazing, and a true local beer, indeed.  @ FE, You wouldn’t really consider National Bohemian a local beer because it’s a Baltimore beer, I’d say same goes with Flying Dog and its Frederick roots.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 2:10 PM:

    @DJ Ren—FLying Dog is brewed 48 miles from DC. For all intents and purposes, that’s local.

    DJ Ren left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 2:01 PM:

    Looks nice. Flying Dog makes good beer, sure, but it’s from Frederick, MD. For local brews, try DC Brau. Brewed in the district.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 10:49 AM:

    @Biff—Martin’s is a nice joint…totally different price point/menu than Rugby Cafe but a really nice atmosphere to grab dinner. Since it’s where JFK proposed to Jackie, it’s kind of the cliché choice for a preppy style blog ;)

    @AEV—The Tombs is a nice spot (aside from not having any windows) and I enjoyed it when I was in last. I would disagree that the Rugby Cafe is an attempt to mimmick the Tombs in any way. The Rugby Cafe is independently owned and operated as a cafe…patio seating, etc and is a touch more casual than the Tombs.

    Biff left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 10:41 AM:

    Walk up a few blocks on Wisconsin to Martin’s Tavern.

    AEV left a comment on 4/4/2012 at 10:28 AM:

    For those looking for an authentic Georgetown bar experience, I recommend The Tombs. The Tombs is the kind of well established, “collegiate”, neighborhood spot that the Rugby bar is mimmicking.