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Apr 11, 2007 08:20 PM

Seeking recommendations for best steakhouse in D.C.

Would welcome any suggestions for "non-chain" steakhouse(s) in D.C. Ambiance, price and location in city are unimportant. Quality of food is key. Thanks for any and all recommendations.

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  1. Gosh, it's been more eight hours since your post and nobody has mentioned Ray's The Steaks in Arlington yet? It's not even that early in the morning!

    Price is quite fair, ambiance is lousy, food is outstanding, wine list is functional, wait for a table is long. There are lots of reviews here, nearly all positive other than the usual cranks.

    10 Replies
      1. re: Hal Laurent

        Close enough- I mean it's spitting distance to DC.

        1. re: Hal Laurent

          I tend not to take a post completely literally unless there's enough detail so that there's no wiggle room. Since she said the location in the city was not important I didn't see anything that would preclude a nearby Arlington location that fit all the other requirements. (A Baltimoron should especially understand this <g>) If she was being given a free meal ticket with the provision that she spend the money in DC, I could understand a restriction (and she'd probably mention that).

          Besides, I wanted to recommend a place with which I was familiar. While I know all the big names, I don't have the big bucks so I've never been to Van's, Palmer's, or Capitol Grille, all of which have had their share of good and bad reviews. But Ray's seems to be nearly universally liked as a "chowhound" kind of place. I concur.

          1. re: MikeR

            Fair enough. How'd you know I was a Baltimoron? :-)

        2. re: MikeR

          You called? I've been to Ray's in SS. It was OK, nothing to write home about. I hear the one in Arlington is better.

          Personally, I prefer Mortons and Ruths Chris.

          Question for Jane Hyde - since quality of food is key, why do you categorically exclude chains? I think Ruths Chris and Mortons are better than Ray's.

          1. re: Gosh

            Serving a steak doused in butter is a sure fire way to make a steak taste good on the pure basis that if you serve anything in fat (which is in essence all butter is) then your taste buds are coated and the tasting of the ingredient is dulled. It's how Morton's and Ruth's Chris especially get away with subpar meats at such high prices.

            1. re: jpschust

              I personally can't stand the butter on Ruth Chris' steaks. The 2 times I've been there I've gotten the steak without the butter. I think it takes away from the flavor of the steak. As much as I love a good steak sauce...I kinda feel that a really great steak should require absolutly nothing on it...the beef should stand alone :)

            2. re: Gosh

              In response to the question as to why I asked for "non-chain" restaurants: Please don't misunderstand me. I can (and do) eat at Mortons and Ruth's Chris here in CT. When I travel, I like to take the opportunity to find the undiscovered gem that I can't find in my backyard. For what it is worth, we dined at Mortons last Thursday and at Ray's the Classics on Friday. Mortons was, in our opinion, excellent (as always), but we felt Ray's delivered better value. Ray's bread, salads, steaks and desserts were (we felt) superior to Mortons. Sides were tastier at Mortons and steaks were just about as good, but overall, Ray's was better (and literally half the price).

              1. re: Jane Hyde

                There are a lot of "experts" on line, and not all of them read between the lines. I understand your reason behind specifying restaurants that aren't part of national chains, but many people will simply read your post as "Where can I get a good steak in Washington?" assuming that you're from a small town in the South where the best steak in town is pounded, breaded, and fried at Aunt Sadie's Nook, and the nearest Ruth Chris is 90 miles away.

                To make your request better focused (and still some people won't read it all) you could say "We're from Boston and we have Ruth Chris, Morton's, etc. so I want to eat at a place that isn't just another copy of where I can reliably eat a steak at home."

                Ray's is clearly the answer around here, and most of the regulars here would fire it off as a suggestion it given the simple trigger of "steak." But for something a bit out of the ordinary when it comes to beef rather than a specific style of beef, we have Argentine steak houses and restaurants, and a couple of Asian places that serve steak in unusual ways. You don't get that everywhere.

          2. Depends on what you mean by "best." Best value is Ray's the Steaks; great food, no ambiance, very good prices. If you like the traditional kind of steak house, try Prime RIb or Charlie Palmers. Avoid BLT Steak.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Dakota Guy

              Forgot Bobby Van's, which I think is pretty excellent too. That said I agree with all of your comments above, especially avoid the poorly named BLT Steak with matching poor food and service.

              1. re: jpschust

                I'm going to have to disagree on Bobby Van's. Their service is great, but they burn their steaks. Been twice for steak, both times, my medium rare steak has come out looking as if someone dropped it into a campfire. Outside was completely charred black- not a nice sear, but carbonized. I do like their lunch menu though. In DC, I think Capital Grille is the most consistent with their steak.

                1. re: dwbengals

                  I just went to Bobby Van's on April 11 and agree with the preceding comment. Quite disappointed with the ribeye, which was chewier than it should have been, too heavily charred on the outside, and lacked any depth of flavor. Four of us dined for . . . $400, which seemed like a lot. My dinner companions were reasonably satisfied, but were not impressed.

                  I have been to Ray's the Steaks several times over the past 4-5 years, and it has always been good, and far better than Bobby Van's. It's a quirky place, but that's part of its charm.

              2. re: Dakota Guy

                I really like Charlie Palmer's and am always happy with their steaks and sliders.

              3. The only "non-chain" steakhouse that comes to mind is Ray's, which is not in DC. My favorite steakhouse IN DC is probably Capital Grille. If you want something a little out of the ordinary, try Fogo de Chao, which is a Brazilian-style churrascarria and has very good meat.

                1. If it is all about the meat, then Ray's the Steaks is your answer, imho.

                  On a side note, the $20.07 fixed price lunch at Charlie Palmer is really an exceptional value.

                  1. DC has a branch of every chain steak house there is. Did somebody skip us?
                    There are a couple of places where you can get a tasty steak that have a little local flavor if you want to try them.
                    The Monocle on Capital Hill has good steaks (and burgers) and stiff drinks with a dose of the one thing that sets us apart from other cities - politics. It's on the Senate side of Capital Hill and is a hangout for Senators, high ranking staff and lobbyists. Many of them pass through the clubby bar on their way to private dining rooms but they often linger.
                    Montmartre (Eastern Market) and Montsouris (Dupont Circle) have great hanger steak with pommes frites in very pleasant surroundings.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Capital Grille would get my vote.

                      I've been a big booster of the Monocle as well, but on my last visit they seemed to be just going through the motions. I hope that was just an off-night.

                      1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                        Toss up between Capital Grill and Charlie Palmer.

                        Agree that Monocle has been somewhat on-again, off-again, lately. I think their real stock in trade is private parties.
                        I'm surprised that there hasn't been more publicity about the effect of the new House ethics rules on the restaurants, caterers in town. No more entertaining of Members or staff. That has got to have hurt the bottom line. It's really affected charity events.