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Jun 29, 2012 02:10 PM

Casual Family Steak house? Extinct?

Take a deep breath and let the images fill your mind: steakhouse. Family steakhouse.

It's cool. Calm. Scattered tables with booths along a wall.
A simple salad with crisp iceberg, a few tomatoes and cucumber slices, a bit of shredded cheese, and crunchy garlic croutons.
Your steak will arrive just as you've ordered, glimmering with butter glaze. A fluffed potato will rest next to it, large flecks of salt on the skin. Perhaps others in your party will have a grilled chicken breast or steamed salmon.
Other families are seated at tables nearby, and waitresses circulate with pitchers of water and tea, not a wine list in sight.

So --the above is what pops to mind when I think:
Western Sizzler, Quincy's, Ryan's, Ponderosa, Bonanza, Golden Corral
All of which are either defunct or have been corrupted into aisles of buffets on dirty carpeting.

What's in the NoVa area now that would fit the bill? Not interested in $30 steaks, but a more family place; don't want peanut shells on the floor.
Obviously a chain is fine, but for some reason Outback doesn't quite "feel right" -- it's a place trying to be too Aussie-surfer hip and lager.


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  1. Until Michael Landrum came along, I thought I didn't like steak. And the reason I thought I didn't like steak was Sizzler's, Ponderosa, etc.

    Now, you can do quite well for the same prices at Ray's to the Third:

    Except you will be getting GREAT steak, GREAT sides, unbelievable milk shakes. Fantastic fried chicken.

    Other than that, can't help you.

    1. Sounds like The Golden Bull in Gaithersburg.

      3 Replies
      1. re: flavrmeistr

        Except that the Golden Bull prices are hardly gentle, unless you go during the early bird (before 6pm).

        Otherwise, you're getting decent steaks at Ray's prices, so no bargain. I go once a year with the Entertainment Book coupon and get prime rib, which they do a decent job with.

        1. re: DanielK

          I did pull up their menu; it doesn't really strike me as the "family feel" that I was hunting. However, the Early Bird is affordable.

          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            They've probably up-scaled the Bull since I was there last, maybe 7 years ago. It used to be just as you described in your request, except you could get a cocktail. Lonestar, Glory Days and the Double T Diner in Frederick are about the only places I can think of to get a semi-decent steak for under $20. Ryan's, Golden Corral, are in my "meals of last resort" category. That means you're really, really hungry and there is nothing else around and you hate yourself afterward.

      2. Not in NoVA, but the prices at Ray's East River are incredibly reasonable for the quality of the product.

        As far as chains go, Lone Star Steakhouse seems to have decent quality at a family style price point. I refuse to set foot in Outback, for any number of reasons. I also had a suprisingly good steak at Hard Times.

        9 Replies
        1. re: monkeyrotica

          I've not tried Hard Times- thought it was a less family friendly version of Glory Days. Since I like GloDa pretty well as a burger joint with sports on tv, I didn't think I wanted what I've thought was a more beer oriented place.

          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            I agree with your assessment of HT as a variant of GD.

            My complaint about Outback is that their prices approach that of the bistro special at Ray's the Classics ($22 for hanger steak and soup/salad), so it's not a bargain, though the quality of the basic steaks is pretty good.

            1. re: Kris in Beijing

              Hard Times is about as family friendly as a chain gets, at least the one in Old Town is. They're always hauling out crayons and coloring stuff and their kids menu is the usual mix of chicken/burger/noodles.

              Perhaps one of the Great American Restaurant chains like Sweetwater or Mike's American?

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                Thanks for the rec re:HT. 

                Neither JrHoundette nor I drink (at 15 she can't; however, being shapely and 6" taller than I she probably could get served) and HT's mailers are beer oriented. 
                Since its just the two of us, we struggle to find reliable repeatable places in the area-she can't really get to me for dinner outside of the Woodbridge area. 
                Any thoughts on All American Steakhouse? 

                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  I have not been to All American, but Dak's Grill used to be on regular rotation when they were located on Route 1. You can still order steak by the ounce.


                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Wow. I hadn't even thought to research Dak's because it looked like dinner would run in the $75-$100 range.

            2. re: monkeyrotica

              Lone Star Steakhouse is the lone holdout of a dying breed of traditional family steakhouses. The decor has not changed in 20+ years, but the food quality and service is on par with ANY 'white linen" steakhouse in the market. It has the best values of any steakhouse by the way. Give it a try. Be surprised!

              1. re: Plankwalker

                In the past 2 years, I did manage to be enticed into a Lone Star and found that it was just about exactly what I was seeking. I had avoided it because I thought it was a clone of Longhorn- trying to be a trendy casual "cowboy bar"-style place.

                Kris now in DC/NoVA

                1. re: Plankwalker

                  I wish I'd known this before!
                  We live very close and I just thought it was a Longhorn.
                  Never even gave it consideration, but will put in the rotation.

              2. Monty's? I've never been but heard its good. Not sure on pricing.

                1. SInce June 12, I have become a happy once every 2-3 months patron of The All American Steakhouse* in Woodbridge.
                  Being able to buy two $50 cards at Costco for $80 has certainly increased my appreciation for them.
                  * Even if it is now called The All American Steakhouse and Sports Theater