January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

A steakhouse that feels like a 1940s supper club.

No. 43: The Prime Rib

This is a dining room for grownups, the sort of place where Nick and Nora of Thin Man fame might have cavorted with their pals. Tufted-leather wing chairs, gold-trimmed black paneling, and a leopard carpet set the scene for the K Street crowd that settles in for lunch during the week. Nights bring a cocktail pianist and a following that includes its share of bleached blondes and May-December couples, reinforcing the nightclub feel.

The reputation of the place rests on its prime rib, which is grand—the 24-ounce cut is more than enough for any human, though showoffs go for the 40-ouncer. Unlike other beef palaces, the Prime Rib doesn’t slack off when it comes to seafood. The crab imperial is luxuriant in its creaminess and devotion to jumbo lump; the oysters are always fresh, cold, and impeccably shucked. A lesser-known, off-the-menu pick is house-breaded fried shrimp with the restaurant’s marvelous crunchy-with-pickles tartar sauce.

Salads and sides are weak links: anemic plates of overdressed romaine and overcooked stalks of asparagus—a shame considering the lemony hollandaise is nicely tart. Not that anyone seems to care. Lots of downtown DC restaurants have trouble filling tables on weekends, but the Prime Rib is like a party that never ends.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.