Cheap Eats 2010: Ray’s the Steaks at East River

100 places that offer great food at low prices.

Why go: This break-the-model enterprise—a sit-down restaurant on the neglected eastern side of the Anacostia River from restaurateur Michael Landrum—is a fascinating study in contrasts, not to mention a bold sociological experiment. And guess what—the food’s good, too. From gratis salads of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers to trencherman-style selections of meat to wedges of great pie, a meal here harks back to a no-fuss kind of dining that has all but vanished. You can even find a $5 glass of wine.

What to get: Beer-battered jumbo shrimp, ten to an order; a neat twist on skillet-fried chicken, the bird cold-smoked before hitting the oil; the Presidential burger, the same one served at Ray’s Hell-Burger and the lounge at Ray’s the Classics; crab royale, a ten-ounce mound of lightly bound jumbo lump that’s thrust under the broiler until golden; stellar Key-lime pie; silken milk-chocolate mousse.

Best for: Simply prepared American cooking at a great price.

Insider tip: Landrum fans unaccustomed to life east of the Anacostia—and apprehensive about making the trip out there—might be reassured to know that the owner has hired greeters to man the door and watch over the block.

>> See all 2010 Cheap Eats restaurants here 

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 Petworth.