100 Best Restaurants 2011: Ray’s the Classics

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

Punk music’s primal energy stripped rock of its creeping corporatization. Ray’s adheres to a similar philosphy, paring the traditional steakhouse to its bare bones. The white-walled setting has the air of a neighborhood spot, from the votive candles on tables to the funk-soul soundtrack. The wine list, now overseen by eminent sommelier Mark Slater, emphasizes interesting values over impressive and expensive statements.

Steaks are hand-trimmed, cooked to exact specifications, and priced lower than the competition’s. But it’s not all meat: The crab bisque can take you back to that midsummer trip to Kent Narrows, while the crab royale—ten ounces of lump crab, minimally bound and then doused with sherry and butter—is better than most crabcakes. Sides are ordered à la carte, and the preparations show real care, from a crock of creamed sweet corn to Red Bliss mashed potatoes.

If the trend of fridge-chilled desserts continues, we’ll pass—even on a chance to dig into a slice of cheesecake flown in from New York’s Carnegie Deli—and stick to the demitasse of hot chocolate that comes with the check.

Also good: Roasted mushrooms with truffle oil; hanger steak; cowboy-cut steak; Key-lime pie.

Open daily for dinner. Moderate to expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

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.