100 Best Restaurants 2011: Ray’s the Steaks at East River

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

Nominally a sibling of the popular Arlington steakhouse, this Ray’s—the first to open east of the Anacostia River—is in fact a glorified diner with a retro-soul soundtrack and shockingly low prices.

The Ray’s restaurants are notable for their stripped-down aesthetic and streamlined menus, but the concept here is even more to the point: Diners decide on a meat or fish (we’re partial to the baby back ribs and the crabcakes), then choose among the eight sides (don’t miss the creamed corn and collards). It’s hard to pass up the sherry-spiked crab bisque to start or a plate of beer-battered jumbo shrimp, but the portions are so large you’ll likely be carting food home.

Much has been made of the lack of dining options east of the Anacostia but all of Washington could do with more of what Ray’s brings: generosity on the plate and in the room.

Also good: Cold-smoked fried chicken; crab royale; Key-lime pie; fruit cobbler.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive to moderate.

>> 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.