100 Best Restaurants 2012: Ray’s the Classics

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


The arrival of the Fillmore concert venue has upped the foot traffic on this block–not that Michael Landrum’s steak-heavy restaurant needed it. Here and at his Ray’s the Steaks and Ray’s Hell-Burger in Arlington, Landrum has a knack for developing a following of loyal customers. Part of it has to do with favorites such as lump-crab-packed bisque and steak-tartare-topped deviled eggs. But much of the appeal is the absence of pretension–in summer you’ll likely see Landrum bumming around his restaurants in shorts–and a respect for value. Steaks are of very good quality, from the $19.99 hanger to the $35.99 behemoth of a rib eye called a cowboy cut. They no longer come with free sides, but in steakhouse land, $5 for mashed potatoes is a steal.

What to get: Blue-cheese-and-bacon salad; big, spicy diablo-style prawns; buttery, broiled crab royale; New York strip or porterhouse with béarnaise or brandy-mushroom sauce. In the lounge: Ray’s Hell-Burger imports including the bacon-and-swiss-topped Soul Burger Number One and the peppery, blue-cheesy B.I.G. Poppa; mac and cheese.

Open daily for dinner. Expensive.

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.