Food

Ray’s the Steaks Is Closing in Arlington After 17 Years

Michael Landrum's flagship will shutter June 15, marking the end of an era for the Ray's restaurateur.

Ray's the Steaks will close in Arlington. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Washington will soon lose a carnivorous institution. Ray’s the Steaks, an unfussy Arlington chophouse that’s operated in the neighborhood for 17 years, will close after service on Saturday, June 15, says chef/owner Michael Landrum

“We thank everyone for opportunity to serve you throughout these many years, and truly regret no longer being able to continue to do so,” says Landrum in an email statement. He declined to elaborate on the reasons behind the closure.

Even as DC bucks its reputation as a steakhouse town, Ray’s has remained an eccentric, homegrown favorite. Credit its long-running reputation as the anti-downtown steakhouse: no power booths, no expense accounts, no decor to speak of. Just the classics in a boisterous, bare-bones dining room: 30-day, house-aged steaks, crab bisque, creamed spinach, all dished up at moderate prices. (A full steak dinner for two with wine can clock in at less than $100.) A message from Landrum on the restaurant’s website is apropos: “If luxury accommodations and exquisite service are important to your dining needs, we strongly recommend another one other region’s many, many finer steakhouses and superior restaurants. If you decide to try us out, we promise to work our hardest to reward your decision with great steaks and seafood at fair and honest prices.”

Ray's the Steaks
Obama took then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Hell-Burger in 2010. Official White House photograph by Pete Souza.

Ray’s brand has suffered closures and financial woes throughout its near two-decade run. In addition to the Arlington flagship, which relocated once, Landrum opened and shuttered chophouses in Silver Spring (12 years) and Benning, Southeast—a still-rare, full-service concept in Ward 7 that lasted shy of a year. His spinoff casual concept, Ray’s Hell Burger, experienced highs (multiple visits from President Obama) and lows (landlord disputes, bankruptcy). Other concepts like Nice n’ Greasy Steak n’ Cheesy and the khachapuri-centric Tasty Dug-Out never took flight.

For now, a lone remaining Ray’s Hell Burger is currently open in DC’s Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood.

During its final two weeks, Ray’s the Steaks won’t accept reservations. Instead, neighbors and regulars can come in as they please to bid farewell. While Landrum had little comment about the closure, the mercurial restaurateur did offer a closing statement:

“Ever since BLT Prime opened [in the Trump Hotel], there really hasn’t been a need for Ray’s the Steaks any longer as the steakhouse for the Everyman.”

Ray’s the Steaks. 2300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.