Beloved BBQ Sizzles Up the DC Steakhouse Scene

Grill your own Wagyu at this Japanese-style steakhouse

Yakinaku-style steakhouse Beloved BBQ. Photograph by Mike Fuentes.

Beloved BBQ at Love, Makoto. 200 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Neighborhood: Capital Crossing development near Judiciary Square.

Dress: Stylish casual, not flip-flops casual.

Best dishes: American and Japanese sets of beef; bone broth; crab-and-avocado salad; short-rib fried rice; potato mochi; miso skirt steak.

Price range: Starters $14 to $39, omakase menu $85, add-ons $11 to $85. There’s a 20-percent service fee.

Bottom line: A must-visit Japanese-style steakhouse with a cool, low-key vibe and easy, do-it-yourself grilling.

Tables in the chic Beloved BBQ are inset with smokeless grills. Grab some oversize tweezers to grill your own slices of Japanese Wagyu and American prime beef. Photograph by Mike Fuentes.

We’re midway through 2023, but the hottest restaurant openings this season feel, on the surface at least, very 1987. French restaurants. Steakhouses.

Still, there’s reason for excitement. Have you visited Petite Cerise, the delightful French Dabney spinoff in Shaw? Or sampled the tomahawk at Gaithersburg’s swank Charley Prime Foods, DC restaurateur Jackie Greenbaum’s first foray into the burbs? Then there’s Beloved BBQ, the yakinaku steakhouse inside the all-Japanese food hall Love, Makoto, which opened in May near Judiciary Square.

The place sits at the end of a long, red hallway that feels very David Lynch. But instead of stumbling into a Twin Peaks dreamscape, you enter a moodily lit dining room buzzing with energy (and the sizzle of beef). With its brass and black-leather accents, it couldn’t feel farther from creamed spinach and K Street and the culinary stagnancy that can plague the steakhouse genre.

When you sit down at one of the 19 tables, each inset with a smokeless grill, you’re presented with what looks like a wax-sealed letter. “I Treasure the Memory of Family and friends huddled around the grill,” it reads, just above the menu. The sentiment Comes From Makoto Okuwa, the chef behind the food hall, which is co-owned by Unconventional Diner and L’Ardente restaurateur Eric Eden and chef David DeShaies.

Okuwa—once a protégé of Iron Chef’s Masaharu Morimoto—has restaurants in Mexico City, Panama, and Miami—but got his start in the States two decades ago at Sushi Taro in Dupont Circle. At Love, Makoto, he also oversees an omakase sushi counter and an izakaya, and he’ll soon launch fast-casual stalls for ramen, udon, and more. Beloved BBQ, though, feels like a crown jewel.

In the early days, the restaurant offered two set menus centered around platters of either American prime and Wagyu beef or the more expensive A5 Japanese Wagyu. Recently, they’ve streamlined the menu into a single $85 “omakase” that gives diners a taste of both types of steak (you can now also order a la carte).

Wagyu fried rice. Photograph by Mike Fuentes.

The meat is presented raw on glass platters. You cook it yourself over the fire with the help of oversize brass tweezers—use the nub of fat on the platter to grease the grill’s grates—and comes with lettuce for wrapping, bowls of rice, seasoned salt, and a duo of sauces. Servers are there to guide you through it all, and they’ll suggest sauce pairings and grilling tips for each cut, though you do have to ask.

Each type of beef is satisfying in its own way. The Japanese Wagyu is more delicate and far more rippled with fat—slices of sirloin and tenderloin have marbling as delicate as lace and take just 30 seconds per side to cook. On the American side are New York strip and heftier chunks of short rib. Some of the accompanying small plates nod to Korea, including a singeing napa-cabbage kimchi and an adorable cow-shaped sliver of vinegary daikon.

Mochi potato. Photograph by Mike Fuentes.

It’s plenty, especially for two people. But several starters are worth considering. I loved the giant bowl of Tokyo slaw with wasabi and tons of herbs; crispy puffs of potato mochi with blue cheese; a sculptural crab-and-avocado salad; and fried rice topped with bits of Wagyu short rib. More meat is not what you need, but the zesty miso skirt steak—one of several extra “splurges”— was terrific. If there’s any meat left over, just give it a quick turn on the grill and take it home.

Tokyo slaw. Photograph by Mike Fuentes.

Forgive me for getting all sappy, but here’s my love letter to Beloved BBQ: If only all steakhouses were this fun, and this delicious, we’d be proud to call DC a steakhouse town.

This article appears in the July 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

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.