One of the easiest things to do in most every major American metropolis is find a white-tablecloth steakhouse. Washington, D.C. is definitely no exception. Before the city became a foodie destination in the late aughts, it was one of the most reliable places to eat meat in a high-end setting. Those places still exist. The major difference is there are just as many steak joints that won’t make you feel like you’re required to talk politics.
We’ve rounded up eight of the best places to eat red meat in the city. Yes, there are classics below, but also some buzzy new spots and hidden gems far from downtown.
For the couple that definitely does not want a downtown steakhouse experience: Atxondo
Sixteenth Street Heights
You’re not going to find this restaurant on any other roundups for best steakhouses. On a very pleasant block of 14th Street in the relatively quiet Sixteenth Street Heights neighborhood, Atxondo is a small Spanish restaurant that’s perfect for a date night when you’re not trying to impress. This is not a white-tablecloth steakhouse or a place to drop a few hundred dollars on a bottle of wine. This is where you go with someone you love and share plates. Get the Argentinian ribeye steak, grilled octopus, snack baby chorizos, grilled scallions, crispy fingerling potatoes and red wine. If it’s nice outside, sit outside. You’ll have the kind of experience where you’ll constantly tell your date, “I wish our neighborhood had a place like this.”
For the downtown worker who wants a downtown steakhouse that’s a bit more modern: BLT Steak
Somewhere between fancy and casual, this destination benefits from its location. Work downtown? Dating someone who works downtown? Looking for a place for a work-team outing? BLT Steak is a really good option for the diner who wants and needs meat on the bone, and the friend who’s more inclined to order some crab cakes and cocktails.
For the person hosting friends and family from out of town and needs the semi-familiar: Fogo de Châo
You know exactly what you’re getting with Fogo de Châo. The Brazilian steakhouse chain actually offers great wine and a solid happy hour. Unless you work nearby, you’re probably rarely on this block of Pennsylvania Avenue. But if you’re hosting friends and family from out of town and find yourself near the White House, this type of steakhouse should please everyone.
For the person who wants seconds and possibly to feel like they’re a good citizen: Medium Rare
Cleveland Park, Arlington, Bethesda
When friends ask me where they should go for brunch, I tend to suggest Medium Rare. When friends ask me where they should get steak frites, I tend to suggest Medium Rare. It may not be new or in a hip neighborhood, but it’s reliably one of the best steak options. At under $30 for their prix-fixe dinner menu and $32 for their inclusive brunch menu (featuring bottomless Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and mimosas), it feels like a deal but doesn’t come off as a thrifty choice. Somewhat related, no steakhouse helped more during COVID. Co-owner Mark Bucher spearheaded the Feed the Fridge project, offering free meals to anyone and everyone during the pandemic. They’re still going strong and have provided more than 700,000 meals.
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For the person who wants a steak today but wants to feel like it’s 1998: Morton’s The Steakhouse
Old school, baby. The Dupont Circle location (overlooking K Street) has been serving you-know-what to you-know-who for ages — there are dozens, possibly hundreds of photographs of politicians and visiting celebrities in the Morton’s entrance, and the last time I was there, multiple tables were smoking cigars in their outdoor area. (Old school, baby.) Sometimes it’s nice to know exactly what you’re getting.
For the person who wants a dry-aged steak and desserts: Rare Steakhouse and Tavern
Intentionally old school but not actually old school, Rare is the closest steakhouse to the White House. It kinda looks like it’s been there forever. It’s one of the newest restaurants on this list (it opened in late 2017). Go for their dry-aged offerings, and do not skip dessert.
For the most popular modern steakhouse: St. Anselm
The buzziest restaurant on this list — and the best-looking restaurant on this list, both inside and out — this Stephen Starr joint does just about everything right. This is a special-occasion restaurant. This is a date restaurant. This is a large group restaurant. This is a meat-so-good-you-rip-it-off-the-bone restaurant. This is a place with a side dish so good we ordered a second to take home (buttermilk biscuits with pimento cheese).
For the high roller: Voltaggio Brothers Steak House
Whether you’re celebrating a good night at the tables or need some sadness steak (which is not a thing but should be a thing), the Voltaggio brothers — who both had success on Top Chef — can help. It’s also the best place to get a meal in the MGM National Harbor Casino.
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