Image: A big, good-for-you lunch.
Last Updated: September 2023
Though it is down to one location, Beefsteak remains a great option for fast casual and healthy. It is also not too far from the Lincoln Memorial end of the Mall if you are down that way and looking for food. The concept was developed by José Andrés to showcase vegetables, and that it does.
The name, typical of Andrés’ whimsy, is a pun that invokes the beefsteak tomato, but also highlights what is not on the menu with a bit of a headfake. There are no meats. The menu is mostly bowls that can come either cold or warm. There are pre-set options, but you can also build your own. Many of the dishes have an acidic tang, either from vinegar or tomato or both, that lands stronger with nothing fried or battered to offset it. The choice of grains for the warm bowls are white rice, jasmine rice, vegetable fried rice, quinoa, and couscous. Add cooked kale to these and there are dozens (millions?) of options given the variety of toppings. Mixed greens or arugula are the bases for salads. The ingredients for a couple of the favorite pre-set options give you a sense of the toppings offered. The “Frida Kale” comes with white rice, kale, sweet potatoes, black bean sauce, spicy tomato sauce, tomatoes, scallions, lemon honey dressing, dried cranberries, and corn nuts. The “Cauli-Power” salad is: mixed greens, sautéed mushrooms, roasted curried cauliflower, pickled red onions, za’atar mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, chickpea salad, fig balsamic dressing, and corn nuts.
The classic sandwich offered is a play on a burger with a roasted beet playing the role of the beef patty. They also offer a version with a big slice of beefsteak tomato when in season.
Drink choices are limited. No sodas or alcohol options are offered, but the lavender lemonade is a winner.
When it was launched in 2015 it quickly grew to a handful of locations and it looked like it might be the kind of spot that could go national. But it was Sweetgreen and Cava that would pull off that trick. Beefsteak seems to require just a tad more care and attention than those places deliver. Though it is slightly less-polished than its closest comparison of Immigrant Food – just to give you a sense. If you are over that way in the largely barren food world of Foggy Bottom, Beefsteak is worth the extra walk to get something better.
Other Guidance: The spot is obviously casual. Located at street level with no steps inside. GF and Vegetarians can do well. GF, nuts, dairy, eggs and vegan options are marked.
Washington Post: Tom gave it two stars and included it in the 2015 Fall Dining Guide.
Washingtonian: The produce guy profiled.