If you choose to believe Forbes, for years the only true “power” restaurant in Washington, D.C., was the Senate Dining Room. These days, however, a beefy influx of (m)eateries has been giving it a run for its money, such as The Palm.
A classic American steakhouse, The Palm has been serving up prime-aged steaks, jumbo Novia Scotia lobsters, New York strips and Italian specialties to thousands of regulars, businessmen and VIPs since its 1926 opening in New York City. Eighty-four years later—and voted “Best Power Lunch” by Washingtonian Magazine in 2010—The Palm continues to be the place to see and be seen, drawing throngs of hungry businessmen with its three-course lunch menu for $20.95.
One executive who agrees: Samuel R. Seymour, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Centurum, Incorporated.
“Can’t say enough about their food – simply the best steak in town,” he said.
For other steak-friendly restaurants often frequented by executives: Capital Grille and BLT Steak.
“I typically go to the Capital Grille for business lunches,” said Richard Pineda, chief operations leader at Dell Services Federal Government. “It is conveniently located to our Fairfax headquarters, and they serve great food. For dinner engagements in Washington, D.C., BLT Steak is my restaurant of choice.”
With Vienna, Va., housing numerous big corporations, executives working around Tysons Corner are never too far from a high-quality business restaurant. It is not hard to understand why CEOs like Shiv Krishnan of INDUS Corporation would pick the Tower Club as a favorite lunch option. The Tower Club quarters feature an elegant dining room, a Member Bar, a library, and several private dining/meeting rooms perfect for business rendezvous. The lunch menu—an extravaganza of seafood and meat, ranging from crab cakes and pistachio-crusted scallops to Kobe burgers and prime-rib cheese steak.
Vegetarian executives, fret not: the Tower Club offers several meat-free options, including the 360 Salad and a four-cheese ravioli.
But remember: If you want to dine at the Tower Club, dress to impress. Jeans, sneakers, shorts and collarless shirts are banned. At the Tower Club, guests dine with style, preferably—but not required—dressed in jackets.
“For business formal, the Tower Club is at the top of my list, both the food and the service are excellent, and the location is really convenient,” said Joe Doherty, executive vice president and group president, ACS Government Solutions, A Xerox Company.
But for a more informal eatery—and occasion—Doherty’s choice falls on a local diner, famous for its old-time feel and home-style cooking.
“For a casual business dinner, it’s the Silver Diner,” he said. “Everyone I take there is relieved that it’s a fun, informal setting. The food is great, especially since I’m someone who likes having breakfast for dinner. And if I worked out that morning, the milkshake is my parting treat.”
When Bill Hoover, president and CEO of AMERICAN SYSTEMS, chooses a business restaurant, he does not consider only the food, but also the location and whether it is conversation friendly.
“I look for a place that is conveniently located, has good service, a good menu, and is suited to having a private conversation,” he said. “With locations in D.C., Tysons and Reston, McCormick & Schmick’s is usually within a short drive for me and my guest(s), and most locations have a privacy partition that allows me to conduct business without shouting or being overheard. I am a big fan of their grilled salmon Caesar salad!”
While recognized for its seafood, McCormick & Schmick’s has become equally famous for its $1.95 bar-food menu featuring an oyster shooter, chicken satay and cheese quesadillas at its Reston Town Center location. The more extensive dinner menu offers chef’s recommendations, including seared monkfish and stuffed salmon with the suggested pairing of Tangley Oaks Chardonnay.
From seafood to Asian cuisine, Italian fare and fast-food, Reston Town Center is a culinary cosmos with a little bit for every executive.
Richard White, vice president of Washington operations at Harris Corporation, does not discriminate when it comes to the center’s restaurant selections.
“I’m not sure I necessarily have a favorite business restaurant, but I do enjoy all of the restaurants there at the town center,” he said. “I enjoy Morton’s, Clyde’s and the PassionFish—all are great offerings. You can never beat a good rib-eye steak.”
If rib-eye steak does not cut it, and American classics won’t hit the spot, Kotobuki could be your pick. Located on MacArthur Boulevard in the District, Kotobuki is far away from any Metro stop, with sparse food traffic from the surrounding neighborhood. Despite its location but thanks to its reputation for cheap eats, Kotobuki is a popular lunch and dinner eatery. From the conventional maki sushi (think California roll) to monkfish liver and eel kamameshi, Kotobuki serves up a delectable menu of modern-day favorites and traditional Japanese dishes.
William J. Milligan, chief financial officer, High Performance Technologies, Inc. offered his praises for this hidden gem.
“[Kotobuki] has the best sushi in D.C. and is a great value—CFOs will love it,” he said. “You will get good service, but no frills, which will disappoint the CEOs.”
But for lunch, Milligan agrees with Hoover’s pick of McCormick & Schmick’s in Reston, calling it his favorite lunch restaurant.
“The food is good, and Shannon and Rick in the bar provide a ‘Cheers’ feel,” he added.