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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm
Mon–Fri 5:30pm–9:00pm
Sat 5:30pm–9:00pm

Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


1200 19th St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 296-4333
Sam & Harry’s
A classic steakhouse that’s starting to wear down

Sam & Harry’s must have lost an extraordinary amount of business due to all the construction on 19th Street obscuring its storefront. In spite of the sign, somewhere or other, announcing the steakhouse’s continued existence to the world, it has always been a bit depressing to peer inside and see the sad faces of the waiters peering out, and to see the rows of empty tables behind them.

But you can’t blame Sam & Harry’s empty tables on the scaffolding alone. Aside from a little boost for restaurant-week participation, there’s no real reason to frequent this once-proud steakhouse anymore. Service is deferential and attentive, but you have to wonder why the décor still looks like a bland old boys’ cigar club that’s wearing around the edges. Even the lobbyists don’t really cherish these types of environments the way they used to.

Not that there’s any better reason to frequent the Palm across the street, part of the massive chain, whose steaks are slightly inferior and equally pricey. For some reason, the Palm still does a swimming business. We’d urge you to support the little guy, but it turns out that Sam & Harry’s is a chain too—it’s got branches in Newport Beach, CA, and Schaumburg, IL (as well as DC’s Caucus Room)—and, anyway, its prices are much too high for the “little guy” designation.

That goes doubly true for the seafood starters, which include an excellent lump crab cake that you’ll pay through the nose for the privilege of eating. Seared scallops are less memorable, and the “Cajun-spiced jumbo shrimp” is really nothing special—especially given the price. As for the steaks, they’re wet-aged—not dry—which makes us less excited about the splurge. They’re good, but not great, and certainly they don’t do much to distinguish themselves from the other local players’ steaks. The wine list is competent, but little more. 25% off a $12 spinach-and-crab dip or a $14 shrimp cocktail isn’t exactly a happy-hour special that people are going to flock to.

We have no beef with a good steak. But this feels like a restaurant that time has simply left behind.

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