WORKMAN'S COMP: Tucked between a half-pound hamburger on a homemade onion roll and a New York strip steak with garlic-herb butter on the menu at Ray's the Steaks (1725 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-841-7297) is an option called "staff meal," priced at $9.95 and followed by the description "Eat what we eat!" Depending on the day, that might translate to chipotle-infused chili with ground sirloin or peppered hash with potatoes, red onion and cubes of prime rib -- dishes that chef-owner Michael Landrum actually cooks for his seven-person crew, before or after their shifts, and sometimes even serves to them. "I want everyone to know how it feels to be a guest" in his spare but welcoming 55-seat neighborhood restaurant, where the beef is all hand-cut and the bread and desserts are baked on site. Incidentally, the "Ray" in the title refers to Landrum, who acquired that nickname from a long-ago girlfriend and dusted it off to clever advantage when he quietly opened his steak house eight months ago. Entrees $9.95-$20.95.
MEALS WITHOUT MEAT: The Vegetarian Society of the District of Columbia is marking its 75th anniversary with a glossy brochure and map highlighting 75 tips for shopping and eating out, caterers, travel services and more around the Washington area. Among the restaurant suggestions are Sunflower in Vienna, Vegetable Garden in Rockville and Soul Vegetarian Restaurant in the capital. Businesses that aren't completely meat-free but offer vegetarian dishes are also listed; among those are the six branches of Hard Times Cafe (vegetarian chili), Allario's in College Park (deep-dish vegan pizza) and the three Teaism outlets (vegetarian bento box). This year's roster is the biggest ever, says Scott Williams, the society's newsletter editor, but by no means complete. "We hope the recommendations are a conversation-starter." Got a hot meat-free tip to share? Williams invites people to e-mail him at email@example.com. The free guide is available by calling 202-362-8349.
-- Tom Sietsema