Open 11:30 to 11:30 Monday through Friday, 5 to 11:30 on Saturday. Closed Sunday. Credit cards accepted. Reservations for dinner only. Patrons in wheelchairs can be accommodated but should call ahead to make arrangements.
The commercial district around lower Connecticut Avenue doesn't exactly leap to mind if you're looking for a place to take the family for dinner. Many of its restaurants are watering holes or carry-out sandwich shops for inhabitants of the area's acres of office buildings, or they are chic (and pricey) little bistros.
On a recent evening around supper-time our family got off at a Metro stop in this neighborhood and cast about for a place to get a good meal at a good price. Shortly before starvation set in, we arrived at Christopher's Steaks Unlimited on 20th Street NW.
The host quickly seated us at a roomy booth at the back of the restaurant and produced two cocktails and two Shirley Temples in short order. Only when we had consumed a basket of rolls could we even contemplate our surroundings or the menu.
Nothing in Christopher's decor is particularly memorable, but its British pub atmosphere - dark "oak" bar and tables, English prints on the wall, dim lighting - produces a pleasant, cozy effect.
As the name implies, Christopher's is essentially a beef house wheree the food is simply cooked and the portions are substantial. The offerings are free of frills (no appetizers, for example) although some Greek dished have infiltrated the menu; the work, no doubt, of proprietor Christopher Petropolous.
The restaurant's strong point is that it serves remarkably good cuts of beef at remarkably uninflated prices.
One of the best deals is a thick 11-ounce sirioin, devoid of bone and fat, for $5.75. It was tender and cooked to order. Thinking this may have been a fluke, we tried this cut on a subsequent visit and found the quality to be the same.
One of our children put away an equally good half-pound steak that cost $4.50. The other one had London broll ($3.75), sliced sirloin in a mushroom sauce (that ranked higher than the usual gluey stuff served on this popular dish.
Having, of course, sampled everybody's else meal, my favorite was my own order - a nine-course sirloin nicely marinated in oil, vinegar, garlic, wine, onions, oregano and other spices used in Greek cooking. It arrived medium rare as I had requested, and the tab was $3.95.
All our dinners were served with the obligatory salads and potatoes (baked or French fried) which were adequate if unexciting.
Other beef dishes offered include souviaki (palain or marinated sirloin strips trolled on a skewer) for $3.95, a large strip steak for $3.25, steak and eggs for $4.25 and a "jumbo steak" sandwich with salad and French fries for $2.85.
Vegetarians can get a cheese omelet for $2.85, a chef's salad for $2.75 or christopher's special Greek salad for $2.95.
Christopher's does some honorable things like letting kids divide dinners, not raising prices between lunch and dinner and not mentioning on the menu that it happens to have cheesecake and pecan pie for dessert. With luck, you'll be too full to care by the time you discover this last fact.
Our bill, which included an order of onion rings, drinks, coffee and a piece of that cheesecake, came to $28.10. A family of four with more self-control could easily get away with a bill closer to $20.