RT’s Restaurant – A slice of the Big Easy In Alexandria
By the Gastronomes
With Mardi Gras falling in February and Fat Tuesday on March 1st, we decided it was time to feature one of Alexandria’s unique restaurants…RT’s Louisiana style restaurant – quoting their tagline – “Serving the best Creole and Cajun food outside of Louisiana”. Located in the Del Ray area of Alexandria, these folks have been providing unique dining experiences to the DC area for over 30 years. RT’s has a habit of being frequented by celebrities and politicians as well as famous musicians who perform nearby at the Birchmere.
RT’s has always been noted for their authentic southern flavor and spectacular seafood and has been named one of the Top 50 Southern Restaurants in the Country chosen from Open Table’s list of over 27,000 restaurants by Forbes Magazine. This restaurant has been a fixture on Washingtonian Magazine’s “Top 100 Restaurants” list in the metropolitan area and is one of the highest rated seafood restaurants in the nationally acclaimed “Zagat Survey”.
RT’s is a casual dining spot that also has a large bar for enjoying a fine cocktail at the end of the workday. The floor is laid out with booths for 4 in the bar area with an adjoining dining room. There is also a separate dining room for overflow or special parties. There is street parking and also lots of free parking across the street in the shopping center lot.
The menu features many Creole and Cajun specialties including Jack Daniel’s Shrimp, Spicy She-Crab Soup, Cajun Veal Oscar and their popular Crawfish Etouffee. In addition to their extensive menu they also offer specials each day.
Local Alexandrian’s Maria and George Christou purchased the restaurant from founder Ralph Davis two years ago. Not unfamiliar to the restaurant scene (Maria’s family owns a few other restaurants in Alexandria) Maria and George soldiered through the early stages of the pandemic and have stayed the course of maintaining a first rate dining establishment.
I am going to highlight a few menu items in each category. If you want to see all they offer you can “like and follow” them on Facebook or check out their website.
All of the items on the appetizer menu come from the sea. They have the usual Oysters on the Half Shell followed by Crawfish & Shrimp Beignets. You can get Oysters Rockefeller, Bienville and Uggie or a combination of all three. Their specialty for over 36 years is “Jack Daniel’s” Shrimp with Jumbo Crabmeat. One of our favorites is the Acadian Peppered Shrimp – these are New Orleans Style “BBQ” head-on shrimp in a fantastic spicy butter sauce. They are a little messy to eat so a bowl of warm water with lemon and some fresh naps are served on the side! They also offer six different salads to which chicken, salmon, shrimp or steak strips can be added.
Their soups and gumbo are a lunch favorite of mine and include She Crab Soup (a popular choice of the regulars), Alligator Stew and Chicken & “Comeaux” Andouille Gumbo. These spicy delights come in a cup or bowl size…go for the bowl!
RT’s Specialties include “Death” by Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee, Spicy Crawfish Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp & Grits, Crab and Crawfish Imperial and RT’s Special Crab at Market Price.
Their seafood options run from Southern Fried Catfish, to Shellfish in Parchment, Trout Orleans, Baked Stuffed Jumbo Gulf Shrimp and All Lump Crab Cakes (they are famous for these).
Meats and Poultry include New Orleans Steak Frites, Steak “Jimmie”, Spicy Crusted Chicken and Cajun Veal Oscar.
Your meal begins with a basket of some great – crusty on the outside, fresh and soft on the inside – bread and butter, which is a nice touch since it’s really good to have on hand to soak up that extra sauce you end up with from your entrée.
On our recent trip I ordered an all-time favorite, Stuffed Flounder. First off, the flounder was meaty and flaky and cooked just right. The stuffing of backfin crabmeat and crawfish imperial added a nice contrast. The crabmeat was light and succulent while the crawfish was tender and added a different flavor. Now, if you like rich food this place is for you. The flounder is bathed in a crab butter cream sauce and costs less than $25.00. I will also say that the portions are hearty along with their signature Cajun-style rice. My dining partner stayed true to form and ordered the red beans and rice with andouille sausage grilled to perfection. This item was on the pre-Covid bar menu so isn’t currently listed on the main menu but it is available at both lunch and dinner. She is a red beans and rice fanatic and RT’s measures up to any she has had in New Orleans. She is also fond of their corn maque choux. You can order it on the side.
We had to opt out on dessert on this trip since we were taking leftovers home but they have a nice selection that includes some incredible key lime pie and a creole bread pudding (their version has crushed pineapple, raisins, pecans and is served warm with Bailey’s Irish Cream toffee sauce and chantilly whipped cream) that are worth saving room for. Needless to say, don’t bother to count calories when you decide on a dessert here.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the full service bar and the availability of some New Orleans classics like the Hurricane. They also have nice beer and wine lists. There is something available for every cocktail palate.
The restaurant is all decked out for Mardi Gras and is waiting for you to come in and celebrate all month long – Laissez les bons temps rouler!
3804 Mount Vernon Ave