The Daily Meal recently published our list of the Best Steakhouses in America for 2014, and in order to compile our ranking, we assembled a list of nearly 200 of the nation’s leading steakhouses, culled from pre-existing rankings by leading authorities both in print and online. To be as fair as possible, we excluded chains with more than a few locations, barred restaurants that don’t focus exclusively on steaks, and also did not consider ethnic steakhouses, like Brazilian churrascarias, were also left out since they form a category of their own. We then judged them according to strict criteria: Is the meat sourced reputably and USDA Choice or Prime? Is it as high-quality as can be, served at the proper temperature without fail and with just the right amount of ceremony? And, is it locally revered while simultaneously embodying a gastronomic destination for out-of-towners? We also took into consideration the overall steakhouse experience; the service must be top-notch, the attention to detail should be spot-on, and diners should feel compelled to sit back in their chair after their meal, pleasantly stuffed and content in the knowledge that they just enjoyed one of the best steaks they will ever have.
In Kansas City, Jess & Jim’s stands apart from the pack, and did so even before Calvin Trillin put it on the map in 1972, when he named it one of the country’s best steakhouses in Playboy. Family owned and operated since 1938, this no-frills, casual steakhouse is all about one thing and one thing only: steak. The beef is from Wichita-based Sterling Silver, and is hand-cut daily. It’s served without any seasoning whatsoever, all the better to taste the meat in its unadorned glory. You could go for the KC Strip, a cut that this restaurant helped to popularize, but you might as well go all out and order the Playboy Strip, named in honor of the publication that helped make this place famous, a 2-inch-thick, 25-ounce sirloin; make sure to save room for the twice-baked potato. The restaurant snagged the #47 spot in our compilation, and without any local competition mentioned on the list, it is unequivocally the best steakhouse in Kansas City.