America’s 50 Best Steakhouses 2014
March 27, 2015
Love a good steak? Then these shrines to meat should be on your list
America’s Best Steakhouses
From grand Las Vegas carnivore temples helmed by world-famous chefs to old-school Middle-American chophouses where a ribeye is preceded by a visit to the salad bar, from clubby Chicago dining rooms loaded with mahogany and brass to New York institutions with now-household names, America has no shortage of great steakhouses. These are the 50 best.
#50 Benny's Chop House, Chicago
Yelp/ Nishan P
This steakhouse has a lived-in feel even though it’s only four years old, thanks to owner Benny Siddu’s classy and classic approach that still has an eye for the modern. The wine list is one of the city’s best, and USDA Prime steaks come in three varieties: dry-aged, wet-aged, and all-natural hormone-free steaks from a private farm in Arizona.
#49 Riverfront Steakhouse, North Little Rock, Ark.
Yelp/ minhtastic P
An Arkansas gem, Riverfront may not look like much (it’s tucked in next to a Benihana inside a hotel), but don’t be fooled: the steaks here are USDA Prime and darn good. The 30-item salad bar is old-school and well-stocked, baked potatoes are the size of your head, and the 24-ounce porterhouse (the top seller) is, like all the steaks, heavily salted and peppered, seared in an infrared broiler, basted in butter, then placed back in the broiler to crisp up the crust. And with steaks ranging from $25.95 to $44.95, it’s nothing short of a steal.
#48 Oak Steakhouse, Charleston, S.C.
Chef Jeremiah Bacon, who’s spent time in kitchens including New York’s Le Bernardin and Per Se, might have a porky last name, but beef is the star of the show at his Charleston steakhouse. The dry-aged certified Angus steaks come sizzling on a hot platter (with local shrimp compound butter on top), and while the steak, including a Prime bone-in rib-eye and a New York strip, is certainly the menu’s centerpiece, Bacon brings a farm-to-table approach to the entire menu with standout dishes like housemade charcuterie, pan-seared sea scallops with smoked grapefruit purée, and a daily rotating seafood selection depending on what’s available at the market that morning.
#47 Jess & Jim’s, Kansas City, Mo.
In a town known for great steak, 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 no pomp, and all steak. The beef is from Wichita-based Sterling Silver, and is hand-cut daily (trimmings are ground into meat for world-class burgers). It’s served completely seasoning-free, 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. Save room for the twice-baked potato.
#46 SW Steakhouse, Las Vegas
The “SW” in SW Steakhouse stands for hotel impresario Steve Wynn, and he’s put as much care into his eponymous steakhouse as he did the hotel it’s in. One of only a handful of restaurants in the U.S. that offers certified authentic Kobe beef, chef David Walzog sources his steaks and chops from top Midwestern ranchers, and his 42-ounce chile-rubbed double rib-eye is a true work of art.
#45 Costata, New York City
Yelp/ Richelle L
Costata translates to rib-eye in Italian, and at famed chef Michael White’s contemporary steakhouse concept, they’re a whopping 44 ounces. If you’d prefer your rib-eye smaller, there’s also a traditional bistecca Fiorentina (40 ounces). All steaks are 100-percent Black Angus and are aged for a minimum of 40 days, giving the steaks a funky minerality that your usual 28-day aged steaks don’t achieve. There’s also a wide selection of crudo and housemade pasta (this is a Michael White restaurant, after all), and if you want to complement your meal with some Petrossian caviar or Alba white truffles, they’ll be more than happy to oblige.
#44 Prime, Las Vegas
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Bellagio steakhouse is the textbook definition of sumptuous: richly upholstered chairs, Tiffany blue velvet curtains, commissioned artwork on the walls, and a stunning view of the famed Bellagio fountains. But it doesn’t stop there; executive chef Sean Griffin’s menu is chock-full of the finer things in life, from caviar to seared foie gras to dry-aged bone-in rib-eye to A5 Japanese Wagyu beef. And if you’re considering bringing along the little one, we advise against it; children under five aren’t permitted.
#43 M. Wells Steakhouse, New York City
French Canadians Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis are the brains behind M. Wells, which started as a (very) unconventional diner before morphing into a still-open “dinette” inside MoMA PS 1 and finally settling inside a converted auto body shop in Queens last November. Called an “assault on propriety” by Pete Wells, M. Wells Steakhouse turns the conventional steakhouse on its head, grilling meats over a wood fire, loading French onion soup with pork belly and bone marrow, and serving a tomahawk chop so big that threatens to topple your table, Flintstone-style. But that’s all a part of the fun when it comes to M. Wells, which very well might be the quirkiest steakhouse in the country.
#42 Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House, Dallas
Yelp/ Jim D
Richard Chamberlain — the chef, not the actor — opened this classy Texas meat emporium in 1993, and the place has thrived ever since. Unconventionally for a steakhouse, the appetizer lists includes such exotica as sweet potato soup with spiced almonds and maple mascarpone, lobster deviled eggs with caramelized bacon and chive cream, and crisp duck "cigars" with smoked cheese fondue and green chile salsa. But there are also 18 different steaks and chops (counting various sizes and sauces), from a six-ounce filet mignon to a ten-ounce American-raised Kobe New York strip, as well as some seafood choices, half a dozen salads (the baby iceberg with bacon, tomatoes, onions, and creamy blue cheese dressing is a classic), and a dozen-plus side dishes ranging from wild mushroom mac and cheese to Vermont Cheddar steak fries to crispy Brussels sprouts. If you go home hungry from Chamberlain's, you're just not trying.
#41 The Drover, Omaha, Neb.
Yelp/ Bobby Y
When you order your filet, sirloin, or rib-eye at The Drover, they soak it in a marinade made with whiskey and a handful of secret ingredients for 15 minutes before it hits the ripping hot grill, adding a whole lot of flavor. The Drover has been “whiskey-soaking” steaks for more than 40 years, and it’s one of the great old-school Omaha steakhouses. It’s also exactly what you’d expect an old Omaha steakhouse to be like: dark bar, dimly-lit dining room, old cowboy paraphernalia, and, yes, a salad bar. The menu is wonderfully no-frills: steaks, burgers, prime rib, fried shrimp, and pork chops are standouts, and every entrée comes with soup or salad and your choice of baked potato, fries, rice, or vegetables. If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned Omaha steakhouse, The Drover is it.
#40 Kevin Rathbun Steak, Atlanta
Located in up-and-coming Inman Park in a former Clorox factory, Kevin Rathbun’s steakhouse is part of an empire that also includes Rathbun’s and Krog Bar, all located on the same street. At his spacious, whimsically appointed steakhouse, Rathbun serves steakhouse classics like escargots, seafood towers, dry-aged porterhouse for two and three, a 22-ounce cowboy rib-eye, and 16-ounce New York strips, but there’s also a wide selection of items that you don’t see on most steakhouse menus, like Coca-Cola baby back pork ribs, eggplant fries, lobster fritters, ahi tuna poke, and Asian-style meatballs. If you go twice, order whatever you like. But if you go once, get the steak; we’d recommend that cowboy rib-eye.
#39 Oliver's Prime, Los Angeles
Yelp/ Veronica R
Intimate, sleek, and sexy, Oliver’s is everything you’d expect from a Sunset Boulevard steakhouse, and the newly opened spot is already making its mark on L.A.’s steakhouse scene. Chef Greg Elkin serves a fun menu of appetizers including house-cured pork belly, an impressive burger topped with Brie, fried onions, and green peppercorn aioli; beef from Creekstone Farms; and bison filet from Wyoming’s Durham Ranch. The New York strip and porterhouse for two are aged for 35 days, and are among the finer steaks you’ll find in Los Angeles.
#38 Sparks, New York City
Yelp/ Alex C
It's been almost 30 years since Gambino Family crime boss Paul Castellano and an associate were shot to death outside Sparks, but martini-swilling first-times can still be heard here joking about preferring to sit in "the no-shooting section." Well, never mind. Sparks is a great old-fashioned steakhouse in the classic Manhattan style. The atmosphere is unmistakably masculine, the service is friendly-brusque, the wine list is an anthology of California cabernet sauvignons, red Burgundies and Bordeaux, and other reds, plus a decent selection of whites, at prices that are often very fair.
#37 Red PrimeSteak, Oklahoma City
This OKC must-visit is where locals go when they’re looking for a hip and high-end experience, and it certainly delivers. The space is stylish and swanky with 18-foot ceilings and concrete floors, and the red lighting gives everything a surreal glow. As for the food, steaks are dry-aged for 40 days, and each one comes with your choice of seven crusts (including garlic herb, guajillo chile, and brown sugar and sea salt) and seven sauces (including brandy mushroom, roasted poblano chimichurri, and black truffle butter). There are plenty of possibilities, and you’ll want to return again and again to try them all.
#36 Osso Steakhouse, San Francisco
A zig-zagging white and black floor and ample Art Deco touches greet you upon entering Osso, and this Nob Hill newcomer takes its steaks very seriously. How seriously? Steaks are “dry-aged four to six weeks in a large, specialized facility that provides a sanitized and closely monitored environment; the temperature must be maintained at 33-34 degrees (F), the humidity must be precisely 82%, and there must also be a constant air flow of fifteen feet per second around the open meat at all times, all of which takes place under the watchful eye of a highly-skilled butcher.” And if you order the porterhouse, the filet and strip are separated and cooked separately to ensure they’re both perfect. Make sure you save room for the Dungeness crab from Fisherman's Wharf; they’re served whole with garlic sauce.
#35 Mr. B’s, Milwaukee
Paul Bartolotta is a renowned restaurateur, best known for his 20-year-old Bartolotta Ristorante on the Milwaukee outskirts, but he’s proven that he’s mastered the art of steak with his nearby Mr. B’s. At this classic Italian steakhouse, the steaks are aged for up to 35 days, and are flown in fresh from Nebraska or Colorado. Sit out on the patio and go for the 35-day aged Prime Colorado rib-eye; on a gorgeous night with the stars overhead, you just might think you’ve gone to carnivore heaven.
#34 Quality Meats, New York City
Yelp/ Catherine C
Surprises lurk around every corner at the richly detailed Quality Meats, where the warm wood and stainless steel-heavy design from award-winning firm AvroKO invokes an haute butcher shop. There’s something for everyone here, from a 64-ounce double rib steak to New England clam chowder, from baby back ribs to simply roasted halibut, but the dry-aged steaks certainly take center stage. Whatever you do, don’t miss the sides: the leftover pan-roasted crispy potatoes and corn crème brûlée will definitely be making their way into your doggie bag.
#33 St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis
Setting foot into St. Elmo is like stepping back in time, to 1902 to be exact. The saloon-style décor hasn’t changed save for a '90s-era expansion, and neither has the menu: there’s a wide selection of wet-aged steaks and chops, surf and turf, a classic shrimp cocktail with sinus-clearing cocktail sauce and saltines, a wedge salad, and a loaded baked potato, all served with the professionalism you’d expect from a place that’s been doing it for more than 100 years (one waiter has been on-staff since 1976). St. Elmo is steakhouse-meets-comfort food, an inviting place where time really stands still. That commitment to keeping the past alive doesn’t mean that quality suffers, however; the menu proudly displays the names of 17 local sources for the food served.
#32 Gorat’s, Omaha, Neb.
When Warren Buffett regularly holds court in your restaurant, you know you’ve got a keeper. That’s the case at Omaha landmark Gorat’s, which has been going strong since 1944. It remained in the Gorat family until 2012, when it was purchased and given a renovation, but the quality and preparation of the steak (which comes from — where else? — Omaha Steaks) is as good as ever. For the true Buffett experience, do as he does and order the T-bone, rare, with a double order of hash browns and a Cherry Coke.
#31 St. Anselm, Brooklyn, N.Y.
This game-changing steakhouse shook up New York’s dining scene when it opened in trendy Williamsburg back in 2011, and the simple and perfect grilled and sliced butcher’s steak (you probably know it as hanger steak) was named the city’s best by New York Magazine in 2012. It’s still the most popular item on the menu (which also includes a shoulder blade lamb chop, bourbon brined center-cut pork chop, roasted bone marrow, and a stellar classic patty melt), and — oh, yeah! — it only costs $15. If you haven’t been, go, but be prepared to wait.
#30 John Howie Steak, Seattle
Yelp/ Linda M
Omaha USDA Prime steaks at this classy, classic, and comfortable Bellevue steakhouse are aged for 28, 35, or 42 days, and are grilled over mesquite coals, lending a charred smokiness. The rest of the menu is both classic and unique: foie gras “bacon and eggs” and tempura-fried Kurobuta bacon shares menu space with tableside beef tartare and Caesar salad, classic French onion soup, and filet mignon “Oscar.” There’s one additional thing that sets John Howie apart from the pack: if you’d rather buy your steak raw and cook it at home, they’ll let you take it to go with seasoning and cooking instructions.
#29 Porter House New York, New York City
Yelp/ Alicia C
One of the better "chef's steakhouses" around, this warmly furnished Time Warner Center restaurant, with its romantic views of Central Park, lets culinary veteran Michael Lomonaco have fun with a meaty menu whose choices range from roasted beef marrow bones with toast and filet mignon steak tartare to grilled skirt steak with Argentine chimichurri sauce and chili-rubbed 45-day-aged Brandt ribeye. Homemade kettle-cooked potato chips are among the ample side dish options, and there are plenty of good wines on offer.
#28 Alexander's Steakhouse, San Francisco
Yelp/ Darin L
This SOMA steakhouse (with a second location in Cupertino) is unique and exciting, with plenty of Japanese influence, and every item is impeccably sourced. Where else can you find Wagyu beef from an astounding 11 different farms sharing a menu with uni toast, pastrami beef cheek, and veal sweetbreads with scallop, yellow wax bean, and braised tendon? If you’re not feeling particularly adventurous, there are plenty of traditional offerings as well, from dry-aged T-bone to a 20-ounce prime rib.
#27 Jar, Los Angeles
Owner-chef Suzanne Tracht calls her stylish restaurant a "modern American chophouse" though such decidedly non-chop items as lemongrass chicken, roasted salmon, and coq au vin share the entrée list along with a sliced prime skirt steak, a 35-ounce porterhouse for two, and other steaks (with a char siu pork chop added, perhaps to justify the restaurant's motto). Tracht's appetizers are particularly nice, among them Asian pear and Belgian endive salad, Dungeness crab and shrimp cakes, and fried Ipswich clams.
#26 Gene & Georgetti, Chicago
The poet Carl Sandburg called Chicago the "Hog Butcher for the World" — but its famous stockyards were long known as a source of great beef, too, and since 1941 this old-style Italian-flavored steakhouse (start your meal with Italian sausage and peppers, minestrone, or fried ravioli) has done beef proud. The steaks are broiled and dependably good; the bone-in filet mignon is not to be missed. A huge choice of non-steak items, including more than a dozen pastas and a fair amount of fish, is also served.
#25 Stripsteak, Las Vegas
Chef Michael Mina’s first steakhouse, this swanky and sophisticated bar and dining room is anything but stuffy. The menu seamlessly combines the new and the traditional, with offerings ranging from a shellfish platter and Caesar salad to Maine lobster fritters, crispy foie gras dumplings, and a dish that pairs American and Australian Wagyu. Steaks (both Angus and Wagyu) as well as seafood and foie gras are cooked on a wood-burning grill, and there are more than 100 scotches to wash it all down with.
#24 Murray’s, Minneapolis
If you’re looking for a classic steakhouse experience and happen to be in the Twin Cities, drop into the recently renovated Murray’s, which has been going strong since 1946. Opened by Art and Marie Murray, the restaurant is still in the family, and many of Marie’s old recipes are still used. Their famed "Silver Butter Knife Steak for Two," a 28-ounce strip loin carved tableside, is one of the country’s great monuments to a well-made steak. Thankfully, the renovation didn’t do away with any of the restaurant’s classic charm (although it thankfully replaced the banquet hall-style pink drapes and chairs), and the classic neon sign is right where it’s always been.
#23 Bogie's Place, Boston
Yelp/ patrick m
Dining at this diminutive 20-seat steakhouse, which is without signage and hidden away inside burger joint JM Curley, is an experience unto itself; more a private party than a restaurant. A sign reading “Adults Only. Please No Cell Phone Use.” adorns the entrance, and these rules aren’t arbitrary. Inside you’ll find power brokers eating caviar, foie gras, and 30-day dry-aged New York strips, ensconced in comfortable booths amidst jazz and wine-colored walls. Bogie would have definitely felt right at home here.
#22 Christos, New York City
Yelp/ Reginald M
This Mediterranean-influenced casual steakhouse has been hiding in plain sight in Astoria, Queens for years, and a 2006 makeover pushed it into the upper echelons of New York steak. What’s so special about it? Well, the steak. Aged for 21 days in their own dry-aging room, charbroiled at 1200 degrees, and finished with sea salt and dried Greek oregano, these filets, rib-eyes, New York strips, and porterhouses are works of art. Lovers of Greek food will also have plenty to rave about, including saganaki, charred octopus, and classic Greek salad.
#21 Perini Ranch, Buffalo Gap, Texas
Perini Ranch proprietor Tom Perini is a living legend in Texas, where his eponymous ranch, steakhouse, and guest quarters are Buffalo Gap (population 463)’s claim to fame. A master of cowboy cuisine, his burger is the stuff of legend (and one of America’s best), and the Angus steaks — seasoned with a proprietary rub and grilled over mesquite coals — are well worth the trek. Thankfully, you can purchase that rub (as well as an entire mesquite-smoked peppered beef tenderloin) online.
#20 Red, Miami and Cleveland
With two locations in Cleveland and one in Miami, Red is stylish, classy, and just about everything you look for in a steakhouse. Steaks are certified Angus and there are plenty of traditional classics like oysters, French onion soup, and shrimp cocktail, but you’ll also find unique offerings like a free-range veal chop stuffed with foie gras, mushrooms, and fontina as well as Italian options like lobster fra diavolo and linguine with clam sauce. High-rollers, take note: If you want to top your steak with seared foie gras with black truffle demi-glace, nobody will stop you.
#19 Keens, New York City
Since 1885, this New York institution has done one thing, and done it really, really well: steak. Perfectly charred steaks and chops are served in this shrine to old New York, which is spread over two floors and three townhouses. Before you’re even served your expertly cooked, gigantic dry-aged sirloin, filet mignon, prime rib, porterhouse for two, or porterhouse for three, have a look around. There’s memorabilia from more than 100 years of New York history, including playbills, political cartoons, and photographs, as well as a collection of more than 50,000 pipes, from back when regulars, including Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt, would store theirs there. If you go once, try the steak. If you go twice, try the famous mutton chop, a 26-ounce lamb saddle that’s nearly two inches thick and dates back to the restaurant’s earliest days.
#18 Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, New Orleans
This French Quarter power-broker staple is located in a clubby, basement-level space, and is a regular hangout for the city’s wheelers and dealers and high-rollers. With a swanky bar and six private dining rooms, Dickie Brennan’s serves USDA Prime steaks with a creative New Orleans twist; the six-ounce House Filet is topped with fried oysters and béarnaise sauce, the Barbecue Rib-Eye is topped with Abita beer barbecue shrimp, and any steak can be topped with jumbo lump crabmeat or Danish blue cheese. That’s not to say that you should avoid unadorned steaks; the 16-ounce strip is seared in a cast-iron skillet, and just might be New Orleans’ finest steak.
#17 Craftsteak, Las Vegas
Part of TV star and famously good cook Tom Colicchio's ever-growing Craft empire, the clubby steakhouse centers its menu around eight different steaks, mostly dry-aged Angus, variously grilled or roasted, and also offers a wide choice of both domestic and Japanese Wagyu (an eight-ounce Japanese A5 Wagyu New York strip will set you back $260). More than 20 side dishes are served, including five different servings of mushrooms — a great accompaniment to good meat.
#16 CarneVino, Las Vegas
Powerhouse restaurant duo Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich + steak + Vegas = greatness. CarneVino, their temple to all things beef in The Palazzo Hotel & Casino, pulls out all the stops, aging their beef for 30 to 60 days (and in some cases, more than a year — yes, there’s a section of the menu titled "Riserva"), and these steaks can compete with any other offering, anywhere. This "super prime" beef is developed especially for Batali and Bastianich’s restaurant group, and — oh, yeah — this is a Batali restaurant after all, so the pastas and other menu items certainly don’t get short shrift.
#15 Metropolitan Grill, Seattle
Yelp/ Maria C
Metropolitan Grill hails itself as “the best steak in town,” and you’d be hard-pressed to argue with that. Located inside a historic building dating to 1903, Metropolitan Grill has all the trappings of a classic and upscale steakhouse: large mahogany doors, a tuxedo-clad maître d’, cuts of beef on display, soaring ceilings, crown moldings, oversized booths, and plenty of brass and mahogany. But don’t let the pretension fool you: the focus here is on the beef. Chef Eric Hellner sources the Prime steak from Double R Ranch in Washington State, and it’s all custom dry-aged, seasoned with a proprietary spice mix, and seared over hot mesquite charcoal. The 60-foot black marble bar is a jewel (don’t miss the award-winning martinis) and the wine list has received Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence.”
#14 Harris', San Francisco
Yelp/ Oscar B
Dark woods, potted palms, chandeliers, bookshelves, and deep Chesterfield-style booths immediately let you know that Harris' Steakhouse, a San Francisco landmark since 1984, means business. Dry-aged steaks are sourced from the Midwest’s best farms and butchered in-house, and popular dishes include the Harris Steak (a thick-cut bone-in strip), prime rib, and classic Steak Diane. Start your meal off right with a martini and Gulf prawn cocktail, and strap in for a timeless steakhouse experience.
#13 BOA Steakhouse, Los Angeles
Yelp/ Cesar R
With locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, BOA is bold, colorful, and modern to the max. Steaks include a 40-day dry-aged New York strip and a 21-day dry-aged rib-eye, and all are served with your choice of rubs and sauces. But the offerings don’t stop there: the seafood platter is legendary, there’s a wide selection of seafood, and the tableside steak tartare is about as classic as it gets.
#12 Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, Chicago
If you were to close your eyes and try to imagine what a 24-year-old steakhouse in downtown Chicago called Gibsons would be like, you’d probably hit the nail right on the head: red leather booths, wood paneling, martinis, high rollers, flawless service, giant steaks, and lobster tails. The USDA Prime steak served here is second to none, and the old-fashioned menu of steakhouse classics includes spicy lobster cocktail in a steamed artichoke, wedge salad, and classic cuts of beef including a few uncommon ones, like a bone-in filet mignon, London broil Bordelaise with roasted bone marrow, and the 22-ounce W.R’s Chicago Cut, a mammoth bone-in rib-eye. If you’re looking to dine here, make sure you call well in advance; reservations are hard to come by. And while the website states that jeans are okay, we’d advise wearing something a little more suited to the upscale surroundings.
#11 Pacific Dining Car, Los Angeles
This L.A. classic, open in its original downtown location since 1921 (there is a newer offshoot in Santa Monica), serves prime dry-aged corn-fed beef in eight or nine cuts, with various accompaniments (including a choice of six sauces), along with the usual steakhouse offerings of shrimp cocktail, various salads, and pretty good seafood. The "baseball cut," a particularly thick slab of aged top sirloin, is the apotheosis here. The wine list is a knockout, full of trophy bottles with names like Opus One and Penfolds Grange, but also a number of very drinkable choices that mere mortals can afford.
#10 Killen’s Steakhouse, Pearland, Texas
Even though it might look like a roadhouse from the outside, once you set foot inside the surprisingly elegant Killen’s Steakhouse you’ll know that you’re in for a world-class steakhouse experience. Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Ronnie Killen opened the restaurant in the outskirts of Houston in 2006, and it’s since been hailed as one of the top steakhouses in the state by innumerable publications. It’s one of the few restaurants in the country that has separate menu sections for wet-aged and dry-aged steaks, which are sourced from Allen Brothers in Chicago and Strube Ranch in Pittsburg, Texas, and options include a 34-ounce dry-aged long bone-in rib-eye, a Mishima center-cut filet, and even a chicken-fried sirloin. As another nod to the Lone Star State, the menu also includes fried chicken, jumbo fried Gulf shrimp, and smoked pork and black-eyed pea gumbo. Be sure to save room for the crème brûlée bread pudding, which Food & Wine Magazine named one of the top 10 dishes in the United States in 2008.
#9 Bazaar Meat, Las Vegas
Having conquered Spanish cuisine both traditional and avant-garde, the cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, historical American fare, and both the Mexican-Chinese and Chinese-Peruvian idioms, what was the ceaselessly energetic José Andrés going to tackle next? Hmmmm. How about, oh, I don't know, meat? At his latest Sin City venture, Andrés includes plenty of Spanish tastes as well as an extensive raw bar and "meat from the sea" (fish to you), but while pedants might argue that this isn't exactly a steakhouse, the focus is appropriately meaty. A menu of carpaccio, tartares, cured meats, and, yes, serious beef rib steaks from California, Oregon, and Washington, including a chateaubriand from the Golden State's Brandt Beef, served with truffle sauce and pommes soufflés, Bazaar Meat can provide pretty much all the meat you need when you're out on the town.
#8 Bavette's Bar & Boeuf, Chicago
Yelp/ Alex Y
This warm and welcoming steakhouse is the opposite of stuffy, a breath of fresh air in a town that’s full of leather and mahogany. Dark and romantic, the menu is fun and tongue-in-cheek (a slightly-dated baked goat cheese appetizer claims that it’s “circa 1992,” and there are a whole host of non-traditional steakhouse menu items, like fried chicken, meatloaf, and stellar garlic shrimp. But don’t be fooled: the steak here is out of this world. Order the Prime dry-aged 22-ounce bone-in rib-eye, and prepare to be wowed.
#7 Cattleman’s Steakhouse, Fabens, Texas
In Texas, it’s all about the cattle, and you can’t get much closer to the source than at Cattleman’s Steakhouse, just outside El Paso. For 40 years, owner Dieter Gerzymisch has been purchasing fresh meat daily from local ranches and portioning it out on the premises, and it goes without saying that the menu is all about meat, meat, and more meat. There’s the top sirloin, New York strip, filet, and rib-eye, each weighing in at 10 ounces, and then come The Wagon Master, a 1¼-pound T-bone, The Cowgirl, a 1½-pound T-bone, and finally, The Cowboy, a full two pounds of T-bone goodness. Each steak comes with a baked potato, beans, coleslaw, bread, butter, and sour cream, just in case you’re still hungry. Yeah, it may be a little kitschy with its Wild West theme and gift shop, but when it comes to steak, Cattleman’s is the real deal.
#6 Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, Oklahoma City
Not to be confused with Cattleman’s Steakhouse down in Texas or any of the other restaurants with the same name across the country, this 103-year-old gem is Oklahoma City’s oldest continually operating restaurant, and is located right in the heart of the city’s famed Stockyards City. The no-frills temple to the noble steer is as popular with cowboy-hatted locals as it is with former President George H. W. Bush when he’s in town, and one look at what’s on everybody’s plate — beef, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — will tell you what this place is all about, as will the giant illuminated photo of grazing cattle along the back wall. The beef here is sourced locally, aged "according to a closely guarded house secret," the website says, portioned out on-premises, broiled under an intense charcoal fire, and served with natural jus. Go for the T-bone after your appetizer of lamb fries (don’t be afraid, they’re good), and finish it off with a slice of homemade pie. Now that’s a country steak dinner we can love.
#5 Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Dallas and Houston
If you’re in Dallas or Houston and you find yourself in need of a perfect steak, a red leather booth, wood-paneled walls, and a wine list that boasts about 2,300 options, head over to Pappas Bros. At this temple to beef, which has repeatedly been lauded as one of the state’s best restaurants since it opened in 1976, the meat is dry-aged in-house, and served bone-in or bone-out. There’s something for everyone, from a 40-ounce Porterhouse carved tableside down to an eight-ounce filet mignon, with stops along the way including an 18-ounce bone-in New York strip and a rib-eye of Texas Akaushi Kobe beef. They’re seasoned with just salt and pepper and finished with some butter, and the entire experience is about as classic steakhouse as you’re likely to find.
#4 Barclay Prime, Philadelphia
Sure, this Stephen Starr steakhouse on Rittenhouse Square might boast a selection of as many as seven different steak knives and a $100 Wagyu rib-eye and foie gras cheesesteak that comes with a half-bottle of Perrier-Jouët, but that doesn’t mean it’s gimmicky. Described as a "luxury boutique steakhouse" on its website, the restaurant replaces red leather with green and yellow suede, a clubby soundtrack, and slightly incongruous crystal chandeliers. While the setting is undoubtedly twenty-first-century, the menu is as classic as can be: steaks are dry-aged for 28 days, and their rib-eye, from Gachot & Gachot, is arguably the best steak in the city, with world-class service to boot. Don’t forget to order the shrimp cocktail; these monsters come four to a pound.
#3 Bern’s, Tampa, Fla.
Don’t come to Bern’s if you're on a diet; Bern's is about wonderful excess. There are 20 kinds of caviar on the menu of this big, old-style, legendary establishment; also two preparations of foie gras, two kinds of steak tartare (one with truffles), oysters three ways, endless varieties of fish and shellfish, 16 different cheeses both domestic and imported, nearly 50 desserts (including gluten- and sugar-free varieties) — served upstairs in a special dessert room — and a list of about 7,000 wines (5,500 of them red). Oh, and did we mention steaks? Seven different cuts, in a total of 51 different sizes (from 6 ounces of filet mignon to 60 ounces of strip sirloin), broiled to eight different temperatures, from very rare ("no crust, cold and raw") to, gulp, well-done ("sturdy little crust, no color, no juice, dried out"). Come hungry.
#2 Peter Luger, New York City
When you sit down at your table at the perpetually packed Peter Luger, located in an off-the-beaten-path corner of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, don’t ask for a menu. Just order the tomato and onion salad, some thick-cut bacon, creamed spinach, hash browns, and the steak for three, a massive porterhouse, broiled under extreme heat before being sliced and presented on a platter. Sure, the waitstaff might be a bit gruff in this surprisingly casual German-styled old steakhouse that’s been here since 1887, but that’s all a part of the show. The star attraction, the steak, is the best you’ll find in New York City. It’s dry-aged and butchered on-premises, and when it’s presented, in all its crusty, well-marbled, beefy glory, your jaw will drop. Use the house steak sauce to douse the onions and tomatoes (don’t let it anywhere near the steak), and be prepared to drop a wad of cash on the table before leaving — no credit cards accepted here, big spender.
#1 CUT, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Wolfgang Puck helped invent California cuisine (and gave us California-style pizza) at Spago, pioneered Asian fusion food at Chinois on Main, and even figured out a way to produce decent airport food at his many Wolfgang Puck Express outlets, so we shouldn't be surprised that he has also reinvented the steakhouse, with CUT in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (there are now spin-offs in Las Vegas, London, and Singapore). The traditional red leather booths and bucolic paintings have given way to a cool white interior by rationalist architect Richard Meier and a series of pieces by conceptual artist John Baldessari. In place of iceberg wedges and grilled swordfish, look for warm veal tongue with baby artichokes and roast Maine lobster with black truffle sabayon. Oh, and the steaks? Not the usual four or five choices, but a total of 17 cuts and places of origin, from Australian filet mignon to Illinois bone-in New York sirloin to genuine Japanese Wagyu rib-eye from Miyazaki Prefecture. Puck has reinvented the steakhouse experience at CUT, and what he’s done is nothing short of mind-blowing.