America’s Best Steakhouses 2014
Jess & Jim's
From grand Las Vegas shrines helmed by world-famous chefs to old-school Midwestern chophouses where a rib-eye 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.
We’re lucky enough to live in a country that has more varieties of steakhouses (and restaurants in general) than previous generations could have ever imagined. There are the cavernous Wild West temples to beef where everyone’s wearing a Stetson; the power-broker-with-an-expense-account clubhouses; the joints that serve steak at the bar but don’t quite fall into the bar-and-grill category; and the modernist steakhouses that turn all these conventions on their head. All types of steakhouses are included in our ranking of America’s best.
The best steakhouses in America are places of worship built to honor the deceptively complex art of a perfectly cooked steak. Whether they're clad in red leather or plywood, décor is only one aspect of the overall steakhouse experience. When it comes down to it, it’s all about the steak. And from ripping-hot broilers to mesquite grills, these restaurants do it right.
To assemble our ranking of the best steakhouses in America (building on last year’s top 20), we started by compiling a list of nearly 200 of America’s leading steakhouses, culled from pre-existing rankings from leading authorities both in print and online. For the sake of fairness, we excluded chains with more than a few locations, like Capital Grille, Fleming's, and Smith & Wollensky. We also barred restaurants that don’t focus exclusively on steaks, such as San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib (prime rib is technically a roast, not a steak). 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 dry-aged, and if not, is it as high-quality as can be? Is it served at the proper doneness without fail and with a touch of ceremony? And is it revered by locals and out-of-towners alike? We also considered the overall steakhouse experience. No matter the setting, 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 ate one heck of a steak.
So journey with us to a fabled dining room on a ranch in a small Texas town (Perini Ranch), a Tampa legend with seven different cuts in 51 sizes and a 7,000-bottle wine list (Bern's), Las Vegas palaces run by the likes of Batali and Jean-Georges, a New York spot that’s famous for its steaks and infamous for a mob hit (Sparks), and everywhere in between on our quest to find the 50 best steakhouses in America.
#50 Benny's Chop House, Chicago
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.
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.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.