The main draw of any steakhouse is, obviously, the steak. But just because customers are going to be dropping 70 bucks or more on a 22-ounce dry-aged ribeye doesn’t mean that the side dishes need to take a back seat. Thankfully, more and more steakhouses are elevating traditional sides to stratospheric heights these days, and we’ve tracked down where you can find the most delicious versions of 10 classic side dishes.
Macaroni and cheese, thick-cut bacon, fried potatoes, creamed corn, onion rings, shrimp cocktail, vegetables, creamed spinach, crab cakes, and homemade bread are all classic steak accompaniments served by many steakhouses, but if you’ve been to your fair share of steakhouses you know that their quality can vary wildly. Macaroni and cheese can be greasy and flavorless, creamed spinach can be a gloopy mess, crab cakes can be more mayo and bread crumbs than crab. But among the middling masses, there are some very bright lights.
Excellent side dishes tend to come as a pleasant surprise to diners, who aren’t usually accustomed to a truly delicious creamed spinach, for example, but they’re becoming more and more commonplace these days. Some steakhouse chefs are using the “Sides” section of the menu to flex their creative muscles a bit, using it as a venue for some unexpected twists, like gnocchi in Parmesan cream sauce or charred broccoli with miso butter, but for the most part, when you order a side dish at a steakhouse you know exactly what you’re getting to get. Whether it’ll be the best you’ve ever had? Not so obvious.
So read on to learn which steakhouses from across the country serve the absolute best versions of ten classic steakhouse sides. Order any of these, and you can rest assured that you’ll be getting something that some real thought and care went into; throwaways these aren’t. Steakhouses pay so much attention to making sure their steaks are as good as can be, so why not the sides as well?
The macaroni and cheese at Charleston’s legendary Oak Steakhouse is second-to-none. It’s made with an assortment of cheeses and creamy béchamel sauce, is topped off with breadcrumbs and served in its own ramekin, and – oh, yeah – is loaded with bacon.
Yelp/ Laura Z.
While it may be listed as “Canadian bacon” on the menu, the thick slabs of bacon served at this New York institution are as American as it gets. Huge, super-lean, and cooked in the same broilers as the steak, these bad boys can be meals unto themselves.
We could spend all day breaking down the different types of potatoes served as steakhouse sides – fries, mashed, German potatoes, Lyonnaise, au gratin – but instead we’re giving a shoutout to the one steakhouse potato dish that tops them all. Served at the Strip House, chef David Walzog’s Crisp Goose-Fat Potatoes is the king of potato dishes. Fine-diced potatoes are combined with herb-infused goose fat, then tightly packed, baked, allowed to cook, then baked again while being basted with more goose fat. It’s rich, crispy, creamy, and everything you look for in a potato dish.
To make this stunning creamed corn, Killen’s Steakhouse purees sautéed corn with milk and cream that’s been infused with corn cobs, adds in more corn that’s been sautéed in butter and spices, lets it simmer until it’s thick and rich, then broils it in a hot oven with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s simple, creamy, corny perfection.
Yelp/ Ben D.
If you’re looking for great steakhouse onion rings, look no further than New York’s Time Warner Center, home to chef Michael Lomonaco’s Porter House. His buttermilk onion rings are golden brown and delicious, light and crispy, and don’t fall apart as you’re eating them.
The shrimp cocktail served at this Indianapolis institution, unchanged since the 1930s, is nothing short of legendary. The shrimp are big and fresh, and the cocktail sauce is bold, spicy, and absolutely loaded with horseradish. Shrimp cocktail is usually nothing special, but when a restaurant is renowned for it, you know they’ve got something great on their hands.
Every steakhouse serves vegetables, usually simply steamed or roasted, but no restaurant does vegetables quite like this Wine Country landmark. Chef Frank Ostini grills all his meats over an open fire of red oak, and the vegetables here get the same treatment, with spectacular results. But the most popular vegetable side here is his grilled artichokes. To make them, steamed and trimmed artichokes are placed on the grill; basted with a mixture of butter, olive oil, white wine, and lemon juice; and served with a spicy smoked tomato mayonnaise. It’s insanely delicious.
The creamed spinach recipe used at Morton’s steakhouse locations is just about perfect. It’s a fairly traditional recipe, but it’s the execution that puts it over the top. To make it, onion and garlic are sautéed in butter; salt, pepper, and nutmeg are added; flour is mixed in to create a roux; half and half is blended in; and chopped spinach is added. It’s the Platonic ideal of creamed spinach.
Crab cakes have made their way onto many steakhouse menus, and today they have the odd distinction of being a staple of both Baltimore harborside dives and high-end steakhouses. No matter, they’re delicious, but they’re really easy to mess up. The ones served at this Chicago institution are renowned. There are no frills here, just a whole lot of high-quality crab meat, some bread crumbs and mayo to hold it all together, and a few secret herbs and spices. But no visit to the restaurant is complete without getting an order, and no brunch there is complete without sampling the crab cake Benedict.
The bread basket is a steakhouse staple, and if the bread is made in-house that’s even better. But at BLT Steak, they’re one-upping the competition by serving fresh-made gruyere-topped popovers, still hot from the oven. They’re the perfect way to start your meal at a restaurant that's right up there with America's best steakhouse chains.
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