#10 Shula’s from The Best High-End Steakhouse Chains in America
The Best High-End Steakhouse Chains in America
Steakhouses hold a special place in the hearts of American diners. They’re the restaurants we go to to celebrate birthdays, promotions, and other special occasions; they’re where high-rollers with expense accounts close the deal; and they’re a top choice whenever we’re looking to splurge. While there are wonderful independent steakhouses in every state, there are far more locations of high-end chain steakhouses, and today we’re honoring the very best.
There are two main varieties of steakhouse chains: casual and upscale. The first includes restaurants like Outback and Texas Roadhouse, and we named LongHorn the very best in a recent ranking. But the second category includes some of the most expensive and refined chains in existence — and these high-end chains are just as good as, if not sometimes better than, the 50 best independent steakhouses in America.
In order to compile our ranking, we assembled a list of all the steakhouses in America with five or more locations and graded them according to the variety of steaks on the menu, the sourcing and quality of the meat used (dry-aging is always a plus), the quality and variety of side dishes and other menu items, the quality and variety of the wine list, the décor, special promotions, and the overall dining experience.
A meal at a high-end steakhouse is an expensive undertaking, and all of these chains are working hard every day to make sure that your experience is worthy of the expense.
Founded by none other than former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula in Miami Lakes, Florida in 1989, Shula’s Steakhouse serves only Black Angus beef at their 10 locations nationwide. Their “SHULA CUT” steaks include two sizes of filet mignon, 16- or 20-ounce strips, a 22-ounce cowboy ribeye, and a 24- or 48-ounce porterhouse, and other options include prime rib, stone crabs in season, lamb porterhouse, and blackened sea scallops. While the wine list only contains a dozen or so bottles, it’s a dependable one. The décor of each restaurant varies with the city.
#9 The Palm
Even though The Palm has more than 20 locations in cities ranging from Los Angeles to Boston (as well as two in Mexico City), each outpost still retains that clubby, chummy atmosphere that made its original Manhattan location, which closed in 2015 after nearly 90 years in business, a New York City institution. In exchange for their meals when the original Palm opened, artists were invited to decorate the walls of the restaurant with cartoons and caricatures, and that tradition continues to this day; before each new location opens, the likenesses of more than 200 notable locals are painted onto the walls, with more added regularly. At the Palm, the steaks are USDA Prime, corn-fed, and aged for a minimum of 35 days. Offerings include a 9 or 14-ounce filet, a 14, 18, or 36-ounce New York strip, a 24-ounce bone-in ribeye, and double-cut lamb chops, and the rest of the menu is classic steakhouse all the way: carpaccio, crabmeat cocktail, bacon-wrapped scallops, whole lobsters, sustainable seafood shipped in daily, and a handful of classic Italian dishes like veal marsala and chicken parmigiana. The wine list is small but dependable, and features mostly Italian wines as well as ones from California.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar has nearly 70 locations in 28 states, and is the most upscale offering of parent company Bloomin’ Brands, which also owns Outback, Carraba’s, and Bonefish Grill. Never afraid to push boundaries, Fleming’s is constantly innovating, whether it’s by being the first upscale steakhouse to employ a digital wine list or by offering a Sunday and Monday prime rib dinner that’s become a smash hit. Steaks include three varieties of filet mignon, bone-in or boneless ribeyes and New York strips (as well as dry-aged ribeyes and strips), all cooked under a 1,600-degree and add-ons include truffled poached lobster, spicy shrimp and king crab with herb butter. The rest of the menu blends the creative with the traditional: seafood tower, baked brie, pan-crisped pork belly with goat cheese grits, lobster tempura, and double-thick pork rib chop are standouts. Their “Five Six Seven” happy hour is a great deal, and every Tuesday a three-course menu for two includes a 35-ounce Prime ribeye.
Founded in Chicago in 1978 and now with more than 70 locations in the US and abroad, Morton’s still buys its steaks from the same supplier as it did on day one. The Prime offerings include three ribeye varieties, two sizes of porterhouse, New York strip (available straight-up of peppercorn-rubbed), filet, and pork, lamb, and veal chops. Other menu items include mixed grills, braised short rib, crab legs, lobster, escargot, iceberg wedge, and all the other classics that you’d expect from a great steakhouse. For those with special dietary needs, they also offer menus for the gluten- and soy-sensitive. Each location offers at least 200 wines by the bottle, with some offering more than 500, and most locations employ a certified sommelier. If you’re looking for that classic Chicago steakhouse experience, Morton’s is it.
#6 Ruth's Chris
When Ruth Fertel purchased the failing Chris Steakhouse in New Orleans in 1965, she couldn’t have had any idea that her restaurant would turn into an empire, with the most locations (more than 130) and highest overall profit of any luxury steakhouse chain in America. Some might think that their trademark way of serving steaks – served on 500-degree plates in a pool of sizzling butter – is a little bit of a gimmick, but we beg to differ; it’s ballsy, diet-be-damned, a nod to the sense of excess that great steakhouses inspire, and (most importantly) delicious. Filet (in two sizes), ribeye (boneless or bone-in), T-bone, New York strips, and porterhouses for two are USDA-prime, and other dishes include fresh lobster (usually still in a tank in the lobby when you arrive), lamb chops, veal osso buco ravioli, and nods to New Orleans like shrimp remoulade and barbecued shrimp. Their wine list is expansive (with more than 200 bottles) and spans the world, and a stellar happy hour at the bar is one of the best offered by any chain restaurant.
Mastro’s was founded in Scottsdale in 1999, and today there are 17 locations nationwide. Plush and opulent, Mastro’s prides itself on excellent service and also offers live music at its locations on most nights. The far-reaching menu includes more than a dozen steaks and chops (all steaks are wet-aged), shellfish towers, king crab legs, creative sushi rolls, caviar, escargot, stone crabs when in season, and nearly 20 sides including king crab black truffle gnocchi, lobster mashed potatoes, and gorgonzola mac and cheese. The wine program is also a standout, as each location features at least 250 bottles.
Founded by Wolfgang Zwiener after spending 40 years as head waiter at Brooklyn’s renowned Peter Luger Steakhouse, Wolfgang’s has nine U.S. locations (including a Park Avenue flagship in New York) ten four in Asia, and its signature dish – the porterhouse – is a very faithful recreation of the one served at its progenitor. USDA Prime, dry-aged in-house, and cooked under a ripping-hot broiler, it’s served thick-sliced, sizzling, and perfectly-cooked. Other steaks include New York strip, ribeye, and filet mignon; the menu is small and focused (but still larger than Luger’s), with other dishes including lamb chops, grilled yellowfin tuna, sizzling Canadian bacon, lobster cocktail, the classic tomato and onion salad, and German potatoes. The California-heavy wine list is nicely-varied, and while there’s a masculine, clubhouse-type feel, it’s perfectly suited to the menu.
#3 Smith and Wollensky
A comparatively small chain with only 9 locations nationwide, Smith & Wollensky was founded in 1977 by Alan Stillman (best known for also founding TGI Friday’s) and business partner Ben Benson, and they famously named it using random surnames selected from the phone book. The silliness ends there, though: this chain takes its steaks very seriously. Behind its trademark green-and-white façade is a temple to beef, and it’s the only national chain to both butcher and dry-age its beef on-site. USDA prime and dry-aged for 28 days, the impressively wide variety of steaks include 10 variations on the filet (including coffee-and-cocoa rubbed, Oscar-style, and 16-ounce bone-in), 24-ounce Cajun-marinated, bone-in, and “long-bone” rib-eyes, a 21-ounce bone-in New York strip, and a 48-ounce porterhouse for two. The menu is pleasingly small – it’s really all about the steak – but other offerings include veal chop rib eye, shellfish towers, duck-fat-roasted root vegetables, and a famous split pea soup. Add on a 200-bottle-strong wine list and a touch of (not-unwelcome) New York attitude, and you’ve got a steakhouse that can go toe-to-toe with America’s best.
#2 Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Lavish and opulent, Del Frisco’s, with 16 locations around the country, is one gorgeous place to eat a steak. The meat here is wet-aged but there’s frequently a dry-aged steak or two as offered as a special. The menu includes three sizes of filet, two New York strips and ribeyes (16-ounce and bone-in 22-ounce), a 24-ounce porterhouse, as well as a veal porterhouse and chop. The menu is ideal for those who are looking to splurge, with caviar and giant shellfish platters at the ready, and sides including king crab gnocchi, lobster mac and cheese, and a tower of onion rings are absolute people-pleasers. There’s a wide-reaching wine list and a sommelier ready to help you make your selection, and for those in the know, lunch deals and Sunday prix-fixes are usually great bargains.
#1 The Capital Grille
The jewel in the crown of Darden Restaurants, which also owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Bahama Breeze, The Capital Grille, founded in Providence in 1990, has locations in 25 states and Washington, D.C. Steaks including the 24-ounce porterhouse, 14-ounce New York strip, and steak au poivre are dry-aged; among the other steaks are a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye, a 10-ounce filet, a coffee-rubbed sirloin, and their signature porcini-rubbed Delmonico with 15-year aged balsamic. Appetizers include a shellfish platter that boasts a whole one-pound lobster, steak tartare with truffled deviled egg, and pan-fried calamari with hot cherry peppers; and seafood options include broiled fresh lobster and pan-seared sea scallops with wild mushroom risotto. The wine list, selected by sommelier Brian Philips, features more than 350 bottles from just about every wine-growing region on earth, and the décor is always tasteful and refined. Seasonal promotions are icing on the cake; the annual Generous Pour, for example, allows diners to try seven different acclaimed wines for $28. The Capital Grille is right up there with the very best steakhouses in America.
More From The Daily Meal: