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, which 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.
The Midwest is known for its meat industry, and Chicago has historically been the leader of the pack. The city’s nineteenth-century meatpacking king, Gustavus Franklin Swift, was the first person to ship fresh beef effectively in ice-cooled railroad cars both nationally and internationally. Today, the scores of steakhouses in the Windy City are able to tap into the national farm-to-table trend due to the metropolis’s surrounding cattle country, but this is not news to its residents. Grills and steakhouses have been ubiquitous there for years, so how do you determine the ones most worthy your time and money? Read on to find out the best steakhouses in Chicago:
#4 Benny’s Chophouse
This steakhouse has a lived-in feel even though it’s only four years old, thanks to owner Benny Siddu’s upscale 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 from a private farm in Arizona.
#3 Gene & Georgetti
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 school-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 available.
#2 Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
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 ribeye. 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.
#1 Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
This warm and welcoming steakhouse is the opposite of stuffy; it’s a breath of fresh air in a town that’s full of leather and mahogany. The atmosphere is dark and romantic, yet 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, which is why it is the highest-scoring steakhouse on our compilation, coming in at #8 overall. Order the Prime dry-aged 22-ounce bone-in ribeye, and prepare to be wowed.
Additional reporting by The Daily Meal’s Eat/Dine Editor, Dan Myers.