Surf and Turf: America's 25 Best
October 29, 2015
Steak and seafood never look better than when they’re sharing a plate
Surf and Turf: America's 25 Best
Steak and lobster are two high class foods, so combining them on one plate has to be extra classy, right? Well, that might be a matter of opinion — but surf and turf, as the combination is popularly known, is actually a delicious dish. Even though you don’t encounter it on menus all that often any more, here are the 25 restaurants serving the best variations on it in America.
#25 Cortese Restaurant, Binghamton, N.Y.
Founded in 1947 by Angeline Cortese and her sons, this Binghamton mainstay is renowned for its surf and turf, which encompasses an entire section of its menu. Their flagship surf and turf is a petite filet mignon with lobster tail, but you can also mix it up and get any combination of scallops, haddock, salmon, fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, lobster tail, prime rib, rib steak, filet mignon, or even veal piccata.
#24 Dantanna’s, Atlanta
This upscale sports bar may not be the first place you’d think would be home to Atlanta’s best surf and turf, but their combo here is hard to beat. Steaks are from Creekstone Farms and are dry aged for at least 28 days, and filet, ribeye (both boneless and bone-in), New York strip, top sirloin, and a porterhouse for two are all available with a selection of dry rubs and sauces. Top it with your choice of shrimp, lump crab and béarnaise, or fresh-caught Maine lobster tail and you’re in business.
#22 Mabel’s Lobster Claw, Kennebunkport, Maine
This under-the-radar Kennebunkport gem has been serving some for the freshest Maine seafood since it opened in 1953. You know that the lobster is going to be great, but they take the steak in their surf and turf seriously as well: Order it and you’ll get a 14-ounce New York strip along with a one-pound steamed lobster or lobster tail. In the mood for filet? You can get that topped with some of their signature fried clams.
#21 Riverfront Steakhouse, Little Rock, Arkansas
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 (they’re heavily salted and peppered, seared in an infrared broiler, basted in butter, then placed back in the broiler to crisp up the crust). Their surf and turf is a six-ounce filet served with a six-ounce lobster tail, roasted and served with ample butter.
#20 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. Opt to top your steak with a lobster tail and you’ll get a four- to six-ounce Australian lobster tail on the side, a perfect accompaniment.
#19 Jess & Jim’s, Kansas City
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. Want to partner it with some seafood? You can add on a six-ounce lobster tail, fried shrimp, or shrimp scampi.
#18 Duffy’s Steak & Lobster House, Key West
When a place has both steak and lobster right there in their name, you can’t go wrong by ordering both of them. This casual Key West spot can trace its roots back to 1948, and today surf and turf is their claim to fame. The “turf” is your choice of eight-ounce filet mignon or 10-ounce prime rib, and the “surf” is a fresh Florida lobster tail. It’s all served with homemade béarnaise or horseradish sauce, and it’s delicious.
#17 The Drover, Omaha
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. Order the surf and turf called simply “Steak & Lobster” on the menu, perfectly in character for this rugged spot, and your steak will come with a lobster tail and a ramekin of melted butter. Crab legs are also available instead of lobster.
#16 John Howie Steak, Bellevue, Wash.
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. You can add a half pound of Alaskan king crab or an eight-ounce Australian lobster tail with almondine butter to any of their steaks, which you’re definitely going to want to do.
#15 Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa, Fla.
Yelp / Stephanie L
Bern’s is renowned for its huge menu (seven different cuts, in a total of 51 different sizes) and 7,000-item wine list, but even one of the longest steakhouse menus in America still has its share of daily specials. There’s a nightly surf and turf option that changes according to what’s fresh and available, ranging from one that includes a bacon flan-topped steak (pictured) to char-grilled filet and roasted spiny lobster with butternut squash pave and anchovy hollandaise.
#14 Pacific Dining Car, Los Angeles
Yelp / Jin K
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). There’s no shortage of surf and turf options on the menu, either: You can supplement your filet with a Maine lobster tail, grilled shrimp, sea scallops grilled with bacon and mushrooms, or two Maryland-style crab cakes; and your ribeye can be paired with a lobster tail or crab cakes as well.
#13 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, a classic shrimp cocktail with sinus-clearing cocktail sauce and saltines, a wedge salad, a loaded baked potato, and of course a prime specimen of classic surf and turf, a filet and a perfectly cooked lobster tail that’s a wonderful throwback, especially when joined by that baked potato.
#12 Boboquivari’s, San Francisco
Yelp / Elena N
Boboquivari’s, affectionately called Bobo’s, is renowned in San Francisco for two things: steak and crab. Their steaks are dry-aged, and the Dungeness crabs come right from Fisherman’s Wharf and are roasted in garlic sauce. You’ll naturally want to sample them both, so order the surf and turf, served with half of a crab (over a pound) and either a petit or bone-in filet mignon.
#11 Mr B’s, Brookfield, Wis.
Paul Bartolotta is a renowned restaurateur, best known for his 21-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. The surf and turf here is a South African lobster tail served alongside an 8-ounce filet, but you can also order a six-ounce filet topped with scallops, shrimp scampi, salmon, or crab cakes.
#10 Benny’s Chop House, Chicago
This Chicago steakhouse has a lived-in feel even though it’s only five 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. Order the surf and turf and you’ll be served an eight-ounce filet and a split fresh lobster tail from Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.
#9 Oak Steakhouse, Charleston
Chef Jeremiah Bacon, who’s spent time in kitchens including those of 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. If you’re looking to add some turf to your surf, you can opt for jumbo lump crab cake, lump crab Oscar, scallops Oscar, grilled shrimp, an eight-ounce lobster tail, or (if you ask nicely) a half fried lobster.
#8 BOA, Los Angeles
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, porterhouse, Japanese Wagyu, bone-in Kansas City filet mignon, and a 21-day dry-aged rib-eye, and all are served with your choice of rubs and sauces. And according to the menu, “Any turf can surf with lobster, king crab legs, prawns, or crab Oscar-style.” Yes, please!
#7 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 percent, 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.” They don’t mess around with their surf and turf either; Dungeness crab comes straight from Fisherman’s Wharf, and any steak can be supplemented by either a half or whole crab.
#6 American Cut, New York City
At Marc Forgione’s classy Tribeca steakhouse, two of the most popular items on the menu are the 42-ounce tomahawk ribeye and Forgione’s famed chili lobster (made by wok-frying poached lobster and tossing it in a fiery, buttery sriracha-based sauce), and it’s hard to go wrong by pairing them together on a platter for two. Who knew that spicy chili sauce pairs so well with steak?
#5 The Palm, Various Locations
A New York institution since 1926 (even though the original location unceremoniously shuttered last year), today The Palm has 26 locations across the country. If you have a hankering for surf and turf in your city, check to see if there’s a Palm, as it’s a signature item of this old-school chain. All their beef is Prime and aged for a minimum of 35 days, and available steaks include filet, New York strip (from 14 to 24 ounces), and ribeye, and you can add a half broiled Nova Scotia lobster to any of them.
#4 Durgin Park, Boston
This Boston landmark has been serving the hungry masses for nearly 200 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Their lobster is received fresh daily and never frozen, their steaks are also nothing to sneeze at, Prime and charcoal-broiled. Their surf and turf is a sirloin strip steak with a 1 ¼-pound steamed or baked lobster, stuffed and baked shrimp, or baked scallops, and it’s spectacular.
#3 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). Order their surf and turf and you’ll get a six-ounce filet from RR Ranch and sea scallops or a whole roasted lobster. Pro tip: you want the lobster.
#2 Harris’, San Francisco
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. It also takes its lobster very seriously: if you order their version of surf and turf, you’ll receive an eight-ounce petite filet with a whole steamed 2 ½-pound Maine lobster.
#1 Red The Steakhouse, Miami Beach
Browse the menu at this super-popular Miami steakhouse (which also has a Cleveland location) and you won’t see any surf and turf, but chef Peter Vauthy has an off-menu item waiting in the wings that will knock your socks off. It starts with a 28-day dry-aged prime tomahawk ribeye that’s broiled and brushed with the restaurant’s signature “steak oil” (herbs, chiles, garlic, and olive oil); as for the lobster, that’s a 16-ounce Maine lobster tail (yes, 16 whole ounces) that’s placed atop its shell and topped with fresh red Alaskan king crab that’s been tossed with a mixture of Dijon mustard, mayo, chipped chile, and herbs and broiled until golden brown and delicious. The whole platter will set you back a hefty chunk of change, but there’s nothing else like this dish on earth.