When we compile our annual ranking of America’s 50 best steakhouses, there’s a reason we don’t consider restaurants devoted to prime rib: Because even though it might be a close cousin, prime rib isn’t a steak; it’s a chop, a wholly different dish that’s worthy of praise in its own right. If you’re looking for a world-class prime rib, these 10 restaurants are the ones to visit.
Prime rib is a dish of contradictions. Though it’s called “prime rib,” that doesn’t mean it’s always made from USDA Prime beef, the highest grade. Many great steakhouses don’t offer it because it’s impossible to cook to order, but plenty of cheap-o family chains and Las Vegas buffets seem to do just that. And when it does find its way onto a steakhouse menu, it’s usually one of the pricier offerings… even though those Vegas buffets can sell them for $12.99 a pop.
Well, the explanation is pretty simple: Everybody’s ordering the cheap prime rib in Vegas, so they can keep them coming at a steady clip; and just like a $10 sirloin at your local diner doesn’t compare to the $50 New York strip at a fancy steakhouse, a good prime rib and a so-so prime rib are worlds apart.
To do prime rib — and to do it well — is no easy feat. For example, avoiding that gray band around the perimeter that we’ve all encountered at weddings and achieving that rosy pink hue from rim to rim requires some serious skill and technique. The exterior should be salty and deeply burnished with a nice brown crust; the interior should be pink, tender, and juicy; the jus (if any) should be rich and flavorful; and it should be served with at least a little bit of fanfare. Even though it’s the exact same part of the cow as the rib-eye, a prime rib and a rib-eye steak are two different things entirely.
If your entire experience with prime rib has been at weddings and on weekends at O’Charley’s, then do yourself a favor and get to one of the 10 restaurants on our list. Because one bite of a truly great prime rib, made with care from high-quality beef, can be just as good, if not better, than a great steak.