America's 20 best steakhouses
Think of the word "steakhouse" and you’re likely to immediately conjure one of a few mental images: red leather banquettes, gin martinis, and dark wood, possibly; or a sprawling room filled with folks in cowboy hats downing gargantuan rib-eyes and baked potatoes. No matter the environment, though, steakhouses all have one thing in common: they’re unabashedly dedicated to the unbridled consumption of meat.
The best steakhouses in America are nothing short of temples, shrines built to honor the deceptively complex art of a perfectly cooked steak. Whether they're clad in red leather or plywood, décor is only one aspect of the overall steakhouse experience; when it comes down to it, it’s all about the steak.
To assemble our ranking of the best steakhouses in America, we first and foremost looked at the quality of the main event: the steak. Is it sourced reputably and USDA Choice or Prime? Is it dry-aged, and if not is it as fresh as can be? Is it served at the proper doneness without fail and with a touch of ceremony?
We also not only considered the level of local and national renown, but the overall steakhouse experience, which is (almost) as important as the steak itself. No matter the setting, 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 ate one heck of a steak.
20) Cattleman’s Steakhouse, Fabens, Texas
In Texas, it’s all about the cattle, and you can’t get much closer to the source than at Cattleman’s Steakhouse, just outside El Paso. For 40 years, owner Dieter Gerzymisch has been purchasing fresh meat daily from local ranches and portioning it out on the premises, and it goes without saying that the menu is all about meat, meat, and more meat. There’s the top sirloin, New York strip, filet, and rib-eye, each weighing in at 10 ounces, and then come The Wagon Master, a 1 ¼-pound T-bone, The Cowgirl, a 1 ½-pound T-bone, and finally, The Cowboy, a full 2 pounds of T-bone goodness. Each steak comes with a baked potato, beans, coleslaw, bread, butter, and sour cream, just in case you’re still hungry. Yeah, it may be a little kitschy with its Wild West theme and gift shop, but when it comes to steak, Cattleman’s is the real deal.
19) Mr. B’s, Milwaukee
Paul Bartolotta is a renowned restaurateur, best known for his 20-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. Sit out on the patio and go for the 35-day aged Prime Colorado rib-eye; on a gorgeous night with the stars overhead, you just might think you’ve gone to carnivore heaven.
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18) 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. Opened by Art and Marie Murray, the restaurant is still in the family, and many of Marie’s old recipes are still used. Their famed "Silver Butter Knife Steak for Two," a 28-ounce strip loin carved tableside, is one of the country’s great monuments to a well-made steak. Thankfully, the renovation didn’t do away with any of the restaurant’s classic charm (although it thankfully replaced the banquet hall-style pink drapes and chairs), and the classic neon sign is right where it’s always been.
17) Gorat’s, Omaha, Neb.
When Warren Buffett regularly holds court in your restaurant, you know you’ve got a keeper. That’s the case at Omaha landmark Gorat’s, which has been going strong since 1944. It remained in the Gorat family until 2012, when it was purchased and given a renovation, but the quality and preparation of the steak (which comes from — where else — Omaha Steaks) is as good as ever. For the true Buffett experience, do as he does and order the T-bone, rare, with a double order of hash browns and a Cherry Coke.
16) CarneVino, Las Vegas
Powerhouse restaurant duo Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich + steak + Vegas = greatness. CarneVino, their temple to all things beef in The Palazzo Hotel & Casino pulls out all the stops, aging their beef for 30 to 60 days (and in some cases, more than a year — yes, there’s a section of the menu titled "Riserva"), and these steaks can compete with any other offering, anywhere. This "super prime" beef is developed especially for Batali and Bastianich’s restaurant group, and — oh, yeah — this is a Batali restaurant after all, so the pastas and other menu items certainly don’t get short shrift.
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15) Oak Steakhouse, Charleston, S.C.
Chef Jeremiah Bacon, who’s spent time in kitchens including New York’s Le Bernardin and Per Se, might have a porky last name, but at his Charleston steakhouse, it’s the beef that’s the star of the show. His dry-aged certified Angus steaks come sizzling on a hot platter (with local shrimp compound butter on top), and while the steak, including a Prime bone-in rib-eye and a New York strip, is certainly the menu’s centerpiece, Bacon brings a farm-to-table approach to the entire menu, with standout dishes like housemade charcuterie, pan-seared sea scallops with smoked grapefruit purée, and a daily rotating seafood selection depending on what’s available at the market that morning.
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14) Keens, New York City
Since 1885, this New York institution has done one thing, and done it really, really well: steak. Perfectly charred steaks and chops are served in this shrine to old New York, which is spread over two floors and three townhouses. Before you’re even served your expertly cooked, gigantic dry-aged sirloin, filet mignon, prime rib, porterhouse for two, or porterhouse for three, have a look around. There’s memorabilia from more than 100 years of New York history, including playbills, political cartoons, and photographs, as well as a collection of more than 50,000 pipes, from back when regulars, including Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt, would store theirs there. If you go once, try the steak. If you go twice, try the famous mutton chop, a 26-ounce lamb saddle that’s nearly 2 inches thick and dates back to the restaurant’s earliest days.
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13) Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Dallas and Houston
If you’re in Dallas or Houston and you find yourself in need of a perfect steak, a red leather booth, wood-paneled walls, and a wine list that boasts about 2,300 options, head over to Pappas Bros. At this temple to beef, which has repeatedly been lauded as one of the state’s best restaurants since it opened in 1976, the meat is dry-aged in-house, and served bone-in or bone-out. There’s something for everyone, from a 40-ounce Porterhouse carved tableside down to an 8-ounce filet mignon, with stops along the way including an 18-ounce bone-in New York strip and a rib-eye of Texas Akaushi Kobe beef. They’re seasoned with just salt and pepper and finished with some butter, and the entire experience is about as classic steakhouse as you’re likely to find.
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12) 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, surf and turf, a classic shrimp cocktail with sinus-clearing cocktail sauce and saltines, a wedge salad, and a loaded baked potato, all served with the professionalism you’d expect from a place that’s been doing it for more than 100 years (one waiter has been on-staff since 1976). St. Elmo is steakhouse-meets-comfort food, an inviting place where time really stands still. That commitment to keeping the past alive doesn’t mean that quality suffers, however; the menu proudly displays the names of 17 local sources for the food served.
11) House of Prime Rib, San Francisco
Since 1949, the House of Prime Rib, one of San Francisco’s most legendary and perpetually packed restaurants, has focused on one menu item, and done it very, very well. Giant prime ribs are aged for 21 days, roasted in a salt crust, rolled (yes, rolled) in a stainless steel cart to your table and carved to your specifications, and served with salad, mashed or baked potato, creamed spinach, and a Yorkshire pudding. And that’s it. Sure, there’s a token fish dish, but you come here for the prime rib and the dessert cart or you don’t come at all.