These days, there are a million options for dining out in America--do you want sushi or Korean barbecue? Wood-fired pizzas or farm-to-table organic? But just a few generations ago, only one kind of restaurant mattered: the steakhouse. And whether you’re eating filet mignon with an ice-cold martini in the big city or washing your rib eye down with draft beer in a Wild West saloon (cowboy boots mandatory), the American steakhouse is still an absolute classic. Here are our ten favorites.
Bern’s; Tampa, Florida
It’s all about decadence at Bern’s, where the menu is brimming with excess--20 kinds of caviar, three kinds of oysters, foie gras, truffled steak tartare, seven cuts of steak (in 51 different size combinations) and a mind-boggling 7,000-bottle wine list. It’s not for the faint of heart (or wallet), but it will likely be a meal to remember.
Pappas Bros.; Dallas, Texas
If you looked up steakhouse in the dictionary, you’d probably find a picture of this longtime Texas favorite--red leather booths, wood-paneled walls, a wine list with 2,300 bottles and some of the best dry-aged, beautifully marbled steaks in cattle country.
Peter Luger; Brooklyn, New York
There’s no need for a menu at this gritty Brooklyn legend. You’re going to want the butter-basted Porterhouse for two (which, honestly, serves three), some thick-cut bacon, hash browns, creamed spinach. And a side of Tums.
Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf; Chicago
Steakhouses have been a part of Chicago culture since the stockyards first opened in 1865. Today, we like this fresh, eclectic take on the classic steakhouse--there’s smoked whitefish in the Caesar salad and Mexican elote next to thick-cut bacon on the sides menu. But there are no tricks with the bone-in rib eye--just tender meat with a salty, crispy crust, like they’ve been doing in Chi-town for decades.
Keens; New York, New York
For a taste of old New York, Keens is an absolute must. And when we say old, we mean it--this legendary Midtown spot has been around since 1885 and boasted bigwigs like Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt as regulars. Though the steak is excellent, Keen’s is best known for its mutton chop--a gargantuan, bone-in roasted lamb that will have you channeling your inner cavewoman.
Carnevino; Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas is a town of hotels and celebrity chefs--a natural breeding ground for steakhouses. They’ve been cropping up like weeds in the last few years, and while plenty are good, we particularly like Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Carnevino, which puts an Italian spin on the traditional chophouse.
CUT; Los Angeles, California
Wolfgang Puck might be known as the king of California cuisine--but there are no smoothies or avocado salads here. Still, his take on the steakhouse is characteristically sleek and modern--clean, white interiors and sophisticated fare like lobster with black truffle sabayon and Japanese Wagyu rib eye.
Archie’s Waeside; Le Mars, Iowa
We’re going to guess that rural northwest Iowa isn’t at the top of most people’s vacation lists. But if you’re serious about your steak, you might want to give it another thought--Archie’s has beef straight from the heartland, seafood flown in daily, a James Beard Award-winning wine list and a homey family feel that you can’t manufacture (the restaurant’s original owner still lives on site).
St. Elmo; Indianapolis, Indiana
A Midwest favorite for over a century, St. Elmo is especially famous for its shrimp cocktail, which comes out with great to-do--four jumbo shrimp, on ice, with a generous dollop of the restaurant's sinus-clearing homemade cocktail sauce. And the steak’s pretty epic, too.
Cattlemen’s Steakhouse; Oklahoma City
There’s big city steak and then there’s cowboy steak. And Oklahoma City is a cowboy town. The restaurant has been around since 1910 but changed ownership in the '40s on a dice bet in the back of a saloon. Nowadays, it’s the best place in town for steak and potatoes--and, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the calamari-like fried lamb testicles. Hey, when in Oklahoma...