The snow is falling. The fire is crackling. In some cities, entire cars were recently frozen in ice blocks. This is no time for salad. A rare meat and red wine reckoning is upon us. It’s time to obey your inner caveman.
In honor of surviving The Polar Vortex, Yahoo Travel sought out America’s famed institutions of dry aging and in-house butchering. These steakhouses have managed to serve cuts so delectable, some of them have celebrated more than a century in business. Dine in the candlelit museum that is Keen’s Chophouse in Manhattan, or experience the smoky appeal only achieved by the open flame grills of Bohanan’s down in San Antonio, Texas. Seeking out a perfect prime rib in San Francisco just might make winter (dare we say it?) enjoyable.
Pull up a chair. Pick up a knife. It’s steakhouse season, and these are the top 10 places to revel in it.
Peter Luger, New York City
Peter Luger has been serving enormous, piping hot steaks since 1887. In that century-plus-some, they’ve learned the value of consistency. Change is unnecessary. In fact, it’s downright dangerous at Peter Luger. “If we try to change anything, our regulars are not happy about it,” laughs vice president Jody Storch.
The décor is more German beer hall than elite country club. Scrubbed oak tables and wood paneling set a backdrop to steaks that are all butchered and dry-aged in-house. The menu is small, and most regulars simply order by rote.
The standout cut: “No question, you want our USDA Prime Porterhouse Steak for two,” says Storch. “It’s close to 2 ½ pounds of meat. Served bone-in and sliced, it arrives at your table sizzling and buttery.”
Keen’s Chophouse, New York City
Keen’s is part museum, part white-table-cloth dinner party and 100 percent “steakhouse” in every sense of the word. Open since 1885, the joint has hit a lot of milestones. Eating at Keen’s isn’t just about the food. It’s about dining inside a museum. They sold their millionth mutton chop back in 1935. Upstairs in the Lincoln Room (pictured in the photo at right), you’ll find the theater program Abe Lincoln was holding when John Wilkes Booth shot him.
The ceiling bears tens of thousands of old smoking pipes, thanks to a practice in the late 1800s and early 1900s when gentlemen would “check” their pipes at their favorite establishments. The pipes — too fragile to carry around — would remain, waiting for the customers to come back to eat. Take a peek at the restaurant’s Pipe Club Register, which holds signatures from Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth and Buffalo Bill Cody.
The standout cut: The steaks here are exceptional, but the Mutton Chop ($48.50) is a thing of legend. Hitting the table at a gut-stuffing 26 ounces, the lamb meat is pink, succulent and perfectly tender.
The Snake River Grill, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
You’ll only find three steaks on the menu at this rustic, antler-adorned joint in Jackson Hole. But that’s really all you need, because this place does them justice. It starts with only sourcing Wyoming meat. Their burgers, in fact, are sourced from cattle raised right there in Jackson Hole.
Snake River Grill just welcomed its 20th anniversary this past summer. Three years ago, the bar got a facelift, with beautiful new granite for the bar top and 11 stools to welcome drinkers as well as steak enthusiasts.
The standout cut: You could opt for the beef tenderloin or the Black Angus NY Strip. However, we suggest you celebrate the West and get the dry-aged, 12-ounce Buffalo Cowboy Steak that comes served with polenta fries and a chermoula sauce. ($59)
Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse, Chicago
“I’ve been here for 20 years and never worked a day in my life,” laughs general manager Rich Ciota. “This restaurant opened in 1941, and the atmosphere takes you right back there. It’s a club. The décor is all original, all old-school.” The menu lists over 50 items, including every single cut of meat imaginable. “We have a rib-eye, a T-bone, filet, a Porterhouse that’s bone-in or without, a NY Strip. You name it, we have it,” he says. Everything comes from Allen Brothers, the largest meat purveyor in America, and this place remains family owned, now by the second generation.
The standout cut: The 2-pound T-bone steak comes broiled. They cut all the steaks in-house, and this one is prepared with no seasoning, charred to that perfect medium rare in an old-fashioned radiant broiler. For $51.50, you also get cottage pan-fried potatoes and a dinner salad. Wash it down with their classic Martini.
Musso & Frank Grill, Los Angeles
Back in 1919, Frank Toulet teamed up with Joseph Musso to open an establishment that would come to symbolize a fine night out in Hollywood. The classic menu remains roughly unchanged, and you can ease into a booth where screen legends and political players have dined and discussed deals. Daily features rotate depending on the chef’s whims – from braised short ribs to homemade chicken potpie— and the bartenders are as tenured as they come in this town.
The standout cut: The filet mignon, 8- or 12-ounce cut, is one of L.A.’s most sought-after steaks. Sit at the counter where you can watch the grill chef of 28 years cook yours to perfection on the open-fire mesquite grill. If you ask, he’ll give you a few secrets of this storied landmark too. ($38 - $44)
House of Prime Rib, San Francisco
A landmark that will land you in the best food coma of your life, the House of Prime Rib doesn’t serve you steaks on plates. This joint brings the side of beef to your table … to carve before your salivating eyes. Both the cart service and the warm and lovely décor are in the English tradition. The roasts are coated in a coarse rock salt, sealing in the natural flavors, which drip down as it’s sliced in front of you.
The standout cut: The waiters will walk you through your four options before they begin slicing. Ask for the Henry VIII. It’s the thickest carve allowed, sending a massive, rare, mouth-melting slab of roast beef your way. You’re welcome. ($38.95)
Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, San Antonio, Texas
Inside, you get a little antebellum and a dash of old-school New York, mixing with that sense of Texas extravagance and down home hospitality. Rich fabrics, antique chandeliers and sconces give an old-world feel. Bohanan’s was the first place in America to serve Akaushi beef, when they debuted it in 2002. They continue to be the largest seller of Akaushi nationwide.
This type of Japanese beef is raised with regard to humane practices, sans hormones and with an emphasis on reducing stress for the animals. Experts have deemed it to be among the healthiest in the world, and judging from the packed crowds at Bohanan’s, it’s clearly among the tastiest as well.
The standout cut: They mesquite grill everything, Texas style, over an open flame. Get the 18-ounce bone-in filet. Be sure to accompany that with an order of their old-recipe lobster creamed corn. ($89)
Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa, Fla.
The founder of Bern’s, Bern Laxer, was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. After he met his wife, the two took a trip to visit his aunt in Tampa. They ran out of money and never left. The rest, as they say, is history. Laxer opened his namesake steakhouse in 1956. The prime steaks are cut to order. The veggies come from the local Florida soil, and at Bern’s, they understand your need for luxury. You have a choice of more than two-dozen varieties of caviar when dining in the beautifully appointed dining room.
The standout cut: The menu here offers a staggering 65 cuts of steak, fulfilling even the most demanding red-meat fantasies. The most popular by far is their Delmonico, a rib-eye cut that the chef’s will tell you is the sweetest, juiciest option on the list. The Delmonico is roasted whole with the fat intact, and like all their cuts, price depends on the weight you choose. It hovers in the $40 range.
The Angus Barn, Raleigh, N.C.
The famed Angus Barn has been the recipient of more than 200 awards. When a Southern bride is more concerned with that perfect medium rare for 400 wedding guests than her dress, this is where she hosts her reception. They do it all here – so long as “all” involves the perfect steak, that is.
The incredible outfit includes banquet rooms, a wine cellar, a lounge full of bourbon and a huge outdoor pavilion. Dining at the Angus Barn really should really be on your bucket list. Bonus points if you wear a wedding dress at the time.
The standout cut: All of the steaks are wet-aged for three weeks on the property, but none is as mouthwatering as the 10-ounce filet mignon for $40. The meat is lightly seasoned, grilled perfectly and served up with a salad and your choice of side item.
Ye Olde Steakhouse, Knoxville, Tenn.
The log-cabin-design building dates to 1938. “Originally, this building was a Smoky Mountain pottery company,” explains current owner Cheryl Wilson. “They made pottery moonshine jugs, among other things. My parents bought it in 1968 and changed it over to a steakhouse.”
Inside, some of the tables are more than four decades old, crafted by Wilson’s father. You can relax in wooden, ladder-backed chairs and trust the nine guys manning the grills to deliver the same recipes they’ve used since the ‘60s. “Man v. Food” really put this place on the map in 2011, when the show came in to film an episode here.
The standout cut: The filet mignon. It’s your choice of 6 or 8 ounces, starting at $37.50. They insist on Iowa grain-fed beef sourced from a local purveyor for every cut.