America's best steakhouses, 2013

Geraldine Campbell

Regulars don’t need a menu at Peter Luger, the Michelin-starred chophouse in Brooklyn, where not much has changed since 1887—except the newly hip neighborhood.


While the old-school vibe is comforting, the past decade has ushered in an equally worthy breed of steakhouses that are more stylish in the dining room and more inventive in the kitchen.

In Los Angeles, for instance, Wolfgang Puck’s Cut displays artwork by John Baldessari in a sleek room with gallery-white walls. Sure, towering seafood platters, wedge salads, and creamed spinach still make an appearance on the menus of these newcomers, but you’ll also find roasted kabocha squash, pimento cheese–stuffed bacon puffs, and lobster corn dogs.

Take your pick among these favorite steakhouses, from old-school institutions like St. Elmo Steak House of Indianapolis to Kevin Rathbun Steak, which has a speakeasy-like ambience and playful southern-influenced fare. They’re all well done—or rather, medium rare.

Carnevino, Las Vegas

Vegas isn’t short on steakhouses: every casino in town has one, and they run the gamut from traditional to modern. But Mario Batali’s take on the Sin City staple is our favorite for its Riserva rib eye, which is dry aged for eight months and has a distinctive—and delicious—blue cheesiness. If you’re feeling especially decadent, opt for the black truffles, about 10 grams worth, shaved tableside. It’s gilding the lily, but hey, this is Vegas.

Also of note is the bistecca fiorentina, a massive porterhouse for two, and, of course, the house-made pasta. Start with a half-order beef agnolotti with onion ragu or Mario’s signature beef cheek ravioli.

Cut, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Wolfgang Puck’s contemporary steakhouse in the swanky Beverly Wilshire is a head-turner, complete with gallery-like white walls, John Baldessari art, and celebrity clientele—Eva Longoria, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tom Cruise have all supped here. But the Michelin-starred, Richard Meier–designed beauty doesn’t crest along on looks alone. She’s serious about her steaks, grilled over wood and charcoal, then finished under a 1,200-degree broiler. There are a slew of sauces to pair with your Wagyu, grass-fed Angus, or 35-day dry-aged sirloin; we’re partial to the smoky, juicy, salt-and-pepper-seasoned beef.

St. Elmo Steak House,

The menu at this downtown saloon-cum-steakhouse—a favorite of race-car drivers, visiting celebs, and football players—hasn’t changed much since 1902. The shrimp cocktail, served in a silver bowl with a sinus-clearing, horseradish-spiked sauce and saltines on the side, is still the thing to order.

Wet-aged steaks, which come with a hearty navy bean soup starter or a glass of Indiana Red Gold tomato juice and a side of green beans or potatoes, are enough for an entire meal—but don’t let that stop you from ordering at least one King crab mac-and-cheese for the table.

Charlie Palmer Steak,
Washington, D.C.

When the Senate is in session, this high-ceilinged restaurant on the Hill is the place to go for steak with a side of politics. An impressive collection of all-American wines, dramatically displayed in a floating glass cube, complements the nouveau steakhouse menu—highlights include the dry-aged “cowboy steak” and lobster corn dogs. Ask for a sneak peek of the rooftop terrace (if it’s not reserved for a private event), which has fantastic views of the Capitol.

Killen’s Steakhouse,
Pearland, Texas

From the exterior, this Houston area mainstay in the semi-rural suburb of Pearland looks like a roadhouse dive. Inside, however, it’s casually elegant, with taupe-colored walls, white tablecloths, and the best beef inside and outside the beltway. Pair expertly seared steaks—sourced from Chicago’s Allen Brothers and Strube Ranch in Pittsburg, Texas—with Parmesan-crusted creamed corn and fried asparagus with lump crab meat and lemon-butter sauce. Save room for the light, almost flanlike crème brûlée bread pudding, made with custard-soaked croissants and topped with a brandy–brown sugar syrup.

Kevin Rathbun Steak, Atlanta

On the Atlanta BeltLine, in a former Clorox warehouse in still-gritty Inman Park, Kevin Rathbun’s eponymous chophouse serves both steakhouse standards—chopped salad, creamed spinach, oysters on the half shell—and more whimsical creations, such as bacon swathed in a spicy-sweet Sriracha-molasses sauce, powdered sugar–dusted eggplant fries, and charred jalapeño creamed corn. Among the dry-aged steaks, opt for the porterhouse, with butter and jus, or the hulking 22-ounce bone-in rib eye.

Urban Farmer, Portland, Ore.

Shelves with jars of pickled fruits and vegetables, a 20-foot-long communal table made from old-growth Douglas fir, and an airy, atrium setting on the eighth floor of the LEED-certified Nines Hotel creates the kind of hipster-meets-farmhouse feel for which Portland has become famous. But there’s also plenty to satisfy the traditionalist: Pacific oysters on the half shell, creamed spinach, and cowhide booths. The New York tasting includes a sampling of grass-fed, corn-fed, and grain-finished beef, plus an optional Wagyu add-on—and goes nicely with the local Ransom Spirits whiskey or a glass of Willamette Valley Pinot.

Prime One Twelve, Miami

Reservation times are more like suggestions at this South Beach hotspot, recognizable for the steady flow of Ferraris, Bentleys, and Rolls-Royces. But it’s worth the wait for the eye candy alone—and the high-top at the bar is the ideal perch from which to watch the star-studded stream of models and moguls. They’re here, as are you, to tuck into oversize portions of prime dry-aged steaks and sides like house-made tater tots and smoked bacon bits with chive sour cream.

Peter Luger, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Regulars don’t need a menu at this no-frills Michelin-starred chophouse under the Williamsburg Bridge, where not much has changed since 1887. Start with still-sizzling, thick-cut bacon, best devoured immediately with a bit of steak sauce, then move onto the main event: the porterhouse, dry-aged, broiled with salt, and finished with clarified butter. Skip somewhat lackluster sides in favor of the New York–style cheesecake with a dollop of schlag (that’s homemade whipped cream, for the uninitiated).

House of Prime Rib, San Francisco

A San Francisco landmark since 1949, this wood-paneled restaurant is dedicated to prime rib, aged 21 days, roasted in a rock-salt crust, and carved tableside from a gleaming, Zeppelin-like stainless-steel cart. If you manage to polish off your massive, still-bloody slab—not to mention hearty sides of creamed spinach, Yorkshire pudding, and potatoes (mashed or baked)—a second serving is complimentary.

See more of the Best Steakhouses in the U.S.