Would you hit the same steakhouse when the in-laws are in town as you would to pre-game for your buddy’s bachelor party? Uh, no. That would be insane. And that's also why we're breaking down the best steakhouses in Chicago, by every type of occasion.
Best weeknight steak option: Chop Shop
This chill-yet-lively butcher/deli/events space on North Ave is your go-to spot for a weeknight steak that won’t break the bank. The butcher-cut selections are priced in the $19-$26 range and come with everything you'd expect from a BIG $$$$ steakhouse (including the hospitality). Only, with a way cooler vibe.
Best date night steakhouse: Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
It didn't take long for the Hogsalt hospitality crew to leave its mark on Chicago's competitive steakhouse scene. And, funny enough, while this sexy, dimly lit dining room offers a romantic old European feel, the steaks are all fine American specimens. A wonderful wine and cocktail menu round out what should make for the perfect date night.
Best place to watch a game and eat steak: Michael Jordan's Steakhouse
The GOATS (Greatest Of All Time, SON) knows what it takes to push off on a Jazz small forward like a boss, and also how to blow the lid off a steakhouse, which he does with MJ's Steakhouse. It's all about the 45-day, dry-aged Delmonico steak here -- enjoy one at the bar while watching the NON-MJ Bulls on a handful of TVs or, if you’ve got stacks of cash to burn like Mike, sit in the booth normally reserved for His Airness himself.
Best steakhouse for doing business: Chicago Cut Steakhouse
A favorite of business dudes whose suits always seem to be equipped with a company card, this popular spot overlooks the river through huge glass windows, offering a classic steakhouse feel. Everything -- including the meat -- makes for your prototypical steakhouse experience, just taken up a notch. If you’re a player in the business world, you've already been here plenty of times.
Best new steakhouse: Rural Society
Chicago native and former “Iron Chef” Jose Garces (now based in Philly) brought his Rural Society Steakhouse to the Loews Hotel, and, along with it, a wood-and-charcoal-burning parrilla grill churning out wood-grilled ribeye and bone-in short rib. The whole thing's a real stunner and a great place to enjoy Argentinian-style cuts of meat -- nowhere near as common as your typical steaks -- cooking over a live fire.
Best steakhouse for when the in-laws/parents visit: Mastro's
Near North Side
This Scottsdale import has all the look and feel of a classic American steakhouse that'll make your parents pleased with your elegant selection and wonder if your tastes are growing up -- only to realize it's not the looks you’re there for: it's the fancy steak dinner you could never afford without them.
Best Chicago-style steakhouse experience: Gene & Georgetti
A longstanding name in Chicago's steak scene, this classic local joint has been providing a true Chicago-style steakhouse experience since 1941. The secret? Stiff drinks and big plates of red meat, cooked to perfection. Whether you’re meeting (meating?) a longtime friend at the bar or celebrating a family event, you’re leaving as well hydrated as you are well fed.
Best place to hear live music while you eat: Benny's Chop House
The always reliable menu options at Benny's become even better with a side of excellent free jazz. Take yourself back into a different era when dinner was the centerpiece of the night (and you spent more than 20 minutes at the table.) Check the schedule for popular local acts like Fred Simon and Carmen Stokes. Hell, you never know who might show up.
Best anytime steakhouse experience: David Burke's Primehouse
Near North Side
There's no sex in the dry-aging room. Just great steaks. Though it's an inviting experience to see how your steak comes to taste so great, let’s not also forget about the part where you get to eat it. Bottom line: the 40-day dry-aged, bone-in ribeye remains the best steak in the city.
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Titus Ruscitti is a contributing writer for Thrillist. You can join him on his food travels throughout the cityscape and wherever else life takes him on his blog, where he's single-handedly tackled close to 1,000 food stops. Follow him @chibbqking.
1. Chop Shop2033 W North Avenue, Chicago
2. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf218 W Kinzie St, Chicago
3. Michael Jordan's Steakhouse505 N Michigan Ave,
4. Chicago Cut Steakhouse300 N LaSalle, Chicago
5. Rural Society455 N. Park Dr, Chicago
6. Mastro's Steakhouse520 N Dearborn St, Chicago
7. Gene & Georgetti500 N Franklin St, Chicago
8. Benny's Chop House444 N Wabash Ave,
9. Club Allure3801 Lake St, Stone Park
10. David Burke's Primehouse616 N Rush St, Chicago
Wicker Park's hybrid butcher shop/eatery/salumeria serves up stand-out, meat-oriented American fare such as the deli's Porchetta sandwich, a housemade pork loin wrapped in pork belly with asiago, arugula, apricot marmalade, and tomato on your choice of 7" or 12" French, white, or wheat bread. CS is a spacious joint -- a whopping 6,000 square foot event space -- so it's also great for hosting parties or business meetings.
More a promise than a clever name, Bavette's Bar & Boeuf unapologetically delivers an abundance of whiskey and slab-after-slab of expertly prepared meat. Bavette's 24 oz. bone-in ribeye may be the best piece of meat your money can buy in Chi-town, but, if steak's not your thing, they also offer fresh oysters, Southern-style fried chicken, and double-cut Berkshire pork chops. And because nothing goes together better than a rare steak and a fine whiskey, Bavette's offers more than 50 whiskeys to stir into classic cocktails like mint julips, rye Old Fashioneds, and modern alternatives like spicy picklebacks.
What better place than River North's opulent InterContinental Hotel for His Airness himself, Michael Jordan, to stick an equally lavish steakhouse, complete with red leather (fit for a Chicago Bull) and gold trim motif, a fully loaded wine stash, and a menu fit for a king (uh, the king, if you're from these parts). As expected, you'll find filet mignon and prime ribeye as rare or as charred as you wants it, but you can also switch it up with Jordan's riff on chicken 'n waffles or go the healthy route with white soy seared tuna.
A steakhouse hit among the power meal set, Chicago Cut attributes its quality cuts to the Colorado cattle it raises 1,300ft above sea level. The beef is dry-aged for 35 days then butchered on-site, and no matter what you order (the bone-in prime rib is knockout good), expect dense muscle and an intense flavor. The 225-seat space, outfitted with red velvet booths, overlooks the river.
Rural Society in Streeterville's Loews Hotel is not a classic, all-American steakhouse but an innovative Argentinian one from former 'Iron Chef' Jose Garces. The Chicago restaurant, which opened following the success of the DC original, is a bonafide meat emporium where South American-sourced cuts of beef (ribeye, bone-in short rib) are cooked on a wood-and-charcoal burning parilla grill. Aside from the stunning steaks, Rural Society serves tapas-like small plates and house-made sausages.
An outpost of an Arizona-based steakhouse chain, the swanky Mastro's is a major player in the Chicago steakhouse scene. The River North spot sprawls across two levels and features a menu of more than 15 steaks and chops, plus inventive martinis and a see-and-be-seen piano bar. The creamed spinach and baked potato sides are absolute classics.
This Italian steakhouse in River North is Chicago's oldest, having served everyone from Frank Sinatra to Keanu Reeves since opening in 1941. It's hard to tell what Gene & Georgetti's does best -- steaks and chops, or Italian classics like fried calamari, chicken parm, and veal vesuvio.
More modern than old-school, this River North chophouse has an upscale, power set vibe complete with plush booths, dark wood trim, and a grand piano. Benny's has a massive global wine list that pairs well with classy steaks and modern sides like crispy kale, parmesan truffle fries, and remoulade onion rings.
Just because you're there to look at naked women who don’t appear to eat a lot of steaks, doesn't mean you have to not eat steaks yourself. Club Allure is raising the stakes (!) of “gentleman's club” steak options with well-sourced meats cooked to exact specifications. Yes, believe it or not, the people working the back of the house are just as talented as those in the front.
Located within the James Hotel, this upscale River North steakhouse serves reputable dry-aged ribeyes, porterhouses, and strip steaks. Aside from the classics, the menu features creative carnivore dishes like Wagyu beef sashimi and kobe corn dogs, as well as pasta and a host of vegetable sides for those who aren't meat inclined.