Food & Drink

Chicago's New Wave of Steakhouses Has Dared to Be Not-Boring

Published On 04/08/2016 Published On 04/08/2016
Maple & Ash interior
Marcin Cymmer

Chicago has always welcomed and supported steakhouses, but up until a few years ago, opening and operating a steakhouse was undeniably formulaic.

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Jeff Marini
Courtesy of Anthony Tahlier
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1. Community Tavern 4038 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60641

In both its atmosphere and its fare, Community Tavern on the North Side is a funky fusion of rustic and refined, sporting a mix of bare brick walls and Victorian patterned wallpaper with glass chandeliers contrasted by low Edison-bulb lighting. The menu's no different, featuring several simple but diverse offerings of prime steaks, seafood, and mains ranging from high-end pork chops, to simple herb roasted chickens, to down-right devious cheeseburgers.

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2. Boeufhaus 1012 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

This beef-driven brasserie in Humboldt Park pulls influences from French and German cuisines, creating an unlikely fusion fare that’s comforting, protein-packed, and appropriately indulgent. A towering Rueben with house corned boeuf and sauerkraut on a potato loaf stuns on the lunch menu, while pillowy beignets stuffed with braised short rib, rye spaetzle, and a dry aged ribeye makes for the most satisfyingly carnivorous dinner in the 'hood.

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3. Rural Society 455 N. Park Dr, Chicago, IL 60611

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.

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4. Swift & Sons 1000 W. Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

From Boka Restaurant Group and B. Hospitality, this massive and chic steakhouse in West Loop features a seafood restaurant within the restaurant, stylish design with Midwestern touches, and a menu that includes classic steaks, chilled king crab legs, gold leaf-flecked sundaes. How regal.

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5. RPM Steak 66 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

Located in River North, this sophisticated steakhouse collaboration between the Melmans, Rancics, and Chef Doug Psaltis effortlessly bridges the gap between old and new school. The black truffle burger topped with rich foie gras butter is one of the most luxurious power lunch options in town, while the expertly crafted cocktails, vegetable sides, steaks, and table-side baked Alaska share the spotlight at dinner.

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6. Maple & Ash 8 W Maple Street, Chicago, IL 60610

Glitz and glamour come in equal measure at this Gold Coast steakhouse, where heavy fabric is draped from the wooden ceiling and candles rest atop dark tablecloths. The menu here centers around items grilled on a wood-burning hearth, such as a 40oz porterhouse and a 28-day dry-aged strip. Not sure which cut to choose? Tell the waitstaff, "I don't give a f*@ck" -- an actual menu item that results in the chef's choice. And when you're finished, be sure to have Pastry Chef Aya Fukai present you with table-side sundae service.

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7. STK 9 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

STK is a stylish spot that blurs the line between modern steakhouse and chic lounge/nightclub. Menu items feature high-end beef and seafood. With a trendy decor and crowd, STK is a perfect stop for afternoon drinks or a night out in the Windy City.

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8. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf 218 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654

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.