Let's face it. In the Year of the Rat 2020, as the collective voice of the dining world shouts down and shames folks away from meat-centric meals and celebrates all things vegetable and plant-based (including “meat”), publishing a list of great steakhouses feels as retro as many of the classic places that have long haunted these styles of stories.
And don't get me wrong. I love the nostalgia-inducing food memories sparked by going to places like House of Prime Rib in San Francisco, or Cattlemen's in Oklahoma City, or yes, even the target of New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells’ recent takedown, Peter Luger's in Brooklyn. And if you want to go to places like Spark's or Bones in Atlanta, or Bob's in Dallas, go forth with my blessing. You're just not going to find them on this year’s list.
This year we're focusing on the next generation of steak places. Places that, on top of giving you crazy incredible steaks, also pay careful attention to the highest quality sourcing while (hopefully) keeping an eye out for sustainability, or at the very least providing a degree of transparency. Steakhouses are, generally, expensive special occasion meals, and if you're forking over a lot of money to eat a lot of meat, it's reasonable to expect that in 2020 they're taking the same kind of care.
Now for the process: To find the top places, I talked to butchers, food writers, and my friend Ramsey, who alarmingly eats only steak and sandwiches. As much as possible, I tried to trace the restaurant's steaks back to the meat purveyors and ranches supplying the spots to further determine quality, sourcing, etc. I spent an inordinate amount of time perusing meat catalogs and watching videos with ranchers describing their feed practices. And to help you navigate the menu, we’ve created a companion steakhouse glossary. But enough sizzle, let's get to the steak.