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New Yorker seeks Chicago Steakhouse comparable to Peter Luger?

  • r

I think that the best steak in NYC is Peter Luger. Going to Chicago for the first time, I'm sure there must be a midwestern equivilent. Is there such a place in Chicago? Thanks.

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  1. Not perhaps that is as single-mindedly focused on one cut of meat as Luger is.

    If I had to choose one "signature" cut from a Chicago steakhouse it would be the bone-in prime rib from Morton's. You might still like the PL Porterhouse more, but Morton's is great in it's own way...

    Probably Gene & Georgetti is the most comparable to PL in terms of the "old style" and "heritage" issue. But I've found dining there to be a bit cramped & surly and the neighborhood around Morton's is 100 times more vibrant.

    Another "Chicago signature" dish is Mike Ditka's pork chop which is awesome. Very nice dining room and friendly service.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chicago Mike

      Gibsons does a fantastic porterhouse for two that is remisicient of Luger though its not dry aged beef. Unfortunately, there is only one Luger in the world 9unless you count the one on Long Island). I've not seen the combination of great steak and surly waitstaff assembled in such a rare combination anywhere else as you see in Brooklyn.

      1. re: YourPalWill

        Peter Lugers is good. But the Argentinians do steak the best. The most notable steaks I have had have been: Peter Lugers, Ruths Chris (trust me), Cheesecake Factory Ribeye (trust me) and Tango Sur (Argentinian Steak House). The Argentinians know their meats, and have an Italian influenced cuisine. If you want to be in a "scene" then go to Gibson's or Keefer's... the ambience is there, but the food is just food.

        Fogo de Choa is one of the newer Brazilian Steak Houses that are sweeping the nation in all you can eat meat buffets.

        Link: http://mama-marias.com/webhosting/mmm...

        Image: http://www.mama-marias.com/webhosting...

        1. re: mama-marias

          I agree with regard to Ruths Chris. I've been to every notable steakhouse and still love RC the best. Alas!

      2. re: Chicago Mike

        In my opinion, for prime rib, Lawry's is great. The table side presentation, the spinning salad bowl, the baked potato as big as your head, the creamed spinach side, the yorkshire pudding, the Beefeater Martinis with anchovie stuffed olives...
        It's an experience.

        Link: http://www.lawrysonline.com/primerib/

        1. re: BR

          I agree about Lawry's. We went there recently and the prime rib was excellent. The creamed spinach has always seemed a bit erzatz to me - seasoned as it is with Lawry's seasoning stuff - but I love the Yorkshire Pudding. Best of all, though Chef Jackie Shen has moved on, her famous "Chocolate Bag" remains. I've never eaten so much chocolate at one time in my life - and I was sharing it with my husband!

      3. Gene & Georgetti is a place for anyone who isn't a "regular" to avoid. You'll be seated on the 2nd floor (ie: Siberia), in very crowded conditions, your waiter will be rude, and even your steak may not be that great. The only people who go there are Chicago politicians and unsuspecting tourists.

        The best places for steak in Chicago, IMHO, are Smith & Wollensky and Ruth's Chris. I like the clubby atmosphere at Ruth's Chris (dark wood panelling, lighting that is subdued but not dark), and we have always had superb steaks there. They have a particular style, however - their steaks (huge and perfectly tender) are seared at high heat and finished with butter (though you can get them without - or with more, for that matter). Smith & Wollensky has a brighter atmosphere, but they also have a varied selection of steaks and other meat (their signature dish is a crackling paork shank) and more seafood options than Ruth's Chris.

        Haven't been to Morton's in years, but people on this board like it (as did we when we went there long ago). I used to work at Arnie Morton's parents' restaurant in Hyde Park (called, appropriately, "Morton's"), so I can attest that Morton's is probably as close to a "Chicago" steakhouse as you are likely to find in this post-stockyards era.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Akatonbo

          Been to Morton's in Schaumburg ( and Rosemont ) recently and can highly recommend both of them. Another place to try is Pete Miller's in Wheeling---Had a Prime bone-in ribeye that was equal to/better than the last one that I had at Gibson's.( Potato and vegetable ARE included with the steak, something of an anomaly. )

          Regarding Ruth's Chris----I guess that the trick to ordering there is to request your steak "rare" if you want it medium-rare. Those darn sizzling platters have always re-cooked (and overcooked) any steak that I have ever ordered. The napalm butter doesn't help any,either.

          1. re: Akatonbo

            You nailed it re: Gene & Georgetti's.

            I can't recall ever eating a meal where I had it rubbed in my face that because I was not a celeb or a regular, I was therefore a jerk-off who deserved (and got) a lesser quality of service. Not food, mind you, just service. It was as though I'd stumbled into a private club that for unknown reasons allowed me to order a meal. Which was grudgingly and ungraciously served.

            1. Here's the minority report: Chicago Chop House or Gibson's. Smith & Wollensky, Morton's & Ruth's Chris can all be sampled in many cities.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Steve C

                I agree with you. Though, as I've never been to Peter Luger's, I can't offer comment on how Chop House (or any other place) compares. I guess I don't understand the desire to seek out in one city that which most closely approximates a dining experience of another city. Isn't that what McDonald's is for?

                1. re: Kman

                  I was using the Peter Luger reference as a benchmark for quality, not trying to replicate the experience. I can visit Morton's and Ruth Chris in malls all over suburbia. This is not the way I want to spend my only dining opportunity in Chicago. Just as Peter Luger denotes a quality steakhouse, it also is a very New York kind of joint. I hoping to find a similar combination, great steak and a Chicago kind of joint. Thanks for your input.

                  1. re: Robert Lord

                    Well articulated.
                    Given those parameters I would be very comfortable recommending both Gibson's or Mortons, both excellent steaks, both very Chicago. If I had to pick one it would be Gibson's.
                    Gene and Georgetti's is a very distinctive Chicago experience, but not necessarily a good one-good meat, everything else is questionable.
                    Another choice that might be interesting for you is Smith & Wollensky. I think the food at Chicago S&W is better than at the original in NYC, but the bartenders are better in NY, especially at the S&W Grill(downstairs in the back).

                    1. re: MLS

                      Re Gene & Georgetti: very true that it is a certain kind of Chicago experience - circa 1930s. If you want to be treated like a bagman who's suspected of holding out on the bosses, by all means go there.

                2. re: Steve C

                  I've had 2 lousy experiences at the Chicago Chop House - the first time, I thought it might have just been an off night/inexperienced waiter/huge crowd convergence of issues, but when we returned a few months later with another set of out of town guests, I was sad to see the same performance.

                  1. re: anne

                    Amen! I went to the Chicago Chop House last year to entertain business associates. The service was indifferent, and the steak a disappointing combination of expensive and mediocre. On top of that, the "atmosphere" is pathetic. Why does anyone eat there?

                    1. re: gimpeaux

                      Gotta disagree on the Chop House. I've been to all the usual places, but I put the Chop House on top with a nod to Gibson's as an equal in both service and food. I happen to prefer the atmosphere at Chop House just a half-a-notch. But different people like different things. That's the point of this board. It's silly to question why anyone would ever go anywhere...ummm, because they like it?! Taste is as subjective as it gets in the human experience.

                      1. re: Steve C

                        I've always enjoyed the Chop House but can't stand Gibson's. So . . . to each his/her own.

                    2. re: anne

                      I have to agree that in 25 years of dining in Chicago restaurants, my singular worst experience was at the Chicago Chop House. I would never return. Long story short, while dining out with a client, I asked for the manager to deal with an issue. The hostess told me that she was the owner's wife as well as the manager and that "they did not need my business." My client had chosen the place, and was extremely apologetic. We both swore never to return. There are far too many places in this town that do NEED and WANT my business.

                  2. I had one of the best steaks I've ever eaten - and I've been to Peter Luger - at Keefer's last week. It was a bone-in ribeye and it was a beauty.

                    1. ...but why try to find something here that's comparable to what you can get in NY? Why not look for something you can't get there, especially on your first visit?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: ToniG

                        I thought that Chicago was famous for good beef and the standard I hold high is Peter Luger. I can do without the famous surly waiters, though. If you have any other suggestions for great food indiginous to Chicago, I'm ready to hear it. I have only one night to explore on my own, and I'd like it to be something nice that I may not be able to experience in another town. Thanks for all your suggestions.

                        1. re: Robert

                          Fair enough. You should make your way to one of two Chicago places. Mike Ditka's makes a terrific double cut pork chop that will knock your socks off. Your second choice should be Lawry's Prime Rib for a throw back old school prime rib dinner. The meat is excellent. The setting unique in a former mansion. I don't care much for the rest of the dinner. But, others are crazy about the spun salad.

                          Both places are uniquely Chicago.

                          1. re: YourpalWill

                            Will-- Lawry's is really not uniquely Chicago, since the one in LA is way older, and there's one in Dallas that is about the same vintage as ours.

                            I agree with the people who say try the Mexican places, but the poster wants steak in a place "like" Luger. One place fits that description, and it's Gene & Georgetti. It's old and rough around the edges, has surly waiters, and devoted fans as well as lots who hate it. Like Luger, G&G really couldn't care less what the naysayers say. It's even similarly "ethnic," an Italian feedhall steakhouse rather than a German feedhall steakhouse.

                            Anyone who really loves Luger will not be phazed by what usually bugs people about G&G. (Which to my mind is the idea of forking over a couple hundred bucks for dinner at a place with old, grumpy waiters and faded 50's vintage furnishings.)

                            If you go without a "regular," I'd say try a week night, order wine, have the strip, shrimp de Jonghe and the garbage salad. It should go without saying, but avoid the pastas. Wear shoes and long pants and you should be treated with respect.

                            Below is what I said about it one time before.

                            Otherwise, I and many others think that the original Morton's is still very strong, much better than most of its clones around the world. Gibson's is also unique, what with the scene every night of the week. There are lots more, but they stray from the original theme.

                            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          2. re: Robert

                            Altho a good beef town, Chicago is not that much better than a lot of other Midwestern cities since the Stockyards left us. One of the current answers to the "distinctive Chicago experience" query on this board is "high-end Mexican," and for a flavor of that, search the site for Chilpancingo and Topolabampo (or Frontera Grill), the best downtown versions of the cuisine.

                            1. re: jbw

                              I would second that, with Chilpancingo gettting my vote as the best high-end Mexican place near downtown. Lovely food, gracious and friendly service, in a pretty and very comfortable restaurant. NYC is only now breaking into this sort of cuisine, which Chicago has become well known for. We have a substantial Mexican population here -- way more Mexican-Americans than we have stockyard workers any more -- so eating Mexican food, I would argue, is now a more "authentic" Chicago experience than eating at a steakhouse, so many of which have exact duplicates all over the country. Can't say that about our Mexican restaurants. If you could get to Pilsen, the city's principal Mexican neighborhood, all the better, both for dining and for getting a handle on Chicago's neighborhoods, the backbone of the city. Enjoy yourself while you're here! (I'm married to an ex New Yorker; every time we go back to visit the in-laws in Queens I get dragged to Peter Luger's -- I'd prefer exploring some new places in Manhattan myself, but what can you do?)

                            2. re: Robert

                              I think the problem you may be having is common to new visitors to Chicago that was mentioned elsewhere in the thread. Chicago beef is nothing special anymore compared to the rest of the top steakhouses around the country, especially since the stockyards are long gone. It's as if Chicago is still identified with Capone and gangsters (which of course it is in many visitors' minds) and so that's why we have those Underworld Tour Buses driving by the Biograph Theatre pointing out where John Dillinger got shot over 70 years ago!

                              But I agree with many that for a "Chicago" atmosphere in a steakhouse, Gene and Georgetti's for the old & musty crowd and Gibson's for the (slightly) younger, more outgoing environment. Otherwise, for a real Chowhound experience that you won't find elsewhere, there's always the ever-controversial yet handy FAQ....

                              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boar...

                          3. For a real NYC steak experience with class, go to Shallots Bistro, in Skokie on Main.

                            Aged beef (on premises) done right. Sorry I don't have the phone number. Call information! It's great.

                            1. there is no comparison between the extraordinaire Arnie Mortons and Peter Lugars. That would be like comparing the Patriots to the Jets. Dinner at Arnie Mortons isnt just a dinner, its an experience. Peter Lugars is way over rated and its a place you go one to say youve been there. But Arnie Mortons is a place you go to regularly for special occasions and important memories. I never ever have room for desert when i leave a restaurant with the exception of Arnie Mortons. I always end up splitting one of their souffles that are out of this world

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: numbu9

                                Look, if someone wants a steak place that is unique to Chicago with a high probability of good food and atmosphere, they should to go to Gibson's. Most if not all of the places mentioned above can have good and bad nights but Gibson's is most likely to deliver good food and atmosphere that is unique to Chicago. BTW...G&G is a joke.

                                1. re: ems

                                  Most of this topic was written in 2004. For a lengthy but more recent discussion of Chicago steakhouses, check out the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/359377