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Uber-Chowhound visits Chicago -- need steak, expectations high

Steak and wine are canonized in my family. I am as anal-retentive and obsessive-compulsive as they come. I have been disappointed by dozens of steakhouses in NY, LA, SF (yet to find a good one), Atlanta, Phoenix, Texas, Tennessee ...

My favorite cut is the porterhouse. I always ask for -- okay, I demand -- extra rare (blue rare, Pittsburg rare, sushi-like, Hannibal-Lechter-style). I estimate that I average 50% on sending back steaks in restaurants for being overcooked. I'm sure I've ingested more than my fair share of "special sauce" from vindictive cooks and waitstaff.

Acceptable: Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, Bern's in Tampa, Bones in Atlanta, Hitching Post in Santa Barbara, Manny's in Minneapolis, Ruths Chris in Beverly Hills (but no other RC).

Tell me where to go to get the best steak in Chicago, period. If there is no consensus, I will be at the "original Morton's."

I wonder how many nights in a row can you eat steak? Morton's, Gibson's, Chop House, G&G, S&W, Keefer's.

Oh yeah, I don't have to have porterhouse -- if another cut is superior, tell me. But PLEASE don't try to push prime rib!!!! (Do I have to say it? -- it's not steak!)

We non-Chicago folk believe in the legend of the "midwestern corn-fed steak," and we believe Chicago to be the Mecca. My expectations are sky-high. Where do I go?

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  1. The best steak is not at a steakhouse. It is the porterhouse for 2 at Gioco. It is a 40 ouncer cooked in a wood fired oven and served with bunches of fresh rosemary. It is charred on the outside and has an incredible smokiness because of the wood oven. Aside from that, Gibson's is consistently good.

    1. I am a huge fan of Keefer's, but I don't really know if they serve a porterhouse.

        1. re: gleam

          I would strongly second David Burke's -- my favorite steakhouse in Chicago, serving some outstanding dry aged beef.

        2. I think, here, you will find steaks done the way you want. My husband also likes his steak very rare, and I can't remember him having to ever send one back. But we always emphasize it by saying "very rare, like it's mother was scared by a flame rare"

          1. Based upon your high expectations, I'm afraid that you may end up being disappointed. The original Morton's is good, but not great -- same with the Chicago Chophouse, G&G, and Gibson's. IMO, these places are consistenly good, but aren't what they once were.

            S&W and Keefer's probably are the most solid choices for above-average, but the best steak that I've had in the past few years actually was the kona-crusted sirloin at the Capital Grille. That said, I have not yet tried David Burke's but have heard and read good things.

            2 Replies
            1. re: RMA

              In fact, the original Morton's was a BIG disappointment when we ate there recently (and not only because I used to work for the guy, and when he moved up in style from the old Hyde Park place, I used to be very loyal) - the steaks were average at best, the sides were cold, and the drinks were a rip-off. So I wouldn't even categorize the place as "good." Our favorite is the local Ruth's Chris, simply because we like their way of cooking beef - plus, we have never had anything but great steak there. But if you haven't been impressed with other RCs, who knows how you'd feel about this one?

              The best beef I've ever eaten was in Japan (flavorful and tender - absolutley incredible) - it might be possible to find a steak there, though they usually cut it differently. If steak is this important to you, I'd recommend a trip to Kobe.

              1. re: Akatonbo

                Ruth Chris is just awful; and is clearly not in league with any of the recommended Steakhouses on this thread so far. The steaming meat on a hot platter of bubbling butter and meat grease is just gross. The steak lack crust and while the meat is Prime grade, there is nothing special done with it above that. Lastly, this is a New Orleans based chain restaurant with several Chicago area restaurants that do not even come close to offering the “Chicago Steakhouse” experience that this requester seeks. I find it hard to accept anyone rating any RC location over any Morton’s location period.