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Jan 18, 2007 01:12 PM

Philadelphia steak place for a special dinner?

A friend of mine just emailed and asked me for a non-chain steak place in Philadelphia for a special event. He thinks Jack and I are the ultimate chowhounds, but neither of us is really much for the slab o’ steak thing. So I am pulling out y secret weapon – any great suggestions I can pass off as my own? :)

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  1. Barclay Prime is part of the Starr Restaurant Organization, but there is no other steak place like it in Philadelphia. Superior quality, and many here are fans.

    Otherwise, for something more out-of-the-way and local with great steaks and definitely a special occasion vibe, there's <a href=" Saloon</a>.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Hardart

      Thanks for the tips! But I can't get your link to work.

      1. re: meg944

        Don't bother with the Saloon. The service is not good and the steaks are overpriced. Three different servers came up to our table after dinner and asked if we wanted coffee, we answered yes to each of the three, but never actually got a cup.

        Barclay Prime is pretty good, also expensive but you come closer to getting what you pay for there than at the Saloon. Unfortunately, most steak places in Philly are chains.

        Though it is a (small) chain, I was at the new Fogo de Chao recently and really liked it. You may want to consider it if your friend has never been to one, it's a much different experience than your typical steak house.

        1. re: Buckethead

          Thanks so much for the helpful tips – I did a little searching based on the names Hardart gave me and also heard good things about Capitol Grille – would you agree? I read a review of the Saloon someone had previously posted that made it sound like it wasn’t worth the money. I also don’t necessarily think it has to be super expensive; he is a musician so not generally up for much fine dining. He said his best steak before was at Morton’s, and he heard good things about Ruth’s Chris but didn’t want a chain. I’ll pass on your suggestion of Fogo de Chao (and/or keep it in mind for when we visit, as I am definitely not a steak house person.)

          1. re: meg944

            Capitol Grille is also supposed to be excellent, I've never been but several friends of mine have and each of them had good things to say about it. Ruth's Chris is basically the same thing as Morton's.

            I forgot about it till now, but there's actually another Brazilian-style steak place in the northeast that is also supposed to be good, here's a thread about it (with photos):


            It costs half as much as Fogo de Chao (you can actually pay by the pound instead of all-you-can-eat!) and it's BYO as well, so it would be much cheaper. It's pretty far outside the city, though. Also, the atmosphere may not be quite what you had in mind for a 'special' dinner. Fogo de Chao is very impressive inside.

          2. re: Buckethead

            BTW, I did some more research and your Fogo de Chao idea sounds great! Being a starving musician I am sure the “all you can eat” angle will appeal to him, and I remember doing the Brazilian thing many years ago in FL and having a great time. Plus the reviews are quite good. It sounds like they have the same deal at lunch, so depending on how flush his friend is, maybe they can do lunch instead of dinner. Thanks again for the idea – if he doesn’t go now, we will definitely go when we visit in the spring.

      2. Try searching the word "steak." There have been at least a dozen threads on high end steak houses in the past few months.

        1. I apologize – I assumed that something as vague as “steak” for all of Pennsylvania would give me a million inappropriate results, especially since I didn’t know the names of any of the Philadelphia steak houses. I generally do search, in fact, using the names I got here, I also found some suggestions for the Capital Grille in other threads.

          I don’t think it necessarily needs to be a super high-end place, just a place that doesn’t feel like an Outback Steak House. He doesn’t have much money – we took him to Matyson the last time we were in town and he said it was his best dinner ever. (It was quite nice; but definitely not our best dinenr ever.)

          4 Replies
          1. re: meg944

            To be fair, I haven't been to The Saloon in five years, so if it has gone downhill, so be it. Capital Grille is a (small) chain as well, but it's rather good.

            Fogo de Chao is not cheap -- I think it's around $45 for dinner.

            1. re: Hardart

              If I remember correctly, it is exactly $45, though I believe it's cheaper at lunchtime. It's still a better deal than Morton's or another high-end steakhouse, though, since you get to sample a wide variety of meats: pork, chicken, beef, and lamb, and different cuts and preparations of each animal. Plus you get the very nice salad bar.

              1. re: Hardart

                Where are you going to get a steak dinner for two for $90.00 ??

                Fogo is a BARGAIN !!!! I think it exactly what you are asking !!

              2. re: meg944

                I recognize it is part of a small chain (maybe 6 in total) but I really enjoyed Capital Grille. The steak and especially the service were top notch. The prices were in the ballpark. Nothing comes with the steak but the sides such as the potatoes and spinach are more than enough for 2 or more. Since it was our anniversary, I think dessert may have been free. Not inexpensive but it was worth the price in my opinion.

              3. If you want non-chain, go with Barclay Prime. If you don't mind the fact that it is a chain restaurant (and let's face it, when we think of "chain" restaurants, aren't we all thinking Outback, Bennigans, Applebees, etc.)then Capital Grille will definitely fit your friend's needs. Be prepared though, neither of these places is cheap. With booze, tax and tip, figure AT LEAST $90 to $100 per person.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rondo

                  the saloon is still wonderful. it is an out of the way place for exclusive diners to go and not be harassed but it still employs locals so it will never treat you like one of the center city joints. as long as you remember that the place was called the aqua lounge when richie bought it you'll remember that it's roots are hardly trying to impress people. take it for what it is.

                  capital grille is bangin too, don't go to shula's or ted's montana grill, ruth's chris is good and i am dying to try fogo de chao. i refuse to go to barclay prime, the pretention of it is diturbing and there's a decent place in jersey called steak 38 that always does well in a pinch.