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Gibson's or Morton's? Out of Towner looking for the Quintessential Chicago Steakhouse Experience

I've been perusing this board and Gayots and the guidebooks and I've narrowed it down to these two. No need to debate Chicago Chop House, Tavern on Rush, Gene and Georgetti, Keefer's, Capital Grille, or your other favorites. We've narrowed it down to these two.

Gibson's - Pro's: An only in Chicago experience with good/great steaks and a history.

Morton's - Really well regarded, started in Chicago. Con: Now it's a chain and can it truly be regarded as "only in Chicago?'

For a point of reference the best steak/unique steakhouse experience we've had was Peter Luger's, the Brooklyn location in NYC. Been-there-forever atmosphere. Excellent martini's. Superior steak quality. If we could find this again in Chicago we'd be happy campers.

Which one should we choose?

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  1. May I cast the first vote?


    1 Reply
    1. re: mardy

      I've never had a bad steak at Gibson's and every out-of-towner I've taken there has left happy.

    2. Both are good places, so I wouldn't agonize too much over the decision. Whichever you choose, just make sure you have a reservation, as both places can get busy. If you're not planning far in advance, either place may be booked at the time you want to go. Both accept reservations on opentable.com (although sometimes you can get a reservation by calling a restaurant even when opentable doesn't show openings).

      1. Gibson's. Go for a Chicago experience. Morton's is a chain. Moreover, like the atmosphere better at Gibson's and it is in an area with more going on.

        1. Gibson's. The WR Chicago cut is my boyfriend's favorite steak ever, and the atmosphere is much more fun than Morton's.

          1. If this was circa 1978 when Mortons was, well, Mortons, then there might be a decision here. But Jfood does not do Mortons anywhere and went to Gibson's in January on a trip through Chicago and was very pleased with both steak and service.

            Please do not try to compare to PL's, no place can, but with these two in your Championship Round, it's hand's down Gibsons.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              +1 on that. Morton's was great back in the 80's, but it just can't stand up to the Gibson's of here and now. If you are only allowing a vote for Gibson's or Morton's, definitely Gibson's. But I'd still do Keefer's, DB's Primehouse or Custom House over either Morton's or Gibson's.

            2. Gibson's...my very picky foodie friend who went to Luger's and Gibson's within a few months preferred Gibson's, in fact!

              1. I have been to both a number of times and every time Morton's comes out on top.

                1. They're both very nice. Gibson's is a bit heavier on the "scene"...

                  If you're just looking for a great dinner, do the Morton's bone-in prime rib or bone-in ribeye with sauteed wild mushrooms and a glass of nice cabernet or zinfandel.

                  1. I've been to Luger's, Gibsons, and Mortons a bunch of times. Peter Luger's dry ages their steaks so they are completely different and cannot be compared to wet-aged Chicago steaks. Gibson's has the scene- celebrities, cool bar, etc. The side dishes and desserts are better here. But Morton's steak quality is still superior. I wouldn't exactly call it a "chain" restaurant. They are both great, but for the scene I would choose Gibson's.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jen0260

                      When you say "wet aged Chicago steaks" are you assuming that all steakhouses in chicago do wet aging ?

                      Alot of steakhouses get their steaks "professionally-aged" from prime vendors like Allen Brothers, who happen to be in Chicago but supply top steakhouses all over the country. Chicago probably supplies more dry aged beef than just about any other city in the country.

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        Well certainly not every Chicago steakhouse is doing wet aging. Smith & Wollensky, who I don't like, personally, dry ages.

                    2. Gibson's is better than Morton's but I know a lot of people that say Gene and Georgetti's is the best but I haven't been there.

                      The Chicago chop house is pretty good too, as is the Kinzie Chop House. And while it's quite touristy and may be known for its pasta more than its steak I have never had a bad meal at Harry Caray's. They just started down Grass fed beef that is pricy but really good and their Lamb chops are like Heaven.

                        1. re: mlschot

                          $12.75 for carrot cake is insane. So is the portion size. 4 people couldn't finish it.

                          My vote is for Gibsons over Mortons though.

                        2. I have eaten a couple of times at both Gibson's & Morton's, and I prefer Mortons hands down. I find the steaks better, and enjoy the atmosphere better at Mortons as well. The steaks at Gibsons were good, but I hated the atmosphere at Gibsons.

                          1. I like Morton's, but Gibson's is better.

                            1. Definitely Gibsons for the great atmosphere and surf and turf. Personally, I think Morton's is far too corporate feeling...great steaks though. Another great Steakhouse with a great vibe is Pete Millers in Evanston, Park Ridge, and Wheeling.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: amoncada

                                Pete Miller's has two locations: Evanston and Wheeling. They will be opening soon in Schaumburg (in the former Prairie Rock location on Meacham).

                              2. My vote is for Morton's... and only by a fine margin.

                                Last summer my wife and I did both restaurants back to back on the same night, we ordered the exact same cut at the same temp and the results were very close. I edged Morton's that night since I though the temp was closer to my order and the crust was slightly better. It really comes down to this; Morton's is quieter, more comfortable and does only steak and high end fare. Gibson's, has longer waits, a louder/rowdy bar crowd & atmosphere with a multi-page wide variety menu.

                                IMO; since the cuts of meat are about equal, I think it really comes down to who's manning the grills that night on judging the meat. You really cant go wrong with either.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: abf005

                                  This lurker has to break the her silence and ask why you went to both back toback, same night, and ordered the same thing!!

                                  To answer the OP: Go to Gene's! Very near and dear to my heart, especially the Chicken Alla joe! Order some pizza bread, crispy cottage fries, and mushrooms!

                                  1. re: Kam7185

                                    Why? The wait at Gibson's was well over 2 hrs and we don't like sitting at bars pounding down drinks at a piano bar where the piano cant be heard and there is nowhere to sit.

                                    Thats when my wife could see the disappointment in my eyes at the prospect of such a long wait, and she suggested that we check out the wait at Morton's which was only minutes, so once we sat she sugested that we do both and compare them! What could stimulate a true chowhound more than a fair comparison (throwdown!) done on the same night?? It was one of the most fun dining experiences in our 21 years together.

                                    1. re: abf005

                                      I am jealous, although I dont care for the atmosphere at Gibsons, the steak is ok, and then to get to go to Mortons, and have more prime beef. Excellent.

                                2. Gibson's is the quintessential chicago scene, but unless you're Mayor Daley or Michael Jordan, don't expect them to honor your reservation. I provide you an alternative for dinner and then you can go hang in the bar at Gibsons after (just bring your little blue pills).

                                  May I suggest a local's place, the Saloon Steakhouse. On most days, it will be 70% locals and low-key celebs. I met Don Cheadle there last year and you're likely to find at least one baseball player during the season. One block East of Michigan Ave behind John Hancock building (enter off Senaca hotel vestibule).

                                  For the food, they offer wagyu (kobe-style) american beef and a stupendous Kansas City cut (bone-in strip) that truly shows what a great steak can be. To start, the wagyu sliders are great and I truly love the prime-rib quesadilla.

                                  Please feel free to tell Brett, Dixie, or Mark, that Jon sent you. Admitedly Brett and Mark are long-time friends since we were kids, but every out-of-towner who's been there with us has really enjoyed their meal.


                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: jbontario

                                    I've been to Gene and Georgetti's twice in previous trips to Chicago and really enjoyed their steaks, friendly, unpretentious service and neighborhood atmosphere. I may try Gibson's when I'm next in Chicago in October.

                                    1. re: John Fugel

                                      I had a much better meal at Morton's on State then Morton's in Gold Coast.

                                      1. re: pugsley

                                        is this a Yogi Berra joke ?

                                        The Morton's on State IS the gold coast Mortons :)

                                        1. re: Chicago Mike

                                          Well you know people never go there anymore because it's too popular

                                          (Bad memory of the old Yogi Berra quote. Forgive me!)

                                          1. re: Chicago Mike

                                            I dislike them both, way past their prime.

                                            1. re: Chicago Mike

                                              Ahh shucks, I meant the Morton's Downtown vs. the Morton's Gold Coast.