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Best Chicago Steakhouses?

anewton May 20, 2007 12:25 PM

Hi folks. I'm new to Chowhound, but I like what I see so far. My fiancee and I are planning our honeymoon in Chicago for September 4-10. Whenever we're in a big city, we love to seek out the best steakhouses. I have been reading a lot online about Chicago and, quite frankly, I'm feeling overwhelmed with the choices. Anyone want to comment on the following places?

Keefer's (looks like a good all-around menu)

Saloon Steakhouse

Gibson's Steakhouse

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  1. d
    Dedalus RE: anewton May 20, 2007 12:44 PM

    Keefer's has very good steaks, a nice bar and outdoor seating area. Much more sleak and contemporary than your average Chicago steakhouse (above and beyond the fact that Sinatra is not the only music you'll hear over the speakers). Gibson's is more in the old-school vein. My recollection of the place is a bit foggy--my wife and I went there when we first moved to the city five years ago--so I'll defer to other posters.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dedalus
      frankiewickerpark RE: Dedalus Jun 1, 2007 09:52 PM

      I had the best piece of roasted Hake at Keefer's - ever. (Ever, I say.)

    2. w
      wak RE: anewton May 20, 2007 01:13 PM

      You might want to start reading here:


      1. fifthglen RE: anewton May 20, 2007 01:16 PM

        Hi. I would like to add my two sents. 3 years ago I visited Chicago with a friend and had a fantastic steak dinner at Shula's Steakhouse. The foot was great and the atmosphere was terrific. We left stuffed.

        2 Replies
        1. re: fifthglen
          hatfiels RE: fifthglen May 21, 2007 06:10 PM

          I was thinking Shula's also. We really had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the food!

          1. re: hatfiels
            RMA RE: hatfiels May 24, 2007 06:14 AM

            With all due respect, Shula's might be good, but, with all of the other places in town, there's not way that I could recommend it to an out-of-towner seeking a Chicago steakhouse experience. While traveling on business, I dined at the Shula's in Troy, MI (which, I'd imagine, is nearly identical to the ones in Chicago and Itasca). While the food was good, it certainly was nothing special or memorable.

        2. a
          anewton RE: anewton May 20, 2007 01:59 PM

          Thanks for the recommendations and link to previous discussion re: best steakhouse. I'm not surprised there are differences of opinion.
          I noticed on the linked discussion from earlier in the year that opinions were divided re: Gibson's and Morton's.
          Nobody had anything bad to say about Keefer's, and most posters were positive about the Capitol Grille. I'm thinking Keefer's because the steaks look great as does the rest of the menu.

          5 Replies
          1. re: anewton
            BarbaraM48 RE: anewton May 24, 2007 05:06 AM

            Keefer's has a great all around menu. Gibson's is more see and be seen. The Saloon is more of a nieghborhood steak house and is quite good but not as fancy. Morton's is fine but a chain.

            1. re: anewton
              RMA RE: anewton May 24, 2007 06:06 AM

              As you have seen, there are almost as many opinions as there are steakhouses. Personally, I like most, if not all, of the steakhouses -- including the national "chains" such as S&W and Capital Grille (FWIW, I don't consider the Morton's at Newbury Plaza to be a chain restaurant). However, I really am partial to the Saloon and Gibson's.

              I always have enjoyed Gibson's food, and the scene and atmosphere (which, admittedly, some may find annoying) in my opinion would be great for out-of-towners who want to soak up some Chicago atmosphere and see some "movers and shakers." If you go there, be prepared to wait, even with a reservation.

              I must admit that I have not tried Keefer's. I was thinking about going there recently, but was a little put off by a string of bad/mixed reviews on metromix.com, as well as some other mixed reviews elsewhere. Rather than risk it, we are returning to the Saloon this weekend, where we've had many great experiences in the past. I will post a review on this board or on LTH.

              Ron A.

              1. re: RMA
                notgreg RE: RMA May 24, 2007 06:19 AM

                I just returned from Chicago, and Keefer's was my steakhouse of choice. The meal started off on a bit of a sour note, with our waiter taking a VERY long time returning with our drink orders. That asid, the calamari with spicy mayo was delicious, the panko breadcrust accentuating rather than overpowering a large portion of plump, well-cooked squid. I order the New York Strip, m/r, and unfortunately it came out a bit more than medium. The slow service I could deal with, but and overcooked steak in Chicago is a hard offense of which to let go so easily. With all the options, my vote would be against keefer's, based solely on that experience.

                1. re: RMA
                  Dedalus RE: RMA May 24, 2007 06:24 PM

                  I don't put a lot of stock in metromix reviews. Some of the reviews are so hysterical you'd think the maitre'd slapped the reviewer in the face when he arrived.

                  One steakhouse that doesn't get mentioned very often, but I think is great: Kinzie Chophouse. Relaxed atmosphere, good wine selection. Really good bone-in NY strip.

                  1. re: Dedalus
                    BernieMSY RE: Dedalus Jan 14, 2008 06:18 AM

                    Very disappointed by a recent visit to Kinzie Chophouse. The porterhouse was thin, un-aged and not well charred. Sides were bland, the wine list was decent. Not a major leaguer in my opinion.

              2. c
                cerisenoire RE: anewton May 27, 2007 06:31 PM

                I agree that Gibson's is the best rec for a romantic meal for out of towners. It cannot be beat. It's remarkably consistent; you will NOT be dissatisfied. It's also pure old Chicago through and through. Get the Chicago cut!

                1. chigirl71 RE: anewton May 27, 2007 06:47 PM

                  Gibson's is the best without a doubt. If you want a true, Chicago style steakhouse Gibson's is your place, I promise you will NOT be dissappointed.

                  1. s
                    swsidejim RE: anewton May 28, 2007 06:02 AM

                    of the three you mentioned I prefer Saloon Steakhouse, then Keefers, and Gibsons would not even be considered on my top 10 list. I had a great steak at Saloon, and Keefers, and while the meat was ok at Gibsons, I didnt think it was on the same leve as the other great steakhouses in Chicago. In my opinion when people talk more about the other customers, and the atmosphere more than the food you have to wonder. I guess tourists may like it for that though.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: swsidejim
                      cerisenoire RE: swsidejim May 28, 2007 03:47 PM

                      which cut did you get? because i am a real steak connoisseuse and gibson's bone-in porterhouse is my favorite steak of all time. dry aged, perfectly charred, with wonderful depth of flavor. and the quality is always consistent in my experience. i live in paris now and have not had a steak even remotely comparable to the chicago cut at gibsons.
                      as well, if you read the post, the poster wanted a suggestion for her honeymoon. all atmosphere related comments are oriented toward that criteria.
                      Because gibson's is a de facto tourist destination in chicago, i believe that many people who live by the rhetoric of authenticity unfairly dismiss it.

                      1. re: cerisenoire
                        swsidejim RE: cerisenoire May 29, 2007 05:24 AM

                        I have had on my few visits to Gibsons the filet, and the porterhouse, both good cuts of meat, but no better than you can get at the other steakhouses in town. As I mentioned the service at Gibsons can be terrible, and I do not go out to eat to people watch, or to be seen at the "in" place. For me the food is the draw, simple as that.

                      2. re: swsidejim
                        mardy RE: swsidejim May 28, 2007 04:30 PM

                        Gibson's wouldn't even be considered on your top 10 list? Everyone, of course, has an opinion, but why embarass yourself? Do you realize there's no chance that any knowledgeable midwesterner could possibly agree with you?

                        Do you dine out often?

                        1. re: mardy
                          swsidejim RE: mardy May 29, 2007 05:19 AM

                          Nope not in my top 10, for the experiences I have had there it would not be in my top ten for steak houses. The beef is good, but the service, and the whole "scene" is terrible. I dine out out quite often, and have lived in the Chicago area for 37 years. I dine out at least 3-4 times a week for dinner, and have eaten at the most of the top steakhouses in the city, and elsewhere in the U.S.

                          Also I am not looking for others to agree with me, I am just stating my opinion, its America everyone can have one.

                      3. a
                        anewton RE: anewton May 28, 2007 05:50 PM

                        Wow. There are some pretty big differences of opinion on this site re: the best steakhouses in Chicago. So far, this is what I've deduced (including reading earlier threads on the subject)...

                        1) Many here consider Gibson's to be in the upper echelon of Chicago steakhouses, but there are a number of detractors, too.

                        2) No one has said a bad word about the Saloon Steakhouse, but on the other hand not that many people have discussed it compared to Gibson's or Morton's.

                        3) Keefer's is generally well-received but one poster had a particularly off-putting experience there.

                        I'm confused. Based on the overall menus and sides, I favour Keefer's and the Saloon. But since we're talking about steakhouses here, the sides are an aside....the real point is the meat.

                        I'm kind of leaning toward Saloon at this time, if only because in my small hometown there are no steakhouses (or restaurants period) serving Kobe style beef. Hmmm...

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: anewton
                          mardy RE: anewton May 29, 2007 04:45 AM

                          If, as you say, the real point is the meat, then go to Gibson's and make it clear to your server that you're there for the best beef. He'll know what to do...

                          Gibson's detractors are those who do not care for the "scene", rather than the food. The scene can be a little intimidating for some, but others see it as lively. Good chance you'll meet some interesting people, too...

                          The Saloon is not where you go on your honeymoon...

                          1. re: mardy
                            BarbaraM48 RE: mardy May 29, 2007 06:18 AM

                            I eat at the Saloon all the time since it is two blocks from my apartment. The are lovely and the steaks are good but I would not consider it a honeymoon place especially since they ditched the white tablecloths for brown plastic stuff. I like the Capital Grill. if you call them and tell them it is a special occasion they will go all out. Gibson's is far too "see and be seen " for me. Keefer's is fine and not all steak but can be uneven. In this case i would think the ambiance is as important as the steak.

                            1. re: BarbaraM48
                              Dedalus RE: BarbaraM48 May 29, 2007 07:03 AM

                              I think mardy is probably right that most people walk away happy with the steak at Gibsons, but reach various conclusions about the scene, although I don't think "intimidating" versus "lively" quite captures it. It's the classic expense-account meal, and even if I were attracted to a see & be seen environment (I'm not), these aren't the sorts of folks I want to see or be seen by. It's not called the Viagra Triangle for nothing.

                              1. re: Dedalus
                                mardy RE: Dedalus May 29, 2007 09:02 AM

                                And there is certainly nothing bad about having dinner at Capital Grille. But there are 25-30 CGs around the USA, perhaps one in the OP's hometown....

                                1. re: mardy
                                  sarge RE: mardy May 29, 2007 10:21 AM

                                  Let me add a visitor's perspective. I was recently in Chicago and considered going to Gibsons for the steakhouse experience.I opted for Chicago Chophouse, which somewhat disappointed. While out walking around I walked by Gibson's a few times, as it was near our hotel. It is a neat looking place, relatively small, and it looked like people were having a good time there. It is in a pretty neat part of the city. It is not formal in appearance. It looks more like an upscale bar that happens to serve food. There are people dining on the sidewalk. There is a sister restaurant next door, the Froghouse or something, Carmines is across the street, and a neat looking Irish Pub is across the other street. It is sort of a happening part of town that is fun to walk around in. For a honeymoon steakhouse visit, it would be a pretty good choice, but I would not be surprised one bit if you felt like yougot a better value, and as good or better steak, at Saloon. I am going to try Saloon on my next visit. I doubt I'll try Gibson's.

                        2. n
                          normalheightsfoodie RE: anewton May 29, 2007 10:30 AM

                          I have recently been to the Saloon and Gobsons, and I enjoyed the Saloon much more. We had rack of Wild Boar. It was fantastic!!. The service and atmosphere were great.

                          The next night we went to Gibson's. It seemed kind of corporate and lacked uniqueness. I had the seared ahi. It was the fish was flavorless and covered in a much too salty rub, that overpowered the tuna. I am from CA, and asked if it was sashimi style and I was told yes. It was far from sashimi, it ws tough and chewy.

                          I thin kthe saloon is great.

                          I am suprised no one mentioned Gene and Georgetti's. We have been there and it is very good. It is a classic haunt that has stood the test of time. We wnet to clelebrate an angagement and we had a great time.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: normalheightsfoodie
                            anewton RE: normalheightsfoodie May 29, 2007 05:36 PM

                            I'm still undecided, but leaning toward the Saloon. Gibson's sounds noisy and like quite a "scene" which is not my definition of honeymoon ambience.
                            The Saloon sounds quainter and quieter, plus everyone seems to think their meat is pretty great.
                            Mind you, we might just go for the wildcard and make reservations at David Burke's PH.
                            We can't really go wrong, especially considering that the Steakhouse is just one of the meals we're looking forward to. We'll be in town for an entire week. My sweetie is especially excited about trying one of Bayless's restaurants as well as Sola. She wants to go to Arun's but I told her that most of the posters on this site seem to recommend TAC Quick for Chicago Thai.

                            I am interested in trying Coco Pazzo, Bin 36 (I love wine) and one-sixty blue. In any case, I think we'll have a great week of meals, even if our steakhouse choice is not definitive.

                            1. re: anewton
                              RMA RE: anewton May 30, 2007 08:00 AM

                              I don't know whether this sheds any additional light on the debate, but we had a very good meal at the Saloon last Saturday. Our steaks were great (I had the bone-in filet, a house specialty) and the service was excellent. Candidly, I was a bit disappointed with my salad (iceberg wedge -- needed more dressing), and our side of creamed spinach. That said, I know from past experience that some of the other sides probably are better choices.

                              We really like the Saloon -- the service is really good and it definitely is more intimate and low key than some of the other options (although the tables were packed fairly tightly together in the area where we were seated). I've never had a bad experience there, but, on our latest visit, I wasn't necessarily blown away by the food either. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't hesitate to give it a try, although I don't think you'll be blown away.

                              IMHO, Gibson's, on the other hand, does have the potential to blow an out of town visitor away with the food and bustling atmosphere (which I personally enjoy). I realize that Gibson's has its detractors, but in my experience the steaks always have been really good and the sides are excellent. Being that you're from out of town, I'd give Gibson's a slight edge over the Saloon (if you've narrowed it down to those two). However, I'd also keep in mind that, IMO, you cannot go wrong with any of the places that have been mentioned.


                          2. g
                            gardengirl RE: anewton May 30, 2007 02:26 PM

                            I posted a review a few days about Gibson's. You can check out pictures at www.kitchencocktail.blogspot.com. I had a great time at Gibson's and thought the food was really good - I don't think you would be dissappointed there. So much of what is writted is subjective, what is considered a scene, what is romantic, etc. For what it is worth, I wouldn't say it was romantic per se, but for me it was a great night out, something special that I don't normally do when I'm not on vacation, and had a great old school feel which I prefer over trendy.

                            1. a
                              AKtraveling RE: anewton May 31, 2007 02:58 PM

                              Keefers-I have experienced bad service twice and the front staff managers are rude.
                              Gibsons-Great Location
                              David Burke's Primehouse-New, NY Transplant but good steak.
                              Joe's Seafood has good steaks

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: AKtraveling
                                jesteinf RE: AKtraveling May 31, 2007 03:07 PM

                                While David Burke has other restaurants in NYC (and apparently Las Vegas), Primehouse is unique to Chicago.

                              2. nsxtasy RE: anewton Jan 14, 2008 07:25 AM

                                You'll find lots more discussion of Chicago steakhouses, and links to their websites, in the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/359377

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