HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Is it just me or is it rather difficult to find good steak in the Bay Area?

I typically go out to dinner in SF, Oakland, and Berkeley and I'm having a tough time finding a good steak. I don't go to "steakhouses" like Morton's but go out on a regular basis (2-3x per week) and when I see steak on the menu at a new trendy restaurant it is usually a crappy cut like hangar or flat iron.

It seems rare to see a ribeye or porterhouse on a menu. Then the few times that I have ordered one recently, I have been disappointed with the texture. Most recently I was disappointed with the ribeye for two at Scopa in Healdsburg. It was charred on the outside and a lot of connective tissue on the inside. Texture was off and definitely not buttery.

The best steak I have had in the Bay Area is at El Paseo. But I don't feel like I should have to go to Mill Valley every time I want a decent steak.

Am I missing something?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. The reason you usually don't see a lot of ribeye or porterhouse is because it's quite expensive for the restaurant to buy--commodity choice cryovac'd lip-on ribeye by the case runs about $7-$9/portion now, and what you'd want to eat ("good") means things like dry-aged, prime, grass-fed, etc, which could conceivably put the food cost of the steak at $20/portion or more.

      This high food cost, plus the sides, plus the staff, plus the overhead and profit means it's going to be expensive on the menu, and often significantly more expensive than other dishes, which makes it less likely to be ordered. The bay area--and SF especially--is a very expensive place to operate a restaurant, so food costs have to be kept down.

      I wouldn't say a hanger steak is a "crappy cut": it's just different, cheaper (about half the price for high quality), and potentially more interesting.

      If you want a steak, you're probably going to have to go to a steakhouse.

      21 Replies
      1. re: xanadude

        Ribeye's easy to find, you just need to go to the right place.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Well, sure, but if you have to go to the right place, perhaps it's not that easy to find.

          Quick web survey of places off the top of my mind:
          - Range: no beef entree (not burger)
          - Zuni: no beef entree (not burger)
          - Nopa: no beef entree (not burger)
          - Slow Club: sirloin
          - Firefly: flank steak
          - Abbots Cellar: strip loin
          - Delfina: hanger steak
          - Maverick: short rib
          - Foreign Cinema: short rib

        2. re: xanadude

          Thank you. That's a great point about food costs, etc. I probably do have to check out a steakhouse.

          1. re: Ashley12

            Prospect often has a pretty good ribeye on the menu, but it sticks out like a sore thumb when it comes to price. Last I looked, it was $45 whereas their "Snake River Farm Kobe Bavette" entree was merely $27. In other words, a medium-priced restaurant would probably have to charge 50 percent more than any other item on the menu in order to serve a good ribeye.

            1. re: nocharge

              My last ribeye (18oz) @ Lolinda was as perfect as a steak can be. And while $42 it was plenty for two people.

              1. re: bdl

                I love the food at Lolinda, but since it's a steakhouse, it doesn't fall into the category of regular restaurants serving ribeye. However, the second most expensive item I see on their menu is $28. So a $42 ribeye is exactly 50 percent more than the priciest of anything else they serve.

                1. re: nocharge

                  True, but it can deliver well on a "non steak housey" dinner. Also true that the ribeye is twice as big as all their other steaks (except maybe the New York).

                  1. re: bdl

                    Yeah, I completely agree that their "non steak housey" items are very good, too. But Lolinda also seems to be a datapoint in favor of xanadude's theory that price may be a major issue as to whether regular, medium-priced restaurants would serve ribeye. An item that is 50 percent more expensive than anything else on the menu might not be flying off the shelves. I mean, people who decide to go to a restaurant with a $30 percent price point for an entree may not be overly enthusiastic about ordering an item that's $45.

                    Then, of course, there are the behavioral economists and the restaurant consultants who are aware of their research who would happily tell you that having a highly priced item on the menu might increase your profitability even if you don't sell much of the expensive item at all. (The theory being that the expensive item acts as a price anchor that makes it easier to charge ridiculous markups for other items that still look like bargains in comparison to the expensive one.)

                    So maybe the lack of ribeye at regular restaurants could be caused by restaurant owners being unfamiliar with behavioral economics or reluctant to hire highly-paid consultants. (Yes, I'm partly facetious.)

                    1. re: nocharge

                      That makes sense. Now we just need some more restaurants to take Lolinda's lead and have a good steak as their price anchor.

                    2. re: bdl

                      Lolinda's menu says their ribeye is 18 ounces. That's a nice big steak, but for the record, Buckhorn's is 24, Alfred's is 30, and Epic has a choice of 25 or 32.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, but quality and execution are more important than price. Admittedly my DH can (and has) eaten 32 oz of rib eye/prime rib by himself, but not many people do.

                        1. re: jaiko

                          Alfred's ribeye is excellent. They have no problem with two people sharing one.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Is their meat clean, though? You can get commercial angus beef for half the price the "painted hills" beef Lolinda serves goes for.

                            1. re: bdl

                              I don't know where Alfred's gets their beef, all they say is that it's corn-fed.


                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                If one is comparing value I think it's important to compare the product as well as the price/weight. Restaurants that choose to purchase and serve meat that is more expensive because they believe it is better for health and for the environment should have that included in a discussion of value.

                                1. re: bdl

                                  I didn't say anything about value, I was just pointing out that an 18-oz. ribeye is not particularly large.

                          2. re: jaiko

                            Help me...what does "DH" stand for? So behind the times here...tx

                              1. re: bdl

                                "dear husband"

                                if someone is talking about baseball, "designated hitter" might also apply.

                    3. re: bdl

                      Agree on this - it's excellent. and huge.

                      And the ribeye at Arabian Nights on Mission between 19th and 20th is really good too - smaller, but only $28.00. and we actually shared it the other night. it comes with fries or rice, we ordered a salad and hummus. more than enough food.

              2. Having grown up within smelling distance of the old stockyards in Chicago, where if you didn't eat beef five days out of the week, something was either wrong or you were a very strange and possibly un-American person! Yup, steak generally is sucky in CA.

                We have encountered good steaks on erratic occasions, but forget porterhouses. The days of the magnificent corn-fed, 3" thick porterhouse coming sizzling off the grill is long gone. Ah, well....

                Hubert Keller loves his meat, and although our last dinner at Fleur de Lys was disappointing overall, the one thing that was amazing was the filet. OMG, that was the kind of flavor I remembered: rich, beefy, buttery, needing nothing but a very little salt for utter perfection!

                We don't even bother with aged grass-fed beef. Not worth the extra $$$. Last fall we did a head-to-head comparison at Stark's/Santa Rosa and another at home with FiveDotRanch rib-eyes. Both DH and I agreed the very slight flavor improvement is simply not worth the cost. If it ain't corn-finished, it ain't worth the botherin', lol.

                The best consistent prime rib we've encountered is at Townhouse Grill/Emeryville. Only Wed-Sat, they do two small-end rib roasts. When they run out, that's it, no more till the next day. Get the potato gratin as a subbed side instead of the mashed, they do a very nice little version of it.

                The price is rock-bottom. It has not gone up in the five years we have been going there. Price includes the sides of potato (standard side is mashed but we prefer the gratin) and veggie, which is often broccollini.

                The quality is equal or better than served by Walnut Creek's Fleming's and Ruth's Chris' steakhouses, both of which we've tried multiple times.

                The last time we were at Townhouse a few months ago, I congratulated them on the quality of their prime rib (having tried a week previous yet another EBay place that charged the same price for a skinny cut of watery texture and no flavor). The waiter told us they have been using the same butcher for almost forty years, and "they know what we want."

                I should mention that Townhouse also makes a very good filet, which I ordered as DH is the prime rib lover, and I wasn't as hungry that night. Not Fleur quality, but beautifully trimmed and well-handled, giving life to what is a tender but bland steak.

                9 Replies
                1. re: jaiko

                  On your recommendation we switched gears and went to the Townhouse tonight; and I had prime rib.

                  It was every bit as good as you say--a great tip!

                  p.s. I asked for gratin instead of mashed, per your suggestion, but they didn't have that tonight (only fingerlings).

                  1. re: sundeck sue

                    Oh, good, I'm so glad you liked it too! I'm really surprised more people haven't discovered them. You've gotta like a place that does a particular dish well, and then has the courage to desist from fussing with it over time.

                    For those who enjoy beef but want something lighter, if they have the Thai Beef Salad on the menu, it has an amazing dressing based on lime and cilantro that I really enjoyed, and the sliced beef was very tasty and generous.

                    1. re: jaiko

                      I'm excited to try it! Thank you.

                    2. re: sundeck sue

                      A p.s., ten months later.

                      Last night @ The Townhouse, happily ordered the prime rib. Have had it a couple more times, since the posting above, always delicious.

                      Wouldn't you know, last night, someone in the kitchen messed up, whilst seasoning, such that the edges were beyond over-salted, the insides just fine.

                      Didn't send it back (didn't want to spoil the evening, esp. Valentine's Day, by making a fuss--they would have had to do a new piece entirely, while my husband was eating away at his Cioppino). Wish I had.

                      1. re: sundeck sue

                        Sending a dish back because you find it inedible isn't much of a fuss, and carving another slice of prime rib is no big deal.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Is prime rib seasoned after cutting, or while/before cooking ?

                    3. re: jaiko

                      >> We have encountered good steaks on erratic occasions, but forget porterhouses. The days of the magnificent corn-fed, 3" thick porterhouse coming sizzling off the grill is long gone. Ah, well....

                      Have you tried harris' porterhouse? I like that one a lot, but the only steak houses i've been to are in SF, so i might be missing something. Theirs is definitely not 3" thick.

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        I have had the porterhouse for 2 (that feeds 3!) at Florio on Fillmore St. in San Francsisco. While not 3 inches thick, it is pretty good. However, I don't see it on the current menu.


                    4. lolinda is great.

                      although you can also wait until meat from BN Ranch is in season (yes, there is a such thing as seasonal meat), buy it, grill it yourself,and it will be as good as any of the other top tier offerings.

                      1. Having just spent a week in Dallas and eaten steak three times (ribeye twice), I can only agree with you that steak here at regular place is pretty poor or over priced.

                        I tend to just suck it up and go to a steakhouse when I want a good cut in SF.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tjinsf

                          It's the one thing we do really enjoy when we go visit the East Coast. Their beef and veal are noticeably better, and considerably less expensive.

                          I dream about the veal chop at Vetro's by Russo on the Bay (salivating at the thought). Best excuse for flying into JFK! And the service was to die for - old-fashioned traditional maitre d'hotel service that was warm and welcoming instead of stuffy and pretentious.

                          I admit I did have a very good veal chop at Prospect/SF the first time I went, but a return dinner was so bad, we haven't been back since. Ravi Kapur had just left in between those two meals and the kitchens at Prospect & Boulevard went into a deep swoon for a while.

                        2. Regarding El Paseo, there was a Barefoot Contessa show where Tyler Florence showed Ina Garten how he prepares the steak. He uses a 1200 degree broiler and he lets the steak rest afterward in a bath of melted butter.

                          39 Replies
                          1. re: calumin

                            <he lets the steak rest afterward in a bath of melted butter<

                            I find that hilarious. Since when does a good steak need to rest in a bath of melted butter.

                            1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                              Ruth's Chris Steak seems to have found success that way.

                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                >>Ruth's Chris Steak seems to have found success that way>>

                                ...and that's why anyone who really knows good steak wouldn't eat there, LOL!

                                1. re: jaiko

                                  Brooklyn's Peter Luger Steakhouse has been around awhile. They trowel on the butter on their dry-aged porterhouse steaks.

                                  People who know good steaks go there.

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    I don't like butter. Much less on my steak.

                                    Anytime I'm at Luger, they are instructed not to finish my steak with anything other than salt, if at all.

                                    It's also why I won't dine at Bourbon or Ruth's Chris.

                                    I don't begrudge those that believe steak needs a good pat of butter to either complete it or make it better; it's just not for me.

                                  2. re: jaiko

                                    Ruth's Chris serves very good steaks. They may not be Kobe or Wagu, and they may be wet-aged instead of dry-aged, but you could say the same about most steak houses - even in Chicago.

                                    1. re: Civil Bear

                                      As far as I'm concerned, if a steak is not dry-aged, it's a waste of time, money, and appetite.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Well, that is an opinion. I enjoy a dry aged steak too, but the musty flavor isn't for everyone. IMO, the added expense of a dedicated aging room and the waste of meat doesn't necessarily make it worth it except on rare occasions.

                                        It's a shame you can't enjoy a steak otherwise.

                                        1. re: Civil Bear

                                          Eating a ribeye, T-bone, or porterhouse steak that hasn't been dry-aged is like eating Reblochon that's still chalky in the center. It might taste good but you're not enjoying it at its best.

                                          A restaurant doesn't need a special room to age meat unless they're selling an awful lot of it.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Well, I can't say I am all that familliar with reblochon let alone sampling some that is chalky in the center. But if that is your experience when eating non dry-aged steak then I guess I can understand your adversion to it. Fortunately I'm quite satisfied slapping a choice ribeye on the grill straight from the Costco packaging (okay, I admit I prefer to add a good portion of kosher salt and cracked pepper first).

                                            So these restaurants that dry-age their beef but don't do much volume: how are they controlling the aging process? Less controll means more spoiled meat that needs to be trimmed off, so the process could get even more costly.

                                            1. re: Civil Bear

                                              Cafe Rouge has a refrigerator-sized aging cooler.

                                      2. re: Civil Bear

                                        For the record, "wet-aging" is not meaningful. Nothing interesting happens to cryovac'd beef, it just keeps it from spoiling as soon.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I love how you continually present your opinion as fact.

                                          Wet aging in a vacuum sealed bag speeds the aging process allowing the connective tissue in the meat to breakdown and become tenderer, while not imparting some funky flavors. The results obtained by the top pit-masters on the BBQ circuit bear this out.

                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                            Virtually all beef is sealed in plastic to tenderize before being dry-aged, so it's not either-or.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Yes, steak that is dry-aged likely came from beef that was sealed in cryocac packaging to begin with. To wet-age the beef, you will want to keep it vacuum sealed for up to 6 weeks past the packing date (given on the box). To dry age, the total time in the cryovac plus the time dry-aging typically does not exceed the same six weeks past the packing date, with the dry-aging part (usually) not going more then four weeks.

                                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                                Doesn't six weeks in the bag make the meat mushy?

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  No, not as long it is maintained properly (32F-33F and checked for leaks).

                                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                                    Check out this blog entry from Serious Eats: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/03/th...

                                                    He breaks down how to dry age and the difference between dry aging and wet aging. He basically says that wet aging tenderizes but does nothing for the flavor and is pretty much a gimmick.

                                                    1. re: Ashley12

                                                      He is correct that wet aging is done to tenderize the meat and not to change its flavor. Calling it a gimmick though is a matter of interpretation. It's a cheaper way to age meat, so is that a gimmick?

                                                      On the BBQ circuit wet aging is done instead of dry aging because a) most folks aren't set up for dry aging, and b) despite conventional wisdom, most folks (including judges) prefer the flavor of wet aged over dry-aged beef in blind studies.

                                                      A couple of years ago I took a class from the top brisket cook on the KCBS tour. His strategy was to purchase all his briskets for the year from the January slaughter, wet age them for 35 days beyond the packing date, flash freeze them, and then slowly thaw the ones he needed a week before the contest. I don't buy in bulk like that so I skip the freezing process, but I can state unequivocally that wet aging for 42 days on average has helped my scores tremendously. Does that make it a gimmick? Perhaps.

                                                      1. re: Civil Bear

                                                        Brisket for barbecue is at rather the opposite end of the spectrum from ribeye and other first-rate steak cuts as regards how much tenderizing is desirable and the cooking method, time, and temperature that will give best results.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Yes, brisket contains more connective tissue than the higher end cuts of beef, and therefore the effects of the aging process would be more needed of you were trying to cook your brisket to medium rare. That said, the same reactions are transpiring during the aging process in all cuts of beef.

                                                          As it relates to this thread, I think the important thing to note is that both wet aging and dry aging break down the enzymes in the meat and make it tenderer. The difference with dry aging is that it also concentrates the flavor.

                                                          Does that concentrated flavor justify the increase in price? You say always and I say on special occasions (although admittedly I only go to high end restaurants on special occasions). I am curious though if you only eat dry aged tri-tip, hangar, flat iron, and other cuts that are best served below medium?

                                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                                            I don't eat steak often. When I do I want it to be dry-aged, charcoal-grilled, and served with a nice old Bordeaux. Same minus the charcoal for prime rib. A portion of dry-aged beef ground in with a burger is also a plus.

                                                            Other dishes I'm not so picky about dry aging or grain finishing, but I'm more likely to use pork or lamb anyway.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              off the top of your head, do you know which places use charcoal-grills and which don't? thanks

                                                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                Original Joe's has a mesquite grill, but you have to make a special request for your burger to be cooked over wood.

                                                                Don Pisto's has mesquite too.

                                                                1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                  Mo's burger in North Beach grills their burgers over charcoal. Haven't been in quite awhile.

                                                                  1. re: ML8000

                                                                    Mo's grill is gas. Looks kind of like charcoal because of the pumice.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      The grill at the North Beach location use to be charcoal. They might have changed. As I mentioned, haven't been in quite awhile. I know the Yerba Buena is gas,

                                                                  2. re: Dustin_E

                                                                    Joe's of Westlake in Daly City also uses mesquite. The grill cooks there are very good.

                                                                  3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    and what places use dry-aged beef for their burgers?

                                                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                      Cafe Rouge grills over charcoal and I'm pretty sure they have occasionally ground some dry-aged scraps into the burgers.

                                                                      Alfred's grills over mesquite charcoal.

                                                                        1. re: rubadubgdub

                                                                          Biergarten promotes its Wednesday burger as grassfed Prather Ranch beef. Now I had thought that Prather Ranch's own herd was finished on grain and the beef is dry aged.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              As I read the Prather Ranch site, all their beef is finished on grain (but no corn).

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                Thanks. The confusing part is that Prather Ranch Meat Co. also sells Knee Deep Cattle Co. Certified Humane Grass Fed Beef in its bulk meat program. Wonder if that's also available to restaurants like Biergarten or if the burger's mislabeled.

                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                  At the FM at least, the Knee Deep meat is labeled as such. The PR cattle are raised in pasture, so they are grassfed, just not for the entirety of their lives.

                                                                                  BTW, your description of the PR burger meat sounds right based on the ones I've made from their GB.

                                            2. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                              I think we would all be surprised to find out how many times restaurants finish protein with butter. Chicken breasts, steaks, fish, etc. all typically get a bit of butter in the end.

                                              1. re: Ashley12

                                                A bit of butter in the end seems very different from resting in a bath of melted butter.

                                            3. re: calumin

                                              That would explain the buttery taste Ashley12 liked.

                                            4. I think outside a few select cities or areas in the US (eg NYC, Chicago and Vegas) a well, rounded steak menu wih a diverse selection of quality cuts of different ages (dry, wet, and/or number of weeks) is difficult to find.

                                              Part of it is cost but a good part of it is demand. Most people don't care and/or are ignorant of the finer delineations of haute beef.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Yes, I would agree with you. It's also a bit out of fashion right now to indulge in a high saturated fat dish in SF. But I look at a night out as the time to indulge in a dish that isn't as healthy as I would typically prepare for myself.

                                                I grew up on the East Coast and it's much more common there. I guess my expectations are a bit high for SF.

                                              2. Interesting to look at Sundance Steak House in PA


                                                Notice that:
                                                There aren't that many real steaks on the menu anymore
                                                There are only two, really - and they've even put "teriyaki skewers" under steak, which is crazy talk
                                                They've expanded all the non-steak parts of their menu.

                                                Now look at LB Steaks (about 2 miles away
                                                There's a bunch of stuff at about $30, and the huge tomahawk chop

                                                Newly opened BlueStem (supposedly about beef) has smaller cuts for a reasonable price, then a whopping $75-for-two steak

                                                So --- if you bill yourself as a steakhouse, you expect entree prices in the $30 to $40 and up. If you're a "regular restaurant" - let's take Serpentine - http://www.serpentinesf.com/serpentin... - then you have entrees from about $20 to $30 and can put a bavette on the menu but not a "real steak", certainly not for $75

                                                Personally, I really like a good bavette or hanger or flatiron, it satisfies much of my desire for meaty greasy goodness. Filet is just too spare and bland for me, most of the time, and when I want a "real steak" I'm better off getting something nice at Drager's and pan-cooking it at home. I can pay $25 for a really nice cut in the comfort of my own home.

                                                Which is pretty much what jaiko said

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: bbulkow

                                                  I definitely can appreciate a great steak at home. I really enjoy your break down of the issue at hand of "real steak" on restaurant menus.

                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                    Around Berkeley and Oakland it's not that unusual for restaurants to have a real steak at a much higher price than anything else on the menu.

                                                    Cafe Rouge's ribeye is $36, non-steak entrees are $20-24.

                                                    Corso's 24-oz. T-bone is $45 vs. $14-23.

                                                    Flora's NY strip is $37 vs. $24-25.

                                                    Tribune Tavern's ribeye is $40 vs. $17-19.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      I'm really looking forward to trying the Tribune Tavern.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Yeah, I think that's what the OP is looking for.

                                                        I'm scratching my head of where on the peninsula might be similar.

                                                        Village Pub has a "NY Steak", and it's probably really good.

                                                        St Michael's Alley has a "NY Steak". Don't love it.

                                                        Macrthur Park. Old school, haven't been under the new chef.

                                                        Pampas has a ribeye (not just the rodzio)

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Have you tried the bone-in ribeye at Comal ($49)? Might be another option for the OP.

                                                          1. re: JonDough

                                                            Yes, I liked it. 22 ounces so you might want someone to share it with.


                                                      2. Out of curiosity, is there a reason you don't go to steakhouses, given how much you want a good steak?

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: mr_darcy

                                                          I'm at the point where I'm willing to go to one. However, I typically don't enjoy the steakhouse experience. I like going to a restaurant that cares about where the food comes from, incorporating seasonality into their dishes, and has more to offer in terms of variety of other courses. Also, its rare that I dine out and everyone in my group is in the mood for steak.

                                                          1. re: Ashley12

                                                            Ah, I see - well, if it's within budget and you want to go to a steakhouse, I recommend Alexander's or 5a5. Both have A5 Wagyu from Japan but also other great cuts. I had a dry-aged ribeye from Alexander's the other day that was to die for. It's frankly hard to imagine a non-steakhouse restaurant beating that. Both have a good selection of non-steak dishes. Alexander's has the farm name and location listed for each cut.

                                                            1. re: mr_darcy

                                                              Thank you for the great recommendation. I will give Alexander's a try.

                                                              1. re: Ashley12

                                                                Ack, I messed up - turns out they don't list the source for every steak. Just the Wagyu section (hybrid and full). Sorry about that. The steaks are still good there though :)

                                                                1. re: mr_darcy

                                                                  I just checked out their menu; very impressive. Love the description on where the Wagyu was raised.

                                                              2. re: mr_darcy

                                                                The non-wagyu cuts at Alexander's are prime grade certified Angus.

                                                                There's a whole other separate discussion on whether Angus means anything, and whether certified Angus means anything, But I don't think many places have certified Angus at prime grade.

                                                                Don't know what ranches they source from however.

                                                                I just saw your point about not wanting to go to a steakhouse. That makes sense. I think Alexander's is really good.

                                                                1. re: calumin

                                                                  I just made a reservation to try Alexander's. Looking forward to it. Thank you for the recommendation.

                                                          2. Boboquivari makes good steaks.

                                                            1. I grew up on a cattle ranch. All free range way before "free range" was trendy. We ate a lot of beef. So anyway, I had one of the best steaks I've ever had last fall at, cough.... Morimoto's in Napa. I was with a group of friends. All of us has fish entries and sushi, but one decided to try the rib eye. I asked her why on earth she was ordering a steak at a sushi / fish joint, and she said she just felt like eating a steak. I tried a bite and could not believe how good it was. Oddly enough, the fish entries we had were not all that great. The sushi appetizers were excellent. But that steak was amazing. (We all share our meals when we travel together).

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: akmike

                                                                I will definitely make it a point to order that next time. Everything I have tried there has been excellent.

                                                              2. Have you tried the ribeye at Cafe Rouge?

                                                                9 Replies
                                                                1. re: Glencora

                                                                  No, I haven't been there. Would you recommend it?

                                                                  1. re: Ashley12

                                                                    I'm not a big meat eater, but my husband loves it. It does come with shallot butter, if that's an issue. In any case, if you've never been to Cafe Rouge, you should go.

                                                                    1. re: Glencora

                                                                      Thanks! I just checked out the menu and it looks great. Will definitely check it out soon.

                                                                  2. re: Glencora

                                                                    Cafe Rouge is my favorite place for steak. When they have ribeye it's usually from Magruder Ranch.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      When I asked about Cafe Rouge's sourcing, the woman I spoke with said the ribeye comes from Niman. Not sure if she meant Niman Ranch or BN though.

                                                                      1. re: pane

                                                                        Cafe Rouge has multiple sources, so it varies. The steaks I've had in the past year were mostly from Magruder.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          I've mainly dealt with the meat counter at Cafe Rouge, rather than the restaurant. I've gotten BN Ranch meats there on occasion, but they were clearly labeled as such, so I assume everything else was not BN ranch, which as I recall is generally seasonal (late Spring?).

                                                                          1. re: ...tm...

                                                                            If it's not labeled, you can always ask where it came from. Last time I asked the prime rib roasts were Niman but nothing else was. They've had turkeys from BN but I haven't seen anything else (very limited production).

                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        I'm not a big steak aficionado but Cafe Rouge's steak is heavenly and I don't think I've even had the ribeye yet. I'm usually there for lunch and go there for my birthday steak. I don't need any other.

                                                                    2. You like/want good steaks but don't want to go to steakhouses? And then there's discussion about how bad steaks are here compared to Chicago? Really?

                                                                      I can understand the Chicago thing, Chicago being the meat packing center of the U.S. but the no steak house thing, kind of defies common sense.

                                                                      Next time I'm in Chitown and I want Mexican food I will pass on taquerias and Mexican places because in California you can get excellent tacos in a gas station.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                                        My point is really the point you just made, that this area doesn't have a lot of great steak. So I am probably going to have to go to steakhouse to get it. I'm originally from the East Coast where good steak is on most menus.

                                                                        1. re: Ashley12

                                                                          I think ML8000 is right though. I don't think you can go to very many places on the East Coast and get a Masami Ranch steak like at El Paseo.

                                                                          There's a separate point that if you go to Dallas or some places in the US, a lot more people eat steak so you'll find in on the menu more often. But I think there's some discrepancy in what one would call "decent" between El Paseo, or Alexander Steakhouse, and a random restaurant you'd find in Dallas or Baltimore.

                                                                      2. Original Joe's on Washington Square in San Francisco is not a "steakhouse," but has Ribeye, Filet, New York and Porterhouse steaks on the menu.


                                                                        1. I agree, good steaks worth the expensive prices SF restaurants charge are hard to come by in the city.
                                                                          I have been disappointed by many 'high end' steakhouses in SF and other big cities.
                                                                          With that being said the last great steak I had was the Bistecca Fiorentina (for two) at Cotogna.

                                                                          Is Harris steakhouse worth mentioning? I have heard mixed things.
                                                                          Another one of my favorite steaks is the Rib Eye at il Pollaio in North Beach. Reasonably priced, fresh tasting steak grilled to perfection and finished with an excellent chimichurri.

                                                                          I also like the veal chop at Pazzia.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Agrippa

                                                                              i tried the ribeye at il pollaio last night and really liked it. great dish for $20 -- and i split it with the gf. service was perfect. room is not fancy, but i like the feel of it.

                                                                              obviously, the steak isn't going to be on the same level as harris' ($45-$55), but it is nonetheless delicious, and excellent for the price point.

                                                                              bistecca fiorentina at cotogna is also a great steak -- perhaps the best in sf proper (but expensive at $100-$120). listed for 2-3 people, but i ate it solo, and lived.

                                                                              i also liked the inexpensive steak at tad's in union square for $15. not a fan of the room or the service -- so i just get it to go and eat on benches outside. il pollaio is better, but i'd return to either.

                                                                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                                Glad you liked the Pollaio Rib Eye. I am still trying to replicate their delicious chimichurri. I just had Cotogna steak again, and was not dissapointed , an absolutely delicious and flavorful steak .
                                                                                If you want to eat a steak like Cotogna, but not spend the money, you can buy steaks from '5-dot ranch' at Birite, , avedanos, or their own store in Napa and cook them up yourself over mesquite/oak wood. 5 dot ranch supplies steaks to Cotogna. I've yet to taste anything better than the 5-dot ranch Rib Eye I cooked a few weeks ago.

                                                                              2. re: Agrippa

                                                                                What kind of meat does Cotogna use for their Bistecca? Is it fairly authentic? I know they do it over wood fire at least.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    Is that it? No Chianina beef? 2" thick cut? Cooked with only olive oil, salt, rosemary, thyme? Over coals?

                                                                                    Not really worth calling it a Bistecca alla Fiorentina if it's really just a T-Bone steak =/

                                                                                    1. re: BacoMan

                                                                                      Cotogna has a charcoal grill. The ones I've had in Tuscany were simply grilled T-bone steaks, maybe 2" thick. I don't think they added anything but salt. Here are some photos from Il Covo, a classic steakhouse up the hill from the spa where Fellini filmed 8½:


                                                                                      Per Dario Checcini, traditional Chianina beef came from working animals, i.e. oxen, which were replaced by tractors, so the traditional product doesn't exist any more. He sources his beef from Spain. I suppose the old version was something like the chuleta de buey they have in Spain.

                                                                              3. Those of us who care about our health and that of the cattle always perk up at the sight of such "crappy cut[s]" as hangar, etc., on a menu, because they're more likely to be grass-fed and -finished. Not to say such meat qualifies as health food, just a lot safer to eat than corn-fed beef.

                                                                                I served a BN rib roast at a dinner party, and everyone (except the vegetarians) thought it was the best they'd ever tasted.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Fine

                                                                                  I did both Niman (grass-fed, corn-finished) and Marin Sun Farm (all grass) prime rib roasts one year, and everyone preferred the Niman. Finishing on corn gives a different flavor and better marbling—which means more fat and a higher percentage of saturated fat, but that's nothing to worry about if your overall diet is balanced.

                                                                                  One bogus often-made health claim: yes, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is better for grass-fed, but the actual amount of omega-3 is too insignificant to matter.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    "Grass-fed" is a confusing term. I think Niman really is what people call "corn-fed" because it's finished with corn. Virtually all cows spend some of their life eating grass.

                                                                                    The implication of "grass-fed" is that the cows are pasture-raised, although in reality that's not always the case. You have to actually look at how each ranch raises the cows because there's no standardization of terms. I don't think Niman Ranch cows are pasture-raised but they also don't raise them in massive overcrowded pens like the way most commercial cows are raised. Which is why it's not good to label them as "corn-fed" like most steaks people buy.

                                                                                    I've asked a few chefs about grass-fed vs. corn-fed and the consensus I've gotten back is that grass-fed can sometimes taste very good but it's hard to get consistently high quality in the final product. When you control the feed during finishing you have more confidence that the steaks you sell are consistently good.

                                                                                    1. re: calumin

                                                                                      Top-quality grain-finished beef is raised on pasture.

                                                                                      Niman's protocols require pasture that's not "abused or overgrazed" on environmentally sustainable ranches.


                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        I think it is pasture-raised until the finishing stage, when the cows move into pens.

                                                                                2. I thought the ribeye at Kokkari was really good -- it is dry aged and charcoal-grilled.

                                                                                  Though i haven't had it in a couple years.

                                                                                  1. I can't recall if anyone has mentioned the Tadich Grill, but they have a 14oz. Black Angus NY Steak on the menu for under $35 (last time I looked). They grill over mesquite.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: DavidT

                                                                                      Very negative report on Tadich's porterhouse:


                                                                                      You can have a very depressing meal at Tadich if you stray from the handful of dishes they consistently do well.

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        While your views re: the Tadich Grill are well know to the regulars on this board, it should be noted that the Swedish Princess had the 16oz. Porterhouse for $24, not the 14oz. NY Steak on the regular menu.

                                                                                        1. re: DavidT

                                                                                          That's the only report on their steak that I've ever seen.

                                                                                          Hayes Street Grill, which was sort of a modern knock-off of Tadich when it opened in 1979, used to be my go-to place for a first-rate dry-aged, mesquite-charcoal-grilled steak back when they were even harder to find. These days they do a sliced bavette, which is probably not dry-aged (bavette and onglet don't need it).

                                                                                      2. re: DavidT

                                                                                        "Black Angus" as a beef description means about as much "tiger" means re prawns to imply quality...i.e. absolutely nothing.

                                                                                      3. When one wants shoes, they go to a shoe store. The bay area does noy have a decent "steak house".
                                                                                        In order to be classified as a first class steak house, it must serve "dry aged" beef. The best in the US is Peter Lugers in Brooklyn.
                                                                                        Harris"s and BoBo's are not bad. Alfred's has the feel and some of the meat is dry aged.
                                                                                        Grass fed beef is a waste of time and none of it is dry aged.
                                                                                        Dry ageing breaks down certain enzymes and gives the steak a unique flavor. It is also more expensive as it shrinks a bit in the process. Wet aging does not make it taste any better.
                                                                                        I have been pining for years for a STEAK HOUSE. The Palm tried 25 years ago but failed (mainly due location)
                                                                                        Keep hoping

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: herbjaff

                                                                                          How does Alfred's Steakhouse not meet your definition of a steakhouse? All their steaks are corn-finished and they were all dry-aged from 1928 until whatever fairly recent year they added the grass-fed filet. They're probably more consistent than Peter Luger is these days.


                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            Alfred's is not bad. Peter Lugers, as of last week is still the undisputed King (or I should say Queen, as it's run by 3 sisters). There is no finer meat anywhere.

                                                                                            1. re: herbjaff

                                                                                              As in all food, it's a matter of taste and preference. I really thought I would have an aha moment at P Luger's but didn't. While it was a fine piece of meat it didn't put me over the top. As the saying goes, Peter Luger's is the best steak in . . . Brooklyn. Eating nearby, I've enjoyed the tbone at Corso the most. Prather does dry aged grassfed so such a thing does exist.

                                                                                        2. Try Freds steak from Schaubs market at Stanford (not the sandwich, get marinated steak to go and grill it at home..)

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: marilees

                                                                                            Any steak that you have to marinate is, by definition, mediocre

                                                                                            1. re: herbjaff

                                                                                              Your generality might be true, herbjaff, but still, TRY the Fred's before you judge it.

                                                                                              It isn't a steak in the steakhouse sense that dominates this thread, rather it's a roasty cut -- tri-tip or the like -- in a conspicuously unusual marinade, and something of a Bay Area institution since long before Chowhound existed. Black in color. You roast or grill it.

                                                                                              I ran into someone in the meat business who told me what'sin the marinade. I've forgotten now, except that it was surprising.

                                                                                          2. Anyone have any feedback on the steaks at Tribune Tavern?

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: herbjaff

                                                                                                The sample menu does, and the owner has mentioned dry-aging in interviews.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  not to be picky, but the sample menu on their website does not say "dry"

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      Please read again It says "21-day-aged rib eye" NO DRY

                                                                                                      1. re: herbjaff

                                                                                                        That's just sloppy writing. They know what they're doing with meat there.

                                                                                                2. re: herbjaff

                                                                                                  so no report on the steaks at tribune?

                                                                                                  1. re: Ashley12

                                                                                                    I asked, they haven't got their dry-aging cooler yet.

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      I dined there on Friday and they claimed that they did in fact have the cooler set up. But after trying it, I doubted whether or not it was dry aged. IT was definitely over salted and didn't have that nice of a sear. My experience as a whole was not incredible. Will try it again though.

                                                                                                      1. re: Ashley12

                                                                                                        If they set up their dry-aging cooler in the past week they haven't had time to age anything in-house yet, though that doesn't mean they can't get it.

                                                                                              2. New place to try, Osso Steakhouse. Say it has the super-sized porterhouse for $130. Must come from a giant cow or be a 3" cut. You Midwestern meatpackers should try it and report back.


                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                  Same owners as a bunch of more or less touristy places such as Stinking Rose, Franciscan, and Bobo's.

                                                                                                  1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                    Sounds like bargain but probably not this grade.
                                                                                                    The Lobel´s of New York Porterhouse is the very best USDA Prime, dry-aged for perfect flavor and tenderness.
                                                                                                    1 (48 oz.) Porterhouse Steaks $142.98

                                                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                      Hmmm....caviar? "An entire section of garlic Dungeness crab"? I'll let someone else get ripped off first, LOL.

                                                                                                    2. The Bay Area is rather famously not a steak or steakhouse region. (Places that are, in my experience, have the cattle - Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, etc., while we here have shellfish - or else a restaurant customer market fond of steaks.)

                                                                                                      I posted some info online in 2005 after deliberately checking out steakhouses around my part of the Bay Area - that was AFTER some prominent steakhouses had recently opened - but basically the scene and standards were consistently mediocre compared to other regions I mentioned above.

                                                                                                      Alexanders (the home location in Cupertino, not the 2010 SF spinoff) had unusual features and approach, and unusual $$$$ premium meat options, but their mainstream steaks were conventional for this region in my few tries.

                                                                                                      And, as I hope people realize - presumably there's a CH thread on this - the people who created and defined Alexanders and made its reputation were reportedly forced out of the business. Manager "Alexander" Chen in 2010, chef Stout late last year just before opening the second spin-off "The Sea." (Multiple reports in the Chron.) My impression is that the Alexanders "brand" is now carrying on but without the founders.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                        They raise a lot of beef in Texas, but that doesn't mean they have a clue what to do with it outside of a barbecue pit. Bob's is a small Texas-based chain, had three branches there before expanding here and then a few other places. Bob Sambol, the founder, said, "I think half my customers would send back a dry-aged steak, saying it didn't taste right."

                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          Regional prejudices aside, I suspect that comment might be made about much of the average steakhouse market in the US.

                                                                                                          My remarks though were just to attest that in many business trips to Plains states, this Bay Area native observed first-hand that both the number and general quality of steakhouse restaurants there eclipsed the Bay Area's quite modest offerings in the genre. The BA has compensating food strengths certainly, they're just not in that direction. Some steakhouse chains like Ruth's Chris have been consistently better in Texas in my experiences. The vast (three-tiered) Del Frisco's chain -- hundreds of sites, including the Sullivan's brand -- was HQ'd there when I researced it, if I remember right.

                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                            It's been my experience too with both steakhouse chains and local steakhouse in Texas compared to the Bay Area. They seem to have some clue in both the cuts they get and the way they cook them in Texas, far more than in the Bay Area. It amazes me how hard it is to a steak cooked rare or med-rare and have it been right both inside and out in the Bay Area.

                                                                                                            1. re: tjinsf

                                                                                                              There's a common phenomenon around here where ordering rare gets medium-rare.

                                                                                                              The first time I went to Alfred's I ordered one rib-eye rare and one medium-rare, and they were both correct.

                                                                                                      2. Finally made it to Steak Monday at Camino last night. Really excellent ribeye cooked over the open fire, served perfectly medium rare. Plated with farro, corn cobs, roasted tomato = $32. Full dinner special with app and dessert = $45. I think they are switching to different fare for the next month's Mondays but well worth seeking out when it comes back into rotation.

                                                                                                        1. Had the filet at Epic Roasthouse last night and it was quite good, pleasantly surprised. It was a tad under salted but they had two different types of salt on the table. The truffled mashed potatoes might have had a bit too much truffle oil in them IMHO.

                                                                                                          1. Not mentioned yet..
                                                                                                            Mason Pacific in San Francisco has a mean Bone in 32 ounce Rib Eye for 2 or 3..

                                                                                                            Lots of cool sides