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Apr 25, 2013 09:01 PM

Best non-chain American style steakhouse?

Is it Cowboy Star?

Any others you might suggest (other than perhaps The Wellington or Lou and Mickey's, neither of which really are on par with Cowboy Star when it comes to just steaks)


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  1. Lou and Mickey's is a chain, isn't it?

    Cowboy start has the best steaks in San Diego and the bone marrow is amazing. I also love the decor, but the steaks are just too freakin' huge! Can anyone really eat 32oz of meat? I'd like to see their bread and pastry programs improve also.

    29 Replies
    1. re: sdnosh

      I don't believe L&M is a chain.

      Their website lists no other locations.

      Have you seen them outside of Gaslamp/SD?

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Years ago, after finishing a dinner at King's Fish House, The Mister and I were asked if we would like to dine at L&M on a certain date and time. Ostensibly it was a test of their kitchen and waitstaff before opening. When we showed up, an envelope with an appetizer and one main were what we were required to order. We could then order any other main and dessert as well as two nonalcoholic beverages. It was all free (and so we left $30).

        Look at the "info" link on the website. The email address to contact is

        To answer Ispe, I think Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse (Santee) is 'American style'; the simple atmosphere, sides and basic menu is how I had steak dinners in the Midwest.

        1. re: Cathy

          Ok. I see.

          They might be part of a larger corporate conglomerate, but that doesn't makes L&M itself a chain, right?

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Since there are no other locations, it doesn't meet the definition of 'chain'.

            (I edited my answer above while you were replying to it. You may want to read the last paragraph).

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I believe that Lou and Micky's started out in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, or Palm something or other. Opened in the Gaslamp after that (where we had one of the worst Porterhouse steaks ever). I think the only remaining location is still in the I guess no longer a chain.

              1. re: foodiechick

                You are thinking of LG's Steakhouse which is a Palm Springs chain which had an outpost in the Gaslamp for a short while. Lou & Mickey's opened as a French seafood-centric restaurant owned by King's Seafood Company out of LA which also owns the excellent Water Grill in downtown LA. Kings still owns L&M. It's quite good but it's no Cowboy Star.

                1. re: eatemup

                  Yup- Royale. And it was damn good, and another example of something about which I rarely kvetch- the dumbing-down of local establishments.

                  Royale was that Frenchy-bistro-y theme like Balthazar and somewhat Bouchon. The place was very good, I had several solid meals there.

                  Then it became Lou & Mickeys.

                  1. re: Fake Name

                    That was it. Very good place. A couple dishes stayed for a while on the L & M menu.

                    1. re: eatemup

                      They had one of those GIANT seafood platters- big tower of seafood like you get in the seafood places in Nice. I got to have one once- a trade deal or something.

                      Delicious, and even had the little periwinkles, as I recall.

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        Yes, those high rise platters are very Paris, not Berlin.

                    2. re: Fake Name

                      It was called Brasserie Royale, I believe, and FN, I agree completely with everything you said about it. I had my first of what became many Salade Lyonnaises there and can still remember the perfect marriage of frisee, vinaigrette and bacon crowned with a perfectly poached egg

                      Then along came Lou and Mickey's and I surrendered the place to the conventioneers.

              2. re: Cathy

                Although I like Pinnacle Peak, it's a chain, same for Donovan's. Where is our beloved BC, I'd enjoy to hear her chime in on this meaty subject.

                1. re: cstr

                  BC is back. .

                  Charcoal House in La Mesa, Bully's East..lots of love for this beauty.. Red Fox in North Park..Butcher Shop..Albie's Beef Inn in Mission Valley..
                  Red Tracton's in SB/Del Mar is a fave of mine but this chica hasn't had a steak since puka shell and Smoke on the Water were cranked up, really loud, on the 8 track player.

                  Durant's in Phoenix is the best damn steakhouse...evah

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Every time I walk into Durant's I feel old, and a bit of me dies.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      You obviously haven't walked through the back door with me. . .

                          1. re: SaltyRaisins

                            I don't think there is a front door.

                            I just love walking through the kitchen to the restaurant and flirting with all the guys..lots of hugs and kisses. ; )

                            Love that you love Durant's as much as I do Salty!

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        Peter Luger in NYC, the best! ever been BC?

                        1. re: cstr

                          Have not but friends who love meat, say it is all that..looks like my kind of place..old school.

                          I'm still in mourning over the beloved Locke-Ober in BOS.. : (

                          1. re: cstr

                            I prefer the location in Williamsburgh (though the one on Long Island does serve lobster, making for the ulitmate surf and turf)....if you do not feel like making the schlep to Brooklyn, Wolfgang's is very, very close second. They actually have a location in Beverly Hills, which I have yet to visit.

                          2. re: Beach Chick

                            Durant's is worth the drive into Phoenix. My s.o. is happy if we make a pit stop at the Heard gift shop first. The place never seems to get much love on national rankings, but I agree with BC, best eveh. Love the roses and I didn't realize everybody goes thru the kitchen.

                        2. re: Cathy

                          We ate at Pinnacle Peak's about 10 years ago when we first moved near Santee. It was the worst steak dinner I have ever had. The bread was essentially Wonder Bread - served cold, untoasted. Rock hard butter. Steak was tough (ordered medium). "Salad" was lettuce with maybe one or two other pieces of veggies. Never been back.

                          1. re: eeeema

                            Well, to be fair to Cathy, she did qualify her recommendation for Pinnacle Peak with "in the Midwest" ...

                            1. re: eeeema

                              Yes- "Buttons and Bows" as the side dish- beans and white bread is what I consider an 'American style' side dish, as is the 'plain lettuce'/iceberg salad.

                              The plastic salad bowls, plastic tablecloths, aligned picnic tables, cut off ties stapled to the walls and ceiling as decor are not at all conducive to what some people consider a 'steakhouse' atmosphere. You'd think it would be out of business, but the line was out the door yesterday at 6 p.m..

                              I come from a time when everything was not so homogenized. People enjoy foods which are familiar and comfortable. Probably because they were raised in different cultures, parts of the US and/or world and have different viewpoints and expectations. I was answering Ipse's question with my personal recommendation.

                              1. re: Cathy

                                I think Pinnacle has to be put in context. It's a family style restaurant where you can get a good, not USDA Prime, cut of steak in a frugal setting for a reasonable price. They never claim to be anything more.

                                1. re: cstr

                                  True. I do think of it as 'American Style', which is a place the family can go out for a steak dinner.

                                  Restaurants with tablecloths, cloth napkins, leather seating, mood lighting, taking reservations and serving prime cuts of meat are, *to me*, 'European Style'.

                        3. re: sdnosh

                          The C.S. Wagyu skirt steak is a very manageable size and our favorite tasting item on the beef menu.

                        4. Besides Cowboy Star, I have always had a decent steak at JRDN at Tower 23

                          1. For me, a $9 sirloin w/ an Esquire on the side at the Turf Club on a Saturday afternoon is pretty tough to beat. Certainly not for everyone, but works for me.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                              Wow, I'm just struggling to wrap my mind around bleu-cheese stuffed olives in my drink.

                              1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                Love the Turf Club, but apart from possibly being a young, strapping attorney, I guess I don't know what an Esquire is?

                                1. re: mcgrath

                                  Well, according to their menu, an "Esquire" is either gin or vodka with bleu cheese-stuffed olives. Hence my post up above.


                                2. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                  If you go to the Turf Club now (errr Riviera?) the steaks are about double in price. Not sure they still have the rib eye delmonico either.

                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                    The steaks have gone up in price, but by a buck or two. Still has the Delmonico ribeye. The Rivera is the place that the former Turf Club owners opened in La Mesa. Really a fantastic place.

                                3. Oops.


                                  I've only been for cocktails, but seems to fit the bill.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                    But were they screening any films?

                                  2. Red Tractons in SB. They were up in LA, but they closed that one when they moved into Solana Beach. Very old school American style steakhouse. Love the waitresses there. Sirloin "Sinatra style" will kill you, but very tasty.