Nice atmosphere and fair price.
I am traveling to Chicago to visit my 24 year old daughter. She doesn't make much money, so I would like to take her out for a special treat. Obviously steak comes to mind. I don't make a lot either, but I'm happy to splurge for a nice evening and a memorable steak dinner. I've been reading about the best steakhouses, but not sure which offers the best steak at a fair price (by that I mean, the best quality and value for what you pay) and a nice atmosphere as well. It's difficult to compare menus so any suggestions based on experience.would be appreciated. Thank you.
Most of the steakhouses in the city price in with steak entrees that start at about $35 and go up into the $50s. Is that the "best quality and value for what you pay"? Depends on you. If what you want is prime, dry-aged meat for a month or more and served in a doting, fine dining environment, then sure.
Decent steaks can be had for less. They may not be prime or as perfectly aged but if steak is what you and your daughter want and you're not comfortable spending those prices, you might consider Wildfire (www.wildfirerestaurant.com) or Mon Ami Gabi (www.monamigabi.com), a French bistro that specializes in steak frites and features every cut you could imagine.
You said that "obviously steak comes to mind for a special treat." Maybe not. You can get a good steak anywhere, but there are some things a unique and special to Chicago. In fact, there are some really extraordinary culinary treats that can be had in restaurants that are not steak houses and may be priced more the quality/value equation you suggest.
For example, Chicago has some of the country's finest upscale regional Mexican cuisine - we're not talking here about tacos and enchiladas. Or maybe our gastropubs that serve creative, delicious food with a nice selection of fine beers and wines. And if that's not enough, we have some of the finest destination restaurants in the country (e.g. Alinea, L20, Trio, Naha, Sixteen - to name a few).
We could make all kinds of recommendations if you let us know where in Chicago you will be (the city covers a lot of real estate), how you will be getting around (by car, public transportation) and approximately what budget you are comfortable with.
In addition to asking here on Chowhound I typically look at the OpenTable "Best of ..." lists for something like this.
If I search "opentable best chicago" and then click on the 'steak' tab under 'Best Food' then a list of the top 10 for the past month as voted by OpenTable diners pops up ... http://www.opentable.com/best-chicago... ... looks like most of these are in the $30-50 range for the main entree, as Chicgail mentioned.
You can click a restaurant name and then click 'Reviews' to see what recent diners have to say.
For me the best things about OpenTable reviews are a) the person had to actually dine there to write a review, b) only reviews from the past six months are included and c) there are a lot of them (typically 100-300) so you get a nice cross-section of opinions.
The worst things are that only restaurants that book tables via OpenTable are included (so no Alinea, for example, and many smaller places aren't included) and you can't really tell if the reviewer has similar tastes to yours, which you can generally pick up here on CH if you follow an area long enough.
Thanks for your suggestions. My daughter is asking about Chicago Cut, Gibsons and Mastros. I would like to add Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab. If anyone has eaten at one or more of these, any comments about value, service, ambiance or view, etc. would be appreciated. Which would you pick for a special occasion? I wish we could try them all :)
I have been to all (over the course of years haha) and I would suggest Chicago Cut. The dining room is bustling, close to the river, large windows. Food is on par w the other steakhouses - has dry aged beef, some twists. Service excellent. If you want a classic Chicago place, Gibson's is fantastic.