There’s no arguing the fact that Chicago is a red meat town.
Certainly, we’ve got the big beef houses as testimony to our love: Morton’s, Mastro’s, Gibson’s, Gene & Georgetti, Chicago Cut and more. But in the past year or so, there’s been a carnivore renaissance, with innovative new steakhouses pushing beyond the Caesar Salad/Creamed Spinach/Baked Potato confines of their meaty brethren. Here are seven places in the running for “Best New Chicago Steakhouse.”
Pastrami Croquettes and Creamy Polenta with Escargot “Tapenade” are just two very tasty ways to start a meal here, where your beautiful 22-ounce, 35-Day Aged Ribeye or Lardo-Wrapped Veal Loin can hang out on your plate with oozy Cauliflower Gratin and sprightly Rye Spaetzle. Chef Brian Ahern deals only with sustainable animals, responsibly raised. And this is no cavernous meat palace; the room seats less than 40 people, so you know your meal is made with care and attention. 1012 N. Western Ave., Chicago, 773-661-2116
No expense has been spared in the build-out of this new Viagra Triangle entry; the interior is quite magnificent, both in the upstairs dining room and the downstairs bar. Start with a perfect martini, and then split the King Crab Salad with grapefruit and avocado and the House-Made Ricotta Agnolotti with your date — there is a definite date-night vibe here — before tucking into the main event: the 14-ounce Bone-In Filet Mignon. Option #2: a bottle of bubbly and the Roasted Shellfish Tower. Your call. 8 W. Maple, Chicago, 312-944-8888
From the team that brought the world Siena Tavern comes this 12,000 square-foot behemoth. The meat here — USDA All-Natural Prime Heritage Black Angus — is humanely raised and hormone-free. Funny thing: turns out the best way to prep your tummy for red meat is to start with Fried Chicken for the table, complete with chili-bourbon-maple drizzle. Throw in a Pickled Purple Cauliflower Salad with carrots, fennel, arugula, local feta and candied pecans as a nod to fiber, then bring out the big guns: the Dry-Aged, Center-Cut Porterhouse (for two or more). 222 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, 312-726-7777
Is it possible for the Melman progeny to take a wrong step? Apparently not, given the breakout success of their restaurants. This gorgeous eatery — which, like RPM Italian, is owned with partners Bill and Giuliana Rancic and Chef Doug Psaltis — devotes itself to great service, a killer beverage program, and amazing meat (and is a Best Of 2015 winner!). Go for the 38-ounce Long Bone Ribeye, accompanied by the scrumptious Parker House Rolls, Salt-Roasted Beets with whipped feta and the sinful Millionaire’s Potato (double-baked with luscious Fontina cheese and black truffle). 66 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, 312-284-4990
Argentina comes to downtown Chicago with the arrival of Chef Jose Garces’ newest resto. You can’t go wrong with the parilla classics: spinach empanadas, grilled provoleta cheese, grilled chorizo, and the grass-fed 15-ounce Entraña (grass-fed skirt steak from Uruguay) drizzled with herby chimichurri sauce. The Chef’s Tasting is a bargain. 455 N. Park St., Chicago, 312-840-6605
What at first blush appears to be a crazed River North scene bar is actually putting out some quality steak, if you can get past the deafening thwumpa-thwumpa of what the DJ is spinning (yes, the only steakhouse in town with a DJ). The Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Marcona almonds, goat cheese and apple is a light introduction to the meaty goodness that follows, as is the Grilled Octopus with purple potatoes, tomatoes and capers. Then it’s on to the Chili-Rubbed Rack of Lamb or the 20-ounce Bone-In Strip. 9 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, 312-340-5636
The Boka Restaurant Group and Chef Chris Pandel have made beautiful music together before (Balena, still one of my faves), so it’s no surprise that this modern steakhouse — located in Chicago’s hottest restaurant district — is a huge hit. We are loving the Shellfish Hot Platter as a starter, with Stuffed Langoustines with Espelette pepper, Oysters with Bonito Butter and Diver Scallops with Lemon-Parsley Butter. And the big showstopper is a throwback: the 12-ounce Beef Wellington for two. When combined with the Tartiflette Potato, a gratin with country ham and caramelized onions, it might also be a heart stopper, but what a way to go! 1000 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, 312-733-9420
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