Is there no limit to Chicago’s appetite for steak? Red meat has never been in short supply here, but its siren song seems louder lately. Everywhere we look, there’s a brand-new steakhouse or an ambitious new location for an old one.
For this story, we visited and ranked seven steakhouses that opened in the past year or so in the city and suburbs. We include one, STK, that squeaked in under the deadline—no time to give it a month to settle in before reviewing, but enough for us to scope it out after its first week. Two more high-profile places, Swift & Sons and Maple & Ash, stepped up to the plate in mid-October, and another one, GT Prime, is on deck (see “Just opened and soon to open.”)
Restaurants like these get the most marvelously marbled meat—the best of the best, the seriously good stuff. That kind of steak, in the hands of a talented grillmaster, is the reason we choose steakhouses when we have something to celebrate or just want to live it up. All seven of these new places know how to put a slab of prime meat, expertly cooked, on your plate. But we like some more than others. Here’s how they hit us, from most to least stellar.
66 W. Kinzie St. | 312-284-4990
Opened August 2014
Everything clicks at this polished River North spot, the jewel in Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ crown. We were seated promptly at our reserved time on a busy evening and treated respectfully—and then some—throughout our meal. The softly lighted dining room, overlooked by a capacious bar area, is a triumph of comfortable modern luxury. The noise level was lively but didn’t send us home with headaches. Both of our steaks—an 8-ounce Allen Brothers prime filet ($42) and an 8-ounce Colorado bison filet ($47)—were tender and tasty, cooked precisely to order. Sides and starters are not from the usual playbook: Impeccable Japanese yellowtail ($15) is beautifully plated with cucumber ribbons and fresh-grated wasabi, in tomato broth. There are four kinds of mushrooms to choose from and five seasonal vegetables, including crunchy, off-the-cob local sweet corn with a squeeze of lime. All are prepared with care. Our server spoke to us like a human being, not a robot, and not as if he were planning to quit the next day. When we asked what our neighbors were having for dessert, he brought us a generous sample, no charge. We didn’t want to leave.
Steaks: $42 (8-ounce filet) to $195 (36 ounces of Mishima Tomahawk wagyu beef)
Extra credit: Millionaire’s double-baked potato with fontina and black truffle ($18)