The Best Steaks in Chicago

Chicago is America’s spiritual steak capital, having once packaged most of the country’s beef. Nowadays, it’s known for flavor-packed ribeyes and bone-in filets served in elegant chophouses. Here, top chefs recommend the best.

By Kate KraderKate Krader
April 20, 2017
Pictured: The Carnivore

Is there a better steak town in the U.S. than Chicago? Experts make a good case for the Windy City: They’ve picked their favorite cuts from their top steakhouses and told us why they’re remarkable.

If you haven’t eaten steak in Chicago in a while, you might want to start making plans. Now. The city has an obsession with top-quality beef, with an assortment of must-have sides and sauces. On this list: A certified classic steakhouse that was a favorite of Sinatra’s, a modern meat place in Google’s local headquarters, and even a Korean barbecue spot.

These recommendations come from people who know their beef—some of the country’s very best chefs and restaurateurs. Let them guide you to the right cuts.

GT Prime

707 N. Wells St., River North
312-600-6305

gtprimerestaurant.com

Pictured: The Carnivore

Grant Achatz, chef and partner at the world-renowned, forward-thinking restaurant Alinea, recites his order at GT Prime, the meat-focused restaurant by chef Giuseppe Tentori. “It’s called the Carnivore: You get filet, American wagyu, rib-eye, and venison, all cooked medium rare and sliced. It's pretty awesome.” (There are two sizes: $110 for 4-ounce cuts that serve two to four people, and $220 for 8-ounce cuts that serve six to eight.) This sleek steakhouse is outfitted like a log cabin by way of Vegas, with cedar-plank-lined walls and purple velvet couches. (Partner Kevin Boehm has described it as “a beautiful Game of Thrones episode, except no one dies.”)

Recommended by chef/owner Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next, Chicago.

The oven at GT Prime

Gibson’s

1028 N. Rush St., Gold Coast
312-266-8999

gibsonssteakhouse.com

Pictured: The Bone-In Ribeye

If you had to name one quintessential steakhouse in Chicago, it would be Gibson’s, which serves expert, icy martinis at the bar and stellar beef from the grill. (It is the first steakhouse to be awarded its own USDA Prime Certification—USDA Gibsons Prime Angus Beef. Local hero chef Tony Mantuano is a fan. “Gibson’s is clearly a classic, the one that every steakhouse is compared with. The bone-in ribeye is my favorite cut, since it gives you different textural experiences. There are different types of muscle in this cut—the deckle, or rib cap, at Gibson’s is one of the most delicious bites of steak you'll ever eat.”

Recommended by chef/owner Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Chicago.

Boeufhaus

1012 N. Western Ave., Humboldt Park
773-661-2116

boeufhaus.com

Pictured: The Dry-Aged Ribeye

Situated in an old butcher shop, Boeufhaus looks more like a Brooklyn hangout than a classic Chicago steakhouse. For one thing, it’s compact, with only 34 seats; for another, it’s decorated with filament light fixtures. Also, the menu starters include fluke crudo with sea beans and Burgundy snails—no mac and cheese or seafood towers here. Chef Paul Berglund loved it all, in particular his steak. “Boeufhaus may not be the most traditional Chicago steakhouse, but I had an amazing celebratory meal there post James Beard Awards [he won Best Chef Midwest in 2016]. We ordered the 55-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye and 35-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye (market priced), served side by side on the table. This restaurant is doing great stuff with local, grass-fed beef. It’s a really cool place to eat meat.”

Recommended by chef Paul Berglund of Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis.

Details of Boeufhaus
Details of Boeufhaus

Gene & Georgetti’s

500 N. Franklin St., River North
312-527-3718

geneandgeorgetti.com

Pictured: The Bone-In Ribeye

“I think you can look at Chicago steakhouses in two different ways: traditional or modern,” says Stephanie Izard, who is beloved as a Top Chef winner and for such restaurants as Girl & the Goat. “For traditional, my favorite is Gene & Georgetti’s. It’s the perfect place to sit in a big leather booth with a martini. It feels like you’re eating your meal in a historic Chicago dining room. My go-to order is bone-in ribeye.”

Chicago’s oldest steakhouse doesn’t look as though it has changed since it opened in the 1940s—Frank Sinatra was a regular—with wood paneled walls and red leather seats pulled up to white cloth covered tables. Preparations are appropriately simple. The prime beef is wet-aged, then broiled. Besides steaks and chops, there’s a section of Italian specialties, such chicken parmesan, and a strong wine program.

Recommended by Stephanie Izard, chef/partner of Girl & the Goat and Duck Duck Goat, Chicago.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

60 E. Grand Ave., River North
312-379-5637

joes.net

Pictured: The Porterhouse

Joe’s might be best known for its crab claws (the Miami flagship is the second-highest-grossing restaurant in the country, after Tao in Vegas. But Boston’s Ken Oringer favors the River North location for the opportunity to have the ultimate surf and turf meal. “For steak, I go to Joe’s Stone Crab,” enthuses Oringer. “Any place where I can get stone crab like Joe’s to start a meal and finish with a porterhouse (30 oz, $74.95) is the perfect spot for me. I go for their prime dry aged corn fed beef; it’s got a secret seasoning salt.”

Recommended by chef/owner Ken Oringer of Toro, Boston and New York.

Swift and Sons

1000 W. Fulton Market, Fulton Market
312-733-9420

swiftandsonschicago.com

Pictured: The Bone-In Ribeye

In the early 1900s, Fulton Market was the city’s meatpacking center. In a gorgeously restored former cold storage warehouse on the ground floor of Google’s Midwest headquarters, executive chef Chris Pandel has crafted a steakhouse menu that merges old and new, such as his combination of silky, butter-poached lobster with chorizo vinaigrette. Michael Anthony heads to S&S for his meat fix. “It’s a juggernaut of a place. The menu’s great, the design is very modern, and the place isn’t stuffy,’ says Anthony approvingly. “I like the bone-in rib eye there ($65). It’s the benchmark of flavor in the world of beef, so tender and well marbled. Get a side of crispy sunchokes, too.”

Recommended by chef/partner Mike Anthony of Gramercy Tavern and Untitled, New York.

Swift and Sons

RPM Steak

66 W. Kinzie St., River North
312-284-4990

rpmrestaurants.com

Pictured: The A5 Wagyu

Here’s why Chicago native Nick Kokonas goes to RPM Steak’s sexy, softly lit modern dining room, headed up by Doug Psaltis. “It’s a great room, they do everything right and don’t overthink it,” Kokonas says. “I will usually start with the seafood tower, which is simple, fresh, and really well done. What else do you want from a steakhouse starter?” Then his guests will order their own steaks. “But for the table, we'll get one or two of the Wagyu/Kobe selections (from $85 for the Miyazaki)," he explains. “All the A5 [the highest grade of Kobe] they serve are the real deal, which is not true at some steakhouses, and I’ll order two for the table as a ‘side dish.’ Personally, I cannot eat Kobe as a main. It’s just too rich, but I love a tasting alongside my steak and comparing the different types they have.” And that’s why Kokonas always assembles a large group when he heads to RPM.

Recommended by co-owner Nick Kokonas of Alinea, Next, and the Aviary, Chicago. 

Chicago Kalbi’s decor

Chicago Kalbi

3752 W. Lawrence Ave., Albany Park
773 604-8183

chicago-kalbi.com

Pictured: Kobe Rib-Eye

Some steak-lovers find remarkable beef in unexpected spots. One such lover is the legendary cook Paul Kahan. He favors a classic Korean place on Chicago’s northwest side. He explains: “It's a traditional Korean BBQ restaurant, but the menu is infused with Japanese dishes. They always have a large selection of kobe beef offerings. Most importantly, they serve the best steak tartare I’ve ever tasted; it’s called yuk-hwe, and it’s beef tenderloin, seasoned well and topped with an egg yolk. Also importantly, the people at kalbi are incredibly nice and have a wonderful sense of hospitality.”

Recommended by Paul Kahan, chef/owner One Off Hospitality: Blackbird, Avec, Publican, Chicago.

Chicago Kalbi’s decor

Roister

951 W. Fulton Market, Fulton Market

roisterrestaurant.com

Pictured: The A5 Japanese Wagyu

At the latest restaurant by the Alinea team (see Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz, above) chef Andrew Brochu cooks almost everything on a vast hearth in his wide-open kitchen. There are just a few selections of beef, but what’s there is deluxe. Chef Lee Wolen chooses the A5 Japanese Wagyu. The 7-ounce cut of beef (which goes for $115) is served with sea urchin butter. “It has a delicious surf and turf taste,” says Wolen. “I also like the 32-ounce ribeye steak ($97), which is roasted in embers with a decadent beef fat sauce. It’s recommended for two to six people, so it’s fun to share with a group when I’m dining out."

Behind the scenes at Roister.

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

218 W. Kinzie St., River North
312-624-8154

bavetteschicago.com

Pictured: The Bone-In Ribeye

In a softly lit space with cascading chandeliers and leather booths, Bavette’s has a sexy speakeasy vibe. And an impressive assortment of beef, from straightforward steak frites ($27.95) to traditional filet mignon with bernaise and custom steak salt ($55.95). Chicago empire builder Brendan Sodikoff has a pedigreed past: He used to cook at the French Laundry in Napa Valley. As it happens, French Laundry’s chef and owner, the great Thomas Keller, picks Bavette’s as his go-to steak spot when he’s in town. He recommends the classic ribeye, Chicago, bone in. (One thing we learned: Chefs love their ribeyes.) “Get the roasted bone marrow enhancement and a side of wild mushrooms,” urges the chef. Another Bavette’s fan is Josh Capon. “Bavette’s was very impressive, and I hit a few different steakhouses in Chicago. Everything was quite good, from the starters, to the steaks, to the sides and the raw bar. Most important: This is where I had my first bone-in filet and where I fell in love with it. And they do a killer loaded baked potato, if you’re wondering.”


Recommended by Thomas Keller, chef/owner of the French Laundry, Napa, Calif., and Per Se, New York, and also recommended by chef/owner Josh Capon of the Bowery Meat Company.