The obsession with Chicago’s small-plate, molecular-gastronomy and gourmet-doughnut trends will fade away at some point and food enthusiasts will jump onto the next big fad. But one trend certain to never fall by the wayside is the steakhouse concept, which boasts an almost 80-year reign in the Windy City. From long-standing throwbacks to a bygone era to sultry French bistros and modern takes on a fresh cut of beef, here are Chicago’s must-try houses of steak.
Gene & Georgetti
Gene & Georgetti deserves much of the credit due to its legacy as the city’s longest-standing steak-focused restaurant. Founded in 1938 by good friends Gene Michelotti and Alfredo “Georgetti” Federighi, the Italian-inspired eatery remains family owned and operated to this day.
Its mass appeal of classic steakhouse favorites, from shrimp cocktail to a dry-aged Porterhouse for two, paired with a white-cloth, fine-dining setting largely influenced many of today’s biggest players. We’ve gathered some of our favorites, paying homage to cult classics as well as their contemporaries.
500 N. Franklin St., 312-527-3718
Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
This is, we think, the ultimate date spot for steaks. Bavette’s is downright sexy, channeling the French with a Parisian-styled supper club with downscaled lighting, upbeat exotic music, and prime dry-aged filet mignon and ribeye on almost every plate in the room. Those in the know also order a plate of piping-hot short rib stroganoff to share.
What’s also unconventional is the beverage menu. Instead of encouraging the usual wine pairings, servers push a number of fashionable sparkling sippers, from the classic Champagne cocktail to the modern Champagne smash of gin, lillet rosé, mint and lemon. But there’s even more fun to be had after dinner on the lower level, where a clubby vibe awaits. It’s dark, funkier with international hip-hop and soul blaring from the speakers and cushy leather booths filled with revelers taking in nightcaps.
218 W. Kinzie St., 312-624-8154
Located about 20 minutes west of downtown in a historic Ukrainian Village building, this ambitious 34-seat storefront has quickly become a hit among Chicago’s food scenesters. That’s for quite a few reasons, namely Chef Brian Ahern’s dedication to using sustainably raised animals and seasonal ingredients in his German- and French-focused fare. There are also those short rib beignets. Filled with braised meat in its natural jus, this crave-worthy appetizer should be on everyone’s short list. Even though the décor is minimalist with simple, reclaimed table settings, the steak offerings suggest that one goes big…or goes home. Of the several choices, the top picks are a 55-day or 35-day dry-aged ribeye. Both are 22 ounces and pair well with the “boeuf” fat fries.
1012 N. Western Ave., 773-661-2116
There’s more to this great modern American steakhouse beyond the incredible view of the Chicago River. Chicago Cut is located on the first floor of a new-ish office building, so service begins at breakfast. And yes, steak and eggs may be found on the menu. But because this place is suited up, it’s prime New York strip and poached eggs. During the day, Chicago Cut is reserved with professionals and politicians, but nightfall attracts the city’s glitterati and visiting A-List stars, including the likes of Harrison Ford, Beyonce, Jay Z and the entire Chicago Blackhawks team. That’s likely because it’s the only steakhouse in town serving double cut Porterhouse steaks until 1:30 a.m.
300 N. LaSalle St., 312-329-1800
The Gold Coast’s most profitable restaurant also attracts its share of celebrities and power brokers and has been doing so for more than 20 years. Gibsons consists of a super snug dining room that would be right at home on New York’s Upper East Side. But the charm of the staff and steak offerings is 100% Midwest. Gibsons Restaurant Group, in fact, is the only restaurant group in the country boasting its own USDA certification. Their special breed of Black Angus is raised on sustainable farms in the Midwest, corn fed and then aged for 40 days. Popular choices are the 16-ounce bone-in filet and 26-ounce Porterhouse. Word to the wise: Those ordering a slice of carrot cake should know that the multi-layered treat serves about four.
1028 N. Rush St., 866-442-7664
Prime and Provision’s succulent thick-cut bacon.
Prime & Provisions
Before ordering all the essentials, the first dish one should get to the table is the bacon. Prime & Provisions’ bacon is not an ordinary order of bacon. First off, it’s the thickest cut in town. Second, it’s enhanced with black pepper, organic maple syrup and dark chocolate. It’s so rich that it should only be consumed in small portions – especially since there’s so much more to come. The steak menu is equally impressive with affordable selections such as a $29 dry-rubbed skirt steak to the more luxury cuts like the dry-aged Kansas City strip and slow-roasted prime rib ($65-$69). Located directly across the river from Chicago Cut, Prime & Provisions attracts a similar crowd of young professionals and moneyed visitors. The crème de la crème is usually situated in the center of the dining room in the roomiest leather booths in town.
222 N. LaSalle St., 312-726-7777
This long-time Streeterville retreat gets plenty of action from locals as well as business travelers. Rosebud’s best feature – in addition to stuffed veal chops and the 35-day dry-aged ribeye – is the throwback setting. One wall is completely glass and showcases an impressive selection of domestic and international bottles of wine. Those desiring more home-style dishes should order Rosebud classics like prime chop steak with mushroom and onions or the center cut pork chops with a spicy “firecracker” sauce.
192 E. Walton St., 312-397-1000
1. Gene and Georgetti; 2. Bavette’s; 3. Boeufhaus; 4. Chicago Cut; 5. Gibsons Steakhouse; 6. Prime and Provisions; 7. Rosebud Steakhouse.