A steak dinner is a fine way to celebrate a special occasion. But if you’re simply craving a nicely cooked, well-seasoned piece of beef without the pomp of a formal steak house, you’re in luck: Our local eateries can gratify your hankering for heifer; check out our top picks.
TUCKER’S ROSEMARY FILET
Tavern on France
Certain flavors were meant to go with beef, and rosemary is one of them. Tucker’s rosemary filet at Tavern on France champions this winning combination with an 8-ounce tenderloin marinated in soy sauce, garlic, olive oil and fresh rosemary. It’s grilled to order, (we’ll take ours rare, please). This eatery is a homey, cozy place reflected in the sides: to-die-for maple bacon Brussels sprouts and a choice of garlic mashed potatoes or fingerling steak fries. $28.
PRIME RIB DIP SANDWICH
When a menu declares something “famous,” we consider it a directive to eat it, and Pinstripe’s famous prime rib dip sandwich lives up to the appellation. This French dip ’wich is hot in both senses of the word: trendy and piping. It comes with a side of beefy dipping au jus. And Pinstripe’s version stars a rosy prime rib with melted provolone cheese and horseradish cream for lively tang and bite. It’s served on a pretzel roll, which is a chewy salty treat in itself. The French dip is a thoroughly American specialty; try finding a “French dip” in France and you’ll only find blank looks. $15.
BEEF TENDERLOIN SANDWICH
Beaujo’s Wine Bar & Bistro
Don’t want to commit to a huge (and costly) slab of meat? Come to Beaujo’s for happy hour and enjoy a tenderloin sandwich. It comes on a soft roll, with chips on the side. Best of all is the horseradish sour cream, a bright and sharp contrast with the mellow char and chew of the beef. You can get any number of wine flights to try alongside; big reds, like burgundy, zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon, are an ideal match. $17.
Peoples Organic Café
You can count on everything to be organic, local and fair trade at this bastion of good health and humane practices. Even the beef here comes with a pedigree and provenance: Thousand Hills beef, 100 percent grass-fed, heritage breed and hormone free. The burger sits on a sturdy sprouted whole-wheat bun and overflows with melted Swiss cheese, sweet caramelized onion, organic Bibb lettuce, tomatoes, aioli, and pickles. Earthy and elegant at the same time, with nary a twinge on the conscience. $12.
Salut Bar Américain
This winning combination of steak and French fries is a classic French meal; some say it’s the national dish. We order it just about every time we dine at our favorite local French joint. Salut uses a hanger steak, which comes from the diaphragm of the beast and is super-tender and deeply flavored. It’s an unusual cut that is also referred to as a “butcher cut,” because the butcher cannily saves it for himself. Pan-fried saignant (literally, “bloody,” but more colloquially, “rare”) you can choose from a list of accoutrements like garlic mushrooms, au poivre, blue cheese or bacon and horseradish gratin. None are necessary; the skinny, crispy fries are addictive, and you must eat them all. $26.50.
Argentina is ranch country, where well-muscled steer roam. At Crave, Argentinian style means a palm sugar rub and a side of chimichurri, a bold mix of cilantro, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil. The sassy mélange highlights the brawn of the beef. The rib section of the steer may not be as pretty or as prestigious as the loin cuts, but it’s the most thoroughly marbled ensuring lip-smacking succulence universally cherished by hard-core carnivores. The steak is served with potato purée and rainbow cauliflower, roasted till tender and charred. A good Argentinian red wine like malbec is the best lubricant. $32.95.
STEAK AND PIEROGIS
Here’s a nice weeknight steak that won’t drain your wallet. Our dear Edina Grill cooks up a marinated sirloin and pairs it with pierogi, Polish potato- and cheddar-stuffed dumplings. For a spot of pizzazz, there are crispy onions and a nose-clearing horseradish sauce alongside. Humble and profoundly satisfying. $15.50.
GRILLED SKIRT STEAK TACO
Cocina del Barrio
The skirt steak is another butcher’s cut, little known by the mainstream but prized by those who know beef. It’s got a rustic flavor and dense texture that stand up well to robust seasoning and high-heat grilling. Cocina del Barrio marinates the meat in lime juice and cumin, then quickly grills it to maintain tenderness. The tacos are adorned with roasted poblano pepper rajas and Mexican cream drizzled in luscious rivers. These babies are full of vim and verve and deserving of a potent margarita. $5.50.
Filet mignon is the most ubiquitous and perhaps the most popular cut. It comes from the loin of the beast, which sits just behind the rib section. It’s the most expensive, the most tender and an object lesson in the benefits of dry-aging, demonstrating a concentration of flavor that can only come from the proper cocktail of enzymes and mold. “Oskar” style ups the decadence factor with a topping of flaky lump crabcake and crisp-tender asparagus. Béarnaise sauce—an egg-yolk and butter emulsion spiked with tarragon—sends it over the top in the best possible way. The contrast of earth and sea is pure genius. $41.95.
HOUSE-MADE BEEF JERKY
Beef jerky, staple of truckers and hikers, is really just dehydrated steak, so it stands to reason that the better the steak, the better the jerky. The house-made stuff at Red Cow is a far cry from the iconic Slim Jim over at the convenience store; it’s subtly seasoned, chewy but not hard, and bursting with the essence of good meat. Give your bicuspids a workout; eat some here and get some to go for your next hike or long-distance haul. $6.
FILET MIGNON TATAKI
This is as rare and delicate as beef gets: thin slices of filet mignon are near-translucent, dark-red, white-marbled, and pepper-edged. The slices artfully fanned next to a bowl of spicy yuzu sauce, an exciting dipper that is zippy and citrusy. One bite explodes with buttery flavor, velvety texture and pure beef essence. $12.
C.A.B. CHOICE N.Y. STRIP
McCormick & Schmick’s
A successful steak dinner relies on the strength of its ingredients. A high-quality grade of meat, cooked to order, is sure to shine. “C.A.B.” stands for certified Angus beef, and the upscale McCormick & Schmick’s has been doing it just right for years. The strip loin, also called New York strip or Kansas strip, is a rectangular section of steak separated from one side of a T-bone. It has a rich beefy taste, edges of crispy fat and a dense, satisfying chew. You can count on six ounces of exemplary meat here, with all manner of embellishments and sides. $29.99.