Last Updated on Monday, 28 January 2013 09:14
Dozen Best Steakhouses
Le Boeuf Gras--the third float in Rex parade on Mardi Gras--tells the essential Carnival story. It's time to say farewell to beef. For the first week or so of Lent, at least. Maybe for life for some people. New Orleans takes a back seat only to New York in the quality of its steakhouses. Prime grade has always been the standard for the very top places. Here are what I think are the twelve best steakhouses in town right now.
Note that this is a list of the dozen best steakhouses, not the twelve best steaks. Many of the latter are being served in restaurants that aren't really steakhouses. A steakhouse, for the purposes of this list, is defined as a restaurant where steak is offered in many cuts and dominates the menu. Left out intentionally is The Besh Steakhouse (CBD: Harrah's New Orleans Casino, 8 Canal. 504-533-6111), which I've been told is very good. (But I don't do casinos.) Just missing the cut is Crazy Johnnie's (Metairie: 3520 18th St. 504-887-6641), which gets an honorable mention for offering the best steak values in town.
1. Mr. John's Steakhouse. Garden District: 2111 St Charles Ave. 504-679-7697. Everything is prime and so closely trimmed that it winds up being a better deal than most of the other restaurants in this list. The steaks are served with New Orleans-style sizzling butter. The rest of the menu includes not only the requisite few seafood dishes but also a rather extensive line of Italian entrees--a good match with the steaks. Best cut: New Orleans-cut strip (a double-thick sirloin strip cut into two pieces the size and shape of filets).
2. Keith Young's Steak House. Madisonville: 165 LA 21. 985-845-9940. One of the North Shore's handsomest and best restaurants in any category, always busy. The steaks are of indeterminate grade; the selection is made by the eye of Keith Young himself, who also presides over the steak grill. Unusually good appetizers and sides. Best cut: large filet mignon.
3. Ruth's Chris Steak House. Metairie: 3633 Veterans Blvd. 504-888-3600. ||CBD: 228 Poydras (Harrah's Hotel). 504-587-7099. After New Orleans-born Ruth Fertel sold the world's most successful premium steakhouse chain to corporate investors, the two local restaurants slipped in quality. Their behavior after Katrina made a lot of people angry, to boot. But those executives are gone, and for the past few years Ruth's in our area has improved steadily. The Metairie restaurant in particular is consistent and exciting. The downtown place is handsomer but not quite as good. Best cut: porterhouse for two.
4. O'Brien's Grille. Gretna: 2020 Belle Chasse Hwy. 504-391-7229. A handsome speakeasy environment inside a building that looks like a storage facility on the outside. The steaks are prime, crusty, juicy, and served with a variety of sauces. Service is overseen by some old pros. Best cut: sirloin strip.
5. Crescent City Steak House. Mid-City: 1001 N Broad. 504-821-3271. This is the steakhouse that set the standard for New Orleans's great beefeating tradition. (The bubbling butter idea started here.) It hasn't changed much over the years, and looks like a neighborhood cafe. But everything is prime, and most of it is dry-aged on the premises. Just okay side dishes. Prices are significantly lower than in any comparable steakout.
6. La Boca. Warehouse District: 857 Fulton. 504-525-8205. Easily the most distinctive of local steakhouses, La Boca serves beef the way they do in Argentina. All the familiar cuts are here, but so are some unfamiliar ones, plus highly offbeat appetizers and sides. Best cut: skirt steak.
7. Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse. French Quarter: 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. The concept is terrific, the surroundings elegant in a masculine way, and the important cuts (but not all anymore) are prime. When it's on, DBS is fantastic. But it can be inconsistent, especially when packed with insurance salesmen and the like. (It seems that every convention in town learns that this is the place to eat in New Orleans.) Best cut: black-iron-skillet sirloin strip.
8. Steak Knife. Lakeview: 888 Harrison Ave. 504-488-8981. After forty years, the Steak Knife buys Prime and handles steaks well. It continues to evolve away from being comes a strict steakhouse, with a menu of great dishes in every category. This has not taken anything away from the steaks, however. They still have all their chops--literally. Best cut: Ribeye.
9. Chophouse. CBD: 322 Magazine St. 504-522-7902. A newcomer to the list is one of a small chain in the Southeast. It took over the handsome, brick-walled space that had been Cuvee (and, a long time ago, the original Bon Ton) and opened in 2011 with two distinctions. First, all the steaks are USDA Prime, including the filets. Second, the standard cooking method is Pittsburgh style, which encrusts the exterior while leaving the inside exceptionally juicy. The appetizers and sides are second-rate. Best steak: large New York strip.
10. Charlie's Steak House. Uptown: 4510 Dryades. 504-895-9705. The sizzlingest restaurant in town, little changed even after a Katrina-enforced total renovation. No claims are made for grade, and the trim leaves a lot of inedible bits in place. But for fans of T-bones (best cut), there is no better steakhouse. Best onion rings in town.
11. Young's. Slidell: 850 Robert Blvd. 985-643-9331. A long-running favorite in Slidell, Young's is rustic in appearance and style. The beef is hand-selected and grilled accurately, with few frills. The prices constitute a bargain. Best cut: cowboy steak.
12. Morton's The Steakhouse. CBD: 365 Canal (Canal Place Mall). 504-566-0221. One of the big names in steak nationwide, this Chicago-style chain has been in a slow decline for some time, a process that accelerated when Landry's bought it. It's a measure of how good it once was that it remains one of the better--if most expensive--places to indulge a beef hunger. The strips, ribeyes, and porterhouses are prime; I'm less sure about the filets. I find the steaks inconsistent. Best cut: porterhouse for two.
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