Illinoisians love steak-and-potato meals, especially so with a cocktail or a glass of wine found statewide at steakhouses. While the menus may look similar, the vibes of each restaurant are different.
For enormous portions
Wear loose-cut clothes to Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, because if there’s one word to describe the food at this Chicago institution, it’s BIG. High-quality steaks like the 48-ounce Porterhouse come alongside just as large side dishes, like a twice baked potato that hangs over the plate. Still hungry? Their cake slices feed an entire table. Best to share.
For the Rat Pack feel
Framed pictures of Ol’ Blue Eyes adorn the booth Frank Sinatra frequented at Gene & Georgetti. That “Guys and Dolls” feel remains throughout the nearly-80-year-old throwback restaurant, the oldest steakhouse in Chicago, with giant wall murals and dishes that look like your grandma’s china. It’s old-school Chicago at its best, and that goes for the food, too, like the Roast Prime Rib with a side of Gene’s Cole Slaw. A new location in suburban Rosemont, near O’Hare International Airport, makes it possible to squeeze in a classic Chicago steak during a long layover.
For the best place to spot celebrities
You might see the rapper Drake or the actor John Cusack digging into steaks at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, a stylish, window-lined downtown restaurant along the Chicago River. Reserve a seat on the outdoor patio for the 35-day dry-aged filet or ribeye. Hollywood stars who are in town also pop in at the luxe supper club Prime & Provisions including “This is Us” stars Justin Hartley and Milo Ventimiglia.
For a South American twist
A more budget-friendly but just-as-tasty steakhouse option is the thin skirt steaks rubbed with Columbian spices at the Las Tablas locations. Their churrasco-cut steak pairs perfectly with a freshly made mojito. Live music on the weekend ups the festive feel. The Argentinian asado-styled steaks are grilled on a live fire in the West Loop’s raved-about newcomer El Che Bar.
For trendy steakhouses
Outstanding, modern steakhouses are as plentiful as Chicago deep-dish pizza restaurants and none disappoint. Good options include Maple & Ash’s dry-aged steaks pair well with a well-made martinis; chic RPM Steak’s unique cuts of meat, like the Hokkaido Snow Beef (the rarest imported wagyu); the melt-in-your-mouth USDA prime steaks and Instagram-worthy desserts at Steak 48; and the bone-in ribeye at Bavette’s Bar & Beouf, a restaurant with a sultry feel that’s a perennial list topper for Chicago’s best steakhouse.
For sports fans
Tucked in a hotel on the touristy Magnificent Mile, Michael Jordan’s Steak House doesn’t have much memorabilia from the Chicago Bulls legend. But the menu is full of all-stars, including the 23-layer chocolate cake (a reference to Jordan’s jersey number). The steaks are a slam-dunk, too, like MJ’s 16-ounce Prime Delmonico, dry-aged for 45 days and cooked in ginger balsamic jus.
For steaks in the suburbs
In Oak Brook, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, a family-owned meat market turned steakhouse, wows diners with its 7-fingers-tall pork chop that’s roasted, caramelized and smoked.
Scattered around the suburbs are consistently good upscale chains, including the men’s club-styled Morton’s The Steakhouse in Schaumburg and Wildfire in Oak Brook, known for its horseradish-crusted filet.
For a great steak in central Illinois
In Springfield, Normal, Peoria and Champaign a unique dining experience awaits at Alexander’s Steakhouse. Here, you play chef by selecting a raw steak before cooking it over an open fire, which makes it an extra fun date-night or group spot. The filet mignon slathered in bleu cheese is a standout at Jim’s Steak House in downtown Peoria, where framed photos of celebrity diners line the walls. It also has locations in Peoria Heights and Bloomington. In Effingham, the unpretentious Niemerg’s Steakhouse serves high quality Heartland Angus Beef, and some steaks arrive wrapped in bacon.