Steakation: Where to Find a Great Steak When Out of Town

by John Uhrich | April 1, 2009 6:14 pm

We Midwesterners are spoiled by the options abounding when it comes to finding a thick, juicy cut of beef right here in our backyard. Throw a stone standing on nearly any busy street here in Omaha and you’re bound to hit a steakhouse of some sort. Some are good, some great, and some have become unforgettable favorites of Omahans, not only for their mouth-watering cuts of beef, but for the friendly service, the great wine list to accompany a hearty meal, or the down-to-earth atmosphere. Now, taking a step back from your comfortable, familiar surroundings: have you ever taken time to wonder where you would go for a steak in Chicago or Vegas? How about downtown Los Angeles? While there are bound to be some incredible dining options in all three of these cities, here are a few of key interest known not only for their wonderful cuts of beef, but for the experience as well.

Bohanan’s Steakhouse (San Antonio, Tex.)

Located in the heart of San Antonio’s riverwalk and downtown district, this steakhouse was voted #2 in Texas for four years straight. The restaurant itself pulled out all the stops in terms of decor and ambiance. The marble floors and white tablecloths went very far in establishing the high quality of the restaurant. The service was impeccable in terms of knowledge of the cuts of meat, wine list, and attention to detail.

The characteristic that made Bohanan’s Steakhouse stand out from the competition is that all major cuts of meat: filet migon, new york strip, and rib eye were all offered in Kobe/Wagyu beef style. While most top steakhouses sell these cuts of meat at an eye-opening $30 per ounce, Bohanan’s was very reasonably priced at $15 per ounce. The 12-ounce Kobe/Wagyu New York Strip that I enjoyed was the most perfect cut of meat that was perfectly marbled in all the right places.

The only disappointment with the meal was the overpriced and unimpressive wine list the restaurant offered. The typical focus on the list was big California Cabs that have a huge brand name attached. Typically at a place this grand, the wine list will offer more unique botique wines that do not carry the big name brand label. The addition of a sommelier could take this restaurant up to the next level.

SW Steakhouse (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Located in the new Wynn Hotel Las Vegas, the restaurant is surrounded by the hotel’s beautiful outdoor lake.
When deciding to dine at this restaurant, make sure reservations are made well in advance, as this place fills up fast. For the first appetizer, the seafood platter that contains the king crab, oysters on the half shell, jumbo shrimp, lobster tail and an ahi tuna tartare is a must! The portions are so enormous that skipping the salad and soup course is a great idea. Steaks are hand-selected from USDA wet-aged prime beef, cooked in an open flame and topped with SW’s signature sauces.

When dining in Vegas, there are many great steakhouse options. Although the SW does not have the Kobe/Wagyu beef selection of places such as the Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio or the Strip Steakhouse at Mandalay Bay, the service, wine list, and atmosphere truly make up for this. Many Vegas restaurants are also known for jacking up wine prices to unreasonable levels. However, the SW contains many great boutique wines from across the world at extraordinarily reasonable prices. The master sommelier does a great job of maintaining and serving a truly great wine list!

The Chicago Chophouse (Chicago, Ill.)

Located at 60 W. Ontario St., right in the heart of the downtown Chicago loop. After trying several respected steakhouses, the Chicago Chophouse came out on top for several reasons.

1. The professional service. While dining at the Chophouse, the service was a step above, and separated itself from the competition by the knowledge of the wine list, attention to detail, and the professional attitudes displayed. The food and wine pairings that were recommended matched perfectly with the menu options.

2. The wine list. After having dined at Morton’s, Gibson’s and Gino & Georgetti, the wine list at Chicago Chophouse was far and away the most extensive. The sommelier did a fantastic job of obtaining unique California Cabernets that were extremely difficult and challenging to find.

3. The food itself. Every steak at Chicago Chophouse is dry-aged USDA prime beef. The bone-in filet mignon or rib eye were the house’s two signature steaks. The wait staff did a great job directing their guests to the perfect steak.

4. The atmosphere. The atmosphere of the Chicago Chophouse truly felt as if you were dining back in the 1920’s. The white tablecloths and ambiance of the place were truly amazing. The walls were filled of pictures that took you back through Chicago’s rich history. This place gave off the truly “old-school” feel of a great chophouse.

The Pacific Dining Car (Los Angeles, Cal.)

Located in downtown Los Angeles, the Pacific Dining Car was started in 1921 by Fred and Grace Cook. The restaurant is now in its fourth generation of ownership that has continued the rich tradition the restaurant has had for decades.

I stumbled upon this unique gem while attending the Nebraska-USC game back in 2006. It was almost midnight when we arrived back at the hotel, and everyone in our group was starving for a top-notch prime steakhouse that stayed opened late. Sure enough, the hotel concierge did not disappoint in sending us to the Dining Car.

The name really says everything about the atmosphere. You really feel as if you are back in 1920, dining in a fancy box car while traveling on the rail system. Similar to the Chicago Chophouse, the walls of the restaurant tell of the history of Los Angeles, especially during the booming 20’s. The menu was every bit as impressive as what you would expect from nationally-owned chain houses. The wine list was equally impressive, offering unique selections of California’s finest. This was the first prime steakhouse I had ever dined at that stayed open until 4am. The three-hour dinner, lasting well into the wee hours of the morning, was especially memorable.

Here in Omaha, we should consider ourselves lucky to have so many steakhouses in our reach. Visiting these steakhouses drives home the fact that while a great steak can separate a restaurant from the competition, sometimes it’s the experiences we have at these establishments that make them truly memorable. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, or the wait staff’s attention to detail that lingers with you long after the taste of that perfectly-seasoned steak is gone. The next time you find yourself in one of these cities, try out one of these steakhouses, not only for their cuts of beef, but for an experience you won’t soon forget.

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