I am a lover of beef, but I believe it does great harm to my wit. – William Shakespeare
(SW’s dry-aged strip sirloin)
How do you judge a steakhouse?
Is it the quality of the beef? How well they age it? Cook it?
The variety of the side dishes?
(Tortilla Sacramonte at Bazaar Meat)
Or is it all about the wine list to you?
(ELV’s usual wine choice with prime meat)
Or the decor? Be it dark, masculine (sort of) and clubby:
…or lighter, brighter and more modern:
Maybe you demand tenderness at all costs? (For the record: a big mistake, since a superior, intensely mineral-rich, roasted-to-exquisite-beefiness strip sirloin often has a fair amount of chew to it.)
Maybe you’re a service obsessive. Many people are. For them, the warmth of the welcome and speediness of the staff is what keeps them coming back.
Perhaps you’re a sucker for big bones:
(Andiron’s tomahawk rib chop for two)
….or the type that occasionally gets a hankerin’ for a (less expensive) hangar:
(Hearthstone’s Hangar Steak)
….OR someone who prefers their cuts served in less traditional ways:
(Rib eye at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire)
(Japaneiro’s rib eye with seasonings)
….OR someone who likes a lot of folderol with their cholesterol:
(ELV’s usual at Andiron)
Whoever you are, it’s a fair bet (if you’re still with us), that you, like Willie Shakespeare, are a conspicuous carnivore, and nothing gets your juices flowing like tucking into a haunch of well-marbled steer muscle.
If that sounds like you, boy do you live in the right town.
Because next to the Big Apple, no city on earth has better steakhouses than our humble burg.
And, on any given night, I’ll put our chef-driven joints — Bazaar Meat, CUT, Carnevino, Delmonico, Prime, SW, et al — up against anything New York City can throw at us.
True, for sheer volume and breadth of menu options, nothing beats what you find in the Big Apple, but if you look at this list, you’ll find a number of places (many of which we’ve been to multiple times), that haven’t changed a thing on their menu in decades. If you close your eyes when you walk into Peter Luger, Keen’s, Sparks, Wolfgang’s, Gallagher’s, Palm, Palm Too, and others, and then only gaze at your plate, you won’t be able to tell whether you’re in 1978, 1997 or 2014. True, the steaks are magnificent in all of them, and there’s no replacing the testosterone-charged atmosphere in any of them, but in many ways, you’re eating in a museum.
Not so in Las Vegas.
The list above, plus the one to follow, is chock full of massive meat emporiums that also give the chefs some latitude to play with their food. These days, seasonal sides are all the rage, and chefs from Matthew Hurley to Robert Moore, Sean Griffin to Ronnie Rainwater, Nicole Brisson to David Walzog and David Thomas AND Mark LoRusso (soon to be departing for fishier pastures(?)) make things interesting from season to season, with a plethora of veggies, seafood, and other succulents that can keep even the fussiest gastronome un-bored and very happy.
Not only that, but between Carnevino’s aging program, and Bazaar Meats’ over-the-top Spanish flair (not to mention that every top house in Vegas now features mind-blowing dry-aged steaks and a few A-4 and A-5 cuts from Japan), we leave previously preeminent beef bastions like Chicago, Dallas, and Miami running a poor, pathetic, paltry 3rd, 4th and 5th place.
And if you do that eye-closing/plate gazing thing again, you (the enthusiastic amateur, not the seasoned meat palates of our staff) wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the best of our beef, and anything you bite into in mid-town Manhattan.
None of these great steaks come cheap. Expect to pay $60+ for a pristine piece of prime, but face it folks: we all eat too much cow now, so splitting one of these well-trimmed beauties (between 2-4 people) is the only way to go.
No matter what your criteria, you can be assured that your steak might be the best you ever had, and that everything from the ‘taters to the foie gras:
(Seared foie gras at Andiron)
….to the desserts:
(Amanda Lucero’s Baked Alaska at CUT)
….will have you dropping your fork in appreciation.
Take THAT Peter Luger!
The Top 10 Steakhouses in Las Vegas:
GORDON RAMSAY STEAK
Honorable Mention: N9NE, The Country Club, Jean-Georges Steakhouse, Hank’s Fine Steaks, Tender, Botero (that would rank much higher if it wasn’t about to close).
To see how things have changed (or not), check out our 2010 ranking for the Las Vegas Weekly.
To see the Weekly’s recent 2015 article on our best steakhouses (more of a listing than a ranking) click here.
To know exactly why we ranked them in the order we do, you’ll just have to wait until EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants is published this coming winter. ;-)