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The 8 Hottest Steak Trends Across America

By Kelly Dobkin
February 11, 2014

It may have started with female-friendly chainlets like STK in the early 2000s, but lately chefs and restaurateurs all over the country are redefining the steakhouse in new and unexpected ways. Below, we've rounded up some of the most notable carnivorous trends of the last year - and shared our picks for the best places in the country to try them yourself. Vegetarians, turn away now. 

  • "Hipster" Steak

    One trend that is decidedly new in the last year is the rise of steakhouses that appeal to the millennial set - young food-obsessed urbanites who are cuisine-curious with money to spare (cough: hipsters). M. Wells Steakhouse in Long Island City, Queens, is at the forefront of the trend. Quebecois duo Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis of the now-retired M. Wells Diner made a name for themselves by cooking up eclectic, globally inspired plates not afraid of offal, bones, fat or gore. With their newest project, M. Wells Steakhouse, the pair has set up shop in a former auto body shop in Queens serving up the usual classics with many unique twists (a bone-in burger, bone-in Chateaubriand, and raw Geoduck "A La Peacock").

    Down in DC, hipster-friendly chef Spike Mendelsohn hangs his fedora at Capitol Hill's Bearnaise. Started as a steak-frites-only concept, the meat-heavy restaurant has now expanded its menu to skew a bit more French bistro. Millennial meat fans on a budget can get in-and-out on the $28 Flatiron steak served with fries and choice of salad or soup and sauces like bearnaise, spicy bearnaise, bordelaise and au poivre. 

  • High-Tech Steak

    Modern cooking techniques are not just for creating spherical olives and 60-degree eggs - in fact many restaurants are using modern technology and techniques to perfect the simple steak. Boston Chops in Boston's South End cooks its steaks via sous vide technique and finishes them in a cast-iron pan. They also offer up some less-conventional meat parts as starters as well, including crispy oxtail croquettes, grilled beef heart and braised tripe.  

    At Grant Achatz's forward-thinking Next restaurant in Chicago, where the current theme is Chicago Steakhouse, you'll find a 30-day-dry-aged rib-eye also cooked sous vide. On the pricey, tickets-only nine-course menu, each guest will receive a different starter and dessert, in a nod to à la carte ordering of the traditional steakhouse. Expect takes on classics like shrimp cocktail, surf 'n' turf with mussels and sweetbreads, oysters Il Bronzino and surf clam Siciliano.

  • International

    From Italian to Brazilian, every cuisine seems to have their own version of the perfect slab of grilled meat. At NYC's American Cut, you'll find mainly American and New York-inspired takes on steak, but among them, there's also a pastrami-rubbed dry-aged rib steak that is smoked before serving. At Del Campo in DC, expect a South American spin including an acorn-fed Ibérico pork flank that's been grilled over a wood fire and a 48-oz. tomahawk chop for two (sauces include chimichurri del campo, salsa criolla, Malbec and smoked citrus hollandaise).

    In NYC, Michael White's Costata puts the chef's signature Italian flair on steak like the 40-oz. Florentina. In LA, the underground Totoraku (no website, sorry) is a "secret" spot for Japanese-inspired beef dishes cooked up yakiniku-style. 

  • Photo by: Douglas Zimmerman

    Budget-Friendly

    A new crop of steak concepts are making the genre accessible to a whole new audience with low-cost options. Provocatively named The Strip Joint in Philly, which opened at the end of January, bills itself as a "value-driven steakhouse" offering a steak-frites concept that keeps the experience at just under $20 a pop. 

    Over in San Francisco, The Palace in the Mission (fka The Palace Family Steak House) is a meat-focused concept that's priced to steal. The $50 prix fixe menu features many luxury items, including oysters, lobster, quail eggs and steak au poivre. 

  • Female-Friendly

    Perhaps the most common steakhouse trend in the last 10 years is the clubbier, female-friendly vibe introduced by pioneer STK. The recently opened Rare by Drai's in LA continues in this vein with its subtly French-inspired menu, flowery upholstery and playful vibe. In Vegas, the Eva Longoria-backed SHe by Morton's takes female-friendly to a whole new level: she offers up fashion shows during dinner, a variety of steak cuts (He-Cuts, She-Cuts and We-Cuts) and a mirror on the back of the menu (for reapplying one's lipstick). 

  • Wood-Fired

    Chefs are obsessed with wood-fired cooking, and big hearths are starting to show up even in high-end restaurants. It's a natural for steakhouses as well of course, as the technique has been traditional in meat-cooking for centuries. Seattle's Miller's Guild has a meat-heavy focus and a 9-ft.-tall custom grill for cooking them up to a smoky perfection. The menu includes dry-aged beef, hung for 75 days to develop its full flavor and tender texture, as well as an extensive lineup of seafood, poultry and veggie dishes that are created for the versatile wood-fired grill. 

    Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio has been known for his mastery of meat in his family of Craft restaurants, but last year he brought his skills to Vegas with Heritage Steak, which specializes in open-flame cooking and features antibiotic-free meats - including Brandt Beef and Snake River Farms - that Colicchio sources from ranchers across the United States. Opened in Sin City's The Mirage, the 230-seat restaurant showcases Colicchio’s passion for cooking with fire, as each dish is prepared to bring out the rich flavors in the cuisine while using the freshest ingredients available.

  • Old-School

    What's old is new again. The retro trend is one that we've seen across many cuisines in the last few years (probably due to the Mad Men influence), from old-school Italian (Carbone) to now, steak. The revamped Gallaghers, an 87-year-old Midtown NYC restaurant, was just reborn this week; the new Gallaghers will feature old-school waiter service, dishes rolled out on tableside carts and a visible dry-aging room near the front door. 

    Likewise, the reopened Austin classic Jeffrey's from celebrity chef Larry McGuire got a whole new look back in May. The interior has been completely modernized, with every detail in place, including embossed napkins, custom aprons, fine china and carefully chosen 1970s lithographs by John Chamberlain. Start with classics like a wedge salad, decadent caviar and crispy fried oysters, then move on to a gigantic 32-oz. Porterhouse or a Akaushi rib-eye, grilled over local live oak and finished in a 1200-degree broiler.

  • Giant Cuts

    Shock and awe-sized hunks of meat have always been a part of steakhouse service, but lately they're more prominent than ever. While not explicitly a steakhouse concept, ATL newcomer King + Duke cooks up one honking piece of meat with its 1-kg., $80, bone-in rib-eye called "The King" on their "for two" portion of the menu. It comes with two big pieces of bone marrow and salad of little gem lettuce.

    At NYC's Butter Midtown, chef Alex Guranaschelli cooks up her own version of the trend -  a 40-oz. tomahawk chop for two. It's a showstopper in more ways than one - the price is $99.

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