Chicago has always been a meat town. As a matter of fact, by our count, there are approximately 1,734 steakhouses in River North alone. And while you have plenty of excellent options for steak across the city, the sheer number of possibilities can also be a little overwhelming.
Rather than leave what almost always ends up being an expensive meal to chance, use this guide. Our favorites are a mix of classic and newer spots, and they all work when you want a big slab of meat plus the classic sides.
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
Gibsons is the most iconic place of the bunch, and it’s perfect for experiencing all the things people love about Chicago steakhouses: great steaks, great sides, and attentive, friendly service. It feels a little dated, but in a charming way, and despite the fact that it’s in the Gold Coast, it isn’t fancy or stuffy. The crowd’s a mixed bag of regulars, tourists, and locals celebrating birthdays or anniversaries with (literally) six-pound desserts, so no matter your occasion, this is a good choice.
Bavette's Bar and Boeuf
Bavette’s might not be the most classic, but it is our favorite steakhouse in Chicago. First, because the actual steak here is the best in the city. Second, because the speakeasy atmosphere and 1920s jazz music make it feel different from a traditional Chicago steakhouse, as does the fact that you can come here, not order a steak (entrees like the fried chicken and the lamb chops are outstanding), and still have a fantastic meal. Still, though, you should definitely get a steak, and an order of buttery mashed potatoes and truffle mac and cheese that might as well come with a defibrillator.
Nothing says “going out to dinner in Chicago” like a River North steakhouse with giant booths that’s owned by a former reality show star. And RPM Steak checks all those boxes. It also has really good food, including some very expensive cuts of steak - there’s a whole section of wagyu and kobe on the menu, if that’s what you’re looking for. This would be the place to wear your extra tight tuxedo T-shirt.
Maple & Ash
There are so many steakhouses in the Gold Coast, and most have them have been there for a while. So Maple & Ash said f*ck it, let’s open another one and put giant candelabras on the tables and cover our big booths in velvet. Can’t blame them, though, because they did a good job. Come here to celebrate any special occasion - like your friend’s lucrative divorce - over a 40oz dry-aged tomahawk steak.
You’ll find this upscale steakhouse at 88 Marketplace, a very large shopping complex just west of Chinatown. Inspired by Korean BBQ, each table at Holu has a grill where the server (or you, if you like throwing caution to the wind and/or are a control freak) cooks your steak. And what we really appreciate about Holu is the incredible quality of the meat. Most of it is aged in-house (and displayed in a window visible from the bar), with everything from ribeye and zabuton to wagyu tongue and A5 Japanese Kobe. It’s ordered by the ounce, and we suggest the $75 meat paradise, which includes banchan-style sides like rice topped with nori and a quail egg. Come here with a friend who loves meat, or for a business dinner where you’re not concerned about your server/personal chef overhearing trade secrets.
photo credit: Sandy Noto
Chicago Cut Steakhouse
Chicago Cut is a good bet for catching a celebrity athlete, or an expensive business deal going down. Mainly because this steakhouse is at the bottom of an office building, and full of successful-looking people in power suits who may or may not have an Alderman on the payroll. But the food (especially the bone-in prime rib) is excellent, and the space has an impressive view of the Chicago River. It’s also a great place for a general celebratory meal - because you might not be a fancy business person, but you’re a celebrity in your own right (at least to all 312 of your Instagram followers).
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Great steaks alone are good, but great steaks with a side of stone crab are even better. Yes, the original Joe’s is in Miami, but Joe’s Chicago has been around long enough that it’s turned into a Chicago classic on its own. You’ll find all the steakhouse sides you’d expect (there’s a whole menu section devoted to potatoes, and plenty of creamed spinach), along with seasonal fish and shellfish. Just know that because Joe’s is in the part of River North that’s very close to Michigan Avenue, you’ll be eating with a lot of tourists carrying Garret Popcorn bags.
El Che Steakhouse & Bar
This Argentinian steakhouse in the West Loop is a good place to go with a group of people who like to party. It’s fun and a little loud, with an open kitchen and a live-fire grill. Everything that grill touches is worth ordering - including, of course, the delicious steaks. They’re all served with a tasty chimichurri, and our favorite thing to get (and share with other people) is the 32oz bone-in ribeye. Make sure to order some garlic fries to go with it, and plan on not close-talking for a few days.
Tango Sur is an Argentinian steakhouse in Lakeview that’s different from all the other spots on this list, because it’s much more affordable, casual, and upbeat (not to mention BYOB). This is a place you come with your friends and your own wine, and plan on staying for as long as possible. The steaks are fantastic, but the environment is even better - it’s dimly-lit, and full of enough candles that you might start thinking it’s a grill-your-own-meat operation (it’s not).
Swift & Sons
To qualify as a real Chicago neighborhood, you have to have a steakhouse. So thankfully, Swift & Sons arrived a few years ago, finally putting an unknown little area called the West Loop on the map. You’ll find great steaks and service here, and while it’s in a modern-feeling revamped warehouse space, there are still plenty of classic touches, like drink and dessert carts rolling around. Take full advantage of both.
When GT Prime first opened, it was more of a meat-centric small plates restaurant that served steak in sliced tasting portions. We’re glad they changed their minds and decided to go full-steakhouse, serving their high-quality red meat in normal cuts. You’ll find fuzzy bar stools, animal heads on the walls, and giant leather booths that help show you this is a bonafide USDA River North restaurant. And if you do miss the sliced portions of steak, you can always order the “carnivore,” which has 8oz servings of filet, bison, wagyu, and NY strip for $270.
Prime & Provisions
Prime & Provisions is a hard steakhouse to classify - it’s not as iconic as Gibsons, as trendy as RPM, or as corporate as Chicago Cut. But it still serves fantastic steak, along with great seafood, and somewhat absurd sides like a giant piece of bacon topped with maple syrup and dark chocolate. Plus, the space is huge and full of giant booths.
Gene & Georgetti
Gene & Georgetti is Chicago’s oldest steakhouse - it’s been around since 1944. So if you have someone in town who likes to take architectural tours, or talk about whether Hoffa is buried in a construction site, take them here. But this place isn’t just about the steak - it’s also a great spot for Italian food. So order a big steak with a side of spaghetti and meatballs.
Boeufhaus is not a traditional, huge Chicago steakhouse. Think of it as more of a little, steak-centric tavern in West Town. It definitely feels like a neighborhood spot, with its dim lights and exposed brick - it’s the kind of place you’d visit with a small group of friends or a date, not with a client and your corporate card. That being said, a big, fat, delicious piece of meat is still going to be the highlight of your meal here.