When it comes to our classics, Chicago is a proud city. This applies to old-timey gangsters, the ’85 Bears, and things like deep dish pizza and Italian beef. It also applies to steakhouses. And as far as classic Chicago steakhouses go, Gibsons is the one by which all others are judged.
This place hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1989, so it feels both dated and charming at the same time. You’ll find patterned carpeting, a foyer with so many photos it’s basically a Law & Order headshot collection, and servers wearing white jackets and black ties. It’s the kind of restaurant where you still get a basket of free bread at the start of your meal, and a choice of soup or salad with your entree. Plus, before dinner begins, your server will present you with a tray of various cuts of raw meat, along with a detailed spiel about the different types of steak available - the wet-aging process, USDA prime certification, and whether or not the steaks enjoy taking long walks along the lake.
Those steaks, of course, are the main reason you’re here. Whatever you get, from the Chicago Cut (a 22oz bone-in ribeye) to the filet, will be delicious - cooked to the exact temperature you want, and perfectly seared. But you should order some non-steak things, too. The giant double-baked potato, stuffed high with mashed potatoes and draped with a thick slice of cheddar, is the best of the potato options (there are six). You also want the spicy lobster cocktail appetizer, which comes in a steamed artichoke. Then there are the absurdly large cakes and pies for dessert - they weigh six pounds a slice, and are legitimately fantastic, even though you’ll possibly feel like someone’s f*cking with you when an enormous piece of cake is brought to your table and a server starts to carve it like a Thanksgiving turkey.
On any given night, Gibsons is packed with corporate types, couples celebrating their anniversaries, and groups of tourists. You’ll see a table full of women in actual evening gowns next to a table full of people in sweatshirts, plus a lot of kids, too. And every 10 minutes or so, you’ll hear the staff loudly chanting birthday wishes to someone. In other words, don’t come here expecting a quiet fine dining experience. Do come here on any occasion that calls for an excellent steak in a classic spot where everyone can feel welcome.
Gibsons has everything this city is proud to be known for - lots of delicious meat, enormous portion sizes, and friendly Midwestern service. It’s also the kind of famous place you’ll see advertised in an in-flight magazine, or the back of a taxi. Unlike most other places that fall into that category, though, it’s not just a tourist trap - it still fully deserves its reputation.
This appetizer feels about as dated as the restaurant, but that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. It’s a steamed artichoke filled with a mayonnaise-y lobster salad, all served on top of a pool of olive oil. It’s rich, decadent, and very good.
The cut that Gibsons is famous for. If you’re on the fence about what to get, go for this one. It’s a 22oz bone-in ribeye, with delicious marbling and a great crust.
There are a few different sizes of filet available - 10oz and 12oz boneless ones, and a 16oz bone-in option. Whichever size you pick, it will be fantastic.
Hard to imagine, but someone might decide not to order a steak. The salmon is a good choice - it’s cooked medium, and served with breadcrumbs and a black garlic vinaigrette.
You’re not going to pick up the phone and text all your friends after eating any of the sides here. That being said, the best is the double baked potato, which is seasoned with chives and topped with a sheet of cheddar cheese.
We’re not sure which nuclear accident created a sweet potato this size, but here we are. It comes with a delicious sweet cinnamon butter that we want to rub all over our faces.
This is exactly as advertised - a big pile of broccolini on a plate - and it’s spicy because it’s covered in red pepper flakes. Congratulations, you ate something green.
The desserts at Gibsons are massive, weighing in at about six pounds per slice. You’ll be warned after ordering one, but nothing will prepare you for how absurd they look when they arrive at the table. The best is the Macadamia Turtle Pie, which involves creamy vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate and macadamia nuts, all on a fantastic graham cracker crust.