Los Angeles has the best Thai and Korean food outside of Thailand or Korea, the best tacos in America, and the best French Dip sandwich in existence. There’s incredible Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley, a run of fantastic sushi spots from Torrance to Encino, and great burgers on basically every corner. Yet despite all that, LA does have one rather glaring weakness: This has never been a steak town.
So if we ask you to think of an LA steakhouse, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a chain that feels better suited for Vegas (although probably not). Maybe it’s an old-school joint with great martinis and bad food. Or, it might be American Beauty. This spot in Venice is definitely a steakhouse - they’ve got an entire section of their menu dedicated to dry-aged steaks, a wine list thicker than a James Joyce novel, and a dark, horseshoe-shaped bar straight out of The Sopranos. But there’s also a lot more to this restaurant than just big cuts of meat and booze in decanters - which is why American Beauty just might be the perfect steakhouse for LA.
For starters, we don’t know many steakhouses where you could safely bring a pescatarian without also bringing a pocketful of protein bars for them to snack on. But here, they’ve got enough great seafood options to satisfy an entire boatload of non-red meat-eaters. Start with the grilled prawns - they’re the size of hot dogs, but unlike hot dogs, they don’t only taste good when you’re watching Clayton Kershaw pitch. They’re sweet, meaty, and so rich that you won’t need the lemon butter on the side (you’ll probably use it anyway - that’s OK). Similarly, if there’s anyone in your life who hasn’t really bought into the hamachi collar thing, the ones here will change their mind. They’re like chicken wings made out of fish - crispy, and covered in jerk seasoning and mint.
As far as the actual steaks go - all are good, and a couple are great. Each is seasoned simply with butter and salt, and cooked on a grill over almond wood, which gives each a distinct smoky, nutty quality. The most reliable cuts, by far, are the prime spinalis (ribeye cap) and the hanger steak. Both are consistently cooked to a warm-in-the-middle medium rare, packed with flavor, and large enough to be shared. (And, in another welcome departure from steakhouse tradition, neither costs more than $50.)
If you’re the kind of person that wants a $125 steak, their tender, funky 30-day dry aged porterhouse is a very good one.And the burger, now the same as the one at The Win-Dow, is as straightforward as they come, with straight forward smashed hamburger patties topped with onions, American cheese, pickles, and house sauce. It’s crispy yet juicy (and just a little salty, which is OK by us), the cheese is sufficiently gooey, and the house sauce provides a nice, tangy kick.
Throughout the pandemic, they’ve closed their dining room and added a cool, beachside patio. It’s huge and filled with sand, fire pits, and surfers who definitely own at least two-to-three tech start-ups. It’s a great place for a last-minute date or pre-game with a couple friends.
American Beauty doesn’t nail everything - outside of the stuffed hash browns, the sides are pretty disappointing for a steakhouse, as are the vegetables (especially when the cheapest option is some $10 corn). The charred long beans with anchovy are somehow both overly salty and not quite briny enough, while the maitakes are so heavily salted that any trace of the tender, earthy mushrooms is obliterated. But you probably didn’t book a table here expecting a thoughtful take on edible fungi. It’s more likely you came for the big, bold steakhouse experience, which you get at American Beauty - especially thanks to the seriously great seafood. And that’s fitting. Like we said, LA’s never been a steak town.
A pillowy hunk of dough with visible salt crystals on top, this flatbread comes with a side of addictive labneh and smoked honey. It’s a great way to start a meal, but we’d also happily end one with it, too.
If you want to try some steak here, but don’t want to spend too much, fear not: This hanger steak is among our favorites, and only $24 for a substantial 8 oz. portion.
Our other favorite cut - this ribeye cap is fatty, but not stringy, and a good bet if you’re looking for a steak that’s special and unique, but still doesn’t cost more than your coffee table.
An essential side order here - this is basically a latke stuffed with sweet caramelized onions and sour cream. It won’t disappoint you, unlike your uncle every Rosh Hashanah.