It's interesting to note that high-priced steakhouses seem to draw the greatest disagreement among diners, at least it's been among the folks I have queried for articles in the past. That appears to be for a few reasons: the considerable expense involved in visiting an pricey steakhouse leaving little room for error in the diner’s mind; that steak is a dish often cooked at home creating strong ideas about how it should taste; then steaks at a steakhouse are really a slightly different product, it’s aged longer, usually featuring more marbled, better quality beef, and cooked at much higher temperature than can be employed at home. Though nearly all of the upscale steakhouses, certainly those national chains, for the most traditional and popular steaks, feature the same type of grain-fed USDA Prime beef from the Midwest and wet-aged, usually for a similar amount of days, the differences in cooking temperature – broiled at 1,200 versus 1,800 degrees, for example – can make a lot of difference for some diners. Because of this, some might believe that Ruth's Chris is the best steak around, plied with melted butter as it is, while others much prefer Morton's, among the national chains.
The steakhouses recommended below offer some diversity in cooking methods, but all done well. Listed in order of preference.
The Top Local Steakhouses
Georgia James – Beef is easily the most popular protein for Texans, and Houstonians, and this might be the best and most interesting address in which to enjoy it. Created by star chef and Houston cheerleader Chris Shepherd, this is a modern steakhouse that does things a little differently – steaks are not all the familiar cuts and are cooked in cast iron – but hitting all the right notes in a refined but user-friendly fashioned way. The current roster is a 100-Day Hanger Steak that’s a true steak onglet, Wagyu Zabuton, Ribeye, Texas Strip, Porterhouse, and the Long Bone Ribeye, plus the now-requisite A5 Wagyu per four-ounce slice. An excellent wine list complements the beef and everything else on the menu, on which Cabernet is not king. With the steaks, one nearly and a couple well over three-digits, wines, and the other temptations here, make sure there is ample credit on your cards before visiting. River Oaks
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse – Boisterous, always loud and often delightfully indulgent and even excessive, this is the locally grown version of the prototypical, clubby masculine steakhouse, on steroids. These two and Georgia James are clearly the best steakhouse concepts in the city. Not only is the food excellent, especially the nearly unparalleled wet- or dry-aged steaks, most importantly, but the compendious wine list is the most impressive in the city. The Westheimer original has around 5,000 labels and 28,000 bottles, and the downtown branch slightly less, so there is seemingly everything you might want at a fine dining restaurant with depth in Champagne, Burgundy – both colors, with pages of Grand Cru and Premier Cru – Bordeaux, Napa, Super Tuscans, Barolo, Rhone, and much, much more. You can spend a small fortune on just drink here. Along with the kitchen and cellar, the wait staff here, is also a cut above among the local steakhouses. The attentive, friendly and proficient service usually stands out. Galleria Area, Downton
Vic & Anthony’s – A take on the upscale Italian-American steakhouse concept that has resonated locally since opening some years ago. Even people who swear never to eat at any of the numerous Landry’s properties seem to really like Vic & Anthony’s. Located in a bunker-like building catercorner from the ballpark, it sports a proper bit of refined raffishness that comes with the Italian-American steakhouse turf. That feel not forced, as Landry’s capo Tilman Fertitta is a nephew of the Maceos, the Sicilian-American businessmen who ran the gambling and entertainment operations in Galveston decades ago. Even more of a reason for a visit is that the food, the steaks, especially, are seemingly always spot-on. There are all the expected expensive steakhouse cuts that are USDA Prime, even the filet. There’s also Japanese Wagyu, even an A4 Ribeye, and several steaks from a respected American wagyu producer in central Texas, HeartBrand Beef. Terrific wine list, too. This is the one Landry's concept you can visit without having to apologize for yourself. Downtown
Saldivia's – This comfortable family-run Uruguayan steakhouse serves the best value steak in the area, by a wide margin, too. Imbued with considerable skill at the grill, years of steakhouse experience, and a deep tradition of beef and grilling from their native Uruguay, the steaks at Saldivia’s are serious business. The entraña is the signature cut and the star here. It is the rather humble outside skirt steak – coming from the plate section, below the rib and between the brisket and flank and whose fat has been trimmed off by the restaurant – that is always cooked to perfection, typically medium-rare. It remains juicy and remarkably tender for the cut, while being extremely flavorful, rich and beefy. If you like steak, you will love the entraña at Saldivia’s. You can’t go wrong with the other cuts of beefsteak: the tira de asado, boneless beef ribs, vacio, a thin flank steak, bife de lomo, a filet of the tenderloin, and bife ancho, the ribeye. No assist is necessary to the steaks, but the oily and garlicky house-made chimichurri sauce is an excellent accompaniment that can make them even more enjoyable. Tannants from Uruguay, especially, and Malbecs from Argentina get nearly all the attention from the customers to complement the meaty offerings. Westchase
Killen’s STQ – Barbecue star Ronnie Killen brings his smoking and grilling skills along with his penchant for robustly favored regional fare to the big city from suburban Pearland, offering a slightly different take on steak – a wood-fired grill rather than a broiler here – and the steakhouse experience in a fairly quaint setting a few miles west of the Galleria. You can still do it up really big here, though, as you can hope for at any pricey meat palace. For steaks, there are a number of choices, familiar cuts that are wet- or dry-aged, Japanese A5, and domestic and Australian waygu. This top restaurant is good for more than just steak-lovers with a menu that includes local seafood preparations, some Tex-Mex and fun Texan dishes like chili and a chicken fried ribeye. Briargrove
The entraña at Saldivia’s