San Francisco’s Best Steakhouses
By Daisy Barringer
The city might be known for its creative and cutting-edge cuisine, but some nights we just need a break from “farm-to-table, seasonal and organic” fare to indulge in a mouthwatering sirloin, porterhouse or ribeye. And when those carnivorous cravings call, these are the chophouses we turn to again and again.
Best Old Kid on the Block:
Harris’ the San Francisco Steakhouse
Leather booths, mahogany everything, dim lighting, live jazz, excellent service, huge martinis and dry-aged beef—butchered in-house and cooked on an open range mesquite grill—are just a few reasons Harris’ remains a Rat Pack-y, retro-classic neighborhood favorite since 1984. Come for the filet mignon. Stay for the ambience.
Best Front-of-the-House Service: Epic Steak
This favorite is known for its bay views and flavorful steaks, but it’s the wonderful service under the leadership of managing partner Pete Sittnick, who’s kept Bay Area diners happy for more than 30 years, that earns it a spot on our lineup.
Best Bone-in Filet: Osso Steakhouse
This stylish art deco-inspired steakhouse has mastered its signature dish—after all, “osso” is Italian for “bone.” The dry-aged prime beef is seared in a cast-iron skillet and is so tender you won’t even need a knife. Start with the skillet-roasted chorizo cheese bread for a meal that’s totally over-the-top in a good way.
Best Expense Account Steakhouse: Alexander’s
This Japanese-style hotspot has one of the most extensive (and expensive) steak menus in the city. You’ll find dry-aged Omaha prime, as well as wagyu from Japan… and you’ll pay the price for both. Is your boss picking up the table? Order the “Study of Beef,” seven courses of fish, fowl and steak.
Best Iconic Establishment: House of Prime Rib
San Franciscans flock to this English-style establishment, which has been around since the 1940s, for one thing and one thing only: well-marbled roast beef carved tableside. And that’s not just because the prime rib is exquisite—it is—but because it’s also the only thing on the menu, if you don’t count the fish of the day, which is perfectly fine, though definitely not the main event.
Best Chain: Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Many of you aren’t the biggest fans of national chain restaurants, but you have to make an exception for Ruth’s Chris—thanks to custom-aged USDA prime beef that’s always cooked consistently and arrives on a 500-degree plate, so the steak stays hot and juicy until the very last bite.
Best Steak to Enjoy While Millennials Take Instagram Pics: Boboquivari’s (“Bobo’s”)
Bobo’s is like if a steakhouse met the circus, but we’re not complaining. Think: red walls, colored glass light fixtures, purposefully askew pictures and lots of clowns. Still, it’s the steak (dry-aged for four to six weeks) that’s the true star of the show—though you’ll want to add a half Dungeness crab for the full surf-turf experience.
Best View: Leatherneck Steakhouse
This gem located on the top floor of the Marine’s Memorial Club might be the most under-the-radar spot on this list, but it’s worth a visit for two reasons. First: the impressive views of the city skyline. Second, the prices, which are so affordable (for a steakhouse, anyway) that you won’t even flinch when the bill arrives.
Best RIP Steakhouse: Bourbon Steak
Was the 50-ounce bone-in tomahawk steak at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in The Westin San Francisco totally indulgent? Of course. Do we miss it anyway? Absolutely. Unfortunately, SF’s branch closed in March 2016, which means traveling all the way to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara to get our fix. The tomahawk at that location is only 36 ounces, which… fine. It’s still enormous and completely satisfying.
Best Late-Night Steak: Brazen Head
If you have a hankering for New York strip pepper steak or prime rib after most of the city’s restaurants have closed, this dimly lit Cow Hollow hideaway has been the place to go for almost 40 years. Dinner is served until 1 a.m. every night of the week. (Just be sure to bring cash, since your debit cards and credit cards are not accepted.)
Most Anticipated: Mastro’s Ocean Club
We have high hopes for this rooftop steak and seafood restaurant, which is scheduled to open in Union Square this summer. The sophisticated chain is known for its live entertainment and this location will offer indoor and outdoor dining, traditional steak and chop options, as well as plenty of sushi and seafood.
First Course: A Perfectly Poured Martini
Everyone knows the best way to enjoy any steak dinner is by starting with an ice-cold martini. The secret, however, is to drink it before your steak arrives; it will prep your palate (and your psyche) for the meat extravaganza that’s ahead of you. Of course, if you order a martini at Alfred’s, Harris,’ or House of Prime Rib, you’ll be sipping on it when your steak arrives, as all three are served with a generous sidecar—which is basically an entire second martini, albeit one you pour yourself. And though the martini at Bob’s Steak & Chop House doesn’t come with an automatic refill, it is renowned for its massive size, which also makes it generous. (Don’t attempt during work hours.) Prefer a martini as outrageous as your dinner? Order the $43 Fog Point Martini at Epic Steak. It contains Hangar 1 Fog Point vodka, which is made with water harvested from local fog. How very San Francisco.