Austin on the Hoof

Rounding up the Austin steak house scene

Welcome to The Austin Chronicle's first steak house roundup. The entire Food staff participated in this exhaustive review of the state of steak in Austin, covering every level of restaurant from the newest and most expensive to the tried and true places aimed at grad students on a beer budget. There were a few ground rules.

First, a good steak place should offer a reason to leave home, and the reason should be well-marbled and -aged beef, the kind you just can't find at Randalls or HEB. In order to lend a level playing field, we decided to try a rib eye steak at each restaurant. Second, we tried to confine ourselves to places that specialize in steaks. While some of the best beef in Austin may be at Mirabelle or Aquarelle, they aren't known as steak places. This actually led to some comedies, like when I went to the Dart Bowl Steak House – sounded like they had steaks to me – and asked for a rib eye. The waitress laughed at me and told me that they had two types of steak: chicken-fried and chopped. So, to clarify, we mean a cut of beef directly from a cow with nothing on it but salt, pepper, and heat. Finally, we made sure to try a few appetizers at each place so we could report on nonsteak offerings. The results are listed below in alphabetical order.

One special note: Regular contributor Mick Vann wrote me an impassioned letter, rather colorfully worded, that is an open measure of what he feels is a major inadequacy of most steak restaurants. Mick spent years in some of the best professional kitchens in Austin and some of what he talks about is quite technical, but it goes to the heart of the matter: We all expect quality for our hard-earned dollars. Mick will probably be surprised to see his note in print, but I think restaurateurs, especially, should pay attention.

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