For meat-eaters, steak is the ultimate meat — and good steak goes for big bucks. Sure, there are franchise operations — like Outback, for instance, whose thousand-plus U.S. locations make it practically the Starbucks of beef — that offer ribeyes, filet mignons, and such at comparatively reasonable prices. When you’re feeling seriously carnivorous and/or extravagantly celebratory, though, you’ll want to head for a top-flight independent steakhouse, or, at the very least, an outpost of some high-end chain.
And today there are ever more options to choose from. It may seem counterintuitive, but in recent years, as we’ve become more health-conscious and many of us have turned increasingly towards vegetable-focused if not outright vegetarian (or even vegan) diets, the number of steakhouses around the country, chains and otherwise, has grown faster than a hormone-fed steer.
Even some of the nation’s most famous chefs — big names like Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Tom Colicchio, and José Andrés — have tackled the steakhouse genre, rewriting the classic steakhouse menus of old, with their shrimp cocktails, iceberg wedges, T-bones, and cottage fries, with their own culinary flair.
Why are steakhouses so popular? One explanation might be that precisely because so many people are consciously reducing their consumption of red meat, when they do eat it, they want it to be really, really good — and cooked by somebody else. Or it could just be a reflection of the booming economy. Either way, diners don’t seem to be shunning steakhouses that serve up big tabs along with meat and potatoes.
That’s lucky, because it used to be that if we wanted a great hunk of meat, all we had to do was order steak that had been graded “prime” by the USDA. It’s not that simple anymore. Now we can choose dry-aged, organic, grass-fed, wagyu (from Japanese breeds, now raised in the U.S., Australia, and Canada), and even, in at least a handful of places around America, genuine Kobe — the most prized variety of wagyu, direct from Japan. And every special designation seems to add more bucks to the tab.
Throw in an appetizer, some potatoes, maybe a green vegetable (even if it’s only creamed spinach), and a bottle of good red wine and you’re talking a serious investment.
Our ranking of America’s most expensive steakhouses state-by-state includes high-end chains — The Capital Grille appears three times, Fleming’s Steakhouse four — as well as celebrated independents, like the Tru Blu Social Club in Fargo, North Dakota, and Carnevor Steakhouse Moderne in Milwaukee. There’s even a foreign import, Nusr-Et in Miami, the domain of Nusret Gökçe, the Turkish butcher-chef who became famous on the internet as “Salt Bae.” The list also reveals that there are vast differences in the cost of a top-of-the-line steakhouse dinner from state to state — it’ll cost you literally four times as much in California as it will in Wyoming. In addition to being the most expensive, though, these are some of each state’s finest steakhouses, so whatever the price, chances are pretty good that the meal will be worth it.
To identify the most expensive steakhouse in every state, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the average price of a meal, consisting of a first course (appetizer, salad, and soup), main course, and side, from a universe of restaurant menus provided by OpenTable and Yelp at their highest price levels. Steakhouses that do not provide menu prices, or were not provided by OpenTable or Yelp, were not included in the ranking. Average meal price was calculated based on price per person, therefore all items on a menu intended for sharing were converted to cost per person, depending on how many people the item is intended to serve. The most expensive steak and appetizer were considered only if they are intended to be consumed by a single person. Caviar was removed from consideration for the first course category, as prices tended to skew averages beyond what one could be reasonably expected to pay.