Courtesy El Gaucho

Steak Out

Seattle’s temples of beef, from creative newcomers to timeless classics, are a cut above the rest.

Vietnamese inspired barbecue at Central Smoke Courtesy Geoffrey Smith

In Seattle, a crop of inventive chefs are reimagining the classic American steak house with hearty, delicious results.

Some local restaurateurs turn to their heritage to inspire their beef-centered menus. At Girin (501 Stadium Pl S; girinseattle.com) in Pioneer Square, Korea’s traditional ssam dishes—meat wrapped in leafy vegetables and garnished with condiments—are a natural jumping-off point for luxe cuts. Platters of decadent wagyu or skirt steak marinated in spicy ssamjang paste come with lettuce for wrapping and a host of banchan, Korean cuisine’s signature flurry of side dishes.

Restaurateur Eric Banh cross-pollinates steak house tradition with his Vietnamese heritage—and a dash of barbecue joint—for the surprising menu at Central Smoke (1305 E Jefferson St; centralsmokeseattle.com), a meaty haven in the Central District. Here, beef short ribs come garnished with pineapple and that telltale pink smoke ring indicative of meat smoked low and slow until it falls off the bone. Be advised—the labor-intensive, 16-hour smoked brisket is available only on Friday and Saturday. Banh’s Vietnamese flourishes are most evident in the intriguing side dishes, like a coleslaw punched up with Szechuan peppercorn oil or fried rice with tea-smoked chicken.

Miller’s Guild serves its New York steak straight from the fire on a slab of woodCourtesy Miller’s Guild; Olivia Brent

A pair of Mexican steak houses in the Capitol Hill and Ballard neighborhoods, D’La Santa (2359 10th Ave E; dlasanta.com) and Asadero Prime (5405 Leary Ave NW; asaderoprime.com), serve enormous pieces of meat that still sizzle as they arrive on a platter. At D’La Santa, these might be a rib eye or a mighty two-person tomahawk (on-the-bone rib steak) beneath the dining room’s decorative driftwood tree; at Asadero, it could be carne asada or marbled zabuton wagyu enjoyed in worn wooden booths. Either way, the steak will be prepared perfectly. A supporting cast of tacos, beans, salsa, and grilled onions and peppers at both spots keeps things extra interesting.

In South Lake Union, Kurt Beecher Dammeier—the guy behind the famed Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market—leaned into the steak house’s midcentury American heyday with a gleaming, leather-bound beef palace. The Butcher’s Table (*2121 Westlake Ave; thebutcherstable.com) serves high-end meat from Dammeier’s own Mishima Reserve label. Choose your cut (the rib eye cap, also known as the flavor curve, is indulgent and not very common), a sauce, and upgraded versions of familiar steak house sides. Given that this place is a richly appointed sibling to Beecher’s, rest assured, the mac and cheese is on point. Just a few blocks away, James Beard Award–winning chef Jason Wilson’s steak house, Miller’s Guild (*612 Stewart St; millersguild.com), offers a menu of classic cuts destined for the open kitchen’s massive wood-fired Inferno grill. Salads and sides put a seasonal spin on familiars, like fried brussels sprouts or a salad of grilled romaine topped with crab.

Bateau Courtesy Olivia Brent

In contrast to the moody, masculine vibe at The Butcher’s Table and Miller’s Guild, Renee Erickson’s whole-animal steak house, Bateau (1040 E Union St; restaurantbateau.com) on Capitol Hill, is a whitewashed room where a cluster of light fixtures resemble mod birdcages and a chalk drawing of a winsome cow holds court next to the list of the day’s available cuts. Servers do a tremendous job helping diners navigate lesser-known cuts like the côte de boeuf, underblade, or Denver steak. Much of the beef comes from the chef’s own farm; steaks are marvelous and served atop flowered china plates with your choice of flavored butter melting on top. Plates of beef liver mousse or the flawless steak tartare continue the beefy theme—after all, the kitchen has to use up the entirety of its cows—but the bright Bateau salad and roasted mushrooms topped with an egg yolk show Erickson’s delicate way with local ingredients (and chef Taylor Thornhill’s talents).

Meanwhile, some of the city’s stalwart steak houses carry on their tradition of decadent meat in hospitable dining rooms. At Daniel’s Broiler (*multiple locations; schwartzbros.com), steaks come with either water views (of Lake Union or Lake Washington) or the refined energy of the brand-new Hyatt Regency Seattle (opening December 2018). El Gaucho (*2505 First Ave; elgaucho.com) brings a throwback elegance to steak house dining, from oysters Rockefeller and salads tossed tableside to steaks cooked on a charcoal grill, with classic add-ons like béarnaise or bordelaise sauce.

The town’s nonpareil destination for a classic steak house experience—the kind that involves starters, sides, and huge pieces of bone-in meat in a wood-paneled room—is undoubtedly downtown’s Metropolitan Grill (H820 Second Ave; themetropolitangrill.com). There’s a dazzling breadth of steak options, from top sirloin to prime rib to a rib eye for two, carved tableside. Companion dishes are carefully prepared classics, like French onion soup or a wedge salad drenched in blue cheese and Kurobuta bacon. Somehow, after all this, most people find room for dessert, particularly the nine-layer chocolate cake. In dessert, as in steak, it’s hard to resist the best versions of a classic.

*Visit Seattle Partner

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