Palaces of Beef

Explore Chicago’s marbled steaks in the “red meat district.”

Chicago has developed its own language over the past 125 years of being in the beef biz. It sounds something like this: Porterhouse. Tomahawk. T-bone. Rib-eye. Sirloin. Chicago cut. New York. Dry-aged. Wet-aged. Bone-in. To speak “beef,” head to River North, where the density of steakhouses is unsurpassed.

Not everyone is in love with the steakhouse setting. The service can be fussy, the banquettes too pleathery, and the white linen leaves fuzz on black jeans. Then, there’s Bavette’s, which reads more French hunting house-speakeasy. There are tufted (real leather) banquettes and taxidermy, along with one excellent 22-ounce bone-in rib-eye plated on vintage dinnerware. Other cuts, and even a burger, give you plenty to mull over. No word on the ounces of the chocolate cream pie with an Oreo crust, but don’t overlook it.

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Speaking fluent beef is what Gene & Georgetti’s does, carrying about two dozen cuts on the menu. This old-school Italian steakhouse opened in 1941, with a hand-painted mural in the dining room showing what the street and the restaurant looked like back then. Expect fillers like baked clams and spaghetti alla marinara but, really, just concentrate on the beef.

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Does dry-aged beef taste better than wet or natural? Benny’s Chop House can indulge you, since they carry all three types, one of the few steakhouses in the nation to do so. You can even go Australian wagyu rib-eye if you like. For the tots, a three-ounce filet is available, with two sides. Live music plays in this lounge-chic palace. End the meal with carrot cake.

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