Best steakhouse (2000)

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House

A great steakhouse is about more than great steak -- although that's certainly the prime consideration. Second comes the service, which must be knowledgeable and a tad snooty for all the important people who want to eat big meat, but not so snooty that the common man feels out of place. Third is the setting, with extra points for manly opulence that isn't so manly it offends gals; fourth are the side dishes, which should be rich overloads of gooey goodness, filled with butter and cream and salty enough that many drinks must be consumed. And so finally, of course, the drinks must be well-poured. There are a few more bonus items: People who like to smoke should feel welcome, and a good dessert never hurts. Del Frisco's scores on all counts. The meat is literally prime -- although that doesn't get in the way of its full flavor -- and the staff accommodating without being smothering, savvy without being condescending. The sides are superb: crispy-edged, soft-centered skillet potatoes with onions; unbelievably buttery sautéed mushrooms; a house salad that boasts a slice of incredible, crisp bacon. Martini and Manhattans are treated with equal respect here, and the wine list is excellent. Non-smokers may not be thrilled that an occasional whiff of Marlboro makes it into the dining room (although the ventilation system actually works pretty well), but that's the price you pay for also having the best cigar room in town -- the perfect place to toast to a steakhouse that's very well done. Which is rare, indeed.

Readers' choice: Morton's of Chicago


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