The New American Steakhouse 3.0

Departures – By Casey Hatfield

America’s fascination with the steakhouse dates back to 1868, the year the Old Homestead opened in New York’s Meatpacking District with dark wood interiors, leather banquettes, and generously sized porterhouses. (Still serving, it’s the oldest continuously operating steakhouse in the country.) When Morton’s and Smith & Wollensky—icons that would become national, and international, chains—opened a century later, they too toed the party line. Indeed, for the whole of the 20th century, American steakhouses stuck with the same dark, masculine, clubby ambience—a setting better suited to a deal than a date.

The early-2000s saw a second wave steakhouse movement when establishments like Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and STK arrived for a new generation with a more “high-energy,” party-oriented setting. (The latter has a D.J. and operates by slogan “Not Your Daddy’s Steakhouse.”) The style was sleeker, the vibe more contemporary, but the offerings more or less stayed the same.

Call it steakhouse 3.0, but over the last several years, a more casual, socially conscious steakhouse has emerged around the country You can identify these new concepts by their menus, which feature humanely raised beef, offer a variety of uncommon cuts and meats (pork, goat, bison, lamb, etc.), and place a newfound emphasis on vegetables and sides as more than just decoration. The spaces themselves reflect a sea change, too, throwing off their darkened rooms and stuffed booths for tall ceilings, large windows, and an airier feel.

Here within, the finest examples of this new breed of American steakhouse from coast to coast. Read More