If you're looking for a steak that will linger in your memory, come to Oklahoma City. This town has the stockyards, the cowboys, and the steak houses that showcase some of the best beef in the country.
Cattlemen's Steakhouse takes a humble approach to their fare. Won in a dice game, the restaurant sits in the middle of Stockyards City in a bland building. Forget about the dropped ceilings and the waitresses who call you "sugar." You want the T-bone. Served au jus, the tender, charcoal-singed steak could be cut with a fork. Even though I'd eaten at nine steak houses the evening before I set foot in Cattlemen's (which starts serving steak at 6 a.m.), I managed to devour an entire 14-ounce steak, fresh baked potato, and a slice of unbelievably creamy homemade coconut pie. Had I been alone, I would have licked the plate. 1309 South Agnew Avenue; (405) 236-0416.
Steak entrées: $10.95-$24.95.
Salt, pepper, butter, and the lingering heat of what tastes like a campfire turn prime beef into a steak delicacy at this fancified steak house. From outward appearances, the Ranch looks to be a prairie holdout amid strip malls and four-lane highways. Inside, leather adorns just about everything. But it works. And so does the wine list. Ranging from a reasonable bottle of 1997 Château La Cardonne ($31) to a 1982 Château Haut-Brion ($1,500), the list of 800 bottles is entertaining in itself. 3000 West Britton Road, (405) 755-3501.
Steak entrées: $22-$50.
Newton's Steakhouse & Grille
This restaurant blends a little Southern kick with the Old West. Steaks come with your choice of vegetable and potato as well as biscuits with honey, butter, and apple butter. The New York strip is branded with deep, dark grill marks and carries a smoky flavor. Monochromatic paint, artwork, and furniture make for a welcoming and romantic dining room. 1025 NW. 70th Street (east of Western Avenue); (405) 840-0115.
Steak entrées: $24-$29.
Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse
They've taken a bat to the traditional steak house notion and whacked it upside the horns here. You'll find no cowpoke decor--wagon wheels have been replaced with white tablecloths. That said, they didn't mess with time-honored steak traditions. Tender and springy, the filet mignon delights with a cracked black pepper crust and deep charcoal aftertaste. Sides and dessert were disappointing, but the convenient location in Bricktown and live dinner entertainment on weekends even the score. 7 Mickey Mantle Drive, (405) 272-0777.
Steak entrées: $19.95-$39.95.
Ordering a Steak
Most true steak lovers never order a cut of prime meat seared beyond medium; doing so burns out much of the natural juices, fat, and--as a result--taste. What constitutes "rare," "medium," and "well" varies from steak house to steak house, but the following is what I look for when I cut into my steak.
- Rare: deep-brown crust, slightly warm or cold, red center
- Medium-rare: mostly red center
- Medium: pinkish-red center
- Medium-well: faint pink center
- Well-done: gray center and dry
If you want to be absolutely certain, skip the labels when you order, and use the description.
This article is from the January 2005 issue of Southern Living .