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Southern California Steakhouses


rjwong
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I love steakhouses. That is probably the one area that I have done extensive “research” on and had more friends willing to help me with, especially when I'm “funding the research project.” :hmmm:

I like to focus the discussion on Southern California steakhouses here. That includes the areas of San Luis Obispo, down to San Diego, and out to Palm Springs. I'm more familiar with steakhouses in those areas than with other parts of the country. In fact, I've never eaten in New York, ... yet.

Here's the extent of my research, in no particular order: Ruth's Chris (Beverly Hills, Irvine), Fleming's (La Jolla, Newport, Rancho Mirage), Palm (downtown LA), Nick & Stef's (downtown LA), Pacific Dining Car (downtown LA), Taylor's (La Canada), Damon's (Glendale), Jocko's (Nipomo), A.J. Spur's (Pismo Beach), Hitching Post (Buellton), Arroyo Chop House (Pasadena), De Lacey's (Pasadena), Smoke House (Burbank).

I haven't tried Arnie Morton's of Chicago yet (NB That's how the Morton steakhouse chain is known in LA. There is a separate restaurant in West Hollywood named “Morton's,” that's known for its annual, invite-only, Vanity Fair-hosted, post-Academy Awards party.). So you can see that my research is not completely thorough.

So, with the approval & blessing of the Forum Host, Calfornia (Thank you, melkor!!), the question is asked: What are the SoCal steakhouses I haven't tried yet?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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RJ -- Taylor's is it. Just west of downtown LA, sort of Koreatown area. Old LA, not stuff, no 'tude, red naugahide booths, fair prices. I learned about here in eG.

Of course there's always Lawry's which is another old classic but a distinctly different feel than Taylor's.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Thanks JFL!

I'll add Taylor's (downtown) to the list.

As for Lawry's, I go there occasionally for prime rib, which is different from steak, IMO. Mind you, steaks and prime rib are DA BOMBS for me. In fact, I usually go to Tam O'Shanter's (a Lawry's restaurant) for my prime rib & chocolate soufflé fix.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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There's Northwoods Inn.

There's one at the I-5 at Valley View, La Mirada, Huntington and Rosemead, San Marino, and there was one in Naples, although I haven't passed by there lately.

They're those "snow covered hunting lodge" looking places.

Although they may not be "the best" steakhouse around, they have a lot of character.

And those BAKED POTATOES ! :shock:

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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In Santa Barbara, Chuck's of Hawaii is an institution. It's kind of dark in there, and the salad bar is a bit of a throwback, as is the menu, which is printed on a Lancer's bottle.

The steaks are very good, however, and the wine list has some very good values on it.

In Montecito, there is a steak house called Lucky's. It is quite expensive, which is the price one pays to dine next to the celebs who frequent the place. The steaks are damn good, though, as are their martinis.

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There's Northwoods Inn.

There's one at the I-5 at Valley View, La Mirada,  Huntington and Rosemead, San Marino, and there was one in Naples, although I haven't passed by there lately.

They're those "snow covered hunting lodge" looking places.

Although they may not be "the best" steakhouse around, they have a lot of character.

And those BAKED POTATOES ! :shock:

Northwoods Inn in Long Beach (Belmont Shore, not Naples) is GONE, thank goodness. Something about a cabin with snow on the roof in a beach town -- just didn't work for me! :hmmm:

I've heard The Madison on Pine Avenue here in Long Beach is good for steak but I can't comment personally. Yet.

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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There's a couple of articles in Thursday's Calendar Live section of the LA Times on steakhouses that's in the food digest (Jan 26, 2005):

Boa Steakhouse in Santa Monica

Nick & Stef's in downtown LA (been there, liked it, the watercress was new to me)

Ruth's Chris in Beverly Hills (been there a few times, loved it)

Lincoln Steakhouse Americana in Santa Monica

Fleming's in Newport Beach (been there, loved it, especially the small dining room downstairs away from the bar scene)

Taylor's on W. 8th St.

With these steakhouses that I haven't tried yet, I'd better set up my steakhouse database for future reference. Boy, "research" can be so hard!

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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i live within walking distance of taylor's other location, in la canada. when i need a steak, cooked by somebody else, as i sometimes do, it's arroyo chophouse, hands down. twice as far, twice as expensive, and worth every penny. it's where i first encountered spiegelau glassware, and where my husband learned about the difference prime makes, and that when it comes to beef, ya get what ya pay for.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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When in San Diego, I head for Bully's (Mission Valley, Bird Rock or Del Mar). While there is Ruths Chris, Rainwaters, Mortons, etc. downtown, I can get a great steak, burger, or prime rib at a third the cost at Bully's. A well established local watering hole as well, I've seen Joe Torre, Harry Carey (RIP), and other "celebs" at the Mission Valley location (it's near the Murph). Not bad for breakfast and a bloody mary either!

Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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You didn't mention if you were looking for chi-chi places or just steakhouses in general but here are a couple that may be of interest.

In Santee, California (a small bedroom community sandwiched between San Diego and El Cajon to the east/northeast...just head north on Mission Gorge) there is Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. I tried linking to some reviews of the place but the eG link-machine doesn't seem to want to work. Pinnacle Peak is western-themed and casual (so casual that they have a tradition of cutting off neckties that customers wear and hanging them from the ceiling and walls...a dust hazard and fire hazard rolled into one!). I haven't been there in ages.

I'm not sure if this is outside of your search area but here in Bakersfield (about 2 hours east of SLO) there is the KC Steakhouse on F Street. It's a favorite of Bakersfield old-timers. Having said that, I have never been there.

Also, for its uniqueness, there is Buck Owen's Crystal Palace on Buck Owens Boulevard. Owned and operated by Buck, it's a museum-tribute to Buck Owens (he's a country music singer from a bygone era, in case you don't know). He still performs on Friday & Saturday nights at the Crystal Palace. It can be pricey, though. They have a 32 ounce monster Rib Eye that goes for about forty bucks.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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You didn't mention if you were looking for chi-chi places or just steakhouses in general but here are a couple that may be of interest.

In Santee, California (a small bedroom community sandwiched between San Diego and El Cajon to the east/northeast...just head north on Mission Gorge) there is Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse.  I tried linking to some reviews of the place but the eG link-machine doesn't seem to want to work.  Pinnacle Peak is western-themed and casual (so casual that they have a tradition of cutting off neckties that customers wear and hanging them from the ceiling and walls...a dust hazard and fire hazard rolled into one!).  I haven't been there in ages. 

I'm not sure if this is outside of your search area but here in Bakersfield (about 2 hours east of SLO) there is the KC Steakhouse on F Street.  It's a favorite of Bakersfield old-timers.  Having said that, I have never been there.

Also, for its uniqueness, there is Buck Owen's Crystal Palace on Buck Owens Boulevard.  Owned and operated by Buck, it's a museum-tribute to Buck Owens (he's a country music singer from a bygone era, in case you don't know).  He still performs on Friday & Saturday nights at the Crystal Palace.  It can be pricey, though.  They have a 32 ounce monster Rib Eye that goes for about forty bucks.

I going for steakhouses in general (anything above a Sizzler's, please). That can include chi-chi, frou-frou, local hangouts, "prime" and "not ready for prime" steakhouses. And if you don't mind, I don't mind including Bakersfield into Southern California. Heck, let's draw that line up to Tulare or Fresno (BTW, I'm originally from the San Joaquin Valley, THE Central California Valley)!!

Buck Owens is still around? He used to see him on Hee-Haw when I was a kid.

Thanks for the suggestions, Toliver and the rest of you. Please keep it coming.

Well, back to my "research" ....

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Buck Owens is still around? He used to see him on Hee-Haw when I was a kid.

Yes, Buck has had some health problems in recent years but is still performing. I believe the Friday & Saturday evening performances are also broadcast live on a local AM radio station that he owns (he also owns an FM station and a TV station, too, in Bakersfield, as well as some radio stations in Phoenix). The last two New Year's Eves, he's played a special concert at the Crystal Palace along with Dwight Yokum and Brad Paisley. It's a hot ticket!

In San Diego, there are some other Steak joints:

-In the Gaslamp District (downtown) is the Strip Club, which is, I believe, a grill-your-own-steak place.

-The Butcher Shop (has a couple locations). Classic steakhouse. Red velvet walls with pictures of celebrities who have dined there gracing the walls. I remember dining there decades ago and the waitress had a little cart with the raw steaks displayed and you picked the one you wanted and off it went to be cooked. I don't think they do that anymore (health code violation?). But it's an experience.

-The Charcoal House in La Mesa (a suburb of San Diego). Again, a classic steakhouse. I remember ordering the sauteed mushrooms with my steak and was surprised to find that they tasted just like my mom's recipe. Go figure.

-Dakota's in the Gaslamp District. It's not really a steakhouse, per se, but a grilled meat-themed place. They have an excellent pork "Prime Rib" (a glorified chop) that is superb. They often offer a variety of meats, from rabbit to quail to steak to salmon, that differs daily. But I believe they do offer steaks.

-Donovan's Steak and Chop House. A chain. Again, classic though more upscale ($$$$). Been around quite a while but the current location isn't the original San Diego site (I think).

-Morton's. Chain. Hey, they have the cart o'steaks! I just read an online review. They bring the raw stuff to your table on a cart and you pick your dinner from it. Needless to say, upscale.

-Ruth's Chris. Chain. You've been to one, you've been to all of them.

-Bully's. Three locations. Upscale.

-Rei do Gado in the Gaslamp. Brazilian. Steak on a skewer and all you can eat!

-Rainwater's on Kettner. I believe this was previously mentioned. Very upscale. The Porterhouse for 2 (allow 35 minutes for cooking) is $89!

Does Prime Rib count as steak? Or were you limiting your search to just "ordinary" steak? If it does count, try Lawry's Prime Rib in Los Angeles. I dined at their Las Vegas location (art deco to the hilt!) and was very impressed with the prime rib...fork tender and great flavor! They also served us from a chrome domed cart and carved the meat tableside.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I second Pinnacle Peak, Bully's in Mission Valley and Rei de Gado. The cowboy steak at Pinnacle Peak is a huge porterhouse around 30 oz. (I think) and it's grilled over mesquite. Very tasty. Bully's has very good prime rib and everything else but it's been a while since I've been so I don't remember too much. While the different meats at Rei de Gado were mostly overcooked, dry and somewhat unseasoned the night I was there it was still pretty good. Don't know if that's just the way it is but you'd think that a Brazilian steak would have loads of flavor. It was still fun to get various kinds of meats and all you can eat to boot.

Some other places I've eatin include Greystone in the Gaslamp Quarter. It's an upscale steakhouse with fantastic quality steaks, great service and atmosphere. The wife and I plus two friends ate there before a concert one time and we were all very happy with our meals. My wife had the buffalo tenderloin and it was better than my filet and that was hard to beat. My filet was a thick hunk of meat that was cooked EXACTLY the way I asked for it.

A smaller chain type restaurant called Red Oak has surprised me the last few times I've been there. Cooked the same as Pinnacle Peak over mesquite and quite good for a family steakhouse. Another chain I love their steaks is Outback Steakhouse. My wife and I love this place. You can ask for your steaks to be cooked over an open flame (called Pittsburgh style I think) and they have a very good flavor and have always been tender.

I got burned (well sort of) at Ruth Chris. My wife and I went there to celebrate our engagement 5 years ago and I got the Rib Eye. What I got was a peice of meat that had so much fat on it, half the plate was covered by it all. I mentioned this to the server and she said that this type of cut has more fat than the other cuts...no shit but not this much. The manager came over and agreed, I got a bad cut of meat but all he did was take it off my bill. In the mean time, I'm sitting there starving after eating maybe 6 ounces of true meat and just about all the veggies we ordered and he would not make me a new steak. Taking it off the bill is not what I wanted, I wanted another steak. I guess that's what I get for eating what they gave me. But you can't tell sometimes how much fat you really have until you finished the steak. I'll never go back.

Rainwaters is on my list to try and I live in La Mesa and didn't know about the Charcoal House, will have to check it out.

I've been to Morton's in Union Square, S.F. and it was quite good. I liked the idea of being able to look at the different cuts of meat you can order. The steak as I remember was good but not SO good that I'll be raving about it.

I've also been to a place in S.F called Alfred's (I think) on Broadway (I think). It had at that time (in 1990) a wonderful selection of roast's and huge 30 oz steaks that blew my mind. It has the same atmosphere as depicted in the movie The Thief, The Cook, The Wife and her lover (or something like that). Don't know if it's still around or if it's any good anymore but I thought I'd mention it as it still sticks in my mind after 15 years.

All I can think of right now.

Cheers,

Bob

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Also, for its uniqueness, there is Buck Owen's Crystal Palace on Buck Owens Boulevard.  He still performs on Friday & Saturday nights at the Crystal Palace. 

Was there a couple of months back. Buck's performance was far better than I expected.

The food didn't match that!

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In Santa Barbara, Chuck's of Hawaii is an institution. It's kind of dark in there, and the salad bar is a bit of a throwback, as is the menu, which is printed on a Lancer's bottle.

The steaks are very good, however, and the wine list has some very good values on it.

Aha! Someone else has discovered this one. The steaks are good (not the greatest) but the wine list is amazing in one respect.

Apparently Chuck's has been on the Williams Selyem list for years and their wine list features these. The Pinot Noir prices are LESS than I can find retail. The glassware should be smashed; the ambience is 70's (maybe 50's); but the pinot noir is amazing. My guilty-pleasure restaurant in California.

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Sounds to me like you'd like to try all of them, not necessarily only the best of the best.

George Petrelli's in Culver City - pretty decent prime rib, everything included. I haven't had a steak there.

Dal Rae in Pico Rivera - Fun, freeway inconvenient (although that could have been my ignorance), and retro feel mixed with some menu concessions to the times. Not far from the racetrack (Santa Anita?), so they sometimes have a shuttle to the restaurant.

Far Western Tavern is almost like eating at a real Frontierland, and steaks to match the atmosphere.

Anybody care to comment on LG's Prime Steaks in Palm Springs or Palm Desert? I've never been...

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Sounds to me like you'd like to try all of them, not necessarily only the best of the best. 

Yes, I want to try them all. Why do you think my research project costs so much?? :blink:

In fact, I just got back tonight from doing some "research" over at Arnie Morton's in downtown LA. And a couple of weeks back, I went to a local steak place in Glendale called Damon's. Arnie Morton's is part of the Morton's of Chicago chain. In Los Angeles, it's called Arnie Morton's to differentiate it from a restaurant called "Morton's" in West Hollywood. Now, back to steaks ...

I ordered the New York strip medium rare, with a spinach salad & Lyonnaise potatoes. I enjoyed the "somewhat melt-in-your-mouth" quality of the steak. It was a bit burnt towards the ends. I was disappointed with the sides: The salad suppose to have a sweet & sour dressing. It was so subtle that it was non-existent. And the onions in the potatoes were not carmelized but burnt. The service was okay. For a steakhouse that serves USDA Prime, I expect a certain level of professional service, so that one can't tell the difference between the servers and the "suits". Mind you, my server was wonderful. I'm just commenting on my observations tonight. Oh, and the "menu presentation"... I suppose some diners like that visual form of the restaurant's offerings. Personally, I'm used to looking at a written menu. The prices, especially the sides, were a bit much. Overall, Arnie Morton's is definitely not on the top of my list under the "USDA Prime" steakhouses.

In Glendale, there's a local steak place that's been around for decades called Damon's. Recently, it got sold to some corporation back East. I went to Damon's a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday night for a New York cooked medium. They haven't changed the place: The atmosphere is fake Polynesian, tiki room-type decor, waitresses wearing Hawaiian-type shirts calling everybody "sweetie." You gotta love it!! :cool: The steak comes with a soup or salad. Got the salad. They bring out a salad bowl with lettuce, beets, celery and their house dressing, all tossed tableside and served in individual bowls. Afterwards, the steak comes out with your choice of potatoes. The steak was decent. It wasn't as juicy as in previous times. The prices at Damon's I could handle. Overall, Damon's is still on the top of my list under "local, non-prime" steak places.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Last Saturday, a couple of friends and I went to have some steak at the Pacific Dining Car.

I ordered the New York strip, medium rare. It tasted flavorful, juicy, not dry, not burnt.

My friends ordered a New York strip and a T-bone. They enjoyed their steaks as well.

The dining experience was excellent. What's really amazing about PDC is that they have served excellent steaks since 1921 and that they're open 24 hours a day.

I don't want to rush into judgment, but Pacific Dining Car may be the best steakhouse in LA.

The research continues ...

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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  • 1 month later...

After work, I decided to have dinner in downtown LA & take a later train home. I went to Nick & Stef's Steakhouse. N&S is part of the Patina Group, owned by Chef Joachim Splichal (he pretty much owns downtown LA).

I ordered the New York strip (12 oz. @ $38) with an arugula salad, a potato gratin, & a lemon hazelnut crunch cake.

The salad was pleasant enough, with a little height for the shaved pear slices to be placed on top of the mound. The cake tasted good with the powdered sugar on top. The potato gratin was served warm, not hot. The potatoes were cooked through. Mind you, they were warm, on their way to being cold. :hmmm:

The New York strip was fine, I suppose. The steak had a nice chew to it, but it didn't have that savory, melting flavor that my tongue would thoroughly enjoy. I did order it medium rare; it looked more like medium to me. The service seemed perfunctory. I expected more, given that it's a Splichal restaurant with accolades like "Best Steak in Downtown LA." :sad:

Maybe it's time to try a steakplace over on the Westside.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Although not a "steakhouse" the steak ( not the flat iron steak on the bar menu) at BeechWood in Marina Del Rey is great. They use prime aged NY Strip that has that mouthfeel of well aged beef. I guess it is between 12 -14 ozs and cooked as ordered. It is topped with a Cabrales butter and served alongside arugala salad. I am not sure but I believe it is in the $30 price range.

David

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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  • 3 weeks later...

My friend and I went to the Palm in downtown LA. He had the 4-lb. lobster. I had the USDA Prime New York Strip (18 oz.), medium rare.

We splitted the Gigi salad (iceberg, tomatoes, bacon, avocadoes, halved hard-boiled egg, blue cheese dressing, shrimp), which was fine.

When the steak arrived, I cut into it and it tasted warm, not hot. It chews nicely. The melting quality wasn't there. The seasoning was sparse, which is fine. Overseasoning can be a bit much, IMO.

Alongside the entrees were an order of their "half & half" (cottage fries & fried onions), which was okay. My friend enjoyed his lobster. For dessert, he had cheesecake and I had crème brulée. We both enjoyed our desserts. The service was wonderful. Because it was my friend's birthday, they comped the desserts.

I think I almost covered all of the steakhouses in downtown LA. Yes, I'll need to go over to the Westside/Beverly Hills area.

Not only do I have to be rich, but I also have to look rich (or beautiful). Life is so hard ...

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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