Let’s cut to the bone: With eight steakhouses inside the Mile Square alone, red meat is at the top of the food chain in Indianapolis, enjoying a tender spot in Indy’s heart that no fried tenderloin can touch. From landmarks to new kids on the (butcher) block, here’s our sizzling-hot take on 15 mouthwatering favorites.
St. Elmo Steak House
127 S. Illinois St., 317-635-0636
If you are surprised to find this historic chophouse listed here, then prepare to be blown away by a little race Indianapolis hosts each May. Debuting in 1902, St. Elmo has become as much a cultural institution as anything else the city has to offer, with pinching back tears through the shrimp cocktail starter an obligation on par with weepily singing along to “Back Home Again in Indiana.” In addition to scorching your sinuses with St. Elmo’s horseradish-heavy cocktail sauce, as a resident of this town you must—at least once—loosen up with an Elmo Cola (a little bottle of Coke with a side glass of cherry-vanilla bourbon to pour and sip at your leisure), go with the tomato juice starter over the bean soup (weird, yes, but the dull chill is a nice stomach primer), and tear into the 12-ounce New York strip that’s been dry-aged for 60 days. Not that you’ll need it, but dessert should be a slice of sugar cream pie to remind you that civic duty can be pretty sweet.
Largest Steak: Bone-in prime rib, 38 ounces | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime and Choice | Aging Process: Wet and dry | Wines by the Bottle: 1,200 | Wines by the Glass: 20 | Signature Cocktail: Elmo Cola
Morton’s The Steakhouse
41 E. Washington St., 317-229-4700
Stashed away in the mahogany-lined basement of the IBJ Building, Morton’s is a social club that caters to an elite class of steak connoisseurs seeking a spectacle. Prior to selecting your entrée, order a drink and settle into the circular booth for a presentation of USDA Prime cuts offered by the waitstaff who are eager to tempt you into a tailor-made meal that meets your specifications. Gloriously over-the-top flourishes are evident everywhere, from the shrimp cocktail that arrives in a showstopping fog of dry ice to the bevy of upgrades such as foie gras–cognac butter. The standard à la carte sides like sautéed Brussels sprouts and parmesan-truffle matchstick fries make for a shareable experience. Ceremony is what separates Morton’s from the city’s arsenal of steakhouses.
Largest Steak: Prime Porterhouse, 42 ounces | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 23–28 days unless otherwise noted | Big-Shot Table: Any of the circular booths that line the walls
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
8487 Union Chapel Rd., 317-466-0175
It may not have the kitschy Australian theme of its parent company (Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Brands), but devoted locals have been returning to this upscale Fashion Mall–area destination like a boomerang since it opened in 2003. Maybe that’s because Fleming’s familiar steaks and sides (particularly the signature potatoes, layered with cheese and jalapeños) give regulars little reason to stray. Among the prime cuts, the wet-aged bone-in ribeye stands out, a marbled beauty that’s rightly ordered “iron crusted” for a little crunch. At the bar, a menu of creative small plates such as grilled lamb lollipops proves Fleming’s isn’t just resting on its laurels. But after a long day returning regrettable Christmas gifts at the mall, it’s hard to resist the comforting red leather booths and a perfectly cooked piece of beef to match.
Largest Steak: Prime tomahawk, 35 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Truffle-poached lobster with béarnaise sauce and caviar | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Dry
8555 N. River Rd., 317-569-0975
To those hungry for a huge piece of beef, this supper club near the Fashion Mall might say, “Go fish.” While the steaks are broiled to perfection at 1,200 degrees, many of them measure on the small side. That fact, along with an unparalleled seafood selection, accounts for the popularity of surf-and-turf dining at Ocean Prime. The official offering is a poached lobster tail atop an 8-ounce filet, all resting on a Gouda potato cake and seared spinach. But an order of jumbo lump crab cake or the lobster sushi roll complements one of those petite cuts just as well. Despite the Miami vibe of the enclosed deck and the luxury-liner decor of the dining room, the crowd of northsiders here does not dress to impress. It’s the steaks, decked in “accessories” like garlic shrimp scampi, that look so fine.
Largest Steak: Kansas City strip, 16 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Garlic shrimp scampi | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 21 days | Big-Shot Table: The four gallery tables
Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
51 N. Illinois St., 317-536-0270
Walk out the Statehouse’s east side, and a Broadway-style marquee beckons from a block away—a beacon for those with fat expense accounts who are bored with standard steakhouse sides. Here, roasted Brussels sprouts and tangy bacon marmalade achieve a perfect balance between sweet and bitter, and lobster enriches mashed potatoes. But for all its brawny trappings on the menu and muscle on the walls with photos of boxers and movie stars, the high-ceilinged space feels sexier than usual, while confident, Midwestern-nice service loosens up the vibe. The money here is neither old nor new but green. Spotting citizen-of-the-world Simon Pagenaud kicking back low-key at the bar on a Wednesday (perhaps with a glass of 2013 Opus One Cabernet blend, $122 for a 6-ounce pour and extracted from the bottle without uncorking it by way of a Coravin system) says it all.
Largest Steak: Steak Andretti, an Australian Wagyu tomahawk longbone ribeye, 32 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: 5-ounce lobster tail | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Signature Cocktail: Smoked Old Fashioned | Big-Shot Table: Banquette 20, facing the front door and back-dropped by a tower of liquor bottles
3850 S. Meridian St., 317-784-9880
With seemingly endless options of steakhouses in Indianapolis, it is easy to overlook Bynum’s. Trimmed in head-to-toe wood paneling and tucked away along a quiet stretch of Meridian Street 3 miles south of downtown, this no-frills, family-owned restaurant has put its steak-focused reputation front and center for 30 years. (The three bovine statues that welcome guests just outside the entrance should have been a hint.) Where competitors fancify themselves with pageantry, Bynum’s skirts the standard formalities and cuts to the bone with simple yet satisfying choices. We know you’re here for the prime rib, so how do you want it prepared and what do you want as your side? If the 32-ounce, melt-in-your-mouth hunk of meat happens to be sold out (as happens often), the perfectly marbled bone-in ribeye is a respectable replacement. In either case, finishing a meal here is a tall order. But fear not—leftovers are packed in a signature steer head fashioned from aluminum foil.
Largest Steak: Bone-in prime rib, 32 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Half a rack of ribs | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 21 days | Wines by the Bottle: 24 | Wines by the Glass: 20 | Signature Cocktail: Bynum’s Bucket
3645 E. 96th St., 317-846-8303
With its high arched ceiling, giant framed mosaics on the walls, and glassed-in wine cellar with a ladder, the lavish dining room looks like it was plucked from an upscale cruise. That implication of decadence extends to the menu, too, although it has plenty of substance to balance out the flash. Among the USDA Prime cuts, the filet mignon and New York strip—both juicy, perfectly tender, and wearing a light char courtesy of flash-searing—are solid bets. Those unconcerned about needing to loosen their belt (and wallet) can tackle the nearly $100 20-ounce bone-in New York strip, one of three Wagyu options imported from Australia. A strong, if not predictable, roster of sides that includes creamed corn—slightly sweet with crunchy kernels—and cheesy, jalapeño-tinged Eddie’s potatoes proves that within the sea of Indianapolis steakhouses, Eddie Merlot’s still makes waves
Largest Steak: Cowboy-cut bone-in ribeye, 22 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Maxwell style (lobster, asparagus, and béarnaise) | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Primarily wet-aged for at least 21 days | Wines by the Bottle: 200 | Wines by the Glass: 42
3316 E. 86th St., 317-580-1280
When this upscale chain seared its first filet at the Fashion Mall in 1996, it enjoyed a near monopoly on prime beef for northside carnivores. Today, the 86th Street steakhouse scene is as stuffed as a loaded baked potato. But the pioneer’s consistency and extravagance have kept the waitlist there long and the valets outside busy. In the sexy, recently renovated dining room (now more midcentury modern than Art Deco), an army of servers hustles around, delivering selections from the largest bone-in menu in the city. The dry-aged long-bone ribeye is particularly decadent, and benefits from a drizzle of the Cabernet–goat cheese butter offered as an upgrade. Among the popular appetizers (rare ahi tuna) and side dishes (wild steakhouse mushrooms), there are few surprises. Which is exactly why Sullivan’s continues to thrive.
Largest Steak: Long-bone ribeye, 26 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Oscar style | Grade of Meat: USDA Choice | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 28 days | Wines by the Bottle: 350 | Wines by the Glass: 25 | Big-Shot Table: “Hollywood Booth” in front of the wine room, first come, first served
201 W. Main St., 317-740-0900
An impressive glass-sided monolith along the main stretch of Carmel’s shiny insta-downtown, this house of red meat caters to carnivores who want to come out of the cave. The space is as sleek as a luxury hotel lobby, filled with massive decorative brick walls, floor-to-ceiling windows onto the Monon Trail, and plenty of chocolate-brown leather. It houses two bars, one just inside the entrance and as spacious as a nightclub, the other on a mezzanine level with an Old World feel enhanced by the original dark-wood bar from Carmel’s legendary Glass Chimney. Against this preening backdrop, the majestic bone-in cowgirl ribeye, Wagyu filet, and over-the-top personalizations like lobster tail and shaved black-truffle butter seem right at home. The steaks are presented on prim white plates, with culinary extras like frizzled onions and drizzled reductions, and bolstered by shared side dishes like Yukons full of horseradish and sour cream, garlic frites, and caramelized sesame carrots as sweet as candy. The forest mushrooms, in particular, will turn heads with their crumble of Dijon-fried chicken skin sprinkled across the plate. Order them with your 32-ounce porterhouse for two, the perfect meal in a place designed to see and be seen.
Largest Steak: Porterhouse for two, 32 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Lobster Oscar style | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime and Choice | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 28 days | Wines by the Bottle: 65-85 | Signature Cocktail: The Flory Fumo
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
45 S. Illinois St., 317-633-1313 | 2727 E. 86th St., 317-844-1155
Since opening just a few doors down from St. Elmo in 1994 (a bold move if there ever was one), this chain has been as piping hot as the plates it delivers to conventioneers and couples on a date-night splurge. At both the downtown and Ironworks locations, the steaks are served in a sizzling pool of butter. That gimmick has stood the test of time, but the decor of the Illinois Street location had not, prompting a recent $2.3 million remodel that brightened the dining room and expanded the bar area to 70 seats. Piano player Ken Fary still serenades the crowd there as patrons devour ribeyes and strips that are seared then broiled in an 1,800-degree oven. The lobster mac and cheese, loaded with generous hunks of claw meat and sprinkled with green chiles, is the proper choice among the sides. With a fairly new bar menu that includes adventurous small plates such as crab beignets and zucchini fries, Ruth’s Chris seems as committed to modernizing its offerings as its interiors. But let’s face it: That filet will always be the favorite.
Largest Steak: Porterhouse for two and tomahawk ribeye, 40 ounces each | Steak-Topper Splurge: Bleu-cheese crust | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 28 days | Wines by the Bottle: 300-plus
Geraldine’s Supper Club
1101 English Ave., 317-600-3336
It may be the youngest of the bunch, yet from the rustic brick peeking through the walls at the former Ironworkers Corner Bar to the backlit lacquered bartop that runs the length of its first floor, Dan Jarman’s supper club has enough midcentury charm to take you back in time. The menu, some of which is culled from the cookbooks of Jarman’s mother, has retro flourishes as well. Case in point: a 60-day dry-aged Delmonico steak, a throwback cut of boneless ribeye that’s as buttery as it is beefy, especially when enlivened with tangy béarnaise sauce. Grass-fed and sourced from Oregon, it is decidedly more modest than the nearly three-pound porterhouse that tops the list at this chic yet cozy Fletcher Place spot where you are more likely to spy your neighbor than a celebrity. Dainty scoops of housemade sorbet may border on precious, but stick-to-your ribs split-pea soup and straightforward scalloped potatoes bring the meal down to earth for family dinners that begin with broiled tomatoes and end with pastry chef Bridget Horan’s masterful sticky toffee bread pudding or a high-rising chocolate soufflé.
Largest Steak: Porterhouse, 48 ounces | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Signature Cocktail: The Geraldine Ann | Big-Shot Table: The five-top inside the main-floor entrance
Harry & Izzy’s
153 S. Illinois St., 317-635-9594 | 4050 E. 82nd St., 317-915-8045
This is the remix of steak joints. Here, we have the classic cuts courtesy of its buttoned-down 115-year-old next-door sibling refashioned as a craps game with Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls—a nod to the yin and yang of former St. Elmo partners Harry Roth, the bespectacled, and Izzy Rosen, the bookmaker. But in the same way breakfast-for-dinner rebranded waffles, slicing into what is basically a St. Elmo steak inside Harry & Izzy’s just feels different. That’s a big part of the showy magic here, a restaurant with a vibe all its own that just happens to have a St. Elmo franchise inside. Or, maybe that makes it the turducken of steakhouses.
Largest Steak: Bone-in ribeye, 20 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Izzy style (pepper-encrusted and pan-seared, with orange-brandy butter sauce) | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime and Upper Choice | Aging Process: Dry-aged for 45 days | Big-Shot Table: The windowed Parlor Room
47 S. Pennsylvania St., 317-624-0720
Young in steakhouse years, 5-year-old Prime 47’s vibe gets a considerable boost from its historic locale—an 1895 building first home to the Indiana Gas Company. Original tile floors, soaring columns, and two-story windows—plus a few framed black-and-white photos of the city in its infancy—create a subdued backdrop for straightforward beef-house fare. Servers uniformed in white lab coats offer in-depth menu analysis, a pianist plays by the door, and drink refills are plentiful. Featured cuts don’t need toppers for flavor, but if you feel like a splurge, go for the simple black-truffle butter. The baby iceberg salad and French onion soup are not to be missed.
Largest Steak: TJ’s tomahawk, a Wagyu ribeye, 30 ounces | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Some dry-aged for 42 days | Wines by the Bottle: 402 | Wines by the Glass: 30 | Big-Shot Table: Tables by the windows facing Pennsylvania St.
7690 E. 96th St., Fishers, 317-598-8863
Calling this a neighborhood steakhouse might sound like a dig, but here’s what we mean: The Fishers restaurant, marking its 20th anniversary this year, is cozy and welcoming, with service that’s friendly but not overly chummy. The USDA Prime–grade steaks are sourced from Midwestern locales, and the place gets bonus points for using Indiana ingredients like Nicole-Taylor’s linguine (tangled with shrimp, mussels, scallops, and pesto cream) and a pork shank from Gunthorp Farms (with a sweet-potato tamale, toasted corn, and bright French green beans). Even the hottest table in the joint—a quiet corner booth that can accommodate two for a rendezvous or six for rowdier fun—benefits a local charity. Plus, longtime St. Elmo Steak House chef Dave Foegley isn’t afraid to put a few surprises on the menu, like a refreshing street-corn casserole whose charred kernels brighten up with chile-lime cilantro creme and cotija cheese. Lest you question his restaurant’s steakhouse bona fides, however, consider the smorgasbord of standards like jumbo asparagus, creamed spinach, and five ways to consume your potatoes—plus more than 400 labels in an award-winning wine library. We’ll drink to that.
Largest Steak: Center barrel-cut filet, 16 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Grade A foie gras | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime | Aging Process: Wet-aged for 21 to 28 days; some dry-aging during winter months | Wines by the Bottle: 400-plus | Wines by the Glass: 40
The Capital Grille
40 W. Washington St., 317-423-8790
Locals could lament the fact that Darden Restaurants, also the parent company of Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, operates nearly 60 outposts of this upscale chain. Yet who among us would turn down an invitation to dine in the clubby, mahogany-framed confines of this consummate chophouse, mere steps from a Chihuly glass sculpture in the dazzling lobby of the Conrad hotel? Even if you forego the earthy, porcini-dusted bone-in ribeye or the eye-popping veal tomahawk chop with foie gras butter, you can make a meal of decadent lobster mac and cheese, hot and bubbling French onion soup, or a sigh-inducing lobster roll. Perhaps the city’s best coconut cream pie, mounded with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce? With so many Hoosier luminaries framed on the walls (Tony Hulman and Wes Montgomery among them), this place sure does seem like it’s homegrown.
Largest Steak: Porterhouse, 24 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Butter-poached lobster tails | Grade of Meat: USDA Choice | Aging Process: Dry-aged in house for 21 days | Wines by the Bottle: 440
Tony’s Steaks & Seafood
110 W. Washington St., 317-638-8669
Ohio-based restaurateur Tony Ricci hijacked the former neon-fringed Indianapolis Colts Grille—as well as its historic Claypool Court shell—and turned it into this sleek den of wining and dining, part of this year’s rush of new downtown steakhouses. Customers stuff their faces in a corn maze of hushed seating areas flush with white tablecloths, undeterred by the subdued conference-room decor. The menu appeals to the expense-accounted conventioneer in all of us, from the jumbo lump crab cake to the raspberry-chocolate martini to the list of well-seasoned and lightly crusted steak standards. Servers looking so spiffy in their all-black uniforms fuss over every morsel, and seem sincerely invested in that perfect squishy, cool, red center of a bone-in ribeye ordered defiantly rare. If you can’t possibly finish that 12-ounce barrel-cut filet or the spread of sides—including seriously meaty sautéed greens and whipped sweet potatoes with a massive brûléed marshmallow in the middle of the dish—the leftovers will be whisked off and returned, clamshelled and arranged in a tasteful black-cloth tote of a doggy bag emblazoned with the Tony’s logo. A few days later, a handwritten thank-you note from your server arrives in the mail, like some relic from a more genteel time. If the gilded steaks don’t leave a lasting impression, all of those polished little details will.
Largest Steak: Porterhouse, 24 ounces | Steak-Topper Splurge: Oscar style | Grade of Meat: USDA Prime and Choice | Aging Process: Some are dry-aged | Signature Cocktail: The Burnt Orange Manhattan | Big-Shot Table: Along the windows overlooking Washington St.