Editor’s Note, January 2015: Best Steakhouses
Like so many who came before me, and so many since, my first supper in Indianapolis was a steak—a seared filet, medium rare—at St. Elmo. I had just spent the day interviewing for this job. I was mentally exhausted. But the frosty gin martini, the immaculate service, the comforting dark wood, and yes, the juicy hunk of meat soon set me right, and I floated back to my hotel, content.
“This is a steak-and-potatoes town,” someone once told me, referring to both Indy’s plethora of steakhouses and its lack of adventurous eaters. I don’t agree that the latter is true anymore, as our growing number of bold indie restaurants can attest (Plow & Anchor’s chicken-fried smelt, anyone?). But when it comes to the quality of this city’s T-bones and porterhouses, being described as “steak and potatoes” should be a badge of honor, as we found reporting “Great Steakhouses.”
From Peterson’s monster tomahawk rib chop to Mo’s Wagyu cuts, Indy is prime territory for meat. Every time I met with dining editor Julia Spalding to discuss the coverage, my mouth would start to water. I can’t say a salad ever elicited that reaction. As Julia Child once said, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” In the dead of winter here, when a sizzling, juicy bone-in ribeye warms you up in a way kale or beets never could, I totally agree.
Following that first St. Elmo night three years ago, I’ve visited steakhouses across the city, and not once have I asked for steak sauce, which is my biggest compliment. Especially because—confession—I love the stuff. Ever since those summer weekends as a child, when my father would grill New York strips after a day of swimming and cutting grass, I’ve been a serial condiment monogamist. First, there was the gateway sauce: Heinz 57, just tangy and tomato-tinged enough to be safe to a ketchup-loving 8-year-old. Then came a brief affair with Worcestershire before finding my soulmate, A.1.—light and spicy, accenting the meat without overwhelming it.
Thankfully, the steaks we recommend this month require no such adornment. Though a gin martini beforehand still doesn’t hurt.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
We love steak, any way you slice it. In Indianapolis, there’s a steakhouse to cater to every occasion and level of sophistication, and after months of dining like wealthy cavemen, we present them to you here, in juicy detail. A la cartes include a primer on the king cuts (for those who don’t know a porterhouse from a portobello), tips on the best cheap chops in town, a cattle call of beefy terms, and a stab at defining that common condition among steak-lovers—the meat sweats. You want a piece of this? Dig in.