St. Elmo Steak House

Truly great restaurants come in two varieties: mind-blowingly innovative, every dish designed to reinvent the dining experience as we know it; or faithfully focused on doing just one thing right. Downtown’s iconic house of red meat follows the latter school of thought, with its bowtied servers, dark-paneled dining rooms, and expense-account steaks. (Okay, and that combustible shrimp-cocktail sauce that has become our own little private joke on the uninitiated.) We’ve known this for the steakhouse’s 112 years, but now the St. Elmo experience is more accessible than ever. Walk-ins are taking their seats right at the bar, sipping Elmo Colas and snacking on wedge salads set out on folded napkins as the parade of big-wigs are shown to their tables. After work, folks head upstairs to the 1933 Lounge, where they tuck into plates of mini bone-in filet chops, like caveman finger food. Even that famous cocktail sauce is now available by the bottle.
PRO TIP: On Sunday, a $35 prix fixe dinner covers three courses (for dessert, opt for the chocolate cake in all its dense, layered decadence).
PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best Restaurants 2004–2008, 2010, 2013
127 S. Illinois St., 317-635-0636,

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This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.