The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Steakhouses
7. III Forks
Photo courtesy of III Forks
Although III Forks is a Dallas-based chain, I still love it. Under chef and owner Ozzie Rogers, the upscale, beautifully-appointed steakhouse has become a great addition to the otherwise quiet Houston Pavilions downtown. Along with aged USDA Prime beef in all the traditional cuts, III Forks serves seafood and one of the best salads I've ever had anywhere: its award-winning III Forks salad with Granny Smith apples, toasted pecans, and Maytag blue in a walnut-molasses vinaigrette. The wine list is not only extensive but contains many labels not found elsewhere. III Forks gets bonus points for having truly knowledgeable staff at all levels -- from bartenders to servers to sommeliers -- and for having bartenders who can easily geek out with you over Dune, Doctor Who and graphic novels.
Photo courtesy of Morton's A prime filet mignon at Morton's.
It's disconcerting to have the display cart's live lobster eyeing you while you're ordering your dinner, but if you can get past the active menu tableau, you'll find that the steaks at Morton's are expertly prepared. So is the baked lobster, for that matter, presented whole and split down the middle. The ribeye is one of the best pieces of meat you'll ever have -- it's a scandalous amount of flavor and juiciness -- and the Cajun version is equally good. Morton's offers larger-than-generous portions with prices to match, and although you may wince at paying $11 for a side of brussels sprouts, I'll at least say this: They're better than the ones at Uchi, and that's saying a lot.
5. Smith & Wollensky
Photo courtesy of Smith & Wollensky
The Houston outpost of the New York-based Smith & Wollensky chain (there are eight more across the nation) serves dry-aged USDA Prime steaks inside a swank Highland Village set-up. A personal favorite is the flavorful Coffee & Cocoa Rubbed Filet, which features a 14-ounce. filet rubbed with coffee and cocoa, then charbroiled and topped with ancho chile butter and Smith & Wollensky's own "crispy angry onions."The chain spends more money building and decorating its restaurants than most other chains do, and the lavish atmosphere is a delight to dine in. And while it's football season, check out Smith & Wollensky's fun tailgating specials on Saturdays and Sundays.
4. Killen's Steakhouse
Photo by Patrise Shuttlesworth Killen's has a calm, cozy dining room that's not your average steakhouse scene.
Killen's buys top-quality meats from Allen Brothers of Chicago, arguably the best steakhouse supplier in the nation. And unlike most steakhouses in town, Killen's squat building in suburban Pearland is just down the street from a lumberyard and the dress code is decidedly casual. But don't let the casual vibe fool you -- it's deceptively easy to drop some bills when you're faced with dishes such as a dry-aged Mishima center-cut filet or a dry-aged Wagyu grass-fed, all-natural ribeye from Strube Ranch in Pittsburg, Texas. Save room for dessert if you can; owner and chef Ronnie Killen is rightfully famous for his creme brulee bread pudding.
1 Birdsall St., Houston, TX
788 W. Sam Houston Parkway N., Houston, TX