I've spent the past few years working in meat markets and the meat departments of specialty grocery stores, and have encountered a lot of confused people in that time. In a lot of cases, that confusion is understandable. There is a lot of bad information floating around about meat. Just searching online for info on meat reveals vastly different data, coming from both sides of the spectrum - Those who would convince you that eating meat is dangerous or evil, and those who believe it's a basic component of a healthy diet.
I'm not going to touch those debates. People are either going to eat meat or not, and I'm not trying to make that decision for anyone else.
However, there's a lot of ignorance among the meat-eating population out there. Here are a few of the types of questions I get asked daily.
What's a good steak to buy? I hear this question daily, and the answer is it depends on many factors. I ask customers how they plan to cook their steak, and often get bewildered deer-in-the-headlights looks in return. Then I'll usually ask if they're planning on grilling it in some fashion or have another plan.
Generally, my "go-to" steak suggestion is a rib eye, followed by a New York strip. The (usually) greater fat content in a rib eye makes it tasty, and rib eyes are hard to screw up by grilling or cooking in a pan. They're a basic steak that's moderately tender, and most people seem to like them. I personally don't enjoy New York strips as much, but a lot of people prefer them for some reason. So be it.
Sirloin is popular, and it's understandable. They pack a lot of flavor, and although they're not usually a really tender steak, if they're chosen and cooked right, they shouldn't be as tough as leather either. Some people grill them, and they can be delicious that way. I go the extreme route and grind them, making sirloin patties. Sirloin can be a little dry, but will remain juicy if it's not overcooked.
Then there is the beef tenderloin. That one is popular, and is one of the more expensive cuts of beef. It is a muscle from the cow's back that doesn't have much fat and is (guess that name came from somewhere) extremely tender. A lot of people like tenderloin, and I can understand the appeal. It's relatively small, and can almost be cut with a fork. A lot of people will wrap their filet mignon with bacon, and that's probably a good idea, as the bacon reintroduces fat to an extremely lean steak, which can be a bit dry and bland on its own. One of the reasons the tenderloin is so expensive is that it's labor intensive to remove the surrounding fat and tough membranes that encase it, and there is a lot of waste as a result.