1. Maple & Ash (8 W. Maple Street)
This stone cold stunner offers amazing food and wine while not taking itself too seriously. The team behind this new restaurant is breaking all the traditional steakhouse rules and having a ton of fun while doing so. With cheeky menu items like the Caviar Bump and a five-course tasting menu called I Don't Give A F*@K, it's obvious this steakhouse has a sense of humor. But that's not to say it's all fun and games, their wine list is expertly curated and their chef, Danny Grant, is Michelin starred.
Another unique characteristic: there is no gas in the kitchen at all. They cook everything on a wood fired grill or in a coal oven, giving everything on the menu a hint of smoke and char.
- Perfect for: Moonlighting as a playboy millionaire for the night.
- Don't miss: Their extensive wine list curated by James Beard Award-winning sommelier Belinda Chang. They have over 600 bottles in their wine program, and most are available by the glass thanks to the Coravin Wine System technology which allows any bottle to be pierced and poured without removing the cork.
- Pro tip: They also have an amazing patio, which is prime real estate in the downtown Gold Coast. It's the perfect place to people watch while enjoying a glass of wine on a beautiful summer evening.
2. Tango Sur (3763 N. Southport Avenue)
This candlelit Argentinian steakhouse is a neighborhood gem. Offering some of the cheapest and tastiest steaks in the city, it's easily the best bang for your buck in the steakhouse category. Plus, it's BYO; again offering a cost savings.
Tango Sur is located in the adorable Southport Corridor in the Lakeview neighborhood, right by Wrigley Field. It's rustic, romantic vibe and enormous cuts of beef make you feel like you're dining on a ranch in the Argentinean countryside. The only thing missing are the gauchos.
- Perfect for: Dining on a budget and not compromising on quality.
- Don't miss: The empanadas and the chimichurri sauce. Normally I advocate for a naked steak, but the chimichurri is so fresh, flavorful and delicious you'll end up drizzling it over everything.
- Pro Tip: They do not take reservations, so turn up early to avoid a wait. Also, there's an adorable wine shop across the street called Que Syrah, stop there first for the perfect wine to pair with your meal.
3. Swift & Sons (1000 W. Fulton Market)
This swanky steakhouse is appropriately placed in Chicago's old meatpacking district in the Fulton Market District of the West Loop. After opening last October it created a lot of buzz for its refreshingly modern take on the classic steakhouse. It's beautiful design, chef-driven menu and clever combination of old and new make this one of the most unique steakhouses in the city.
- Perfect for: Impressing your work colleagues or in-laws.
- Don't miss: Ordering something from one of their strolling carts. They offer a champagne cart, a martini cart for tableside cocktail service as well as a chocolate cart serving up delectable bite-size desserts.
- Pro tip: They have an in-house concierge service. So if you're looking to make your evening extra special, contact their concierge to arrange a car service, coordinate flowers on the table or even secure theatre tickets.
4. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf (218 W. Kinzie Street)
This French-inspired steakhouse dresses down fine dining, offering beautiful cuts of steak, fresh seafood and exceptional cocktails without the pomp and circumstance of your traditional steakhouse. Bavette's feels like a blast from the past with its leather banquettes, exposed brick walls, warm chandeliers and jazzy tunes.
The River North restaurant reminds you of an old Chicago speakeasy, tying perfectly to Chicago's infamous prohibition-era past. You almost expect to see Al Capone come waltzing through the door, flanked by flapper girls and smoking a stogie.
- Perfect for: A romantic, retro date night.
- Don't miss: The roasted bone marrow and epic seafood towers.
- Pro tip: Make your reservation in advance! This hot spot books up 2-4 weeks out, weekends being especially busy.
Photo credits: Swift & Sons Porterhouse Steak, photo by Eric Kleinberg. Maple & Ash Interior, courtesy of Maple & Ash. Tango Sur Steak. Swift & Sons Interior, photo by Anthony Tahlier. Bavette's Interior, photo by Kari Skaflen.