The Mighty, Meaty Steak Houses of Seattle

Temples of beef that age, grill, and sear meat into dining divinity.

Edited by Rosin Saez August 14, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Forget Salt Bae—the undying meme—FlintCreek has all the flake salt on meat you need.

Image: Amber Fouts

Asadero Ballard

Asadero means “grill,” or in this case, a beloved Kent restaurant that expanded into Ballard with northern Mexico’s traditions of mesquite-grilled meats and tacos thereof. Seemingly every table has a 16-ounce carne asada draped on top of it, and the flawless prep and simple seasoning (just salt, pepper, and the savory smoke of mesquite charcoal) give you an almost bionic ability to register every vivid detail of the meat, which is mostly American Wagyu. Even more exciting than the self-serve salsa bar: the screaming value on these high-end cuts of meat.


Much in this white-on-white French farmhouse of a room will be instantly recognizable to fans of superchef Renee Erickson’s original masterpiece, Boat Street Cafe, including the dog art and the slate tables. But most familiar will be Erickson’s winsome turn with, say, a plate of sliced celeriac, rounded with walnuts and cream and pomegranate and plenty of Meyer lemon; or veal sweetbreads piqued with capers and pickled elderflowers. Such elegant refinement turns out to make the perfect foil for the house-butchered, dry-aged steaks Erickson raises herself—tempered beautifully and cooked medium rare in hot steel pans with plenty of butter. Choose your cut off the wall-size blackboard, choose your sides (frites and mashed potatoes are equally indulgent)—and settle into your meal in the capable hands of your server. Order what you will for dessert, but woe if it isn’t the bread pudding.

The Butcher's Table

From the seasonally and artisanally grandiose imagination of Kurt Beecher Dammeier (Bennett’s, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Pasta and Co.) comes a beautiful rendition of two timeworn conceits: loud and buzzy window-clad happy hour emporium at street level; hushed and dusky black leather-banquette lair downstairs for Wagyu steaks, replete with the private rooms and waiters donning black and white uniforms essential to a windowless steakhouse. Both rooms have their predictable charms (upstairs there's upgraded Beecher’s mac and cheese, a terrific steak tartare; downstairs beef, beef, beef) that will please diners who prize satisfaction over inspiration—but may deflate culinary adventurers.

El Gaucho

Waiters in tuxedos, diners in sequins—this is Seattle? Yeah, dollface, and brought to you by a restaurateur who revels in the sheer theater of the dining experience. Truth be told, we still miss the original El Gaucho, the real-deal ’50s supper club that held down Seventh and Olive by the sheer weight of its patrons’ pinkie rings, but a straight shot of retro has been injected into this sprawling Belltown homage—from the banquettes to the pianist, from the showy tableside preparations (including a flaming bananas Foster) to the candlelight-only shimmer of what has to be the darkest dinner house in town. The result is a showstopper if you want to impress a date, a variable performer foodwise (stick with the beef), a sensational place to tipple (there’s even an inn upstairs in Belltown)—in short, an unabashed celebration of just about every legal form of adult indulgence. A newer location lights up downtown Bellevue.

FlintCreek Cattle Co.

Sure, it’s a game restaurant—but we defy anyone to leave this packed, warmly windowed, two-level Greenwood corner destination without finding something not just to eat, but to love. Brought to us by RockCreek Seafood chef-owner Eric Donnelly, FlintCreek’s dishes offer the same richocheting flavors and unexpected culinary harmonies; you may find lamb sausages over raclette cheese and truffled cabbage with pickled green tomatoes, for instance. Bison hanger steak, braised wild boar shoulder, roasted duck confit—it’s all here, achieved with thoughtful consistency and augmented with straight beef steaks for the purists, even something for the herbivores.


All spare timbers and sleek glassy surfaces, Girin is as striking as restaurants get in this town and the first, unbelievably, to present high-end Korean cuisine. What this means is Korean steak house: kalbi-marinated short ribs to dry-aged bone-in rib eyes, butchered in house to abet nose-to-tail eating. Meats are all served with ssam (herbs, leaves, and vegetables for wrapping) and banchan (a constellation of small-dish accompaniments, eggplant to nettle greens), all done to perfectionist specs. To end the night, if they have it, a dessert of barley tea custard with yuzu and honey.

At Renee Erickson’s Bateau on Capitol Hill: chalkboard list of cuts, French vibes, and a major ode to boeuf.

Image: Sarah Flotard


At JaK’s the burgers come with a steak knife. A nice big one. You won’t necessarily need it; soy and Worcestershire sauces make the ground, corn-fed Nebraska beef extra tender and insanely moist, but the sharp, serrated blade is a nice touch just the same. JaK’s is, after all, an honest-to-gosh, Sinatra-on-the-stereo, brass-and-polished-cherry-wood steak house, and chances are good that your dining companions will be carving up filet mignon.

John Howie Steak

This high-end steak house in downtown Bellevue is Bravern elegant—see: classy wall of windows overlooking the Cascades—and yes, that four-ounce Japanese Wagyu filet mignon does cost $140. But the place also enshrines the big, populist flavors of mesquite-grilled beef (cooked precisely, with a whisper of crust) and Kurobuta bacon (tempura-fried!) and big, cheesy sides. All this richness doesn’t come cheap, of course, but at lunch the place shape-shifts to genuinely affordable. Lunch or dinner, you’ll want to get good and private with your dessert.

Local 360

Holding down the corner of First and Bell is this sweet-spirited spot with raw timbers, lofty ceilings, long tables, and a drop-in ambiance—Belltown’s version of Oddfellows. The menus (brunch, lunch, dinner) are heavy on comfort food (fried chicken and waffles!) and even heavier on sustainability: Ninety percent of raw ingredients are sourced within 360 miles of Seattle. That ethos extends to the beef, too, like grass-fed cuts of rib eye or New York strip grilled over wood-fueled flames for a charry bite of meat served with a side of frites.

Miller's Guild

This all-day downtown restaurant adjoining the lobby of the Hotel Max is like a cave designed by Martha Stewart: lights low, lines classic, firewood stacked at the entrance, flames leaping brightly out of the custom-built nine-foot grill in back. And holding forth at those flames is executive chef Kirin Chung, who in Jason Wilson’s stead oversees big pedigreed steaks—striploin, sirloin, short rib, rib chops—and a lineup of satisfying standards.

The Metropolitan Grill

The unofficial commissary of the financial district, this chophouse is handsome in the manliest of ways—from the noble burnished wood and brass appointments to the power steaks coming out of the kitchen. It’s the flagship of E3 Co. Restaurant Group, a chain known for letting the diner set the agenda, so the Met delivers everything you expect and nothing you don’t: straightforward preparations of dependable beef, lots of single malt Scotches, seafood and pastas and salads for contrast, insider trading across tables (kidding!), even stock market postings in the lively bar.

Red Cow

A French bistro menu, a fleet of crisp-white-shirted waiters, and a bubbling crowd greet diners in this iteration of the minimalist cement-walled space on the Madrona strip—the best iteration yet. The reason? The steak-frites lineup, offering six cuts of meat up the ladder of price points with a choice of four sauces—a swell match to how the Madrona mix of families and young professionals want to eat. Beyond that, the Ethan Stowell quality control in the kitchen is amply evident across bistro classics; if it’s available don’t miss the lush goat cheese–mushroom tartine. The bar is great, but the small patio a few steps from the restaurant is almost bucolic. 

Zane and Wylie's

Inside the massive fine dining shell at Seventh and Olive left by the short-lived restaurant Circadia (and before that, Vessel and long ago the original El Gaucho), owners Kevin and Terresa Davis have put their stamp on the retro Americana steak house format. Much like tourists fill their Steelhead Diner in Pike Place Market, downtown denizens may prop themselves at the u-shaped bar for happy hour or pile into a curved high-back booth at dinner. The menu progresses from snacky bites (throwbacks like pimento cheese and potato skins, though straightforward plates of cured meat or cheeses are more successful) to delightful salads to, sure, some buttery escargot and an entree category titled, simply, “Not Steak.” But the no-nonsense, meat-and-potatoes of it all: various cuts of steak—shareable for two if you so desire—with a baked potato, and a side of steamed vegetables.

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