What with foam and farm-to-table food fads du jour, it’s amazing that steak survives — and not just in grass-fed form. Steakhouses not only soldier on in San Antonio and elsewhere, but new ones continue to open.
So where are the best places in San Antonio when you want to gnaw on a bone? These local steak destinations have a preference for big meat and offer a solid wine list in a stellar setting. Oh, and for purposes of this article — no chains. (Sorry Ruth’s Chris, Fleming’s, Morton’s, and all the Brazilians.)
Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood
Bohanan’s is owned by a genuine, toque-wearing chef, but that doesn’t mean that Mark Bohanan shrinks from slapping a slab of beef — sometimes very expensive, Texas-raised Akaushi or USDA prime beef — on the grill. The 40-ounce porterhouse probably should be shared by several, and the spinach is a must-try, sauteed with olive oil and garlic. You will pay accordingly, but you will be well-served and well-lubricated, for the wine list is one of the best in town — as is the downstairs cocktail bar.
Little Rhein Steak House
If you are of the sort to indulge in controversy, here’s one: Is there a difference between New York and Kansas City strip? Most sources say no; others choose to disagree. Little Rhein Steak House chooses to call its prime center cut a New York strip. Its rib eye comes boneless or in a Frenchy, bone-in "côte de boeuf" version. The wine list it shares with neighboring Fig Tree is a winner for good reason. Try for a seat outdoors on the patio that cascades down to the vaunted River Walk. This is the perfect place to consider a real Caesar salad, by the way. In season, the tomatoes with blue cheese are also exceptional.
Myron’s Prime Steakhouse
Myron's came to San Antonio from New Braunfels, but owner Bill Been cut his steak teeth here. USDA prime beef, a “state-of-the-art oven,” and both dry and wet ageing are claimed here. As with many such establishments, well-done steaks are not recommended. Anything bone-in, however, gets our vote, like the bone-in filet. There’s also the bone-in rib eye and the almost-as-good Kansas City strip. You can accompany them with big and bold steak fries and, yes, creamed spinach.
Grey Moss Inn
In the steaks and nostalgia department, the clear winner is Grey Moss Inn near Helotes. The old stagecoach stop has undeniable charm, and the cuts are cooked over a grill that was once a stone well. The T-bone American lamb chops are 3 inches thick; the strip is Kansas City; and though we would never turn down the “lightly grilled” smoked prime rib, we actually recommend the rib eye with a cracked peppercorn crust. Grey Moss is another steak joint with an award-winning wine list, and the desserts are also better than most. Think a big Zinfandel and chocolate pecan pie.
The Brazilian roots of J-Prime (it’s a local spin-off of a chain) show a little, but we include it here because of its ambitious program of steaks and chops not brought to you impaled on sabers and pikes. How can you resist descriptions such as "ribbons of creamy white marbling" or the 36-ounce tomahawk rib eye with "abundant flavor"? (A 32-ounce tomahawk is also available at the Boiler House at Pearl.) Steaks are cooked over a Brazilian-made grill with hickory, maple, and oak, but we suggest you start with octopus ceviche to clear the palate for all that marbled intensity.
Little Red Barn Steakhouse, The Barn Door, and Josephine Street
At a less ambitious level, but nevertheless worth mentioning for reasons of history and affordability, are such local classics as the Little Red Barn Steakhouse where the waitresses are decked out Dale Evans-style and there’s room for 800 diners; The Barn Door, known for its house-aged steaks cooked over mesquite and charcoal; and Josephine Street, sporting neon "steak" and "whisky" signs in the window and honestly admitting that a filet requires bacon-wrapping, and sometimes even peppering, to provide flavor. No creamed spinach, but sometimes you just want a simple sirloin, house fries, and a cold brew. These places do the trick.
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