Juicy. Perfectly seared. Tender, flavorful, and leaving you wanting more. These are the qualities of a magnificent steak — however, for the uninitiated, ordering one from a restaurant may be easier said than done. With myriad terms to be familiar with and cooking options to choose from, it’s no wonder some feel apprehensive about making a culinary misstep when they’re out to eat. Our team is here to bring clarity to the ordering process by shedding light on the best ways to order different types of steak and some commonplace fumbles that you may not have even been aware of.
Ordering By Cut
Steakhouses typically have at least three to four different cuts of steak on the menu but don’t typically outline their features and how they vary. You may see bone-in and boneless options and cuts such as ribeye, filet mignon, or strip. When it comes to boneless vs. bone-in steaks, you’ll need to consider flavor. Typically, bone-in steaks have more flavor than their boneless counterparts as they get a lot of flavor from the bone’s marrow, tenderizing the meat and giving it a juicier texture. Boneless, however, may be better for someone who wants to skip the fuss of cutting around a bone altogether.
To get the most out of your dining experience, you’ll want meat that is chock full of flavor and has a beautiful texture. We recommend looking for ribeye, porterhouse, or strip steak. Filet mignon is also another great option if you’re willing to pay for something a bit more sophisticated.
Isn’t “Rare” Always the Way to Go?
It’s well-known you don’t order a steak cooked above medium-rare, right? Not necessarily. Ordering steak —especially how it will be cooked —primarily boils down to personal preference. One good reason for tuning up the heat is that leaner cuts may actually taste less flavorful when cooked at lower temperatures. Sometimes, rare steaks are served cooler on the inside due to the expedited cooking time, making the meat less palatable. Ordering the perfect steak comes down to matching the cooking temperature to the cut.
Some steakhouses allow diners to order steak cooked to the absolute minimum safe temperature, known as “super-rare” or just “blue,” however, we recommend staying away from this option as super-rare or blue stakes tend to be cold, difficult to chew, and potentially harmful to consume.
Lean vs. Marbled Cuts
Leaner cuts — think tenderloin, flat iron, flank, strip, filet mignon, and hanger cuts — should be ordered rare or medium-rare, as less cook times let them stay tender, and cooking them well-done will cause the steak to toughen up. However, for marbled cuts, like ribeye and the Denver steak, medium tastes best. The longer cooking time of a medium temperature lets the meat’s fat render and adds flavor to the steak. A more marbled cut cooked rare means you’re opting out of the flavor that comes with all that rendered fat.
Quick Hits: Which Cooking Style Is Best for Particular Cuts?
Ribeye: Super flavorful and juicy cut is tender when cooked to no more than medium doneness. Ribeye is best when cooked medium-rare.
Sirloin steak: A lean cut of meat that can easily become tough if overcooked. If you’ve got top sirloin, it is best served rare.
T-bone steak: This cut consists of meat from the strip loin and tenderloin. If you enjoy your steak cooked to a higher degree of doneness, this cut’s for you. T-bone steak is most flavorful and juicy when cooked medium-rare to medium.
Filet mignon: This cut, from the heart of the tenderloin, is well-known as fork-tender beef. To enjoy filet mignon to its full extent, we recommend ordering it medium-rare.