Nothing tastes better after 18 holes of grade-A golf than 16 ounces (or more) of grade-A beef. Here’s our menu of nine choice steakhouses around the country, with nine great public courses on the side.
BERN’S STEAK HOUSE (TAMPA, FLA.)
This is not the place to hone your Florida beach body. It’s a place to forgo all calorie-counting in favor of what used to be called “living well.” By that we mean an evening spent in high-backed booths, indulging in a dinner of, say, potato-crusted oysters, followed by shrimp cocktail and seared foie gras, or possibly lump crab cakes and lobster rolls. And that’s before you move on to the main attraction: your choice of seven kinds of steak, cut to order and cooked to perfection, ranging in size from a six-ounce filet to a Flintstones-esque 60-ounce sirloin. Diet starts Monday.
Pair it with: TPC Tampa Bay, $65-$105 (22 miles away)
RINGSIDE STEAKHOUSE (PORTLAND, ORE.)
Opened in 1944, this family-run institution belongs to another age in Portland, before the city’s dining scene became so trendy and tattooed. Its appeal lives on, largely because its essence hasn’t changed. Now, as ever, you get the classy valet greeting, the sharp, tuxedoed service, the throwback dining room warmed by a stone hearth. And, most important, you still get the cuisine, highlighted by great steaks, dry-aged on the premises for a minimum of four weeks and offered with a host of optional sides, including onion rings that are pretty much required. They’re the same ones James Beard called “the best I’ve ever had.”
Pair it with: Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek), $95-$141 (21 miles away)
ALEXANDER’S STEAKHOUSE (SAN FRANCISCO)
The Golden Gate City is a hotbed of vegan activism, but not everyone has lost their senses. Or their primal appetites. For those who still possess sound mind and body, this ritzy South of Market redoubt stands out. Its modernist menu is Japanese-inflected, with contemporary riffs that range from beef-poached Hokkaido scallops to a 10-ounce bone-in filet with miso-marinated ramps. If that sounds too California frou-frou, more classical compositions are offered, too, including a filet mignon with Bordelaise sauce, and a hulking rib-eye with blue cheese and A-I. Then there’s the seared Japanese wagyu, that gloriously marbled, buttery beef. So tender, it almost makes a tofu-eater want to change his ways.
Pair it with: TPC Harding Park, $53-$176 (5 miles away)
GIBSONS BAR AND STEAKHOUSE (CHICAGO)
In the Windy City, home of Da Bears, they like their dinners big and beefy, fit for guys with names like Butkus, Dent and Ditka. This old-school haunt meets that demand with linebacker-sized portions of steakhouse classics, ranging from lobster tails in spicy cocktail sauce to prime rib glazed in roasted bone marrow. The atmosphere is exactly how you’d want it: upscale but unpretentious, with red booths, wood-paneled walls, and lively, martini-lubricated conversation. Tables book up quickly, so make a reservation well in advance. Show up without one, and odds are you’ll be forced to call an audible.
Pair it with: The Glen Club, $177 (22 miles away)
THE MUSSO & FRANK GRILL (LOS ANGELES)
A steakhouse straight out of central casting, this Tinsel Town stronghold has a red carpet history that reaches back to the days before the talkies. Charlie Chaplin was a regular, and he wasn’t silent about it either. Garbo, Groucho. John Barrymore. Jimmy Stewart. The roster of A-listers goes on. And on. All these years later, the place still calls to mind a stage set: worn leather booths, mahogany bar. And the opulent menu is pretty much unchanged, spanning beyond steaks to roast duck, salmon, veal bolognese. Chaplin’s go-to order, grilled lamb kidneys with bacon, remains a specialty, a classic that stands up to modern times.
Pair it with: Rancho Park Golf Course, $33-$43 (7 miles away)
PETER LUGER (BROOKLYN, N.Y.)
Tiger or Jack? Hogan or Snead? Peter Luger or Keens? The beauty of these “greatest of” debates is that there’s no objective answer, but we all get to pass our opinions off as facts. In that spirit, we lean toward Peter Lugers, the Brooklyn landmark, partly for its history (it’s been around since 1887) and its hidebound ambience, but mostly for its service and its steaks. Both are crusty, but only on the outside, and the flavors they impart are central to the evening. Leave your credit card at home. This steakhouse is cash only. The memories are money in the bank.
Pair it with: Bethpage Black, $65-$150 (35 miles away)
DICKIE BRENNAN’S STEAKHOUSE (NEW ORLEANS)
At this French Quarter icon, magnet for politicos and power brokers, deals are sealed over handshakes and Manhattans, and marbled strips are seared on a flaming stovetop. Every cut, in fact, gets a specific preparation: the chops grilled, the filets broiled, the prime rib oven-roasted. You can have your meat as is, beautifully unvarnished. But this being the Big Easy, you can also get any steak topped with jumbo Gulf shrimp. Our recommendation: the prime strip, enlivened with Creole spices, not unlike the city itself.
Pair it with: English Turn Golf & Country Club, $129 (10 miles away)
SW STEAKHOUSE (LAS VEGAS)
Here’s our beef with Kobe in this country: Most of the meat that’s labeled as such isn’t the real deal. Not at SW, which stands for Steve Wynn, a man who cuts no corners with casinos or cuisine. His namesake steakhouse, in his namesake resort on the Strip, is one of only three restaurants in the country that offers certified Kobe beef. You’ll taste the difference between it and the phony stuff if you opt for the SW Experience, a sampler built around five two-ounce cuts of true Kobe. The everyday menu brims with high-roller choices, too, ranging from a chili-rubbed ribeye to a 22-ounce pepper-crusted chateaubriand.
Pair it with: The Wolf Course at Paiute, $139-$159 (25 miles away)
JESS & JIM’S STEAKHOUSE (KANSAS CITY, MO.)
Playboy once hailed this Midwest haunt as the greatest steakhouse in the world. While that’s up for debate, it remains a fitting honor for a restaurant that does little to cover up its meat. Sauces? Spices? You can get ’em if you want ’em. But every cut is served unseasoned, right down to the house special Playboy Strip, a shapely steak that’s billed on the menu as “25oz of pure beef goodness.” The twice-baked potato is darned good, too. But we know what really gets you hot and bothered. On the rooftop of this otherwise nondescript building stands a statue of a steer. In the context, it’s about as sexy as a centerfold.
Pair it with: Ironhorse Golf Course, $58-$72 (4 miles away)