Next Steakout



#21 Sizzler - Atwater Village

Rating: 1.75 cows


We had to. It was sitting there on our list, staring us down like a boxer at the weigh-in. Laughing as we tried the mid-range and high-end steakhouses, it sat and waited, knowing its day would finally come. We tried every excuse we could think of: "They don't have table service!" "They don't have a filet!" "They're not a real steakhouse!!" But we soon realized there was no avoiding the one thing we had dreaded perhaps more than any other: The Sizzler.

Known for its all-you-can-eat shrimp and salad bar, Sizzler is certainly not the paragon of steakhouses. But importantly for us, it proffers the irresistible lure of steak with a low price and convenient location that appeals to many steak lovers who are too far from or can't afford the more serious players. And so whether or not it falls into the category of a "steakhouse" rather than just a restaurant that has steak on the menu, it's on our list because of those reasons, and because while their options may not be diverse, they market steak as their primary entree. The salad is there to maintain a veneer of healthiness and to pacify those vegetarians.

Passing by the iconic Tam O'Shanter in Atwater Village, we arrived at the Sizzler on a bustling Friday night. The modest parking lot was nearly full as we made our way inside. Normally we like to grab a drink at the bar before digging in to our slab of meat, but tonight things would be a little different. Queueing up along the left wall we eyed the colorful menu. We put aside the obvious comparisons to dining at Wahoo's and got to work on our orders. There are two types of steaks: the top sirloin, and for an extra $10 you can have the Rib Eye. The salad bar was certainly ample but also decidedly mediocre in quality. The food looked fresh and healthy while also being somewhat banal, but since we didn't come for the salad it wasn't a problem.

The steaks arrived shortly thereafter (except for Brent's, which arrived much later) and surprise of all surprises, they actually tasted alright! It's true that our expectations were low, and we wondered more than once whether this would lower the floor which has so far been Black Angus'. But for the most part the rib eye steaks, while thinner and fattier than we would like, and certainly not aged or the most prime cuts, were modestly enjoyable. Flavor was adequate, and the steaks were cooked reasonably well; certainly better than we had hoped. So while not as much of a surprise as Outback, we laud Sizzler for delivering a basic low-end steak. In the grand scheme of things, we feel that spending a bit more on your steak can get you a substantially better meal, but this was not the experience we feared.

Sizzler Photos


#20 L.A. Prime - Downtown

Rating: 3.5 cows


High up on the 35th floor of the Westin Bonaventure, boasting spectacular views of the downtown Los Angeles skyline, is LA Prime. You might be thinking, "hey, I've heard that place rotates - I don't want a moving floor to harsh my vibe while I'm enjoying some delicious steak." Fear not—it is the 34th floor, home of the Bona Vista Lounge, which rotates (and is easily accessible via a staircase next to the host station for your pre-dinner cocktail enjoyment). Your seat at LA Prime rests comfortably on a fixed floor, providing a peaceful place to gaze at the lights while enjoying your meal. The obvious question is: how much are you paying for the view? And is it worth it? 

Reaching the restaurant is a bit of an adventure, for which the agoraphobic need not apply.  Access is via glass elevators which cling to the outside of the building and move swiftly.  You may remember the scene in True Lies where Arnold Schwarzenegger rides up a glass elevator—on horseback—in pursuit of a terrorist who is riding a neighboring glass elevator.  That scene was filmed at the Bonaventure, and is even commemorated by a plaque hanging between the elevators in the lobby.  I'll admit to feeling a little apprehensive on the ride up, but the ride back down went much more smoothly, thanks to a belly full of wine and steak.

The restaurant offers a good selection of wine, with good prices, though not quite as good as we initially thought. We ordered a 2006 Turley Juvenile Zinfandel, but we wound up receiving a 2009. While the price was still good for a 2009, it wasn't nearly as good as it would have been for a 2006. We went ahead and enjoyed the 2009, and later enjoyed some free desserts to make up for the confusion.

The side items were mostly disappointing, with one exception. We sampled the vermont white cheddar macaroni, creamed corn, and spinach. All except the spinach were quite underwhelming. That goes double for the vermont white cheddar macaroni, which definitely failed to live up to the expectation of its appetizing description. The diamond in the rough was the spinach, which was combined with smoked bacon and caramelized shallots. It was fantastic, though adding bacon to anything makes it better, so this might be considered cheating in a side dish that is primarily a leafy green vegetable.

Our steak selections ran the usual gamut of filet, ribeye, strip, and porterhouse. The porterhouse was wet aged, and both the ribeye and the strip were available both wet aged and dry aged. We all prefer dry aged, and chose that option. The cuts were good and free from excessive fat, though one of us found his filet a bit on the thin side. The cooking and flavor were also good, very good even, but didn't quite make it over the line into "great" territory. Seasoning was subdued, as we prefer, so as not to overwhelm the flavor of the steak.

So, was it worth it? The price was definitely high for the quality of the steak, but the wine prices were better than average and the view was much better than average. Therefore, from a purely steak standpoint, the answer is no. However, from an overall restaurant experience standpoint, the answer is... maybe. If the view has some value to you, whether it be for a romantic dinner or to impress a client, and you're planning to enjoy some wine, then the price is not unreasonable. If you're looking for a great piece of steak, LA Prime won't be at the top of your list.

L.A Prime Photos


#19 Pacific Dining Car - Downtown

Rating: 3.5 cows


Buried in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles is one of the older steakhouses around: Pacific Dining Car, since 1921.  The exterior doesn't look like much but the inside is furnished and decorated with the finer touches of an old train, complete with luggage.  The ambiance is rather nice and comfortable with warm hues, roomy booths, and plenty of tables.  For a restaurant that is open 24 hours a day, it has certainly aged well (though many rooms may be recent extensions).  There is a small bar tucked all the way in the back with a decent variety of spirits and there are plenty more private areas for parties or filming as well.  There's even a room that Johnny Depp dines in when he frequents this location, so they say.  

For a large party of eleven on a Monday night, we pretty much had an entire room to ourselves and service was pleasant and attentive enough but leaning on the slower side.  The wait staffare dressed in tuxedos, which essentially translates into higher prices.  You wouldn't want the typical Denny's patrons here so classing up the joint is almost a necessity. We sat down in what were without question the most comfortable chairs of any steakhouse we've dined at so far. Seriously, these chairs are amazing—comfy, with ample padding and sized just right. It was an auspicious beginning for sure, but we're not here to critique the furniture, now are we?

Overall, the steaks (including their specialty Cowboy Steak) were cooked properly and tasted good.  But these weren't the largest steaks you'd expect to get for the price you pay.  There is also a selection of sauces available but most steaks were better without them. The biggest disappointment in the meal, however, were the sides and the desserts.  Again, bringing up the value, the sides just didn't taste like anything special and the portions were extremely small.  This was the first time we had to order additional side dishes for the table.  The desserts were actually an even bigger disappointment than the sides.  I didn't think it was possible to ruin a sundae but they managed to do just that.

It's a shame about the sides and desserts because everyone wanted to really love Pacific Dining Car.  The quality of the steak here was more than acceptable, but not exceptional and not quite what we all expected for the price paid. We would gladly return here if we needed a steak at 3am, but a meal is more than just steak, and the quality of the sides and desserts leaves too much to be desired. Then again, maybe that's what you should expect if dining at 3am?

Pacific Dining Car Photos


#18 Arroyo Chop House - Pasadena

Rating: 4 cows


Although the Arroyo Chop House is a relatively new addition to the Los Angeles steakhouse scene, having opened just 14 years ago, the ambiance evokes that of an establishment which has been thriving for at least twice that long. With the traditional dark woods and accents, walking inside not only smells like steak, it looks like it too.

The Chop House sports a small bar area which is divided from the kitchen by a row of tables. They have full bar service with a good selection of liquors. There are some smaller dining rooms and a patio area as well which can be closed in when the weather isn't agreeable. We were seated in one of these rooms, and the service started off well, with bread and drink orders. The menu at Arroyo doesn't mince words. Vegetarians need not apply; this is a place where animals go to die, and for that we should all give thanks. There are ten different cuts of steak to be had here, and the prices are moderately high but certainly not unreasonable.

Overall we were impressed with the quality of steaks. This was not the first time that many of us had been here, though it was the first time we had gone together as a group. The size and cut of the steaks was excellent, and though they offer a selection of sauces, chances are your steak will taste better without them. Together we had the NY Strip, Filet, Ribeye and Porterhouse. All were impressively cooked and very flavorful. The side dishes were adequate, but certainly nothing exceptional. Not that we went there for the sides, but it's still an important part of the overall experience.

Now that we've been to a number of steakhouses around this mid-upper price range, it's becoming clear that the major differentiator is the quality and aging of the steaks rather than the cuts, cooking, or seasoning. Those latter elements are crucially important to a great steak experience, but most places seem to get them just about right. However Arroyo does well with steak cuts that seem just a bit higher grade than their prices suggest. The steaks were excellent, though they lacked the exquisite taste and delicacy of places like Mastro's and Cut.

Finally, though we usually get at least one dessert to share, sometimes we need to go a little further. This was one of those times, as Arroyo is renowned for their soufflés, especially the chocolate. We ordered 3 in total—two chocolate and one creme brûlée. All were delicious but the chocolate is the clear winner here. Easily the best dessert of any of the place we've been to, this one is not to be missed if you have room after your juicy steak.

Arroyo Chop House Photos


#17 Boa - Hollywood

Rating: 3.75 cows


Boa has been located on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood for many years but recently moved further West on Sunset. We decided to make a visit to their new location for our continued adventure to find the best steakhouses in Los Angeles. We chose a Sunday night to attend Boa because Boa has a long standing special of ½ off wine bottles on Sunday. Given that the majority of our group are big wine drinkers we thought this was an excellent deal.

The restaurant is very nicely decorated but a large portion of the seating is outside. Most of that area is covered but on the night we decided to visit it was quite chilly outside and sitting outside proved to be too chilly for some of our guests. Fortunately, the staff at Boa were able to move us to a large table inside. The downside was that the waiter serving our table was already overwhelmed with many other tables. This obviously caused our dining experience to be a very lengthy one. Fortunately we had a few ½ bottles of wine to help keep us entertained during that time. In addition one of our guests ended up with gum stuck on her dress from gum that was stuck to the bottom of the table. This would be perhaps one of the last things we would expect to have happen at a nice restaurant.

If you aren't aware of it already, Boa is another steakhouse whose specialty is in dry aging. Their signature cut is a 40 Day Dry Aged New York Strip. However, the rest of their steak menu is made up with a decent selection of New York Strips, Rib Eyes, Filet Mignons, Kobe Beef and a Porterhouse.

Between the members of our group we selected two 21 Day Aged Rib-Eyes, two Porterhouses, a 40 Day Dry Aged New York Strip, and a Petit Filet. When the steaks started to arrive, we discovered that the Petit Filet was delivered to our table overcooked and had to be sent back. Considering how overtaxed our waiter had already been this slowed things down even more. Eventually, we all received our steaks cooked to the correct temperature and we quickly dug in. Overall we found all of the steaks to have flavor but given the high profile of Boa we expected a lot more flavor in the steaks. That isn't to say the steaks were completely flavorless but instead that we were left wanting more flavor in our steaks. The Porterhouse was given the highest rating and had the most flavor but the rest of the steaks ranked average. In addition to our steaks we selected a selection of different sides ranging from vegetables to french fries and mac and cheese. Like the steak, the sides were alright but nothing spectacular.

In the end we found Boa to be lacking in the quality that we've experienced at some of the other well known LA steakhouses; Morton's, Mastro's, CUT, etc. One of our members had eaten at Boa at the previous Sunset location over 5 years ago and had a much better experience and was very disappointed in how the quality had dropped. The only reasons we can think of for the drop in quality would be perhaps the move down the street and the expansion to two additional Boa restaurants in Santa Monica and Las Vegas was perhaps too much of a stretch for the company. Our final rating for Boa averaged to 3.75 cows putting it pretty much smack in the middle of all of the reviews we have completed at this point.

Boa Photos