Nothing says the holidays like a steakhouse feast. But don’t be the fuccboi who order a filet mignon and a vodka martini. Here’s how to navigate the modern meat palace like a pro.

Never order the filet.

Yes, filet mignon is the preferred cut of rappers and your gold bracelet-wearing uncle, but any chef will tell you that it’s vastly overrated—not a lot of fat, and thus not a lot of flavor. Instead, look for more robust cuts like ribeyes, porterhouses, and rump roasts.

Drink with purpose.

Mad Men may have conditioned you to drink Manhattans with your slab of meat, but spirits are too overpowering to pair with food. Instead, save the Old-Fashioneds and martinis (gin only) for before—and preferably after—the meal, and stick with red wine or flagons of ale during the main event.

Keep the sides simple.

A few new-school steakhouses have gotten creative with their menus (Costata in NYC serves a garganelli with truffle butter that sons every shitty truffle-oiled mac and cheese in town), but in general, it’s wise to skew classic. A wedge salad is an acceptable appetizer; a kale Caesar is not.

Don’t order fish.

Life hack: If you don’t want a steak, don’t go to a steakhouse. The cliché is true—besides maybe a good old-fashioned crab cake, a steakhouse is far more likely to botch its seafood than knock it out the park. (Related: Oysters are for oyster bars.)

The older the waiter, the better.

Judge a book by its cover—the closer the floor staff is to needing life support, the better the steak will be. It’s the way of the world.


merrymeatmas_3

MEAT GLOSSARY

Use these terms to decode a steakhouse menu.


merrymeatmas_Icon1Dry-aged:
At high-end steakhouses, you’ll typically see steak “dry-aged” anywhere from 21 to 60 days. This process concentrates the beefiness of the meat, makes it more tender, and adds an extra layer of nutty, earthy flavor.

 

merrymeatmas_Icon2Bone-in: As the name suggests, this is a steak that’s served still connected to the bone. In addition to looking badass, the bone imparts extra flavor to the meat (either way, it’s fun to gnaw on or, if you’re drunk enough, wave like an axe).

 

merrymeatmas_Icon3Black and blue: Basically, a steak that is burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. This primal approach to cooking red meat has become shorthand for manliness, though it may not actually be the most delicious way to prepare the dish.


merrymeatmas_2

GET THIS STEAK! The 44-ounce tomahawk ribeye at Costata NYC is aged for 40 days and goes for $126. 206 Spring St (212-334-3320, costatanyc.com)

Note: This article originally appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Complex Magazine.