12 Fancy Steakhouses That Earned Scathing Critic Reviews

Let's face it: good steakhouses are expensive. If they're not expensive, they're probably not that good. In fact, a cheap steak cut should be seen as a major red flag. Ever since the birth of the steakhouse – which evolved in New York City in the 1930s out of the much rowdier beefsteak event, a men-only beef bash where diners didn't use cutlery or ingest sides that might get in the way of the meat — the dining experience has been one of indulgent, opulent overconsumption. 

So when you plan a dinner at a steakhouse and you know you're going to be shelling out, you'll want to make sure you pick a good place. That's where restaurant reviews come in. Whether you're doing a deep Google review dive or flipping through newspapers for professional reviews from restaurant critics, what other people have to say about a restaurant is an important component in the decision-making process. Does this place have bad service? Was the sirloin rubbery no matter how many times you sent it back? These are good things to know before you commit your time and money to a steakhouse.

To that end, we present you with a series of scathing reviews of steakhouses you might have otherwise thought safe to patronize. This doesn't necessarily mean these steakhouses are bad. Anyone is perfectly within their rights to disagree with these reviews. But they do provide a word of caution, and perhaps a few pointers on what not to order from the menu.

Peter Luger

Pete Wells, who writes for the New York Times, might be one of the most preeminent food critics we have in the US. He has reviewed thousands of restaurants in New York City, the good and the bad, and has even been known to fly cross-country to try out establishments on the west coast. That's why his 0-star review of Peter Luger Steakhouse came as a crushing defeat for the restaurant (although we have it ranked as the best steakhouse in America). Perhaps Peter Luger has been the victim of its own success, since, as Pete Wells quips, "The Department of Motor Vehicles is a block party compared with the line at Peter Luger." Too many guests can certainly lead a restaurant to stretch its staff thin. But the food was apparently just as disappointing, leading Wells to write, "What gnaws at me every time I eat a Luger porterhouse is the realization that it's just another steak, and far from the best New York has to offer."

A defiant New Yorker agrees in an article for Insider. Although she reports eating "one of the best burgers I've ever had," she deemed the New York Strip "so chewy it was hard to eat." The verdict, it seems, is that Peter Luger can be good or bad. It's the luck of the draw.

Nusr-Et Steakhouse

Seasoned steakhouse owner and butcher Nusret Gökçe, widely known as Salt Bae, should probably avoid his day job and stick to his online performances, which turned him into an internet sensation due to the way he salts his food — which is flamboyantly, to say the least. This, in any case, is what one can surmise from Steve Cuozzo's New York Post review of Gökçe's New York City restaurant. Although Cuozzo concedes that some dishes are good, such as the spice- and milk-marinated tenderloin, he reports that they're not worth enduring the "shoe-leather-tough bone-in ribeye, which, for extra fun, was loaded with gruesome globs of fat." He also decries the dearth of Turkish flavors, expecting more of them from the Turkish owner of a string of Nusr-Et steakhouses in Turkey.

Other critics do not stray too far from Cuozzo's assessment. In the New York Times, Pete Wells called the experience "messy around the edges" but talks up the salting performance of Salt Bae himself, who came to the table to exact his signature moves, seasoning Mr. Wells' trousers along with his steak, which he considered a bonus. Likewise, Robert Sietsema, writing for Eater, warned that diners might be disappointed if they're expecting a good steakhouse, but perfectly pleased if what they're really looking for is dinner theater, but "only if Salt Bae is in the house."


New York Times food critic Sam Sifton found the food at this restaurant so underwhelming that he practically wrote a play about it. His review is dedicated to an imaginary conversation with a presumably philistine jock who is incapable of appreciating good food, and who would therefore be the only plausible character to appreciate this restaurant. Not to say that the food is that bad. It is simply not "totally awesome," and apparently you don't want to order the meatballs, despite them being the signature dish.

Other than that, there are plenty of decent options on the menu, including the baked clams, which are "the best appetizer," and the oblong pizzas, which "have a decent crust." But beware of the nightclub-like atmosphere, which seems to seep in through the establishment downstairs, also called Lavo, and which "moves from empty to packed at 5:30 p.m. and stays that way until very late in the evening." This is to be expected from a restaurant that bills itself as an "Italian restaurant and nightclub," where "post-dinner, the party continues downstairs." But if you're willing to brave all that, the steaks are decidedly "not bad," particularly the aged prime beef and the ribeye with green peppercorn sauce.

4 Charles Prime Rib

The primary offense of this generally well-regarded New York City steakhouse, according to Ryan Sutton of Eater, is the fact that there are only ten tables, making it almost impossible to get a seat before 11 p.m. No warm-blooded human should be eating something so opulent and hard-to-digest as a proper steak after that hour. To be clear, 4 Charles Prime Rib does serve a proper steak, including a prime rib that is roasted for 12 hours. It's just that the booking process and wait times are so infuriating, according to Sutton, that you'd have to give up your sanity just for a steak, which is what ultimately makes it not a good steak. He argues that "there's something distinctly dyspeptic about having almost no other choice but to dine at 11 p.m.," and that securing a table requires "guests to plan for a steakhouse dinner further in advance than for a trans-Atlantic vacation."

Still, if all that leaves you undeterred in the face of a good steak, don't listen to this guy. Even he admits that the oysters are "perfectly shucked" and that parts of the Chicago Cut pull "apart like Texas brisket." Together with the decor and ambiance, these might make this place worth a visit — if you can get a table before 11 p.m., that is.

Steak 48

When the Arizona-based chain restaurant Steak 48 — with restaurants in Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Beverly Hills, and Del Mar, California — instituted a $100 minimum spend per patron in 2021 at the Chicago and Philadelphia locations, people weren't happy. Never mind that it's easy to spend more than that at a high-end steakhouse with an extensive raw bar menu, multiple cuts of wet-aged steaks, and an extensive local and international wine list. It's the principle.

But the big issue primarily comes in the form of the dress code, which seems to target certain demographics over others. The website asks diners to "please dress as your always elegant selves," suggesting that anyone who does not wear a dinner jacket on a normal Tuesday afternoon, likely, say, a privileged member of the upper classes, likely white, is not welcome at their restaurant. Even printed t-shirts are a no-go, especially if it sports a particularly large logo, for some reason. But how's the food? Who knows. There's too much of a fuss over the other stuff to even notice it.

Morton's The Steakhouse

Morton's The Steakhouse, an upscale steakhouse chain with multiple locations across the U.S., had a very bad day on January 4, 2023, at its Charlotte, North Carolina, location. The Charlotte Observer reported that a local health inspector gave it a B score for dirty dishes and improperly stored perishables, and not for the first time. Other infractions included dust on dishware shelves, raw foods stored next to prepared foods, food kept in the basement, and the presence of expired items. A few more infractions and it might have had its license revoked.

What a shame, considering that according to the company's website, the restaurant uses the top 2% best beef available in the United States. This may lead to a fine steak, but not so much when you have to eat it on a dish that is still a bit crusty from the last time it was used. Perhaps this is why this location of Morton's doesn't get high marks on social media, arriving at just 4.0 stars on Google at the time of writing. By contrast, other Morton's restaurants typically garner a 4.4 rating or higher. If you absolutely must try this chain, it might be best to move right along to the next one.


People tend to have high expectations when a major international star opens a restaurant. Those expectations center on glitz and glamor and the possibility of spotting a celebrity, but they also hold the food to a high standard. Bad Bunny's Japanese steakhouse in Miami, which he opened in mid-2022 with restaurant entrepreneur David Grutman, delivers on neither count.

The primary gripe is the rude front-of-house staff, who are widely reported to not give a hoot about people and their reservations, and who, according to one report, may have even eaten a customer's birthday cake — the ultimate offense. Meanwhile, according to Bon Appetit's Antara Sinha, the cocktails can be "saccharine" while the "sticky-sweet eggplant just didn't do it for [her]." No other dishes stand out from the menu other than for their visual flare, including gold-plated lobster dumplings and steaks lit on fire tableside. But ultimately, as a self-declared superfan, Sinha's highest hopes were to feel a connection to Bad Bunny himself. On the night she went, the only menu item recalling his person was a cocktail named after a bestselling album, while the only reminder of his music was a single song she happened to hear as she was leaving. Expectations dashed all around.

The Mexican

We often think of Texas as being the land of steak and other big things on plates, roads, and fields. Texas is the embodiment of largesse, and few things speak to that more than a big, juicy steak. Yet The Mexican, in Dallas, ostensibly an elevated steakhouse, doesn't seem to live up to the culture of plenty: none of the seven cuts of steak served at this steakhouse made an impression on D Magazine reviewer Brian Reinhart.

According to him, this restaurant has blended so perfectly into its Design District surroundings that it forgot to think about the food. Indeed, "step through The Mexican's imposing double doors and splendiferous visuals await," regaling patrons with plenty of eye candy for the night. But the mouth candy is a different story. Reinhart says that the tortillas "taste and chew like pancakes, and their sugary burden of preservatives drags down every dish in which a tortilla appears." He also bemoans a lack of what he considers to be typical Mexican dishes, such as moles or flautas, though there are plenty of taco and enchilada options. Perhaps, in the end, The Mexican is nothing more than what it says on the tin. While Reinhart calls it a "steakhouse masquerading as fine dining from south of the border," it appears that it is more like a Mexican restaurant masquerading as a steakhouse from Dallas.

Trump Grill

Food is inevitably political, and if you disagree with that statement, then we've got a bit of politics going on, so there. Another example is Vanity Fair's 2016 review of the Trump Grill, located in the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York City. The magazine's then editor, Graydon Carter, is a famous anti-Trumpist, and the rest of the publication seems to concur. Of course, their negative review of Trump Grill has all the trappings of balanced and objective journalism: It's very likely true that the restaurant serves "flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings with their flaccid, gray innards," as Tina Nguyen wrote after trying them out in person. And that the "Gold Label Burger, a Pat LaFrieda-branded short-rib burger blend molded into a sad little meat thing, sitting in the center of a massive, rapidly staling brioche bun, hiding its shame under a slice of melted orange cheese," is a real dish you can receive at Trump Grill. Maybe Vanity Fair likely wouldn't have targeted this steakhouse so vehemently, and eloquently, had it been housed in a run-of-the-mill building owned by Joe Shmoe. But it wasn't, so here we are.

Trump responded to this review by attacking Vanity Fair and Graydon Carter, but perhaps tellingly, he didn't deny that the food was bad. Political or not, the Vanity Fair review has a point.


Money can't buy happiness, including in the world of steakhouses, at least not for the patrons. This is the fate that has recently befallen NBA star James Harden, who opened his restaurant and lounge in 2021, naming it "Thirteen" after his jersey number. But just like the number itself, the timing was ill-fated. In fact, he opened it shortly before leaving Houston after being traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets. And that's probably the restaurant's worst offense. Before the place even opened, presumed Rockets fans left a slew of terrible reviews, using the steakhouse as a platform to voice their displeasure at Harden's move to the Nets.

Things somewhat improved after the restaurant opened, but not by a whole lot. According to Narcity, one patron described the restaurant as smelling like "dirty mop water or soiled mildew fabric" on Yelp. And while some diners seem to like the bottomless mimosas or fried catfish, per Narcity, 4 out of 5 stars on Google is not an enviable score. It would seem that Houston is crying for Harden to stick to basketball, or maybe not even that.

STK Steakhouse

This STK Steakhouse, located in Bellevue, just across Lake Washington from Seattle, sounds like more of a club than a restaurant, at least according to Seattle Times food reviewer Bethany Jean Clement. The chain, which has a number of restaurants throughout the United States and abroad, is all about "vibe dining," as per its website, and this reviewer agrees. During her visit, "the music achieves synesthesia, the bass so loud as to provide actual vibes in one's chest." This is party town: large groups of friends pop champagne bottles and shout congratulations, patrons dress to the nines, and large screens showing sporting events are surrounded by wacky decor.

But the steakhouse also promises good food, and according to Clement, it does not deliver. Clement claims "the menu achieves mediocrity at best," including where a promising bacon dish is "accompanied by not particularly fresh, slightly sweet, grocery-store-deli caliber coleslaw." Even the steaks seem to fumble. A rib-eye "tastes very dry, chewy and largely flavorless," while another cut comes medium-rare as ordered, but it arrives far too soon, while Clement is still attempting to enjoy her appetizers. "We're not ready!" she shouts over the din, because between the partying and the DJ and the general vibing, shouting is the only way to communicate. Perhaps with all the noise, it's easy to forget that the food is not that great, and maybe that's the point. rest

Bovino's Churrascaria

Mike Sutter of the San Antonio Express News was so disgusted with much of the food at Bovino's Churrascaria, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse, that he had to physically remove some of it from his mouth with his actual hands. And the disappointments kept coming in what he calls "the infinite sadness of the meat parade." After a disappointing salad bar experience, apparently stocked with grocery-store grade cheese cubes and rancid salmon, the meat selection did nothing to balance things out. 

Sutter noted that he "wouldn't go back for any of the nine meats that came to my table on long steel spits. Not the filet wrapped in flabby bacon, not the gamey lamb chops cooked hard and gray inside, not the fatty smoked sausage masquerading as chorizo." Nothing whatsoever was able to elicit a kind word from Mr. Sutter. All-you-can-eat dining is not known as a very high-brow experience, but Bovino's, located in an upscale shopping center, has attempted to bill itself as something of a haute cuisine haunt, going so far as to send "gauchos" to the table to directly serve up your preferred beef cut. It seems the attempt has failed.