National Steakhouse Month isn’t just about the meats (and the subsequent meat sweats). Juicy cuts may get all the glory, but steakhouses from coast to coast have been beefing up their menus with a variety of stellar sides that may have you re-evaluating ordering the same old porterhouse. From poutine tater tots to lobster mac ‘n’ cheese with a bacon crust, here are some of the best steakhouse sides that eat like a meal and others sure to complement your Father’s Day dinner perfectly — or just make a great bar snack.
David Burke Kitchen-The Garden, New York, New York
From housemade ricotta with pickled strawberries and crostini to foie gras and duck pate with fried dates, black pepper, port jelly and grilled bread, David Burke’s sides and “Table Shares” are just as inventive as the space — a horticulturist’s haven with an outdoor bar and garden seating for 130 in the heart of the city. But there is no side more universally appealing than the candied bacon — thick-cut slabs sliced in-house and slowly baked with constant basting. The result is a layering of spicy, smoky, and sweet flavors and a melt-in-your-mouth texture, served just as whimsically as the surroundings: hanging on a clothesline with a rosemary branch below so herbal aromas enhance the dish. Make a reservation at David Burke Kitchen-The Garden.
Roka Akor, Scottsdale, Arizona
It’s all about seasonality and spice at Roka Akor, where chef Ce Bian is known for bringing the heat — quite literally. The Japanese steakhouse prepares proteins on a 12-foot robata grill using mesquite charcoal and almond wood at temperatures of up to 1,900 degrees and serves them up with sides of Japanese-inspired marinades and sauces. Sides change seasonally, but one of Bian’s faves is the sweet corn with butter and soy, inspired by a farm supplier’s visit to the Scottsdale location (Roka Akor has other locations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Skokie, Illinois). “As we were preparing dozens of side dishes to put on the menu, we found that this grilled side dish is just simply amazing. Corn is sweet, so we add a little acid in the form of ponzu, which lends a bit of citrus and a little richness from the butter,” he explains. “We top it off with Japanese seven spices to make a balanced side dish.” The corn is such a hit some guests even stop by to order a few cobs with a beer in the bar, he says. Make a reservation at Roka Akor.
Prime & Provisions, Chicago, Illinois
Owner David Rekhson says quality and seasonality are the hallmarks of Prime & Provisions. “We’re the only all-natural, no hormones, no antibiotics sourcing natural, organic, and local in Chicago,” he says. But when it comes to the roasted purple cauliflower with pistachio and parmesan, it’s all about the three C’s: color, cream, and crunch. The popular side makes its way to most tables at this new Loop hotspot and is also sourced with organic produce and dairy. Like your sides extra smoky? Prime & Provisions features a secluded area mean for cigar lovers with a choice of a dozen stogies. Make a reservation at Prime & Provisions.
The Palm, Boston, Massachusetts
It may be lobster season at The Palm, but forget the shells — their new popular side of Nova Scotia lobster mac ‘n’ cheese features ziti instead, topped with an indulgent bacon crust. The view of the sexy Seaport District from the newly renovated patio is enough to inspire an order alone, but the topping really pushes it over the edge of buzzworthiness, and it’s already one of the top sellers on The Palm’s seasonal three-course Summer Lobster Menu for 2 for You. Chef Karen Mitchell says she “encourages guests to expect the unexpected,” and the mac ‘n’ cheese “truly surprises and delights, reinventing the comfort-food staple and elevating the fresh flavors of The Palm’s signature lobster. It’s not something you’d expect on a steakhouse menu, so guests are really excited.” The limited-time addition to The Palm’s steak and Italian lineup is also part of a seasonal entertainment series, including Friday night music trivia on the patio with a chance to win gift cards to try some other signature sides, such as asparagus fritti with lemon garlic butter and goat cheese whipped potatoes. Make a reservation at The Palm.
Swift & Sons, Chicago, Illinois
Creamed spinach may be a standard on most steakhouse menus, but that doesn’t mean his version has to be standard says Swift & Sons chef Chris Pandel. “We are not reinventing the wheel; rather, we’re trying to make the best wheel we can,” he said. “Creamed spinach is a must have for a steakhouse experience, but we wanted to make sure the spinach didn’t get lost among the rich sauce that accompanies it.” Shocking and blanching the leaves and leaving the greens intact and combining them with vin blanc and roasted mushrooms with porcini aioli and croutons makes for a multi-textured side that’s bright, firm, and still maintains the original flavor of the veg without being a watery snooze. Make a reservation at Swift & Sons.
BOA Steakhouse, Los Angeles, California
The East Coast meets West at BOA Steakhouse (in both West Hollywood and Santa Monica). To accompany his dry-aged cuts, chef Jose Melendez cooked up a summery side that puts a new spin on steak and potatoes with a “surf and turf” vibe. He takes fresh spuds and imbues them with as much seaside flavor as possible with an infused lobster cream, meat from both the claw and the tail sourced from Maine crustaceans, and a blend of “secret seasonings” and garnishes the whole dish with a shelled Maine Lobster claw and fresh tarragon. It’s all about presentation, and the stainless steel bowl creates a “wow” factor, says Melendez, making it one of the most popular side dishes. Make a reservation at BOA Steakhouse.
Nick + Stef’s, Los Angeles, California
With German master chef and James Beard award-winner Joachim Splichal serving up Asian-inspired sides at an American steakhouse, Nick + Stef’s reopened space has true international flair. Featuring bright, crisp flavors and colors that add vibrancy to traditional steakhouse hues of brown and tan, the Szechuan Long Beans with pink peppercorns is served in a twee personal-sized Staub cast-iron pan and is consistently a house favorite, says executive chef Andreas Roller. Now’s a great time to enjoy the beans’ peak season and Nick + Stef’s new stunning terrace for al fresco dining. Make a reservation at Nick + Stef’s.
Chopps American Bar & Grill at Marriott Boston, Burlington, Massachusetts
Chopps Tots may be listed as a side dish, but they are definitely a meal of their own (and just $12). A variation on poutine with housemade crispy tater tots as a base, rich duck confit, gravy, melted cheese and spring green garlic, it’s ooey, gooey, and filling — not exactly date food, but it is great paired up with a beer at the bar or on one of Chopps’s large couches, the smattering of cocktail tables, and an open space meant for socializing (especially with DJs on the weekends), large-screen TVs for sports, a fireplace, and new patio. Make a reservation at Chopps American Bar & Grill at Marriott Boston.
Carley Thornell is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration. Shout out at email@example.com.