Skip to content

9 Telltale Signs a Steakhouse Is Too Expensive, According to Customers

If there aren't any prices on the menu, you might want to reconsider.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

The average cost of a meal in America varies widely based on where you are in the country, what type of restaurant you're visiting, and what you're ordering. What's consistent, though, is that when you dine at a steakhouse, you're going to pay more for your meal than you would at just about any other type of establishment. Not all steakhouses are going to empty your wallet, but there are some subtle (and not so subtle) signs that a steakhouse is too expensive.

Steak is a higher-cost food in and of itself, and you also go into a mid-to-higher-end steakhouse knowing you are paying for the experience, one replete with crisp tablecloths, fine flatware, an expert staff, a comprehensive wine list, et al.

That said, many potential diners think that some steakhouses are wildly overpriced. Sure, that cut of Chateaubriand is pricey for the chophouse but just because a restaurant offers some fine food and beverage options doesn't mean it should be gouging its discerning customers. We trawled the web and even put out an original survey, that got hundreds of comments, to help identify the telltale signs of an expensive steakhouse.

Watch out for these red flags and if you spot them, maybe instead consider dining at that other steakhouse down the street.

 Arby's New Sandwich Features the Most Flavorful Steakhouse Cut of All

Valet parking is the only option

valet parking

If a steakhouse doesn't even offer the option of self-parking your car, consider driving right on by. Numerous respondents to an ETNT survey conducted on Facebook identified valet parking as a warning sign that the restaurant was going to be unreasonably expensive. (Granted, you could park down the street and walk up, at least saving on that valet tip.)

The menus don't have prices

holding menu

It might be a case of "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."  When a steakhouse menu does not list prices, chances are its going to be very pricey. Another notorious telltale sign of excessive rates, per a Facebook post, is when a restaurant puts 'market price' or MP on the menu instead of actual prices.

The cutlery is unusually heavy

Signs steakhouse too expensive steak knife

Steakhouses offer guests cutlery—especially that huge Ramob-sized steak knife—that are heavier than usual utensils because it makes the meal seem fancier and it makes people willing to pay more. And that's not conjecture, it's science. Per a study published in Bio Med Central's Journal Flavour: "The weight and type of the cutlery [offered] exerted a significant impact on how artistically plated the main course was rated as being, how much the diners liked the food, and how much they would have been willing to pay for it."

It's unusually dark inside

alfreds steakhouse
Alfred's Steakhouse/ Facebook

The darker the dining room, the pricier the steakhouse, it seems. One Facebook commenter warned about places where "it's so dark [that] you can't see the menu," while a Redditor shared the results of a radio poll that found men conducting affairs often took their dates to steakhouses precisely because of how hard it was to see other people around the restaurant.

There is a multi-layer cake on the dessert menu

layered chocolate cake

Watch out for steakhouses with multi-level cakes on the dessert menu, warns the Reddit community. One poster shared a snap of a chocolate cake with an astonishing 12 layers of cake and icing each and while many commenters admitted it looked amazing (one wrote "I'd commit crimes for that cake"), it was agreed that lavish desserts promise a hefty check.

A famous chef's name is attached to the restaurant

gordon ramsay in chef's coat in kitchen
FOX via Getty Images

According to many Reddit posters, if you see a name like "Gordon Ramsay" attached to a steakhouse, you're going to pay more than you would at most other places. Sure, Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, and José Andrés may be great chefs, but are their names worth the extra dollar signs?

Everything is à la carte

fancy steakhouse

When entrees don't come with sides, watch out for sky-high prices, warn folks on Facebook. Even more concerning is when you even have to pay extra for sauces, especially when toppings are referred to by a word like "accessories."

The restaurant does not open until after 4 p.m.

open restaurant sign

If a steakhouse is only open for dinner, it's probably going to be one expensive dinner, caution many Facebook commenters. Watch out especially for a steakhouse with a parking lot that only starts to fill on the later side, and with expensive vehicles at that.

 10 Steakhouses That Serve Hand-Cut Steaks To Order

The word "steakhouse" is in the name


Watch out for steakhouses that use the very word "steakhouse" in their name, warned many respondents to the ETNT Facebook poll. One person joked to be wary "when steakhouse is in the name–not Arby's" while many people said something along the lines of: "It says steakhouse."

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven