The origin of Wagyu beef is a story fit for a foodie fairy tale. Once upon a time, in a faraway land (Japan, to be exact), impassioned ranchers began the tradition of milk-feeding calves by hand, rearing them on wide-open grassy pastures. Translated as "Japanese cow," Wagyu is the rare type of beef whose genetic makeup diverged from other cows some 35,000 tears ago, and it's been bred to have the most intra-muscular fat, a key distinction that sets USDA Prime beef apart from the fray. Wagyu, however, goes a step further.
The American Wagyu Association (AWA) distinguishes Wagyu—now the most sought-after beef in the world—by the extensive marbling throughout the meat, which makes for a juicy, meltingly tender, and buttery experience. A bonus is that this luscious beef is also more heart-healthy than other types due to its higher ratio of mono-unsaturated fat to saturated fat. So you can feel good about spending $24 per ounce to treat yourself.
Naturally, high-end steakhouses spend more for Wagyu to go a cut above the norm. That cost trickles down to customers, but it's worth it for discerning customers who seek out the best quality (and perhaps something slightly healthier). While Wagyu can be found at Costco, in hot dogs, and even at Arby's, there's nothing like a good Wagyu steak at a restaurant worth its sea salt. Here are 10 chains that serve the best Wagyu beef in the country.
Fogo de Chão
The rare steakhouse that exceeds in quality and quantity, Brazilian-style Fogo de Chão is a place where you can visit for an endless spree of beefy bacchanalia or upgrade for a more luxe experience with one of its Wagyu offerings. The chain has offered various cuts of Wagyu for years and recently rolled out its highest quality—and most expensive—steak to date, in the form of a whopping 30-ounce Wagyu porterhouse. Carved tableside, per Fogo tradition, and served on a show-stopping slab of Himalayan salt, it's a spectacle that merits the price tag.
Among the fastest-growing steakhouse chains in the nation, Steak 48 gets bandied about in beef circles with some frequency. And rightfully so, as the Houston-born chain specializes in modern, top-tier cuts of steak in a swanky setting that matches the ritzy meat. This includes an emphasis on Wagyu, like its Australian Wagyu filet and Miyazaki A5 Wagyu, all wet-aged and hand-cut on-site.
Smith & Wollensky
Home to some of the best filet mignon, T-Bone, and steaks for two, Smith & Wollensky knows a thing or two about superlative cuts of meat. And no cut exemplifies this quite like its enormous 44-ounce Wagyu tomahawk ribeye—a behemoth of big, bold, buttery flavor that deserves top billing on any carnivorous bucket list. Carved tableside for rightful pomp and circumstance and served with beef fat potatoes, Wagyu at Smith & Wollensky is more than a standard steakhouse experience. Instead, it's an experience of epic proportions.
Morton's The Steakhouse
Well-regarded for its enduring quality, Morton's The Steakhouse is a Chicago-based legend that's long been at the forefront of steak supremacy. The steakhouse focuses on rigorous and meticulous sourcing practices, which results in winning Wagyu options. A 7-ounce Wagyu filet, for instance, is a menu mainstay, enhanced with optional adornments such as black truffle butter.
Billing itself a "modern farm to table steakhouse," Urban Farmer is a mini chain with locations in Philadelphia, Denver, and Portland, Ore., that shows a dedication to quality. The restaurant pays attention to sourcing and sustainability, and focuses on a "direct connection between land and plate." Wagyu plays a big, beefy role in that. It's used for carpaccio, and it comes as a 12-ounce Diamantina filet from Queensland, Australia. Customers can sample the good stuff as part of an extravagant steak tasting, which includes 6-ounce portions of three cuts, with an optional Wagyu upgrade.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
Any swanky steakhouse bold enough to serve something like smoked salmon French toast is bound to deliver a memorable experience. Indeed, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse extends that same innovation throughout its menus, including a selection of elite Wagyu options. These include starter plates such as Wagyu meatballs and the crème de la crème: Japanese A5 Wagyu steak, the most expensive one on the menu.
Forget Texas. Everything's bigger at Matro's Steakhouse—including its 40-ounce Wagyu cuts, with price tags to match. Synonymous with luxury and elite ingredients, the ritzy chain is an apt go-to for the highest-quality steaks on the market, and this includes mammoth portions of Wagyu tomahawks, which cost well over $200, but are ample enough to split with other guests. Mastro's also offers Wagyu in more modest portions, like a casual 32-ounce Snake River Farms chop, or sliced Japanese A5 Wagyu from the Miyazaki Prefecture.
Despite only having a handful of locations up and down the West Coast, Rare Society proves that size doesn't matter. Unless, of course, you're talking about the size of appetite that naturally accompanies a dinosaur-sized cut of marbled Wagyu. One of the best steakhouse chains in the nation, the retro-inspired, chef-driven concept uses on-site aging rooms and wood-fired grills to infuse its steaks with maximal flavor, aroma, and texture. Among its most coveted cuts are the 10-ounce Snake River Farms Wagyu tri-tip and 8-ounce Snake River Farms Wagyu Denver.
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
A seafood-centric chain that pours just as much concerted effort into the "turf" aspect of its menu, Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, is as diligent with its beef as it is with its Floridian crustaceans. Case in point: menu items include 14-ounce domestic Wagyu New York strip, which is a favorite among chefs such as Jonathon Sawyer from Chicago's Kindling, who says, "For those looking for something truly unique, I highly recommend the NY Strip Wagyu from Châtel Farms, Georgia, which is so succulent and flavorful that it will leave you speechless."
- Source: https://wagyu.org/