Add some sepia tone and photo grain, and a snapshot of Hereford House could make it pass for an old Western saloon. But the photo would actually be of a modern steak house that churns out aged steaks, seafood, and ribs—the same fare that put Kansas City meat markets on the map at the turn of the century. In the dinner menu, most everything walks across the grill before being served. The steak oscar entree eschews the barriers that separate land from sea by teaming up a 6-ounce filet mignon with jumbo lump crab pilfered from crustacean birthday parties and pan-seared to perfection. Juicy tenderloin medallions come smothered in red-wine demi glace, and oven-roasted cuts of salmon arrive in pools of garlic herb butter.
It's not just the diners that socialize at Mingle?the small plates rub shoulders too. Shareable, stick-to-your-ribs dishes such as bacon cheddar chicken on creamy mashed potatoes, drunken sliders braised in Sierra Nevada Stout, and Buffalo Trace bourbon meatballs top tables alongside lighter bites like a vegetarian florentine flatbread or a goat cheese salad topped with dried cherries, walnuts, and avocado slices. Any space left is reserved for an equally diverse lineup of drinks?the bar boasts as many as 130 unique beers, 20+ wines, 30 bourbons, and specialty cocktails. But the fun at Mingle doesn't just come from the mixing and matching of the shareable snacks: DJs spin tunes every weekend, and open mic nights attract local musicians and the area's best yodelers.
For many steakhouses, the art of preparing a tantalizing cut of meat begins in a professional kitchen. But Plaza III The Steakhouse reaches back further, choosing cuts of meat from its own facilities where it ages corn-fed beef inside specialized lockers. Once the cuts reach the restaurant, they are displayed tableside or via limousine motorcade for prospective diners before the chefs char grill chosen selections. To complete the flavor profile, patrons need only peruse a wine list of more than 700 bottles.
This meticulous process of cultivation and presentation embodies the award-winning steakhouse's sophisticated approach to mealtime. Its menu spans ribs, chops, and seafood in addition to Prime aged steaks, and appetizers such as the hand-chopped tenderloin tartare?a dish lauded by Gayot as a "classic rendition ? sprinkled with caviar."
Visitors bask in elegant dining rooms on two floors, which host live jazz and a dancing area on Saturday evenings. Parties of up to 64 guests can set up their fetes in private rooms, enjoying bacchanalias in the wine cellar and other intimate spaces such as the western-themed American Royal Room, which accommodates midsized gatherings.
Set beneath a tiled mosaic and a carved stone arch, the door to Starker's points the way to a 40-seat dining room decorated in French country style. A 40-page wine list on each white linen tablecloth describes the more than 1,600 labels in the sommelier's cache, whose breadth garnered a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. Vintages poured into Riedel glassware pair with seasonally rotating entrees, such as seared scallops, duck breasts, and grilled strip steak. Greens, heirloom beans, brussels sprouts au gratin, and other harvests from local farms round out each meal. Starker's also hosts special events, such as rehearsal dinners and catered jury deliberations, in a private dining room that seats up to 80 guests.
Start your delicious tumble down JJ's dinner menu staircase with an order of JJ's famous Paco shrimp ($13), large, meaty crustaceans bacon-twirled and deep-fried, then served with a Dijon mustard and white-wine sauce for dipping. Other enticing appetizers include seared ahi tuna ($13), wild-mushroom brioche toast ($12), and warm goat cheese with toasty crostinis ($10). Standout main courses include JJ's Pride, a 12 oz. center-cut filet rubbed with porcini mushrooms and sided with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a veal demi-glace ($38), and wild boar ragu served with fettuccine ($24). When your belt is on the last hole you added with a screwdriver, ask your server to wheel the dessert tray under your nose. JJ's is also open for lunch, giving office drones a faster and easier midday escape than the tunnel they're digging beneath Accounts Payable with a plastic coffee spoon.
You don’t get to be as crazy-popular as Outback Steakhouse (which began as a single Tampa restaurant in 1988 and has bloomed like their onions into juggernaut of a chain with over 400 franchises in the US and many more around the world) without offering something that people love. Outback mixes the most delicious aspects of both American and Australian cuisine to make dishes that they call “full flavor," including steaks seasoned with over 17 different spices, fried foods cooked in beef tallow, and real butter used liberally in almost everything. Stay far away if you’re on a diet, but if you can afford to pack in a ridiculous sum of fat and calorie totals per order, then you’ll be treated to one good meal.