Located on the second floor of the former Woman’s Club of Madison building, Samba Brazilian Grill bursts at the seams with history and a generous salad-bar buffet and rodizio-style meats, carved tableside. The meat selection changes regularly but often features a beef such as tenderloin with sake-soy marinade, porkables including the intricately flavored spicy linguiça pork sausage, delicious chicken snacks, and the baharat leg of lamb. A waiter brings the protein-heavy entrees to the table intact before slicing away right before your eyes, expertly dropping steaming pieces onto plates and tucking napkins into shirts. The salad bar stocks its surfaces with multiple salads, fresh vegetables, cheeses, olives, pickled savories, and plenty of mashed- and bean-centric sides. The eatery possesses a darkly lit interior with rich, dark woods throughout.
Award-Winning Steak House | Classic Surf 'n' Turf | Live Entertainment | Californian Wines | Supper-Club Decor
When to Go: Try to plan your dinner for a Friday night around 8 p.m. That’s when musicians hit the adjoining Alley Cat Lounge stage, playing everything from oldies and jazz to modern rock and R&B.
Inside Tip: Show up hungry. All meals come with a salad, relish tray, and sourdough bread with butter and honey. A side of butter-sauteéd mushrooms also accompanies every steak.
Media Mentions: Over the years, 5 O’Clock has drawn national attention. The Travel Channel featured it on the program Steak Paradise, Saveur magazine named it one of the best steak houses in the country, and Travel + Leisure said it has a "Mad Men vibe."
Behind the Name: According to the restaurant's lore, the steak house got its name from an alarm clock that would ring every day at 5 p.m., alerting customers that it was time for a free drink.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Tour the Tripoli Shrine Center (3000 W. Wisconsin Avenue), a replica of the Taj Mahal and a member of the National Register of Historic Places.
After: If the entertainment at the Alley Cat Lounge isn't to your taste, head over to The Coffee House (631 N. 19th Street), which offers acoustic music and poetry performances.
Showcased on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise for its gargantuan cuts of prime rib, Ward’s House of Prime elevates plates with formidable servings of steak, veal, seafood, and pasta within an elegant, leather-tinged dining room. Chefs slice the signature prime rib in a spectrum of portion sizes ranging from modest 8-ounce morsels to The Al-Mighty Halaka's behemoth 160 ounces. Those who conquer these savory leviathans garner immortalization in Ward’s Hall of Fame, where caricatures of past protein vanquishers smile from behind their trusty steak knives. At the bar, an extensive wine list gilds glasses with varietals hailing from throughout the globe as drinksmiths craft a bevy of inventive cocktails. The dining room’s studded-leather seating flanks tables clad in white linens, and the outdoor patio’s umbrellas keep diners dry during worcestershire storms brought on by their steaks' gravitational forces.
Chubby's Cheesesteaks celebrates one of America's best-loved regional dishes with a menu full of Philly-style cheesesteak sandwiches that Chubby's chefs believe to be the best cheesesteaks west of Philadelphia. They chop up morsels of steak to order for creations ranging from a pizza cheesesteak with marinara and mozzarella to the classic Philly with peppers and Cheez Whiz, a cheese spread that could only be more American if it came with free baseball in every jar. In addition to hand-held feasts of warm, toasty rolls and succulent beef, cooks whip up chicken cheesesteaks, Italian beef sandwiches, fried fish dinners, gyros, burritos, and jumbo chili dogs.
Milwaukee ChopHouse's menu of succulent fare begins with ahi tuna tartare with avocado, wasabi, and sriracha ($12) and wagyu beef carpaccio in a white truffle oil with parmigiano reggiano and capers ($13)—both of which sharpen the palate for the main event: the ChopHouse's signature boneless 16-ounce strip steaks prepared au poivre ($35), crab Oscar-style ($42), blue-cheese crusted ($39), or with truffle butter ($39). The kitchen also turns out hot non-bovine entrees such as sautéed sea bass with sundried tomato and basil pesto ($32) and lobster tail ($51), a.k.a. mermaid steak.