Even just a decade ago, when you visited a steakhouse, you would likely see a list of familiar cuts on the menu: filet, NY strip steak, and porterhouse cuts were popular cuts. Steakhouses still offer these classic cuts, but these days, many steakhouses are getting more experimental. Many are starting to include some lesser-known cuts on their menus. Here are some different cuts you might come across as you visit a steakhouse restaurant.
The bavette is a steak cut from just under the flank steak. It's always been popular in Mexican cuisine, but it can show up in American steakhouses, usually as a part of a bistro meal. Although it's a bit of a tougher cut, it's delicious when cooked to medium-rare and cut against the grain. Often, it will be prepared in a rich marinade or seasoned with spices and served over a salad or as an open-faced sandwich.
There is only one hanger steak per animal. It comes from the lower belly area, near the tenderloin. Hanger steak is a very tender cut, and it also has a really deep, beefy flavor. Some might even find it too rich and flavorful.
Because of its intense flavor, hanger steak is usually seasoned with citrus-based marinades that help balance it out. You may see it paired with fries or another less formal side dish. In fact, many restaurants call this combination "hanger steak and frites."
Flat Iron Steak
This cut goes by a few different names. Some know it as top blade steak or butler's steak. It's one of the few quality steaks that can be cut from the shoulder portion of the animal. It's well-marbled and tender, and because it is uniform in thickness, it is easy to grill evenly. Flat iron steaks taste best when grilled over high heat because the heat renders a lot of the marbled fat. So, you'll see this steak most often at restaurants that grill their steaks over wood or charcoal.
The tri-tip has long been used as a barbecue cut out west, but it is now rather popular as a steak. It's not the most tender of steaks, but it has great flavor. To improve its tenderness, it is usually cooked rare and sliced against the grain. Tri-tip is often served with barbecue-style sides like baked beans and macaroni and cheese — perhaps to honor its origins as a barbecue cut.
If you see one of these more unique steaks on a menu, don't hesitate to order it! There is beauty in stepping beyond the classic filet!